Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vote now

I've been catching the Great British Menu on BBC2 on and off and it's been interesting to watch what the chefs prepare in the competition to serve at the Gherkin for Heston Blumenthal's bash. Now we've got to the semi-final (or damn close) it's all gone a bit wrong.

We got to the end of the show and the three judges gave their verdicts on the seven chefs starter, but we still don't know who won because you, yes you, now get to vote and make up 50% of the total score. Head scratching time because there are two simple flaws in this arrangement, the first is obvious - we can't taste the dishes involved, hell we can't even smell them. This means half of the score will be based solely on visual appeal and to an extent the personality of the chef and more to an extent the region they come from (yes it's a regional competition).

The second problem is more subtle and assumes that the people voting actually like the people to whom this food will be served and want them to have the best. Anyone who had the misfortune to watch "I'm a celebrity get me out of here" will know that the public may not pick the one who may succeed, but the one they hope will fail and be humiliated.

So what's the purpose of this vote? I could be cynical and say it's all about the money, but I think it's the new direction to making every bloody thing on television interactive whether it improves the format or not.

Personally I don't care who wins, but I think this microcosm of voting represents some fundamental aspects of voting in a wider sense. The two problems here are that you don't have enough information to make a decision and that said decision doesn't affect you in any way. I bring this up because there's been much discussion over on the WFA about the unelected positions on committees and how we the public don't seem to get much of a say in how or even what is done in out locality.

In the case of the food vote it's simply not feasible to prepare the starters for everyone in the country to try and, as I said, who cares anyway; this however is not a problem for decisions made by out councils. All the information available to them should be available to us and as it's in our backyard it may very well be of importance to us.

I'm purposefully not finishing this thought, just throwing it out there for consideration.