By Ranjan Kumaran – @financialeyes

Crossposted from Realfare

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Last Friday, 31st October, a BBC Radio programme called Feedback asked why the BBC agreed to exclude the Green Party from the General Election TV debates.  (12 Minutes)

Ric Bailey, Chief Political Advisor to the BBC was invited onto the show.

When asked to justify his stance by the radio presenter, Bailey replied;

“When we’re approaching an election or for any of our coverage for that matter, we look really carefully at the objective evidence of electoral support.

“In the approach to a General Election our starting point is what happened atthe last General Election, 2010. But that’s not everything, we also look at any other evidence of electoral support and change of electoral support – we look at opinion polls so we’re applying very objective criteria.

“Opinion polls are only one part of the equation – and the key phrase is a consistent and robust trend – so if you look at UKIP over a very long period – and I’m talking about literally hundreds of opinion polls you can see that there is a substantial increase in support for UKIP which is incidentally backed up by real people voting in polling booths.”

When asked about ‘the Green Surge’, Bailey quoted figures which demonstrate that the Greens have been outperformed by UKIP. He made no mention of any figure favourable to the Greens and followed up by saying – “so we look at these really objectively.”

Ever since he mentioned them, I’ve been looking for these objective criteria.

Part of me doesn’t believe they exist and the other part has decided to pretend they do.

So how am I supposed to find them?

I sent a freedom of information request which was refused, as mentioned previously.

I needed another approach. I called a political journalist. He told me he was sure he had seen the criteria and the weightings applied to election performance and opinion polls online sometime. I googled away and got nowhere. I decided there was no other option. I was going to have to call Ric Bailey. He didn’t seem so high up in the organisation that he wouldn’t answer his own phone. Nor, from his performance on TV and the radio, did I feel he deserved to be.

Ric Bailey Image - BBC News

Ric Bailey Image – BBC News

I googled his name and telephone number and up it came. He’s been treating people with disdain, I told myself. Don’t forget that. Let him say what he likes, but press him for an answer.

The phone rang a couple of times and, at 16:30, he answered the phone.

I asked him what criteria the BBC applied when agreeing to allow UKIP to appear in the Leaders’ debates at the expense of the Greens.

I told him I was talking about statistical methodologies, datasets, opinion polls and elections.

He said it was all available online.

I asked him where.

He said “It’s not all in one place.”

I asked him for the names of the datasets.

He said, “All of them”. Not helpful. Incredibly vague.

I asked him about methodologies. I was hoping he could name an approach, a formula, some weightings. He did not. He said that UKIP have surged and this was obvious. That ‘due weight’ is an editorial judgement. That this is basically private. There are no statistical thresholds.

I told him he has cherry picked the data to exclude the Greens. This he denied. He asked for a relevant stat which he had left out. I told him one. He quoted another. We danced like this for 25 minutes and neither of us got anywhere.

That a man with no grasp whatsoever about how to process statistical information is fronting the campaign to sell the BBC interpretation of opinion poll and election results shows they just don’t care. That’s it. They hold the licence-payer in complete contempt.

This organisation is so out of touch that it is now threatening its own existence.

His contact details were available online:

Ric Bailey, Chief Adviser, Politics, BBC Editorial Policy and Standards

07889 852195 – 0208 00 81805

Speaking to this man is a waste of time if you are looking for any truthful answers about the statistical methods he and his colleagues have pretended to use.

I don’t know what is more disturbing. The fact that drones like Bailey are allowed to act as they do or the fact that we don’t do more to question the flimsiness of his arguments. Redundant information serves as a distraction from the heist that people like him are fronting.

Bring on the Real Media. Please Share.

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