Friday, 7 May 2010

Bleary eyed but well informed

I watched the BBC's UK election night special through to the wee, wee hours. I went to bed at around 3am Warsaw time, waking up just after 6 to carry on.

This is the first time I watched live streaming TV on the internet - it worked without a hitch even on TPSA's sloooow 1.3mb/s connection. Events such as general elections are where the internet beats traditional television hands down. In one window I've got live election video, headline results and a news feed containing tweets and blog links. In another window, I've got detailed results - seats, percentages, gains/losses, for each party. In yet another, I can check results by individual constituencies.

The BBC wheeled out its best-know political commentators and journalists with David Dimbleby as anchor; slick computer graphics presented by Jeremy Vine made a complex electoral system easy to understand, and Jeremy Paxman grilling successive trios of senior politicians in his characteristically brusque style that borders on rudeness.

It has been said in the run-up to the election - especially after the 15 April televised debate won by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg that the new media were over-hyped and that old-tech TV was still the most potent force in shaping politics. To an extent. After Clegg's performance, the LibDems soared in the polls, briefly even overtaking the Tories, and consistently in second place ahead of Labour. On the night, the LibDems faltered, taking not 28-30% of the vote but a mere 23%. So much for the power of TV.

In the end, the exit polls got it right with great precision. At 22:00 UK time, the forecast number of parliamentary seats was Con 307, Lab 255, LibDem 59. The final outcome was Con 306, Lab 258, LibDem 57.

The turnout - 65.1% - was a surprise too. This compares to 61.3% in 2005 and 59% in 2001. And 53.8% in the Polish parliamentary elections of 2007 (and a pathetic 40.6% in 2005).

Final question posed by the pundits this morning - is a hung parliament the will of the British people?

For insight into what happens next, read Charles Crawford.


jan said...

Interesting question now is whether LibDem, having become a swing party, will effectively insist on structural changes in the electoral system in exchange for their support for the conservative government. This seems perfectly rational - in this way they'd ensure a sustained presence in the parliament.

student SGH said...

is a hung parliament the will of the British people?

As I read some statements from British people who voted for LibDem to voice their disgruntlement with two main parties, then maybe yes. But it's the first time after WW2. I'm not a pundit, but I wonder if in Poland we had a "non-hung parliament"...

TPSA's sloooow 1.3mb/s connection. In NI TP S.A refused to offer us a higher connection speed than 512 kbps - it worked well, but capacity of infrastructure on my street was used to the limit. Now I have Play-crap-online and I'm wait for the end of my contract with them (March 2011). Using this proves one can get used to everything, even average speed of 300 kbps. Watching such streaming would be possible for me in the middle of the night or in the morning, in the late afternoon or in the evening - out of question. I'll buy iPlus then - works the best in my neighbourhood.

adthelad said...

The Labour party denied the British public a referendum on the Lisbon treaty a.k.a. The European Constitution. There have been many voices saying that the Lisbon treaty spells the end for the British Parliament. Even some M.P.s were admitting they'd be out of a job once it was ratified. Since that time I have been patiently waiting to see how this would come about officially. Small steps have been taken in that direction for the entire period of the Labour government and some larger steps have to follow.
Thanks to the U.K.'s 'unwritten' constitution most European laws have had to be brought in from within the U.K. But what if all that is indeed set to change? One logical step to achieving this would seem to be a change in the constitution under the subterfuge of changing the electoral system. We shall see.