Thursday, January 01, 2004

The People Have Spoken, The Bastards !

The flagship of left bias and political correctness on the BBC, Radio Four's Today Programme, decided it would be a good idea to ask listeners what new laws they would like to be enacted, and from the 10,000 suggestions received chose five for the listeners to vote on.

They were

1) Ban all Christmas advertising before Dec 1st
2) make voting compulsory and limit a PM to two terms, as in the US. (suggested by G. Brown of W1)
3) Ban smoking in bars and restaurants
4) Make organ donation a matter of 'opting out' rather than 'opting in' as now.
5) Authorise homeowners to use any means to defend their home from intruders.

27,000 people voted - or 27,000 votes were received. The 'Tony Martin law' won with 37%, provoking Stephen Pound MP to the above comment (real audio here). He's supposed to be introducing it in a Private Members Bill - I bet he won't. If he does the Tories should have a three-line whip out in support - it could be a PR disaster for Labour when they have to vote against it.

The programme's producers - and Mr Pound, convinced the organ donation law would win, had already arranged a debate between Evan 'Dr Death' Harris and a former Tory health minister, which had to be hastily rebilled on the website as 'the listeners' law for 'opt-out' organ donation came second - but a possible proposal nonetheless?'. And Mr Pound had actually already had preliminary discussions with Heath Secretary John Reid about the donor law.

Still, Today did the best they could, finding a critical barrister (audio here), and putting negative reaction top of their emails.

But the emails are illuminating themselves. Top is the horror of one Deborah Stux.

I am horrified at the winning "Listeners' Law" That Today listeners could endorse vigilantism is incredible. I notice that both proposers mention Tony Martin as if he were some sort of hero, he shot a 16 year old boy, in the back - how can that be reasonable force? Please don't repeat this exercise next year or no doubt somone will suggest bringing back hanging or the birch.

Of course, she's right - if people had a direct say in the laws that were passed it is quite likely that homosexuality would still be illegal, hanging would still exist and we might still be stuck in those dreadful 1950s. That would never do.

Unusual name, Deborah Stux. Only one in the whole Google world, a Transport and Travel Manager with Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, funded by the taxpayer and dedicated to reducing the waiting list via the innovative method of encouraging key medical staff to walk or cycle to work rather than drive. (This is called 'investing in the NHS'.)

Probably a completely different person. Does the BBC Stux sound as if she'd write "cycling also promotes psychological well-being, notably self-esteem." ?

But Joe Nutt (presumably not the Donne expert) responded "Was I the only listener standing open-mouthed with impotent fury in my kitchen this morning listening to Stephen Pound's disappointment because the result of the listeners' law poll did not go the way he had wanted? That he wasn't the least bit embarrassed to say so, or admit that he had already been discussing organ donor legislation with Dr John Reid displayed precisely the kind of contempt for voters which exemplifies contemporary political behaviour. "

UPDATE 2/1/2004
Simon Jenkins hits the nail squarely on the thumb in the Times. He rightly criticises the BBC and Mr Pound for taking part in an exercise which (IMHO) demeans Mr Pound and cheapens democracy, but what really disturbs him is the prospect of people having too direct an influence on the law.

"I wonder what stopped the Today programme from putting capital punishment to the vote?" he asks ? After all, poll after poll shows a majority of voters in favour. And of course such a thing is quite unthinkable in a civilised society like ours. Can we doubt that if the result had been right - victory for the 'sensible' law on compulsory organ donation - we wouldn't have heard a peep from Simon Jenkins ?

He also blames the result on the "work of the Tony Martin lobby". As a founder member of said lobby, I can assure him that no effort at all was made. Difficult to comprehend as this might be, there are large numbers of people in Britain who are deeply concerned by what happened to Tony Martin and the message sent by his conviction to law-abiding householders.

But as ever, there's wisdom to be found if you look.

"The listeners’ law may be game-show legislation but it has reminded us that law and order hold public priority. As long as government refuses to let local people dictate what sort of local policing they want, governments will be blamed for the public’s patent sense of insecurity. If the police sit hidden in offices doing paperwork for David Blunkett, the public will put its faith in ever more draconian legislation and ever longer prison sentences. "

Too right they will !

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