LETTER : Condon and the voodoo poll

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The Independent Online
ROBERT Winder was quite taken in by the You Decide television phone-in poll ("Talk shows for the chattering classes", 16 July). Some 92 per cent of the "sample" of viewers said Sir Paul Condon was "right to say that very many of London's muggers are black". Winder describes a "spirited debate" and then the public was invited to take part again; this time only 65 per cent said that the police commissioner was right. He concludes that it was a "revealing exercise in the power of a televised argument to change people's minds".

In fact, it was a swizz. To test the system, I rang nine times in the two minutes given to register a "yes" vote (although I would not normally participate in such a "voodoo" poll). Each time the line was engaged. A Daily Telegraph correspondent suggested that it was a BBC plot to show movement. Being a believer more in the cock-up than the conspiracy theory, I think it was just an inept exercise.

I recall an earlier correspondent of the London Evening Standard commenting on a similar phone-in poll, he said he was so pleased that his side won: he had voted 157 times himself.

Robert M Worcester

Mori, London SW1

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