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Hamish McKenzie - student, London, Ontario

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I didn't think I'd ever say this, but...

I agree with Peter Dunne.

There is a problem with that report, though -- and it's major. The difference between ACT and United Future in the last TV3/TNS opinion poll was just 0.2 percent, not 2 percent.

Mark Jennings' claim that the decision to exclude United Future was fair is a steaming pile of crap. Even if you could justify excluding one party from the debate on the basis of polling, the meagre 0.2 percent difference is so insignificant as to be entirely negligible. The margin of error for the poll was 3.1 percent. That renders the difference irrelevant. Statistically, it means nothing. Nothing.

All that aside, deciding who gets to participate on the basis of a poll (yes, just one poll) was stupid in the first place. These leaders debates can make or break a minor party. They might not register on the public radar before the televised debates, but as Peter Dunne can testify, they sure can after them.

Most kiwis aren't as obsessed about politics as we in the blogosphere. Most will be picking up the odd scrap of information from the newspapers or the TV news. There's a damn good chance that parties like United Future, unpopular with the media, would have slipped under the radar. The televised debate, then, is crucial to such parties' chances of winning new support. It's a rare and important opportunity to speak directly to the public.

By denying that chance, TV3 is corrupting the democratic process. TV3 is effectively deciding who is or is not relevant in this election. I hope viewers stay away from their debate in droves.