97% of Sun readers do not support Blair’s 90-day detention plan

Posted by Tim Ireland at 9 November 2005

Category: Page 3 - News in Briefs, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, The War on Stupid, Tony 'King Blair

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, November 9th, 2005
at
10:13 am and is filed
under Page 3 – News in Briefs, Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch, The War on Stupid, Tony ‘King Blair.

The trumpet-call had let loose an enormous volume of noise. Already an excited voice was gabbling from the telescreen, but even as it started it was almost drowned by a roar of cheering from outside. The news had run round the streets like magic. He could hear just enough of what was issuing from the telescreen to realize that it had all happened, as he had foreseen; a vast seaborne armada had secretly assembled a sudden blow in the enemy’s rear, the white arrow tearing across the tail of the black. Fragments of triumphant phrases pushed themselves through the din: ‘Vast strategic manoeuvre — perfect co-ordination — utter rout — half a million prisoners — complete demoralization — control of the whole of Africa — bring the war within measurable distance of its end victory — greatest victory in human history — victory, victory, victory!’ – George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty Four

The Sun – You speak and they listen: TORIES out to wreck Tony Blair’s crackdown on terrorists were in turmoil last night – as The Sun’s army of readers rallied behind the PM. A whopping 100,000 of you phoned our hotline to DEMAND 90 days’ detention for terror suspects. Thousands more of you went online – blitzing MPs with emails to SHAME them into backing Mr Blair in tonight’s crunch Commons vote. As you made your voices heard in near-record numbers, senior Tories began to buckle – and Labour rebels started drifting back to the Government side. We urge you to keep the pressure up by phoning the number above. The sensational show of Sun reader power instantly turned the tide in favour of Mr Blair.

Well, after Charles Clarke’s late-night attempt to diffuse the diddled poll row, I think it’s well past time to put this one to bed, too.

Let’s start with the numbers they do give…

A whopping 100,000 of you phoned our hotline to DEMAND 90 days’ detention for terror suspects.

Recent figures show the Sun’s circulation at 3,361,396.

(100000/3361396) x 100 = 2.97%

Hm. So we’d best correct that:

Less than 3% of you phoned our hotline to DEMAND 90 days’ detention for terror suspects.

Now, let’s look at the numbers that they almost give…

Thousands more of you went online – blitzing MPs with emails to SHAME them into backing Mr Blair in tonight’s crunch Commons vote.

I didn’t mention this yesterday (because one does not interrupt their enemies when they’re busy making a mistake) but I actually sent my message to ‘wobbly’ MPs to each and every one of the 257 email addresses that the Sun provided, which was based on the list of 299 MPs who voted against the glorification bill.

(They’re short 42 email addresses, but we’ll let that slide; not all MPs have readily-accessible email addresses. Each MP is granted one in the format last-name + first-initial @ parliament.uk, but of course the Sun wanted to be certain that their messages reached their intended target. So they went with published addresses and certainly would have tested these addresses first, right? Erm, no. From of the 257 emails I sent, I received 25 bounces (and 4 ‘out of office’ auto-replies). So that’s 232 presumably valid email addresses. Still, it’s public feeling and intent that matter here, so we can let this slide also and operate with the 257 figure.)

60% of the British population has internet access. You may wish to question this figure given that some people have multiple connections and the Sun targets the working class, so let’s be really, really generous and operate on the assumption that 30% of Sun readers have internet access.

30% of 3,361,396 is just a shade over a million; 1,000,841

We should probably halve this again, as not all of the Sun readers involved may have been constituents of the MPs involved… but we’re not going to, because a considerable number of emails received by MPs were from people who refused to reveal their address and/or were not from their constituency.

Ah-hah! Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Yes, I just revealed that I’ve been in contact with many of these MPs, not just regarding my message, but the level of response they experienced following the Sun’s campaign (within acceptable boundaries of confidentiality and propriety, of course).

I spoke to seven MPs (or their researchers) about this. Admittedly, that’s a small sample – but they all reported very similar figures and (again) I’ll try to be as generous as possible with my figures in order to allow for variations I may not be aware of.

These MPs received between 1-4 emails as a result of this call to arms. Counting mine. But I promised to be generous, so let’s operate on an average of 6 emails per MP:

6 x 257 = 1,542

Thousands more of you went online – blitzing MPs with emails to SHAME them into backing Mr Blair in tonight’s crunch Commons vote.

Erm, no. More like:

*Hundreds* more of you went online – blitzing MPs with emails to SHAME them into backing Mr Blair in tonight’s crunch Commons vote.

Again, I’m trying very hard to be fair here. The sentence initially refers to readers ‘going online’, so perhaps they’ve based their figure on the number of people who downloaded their list of shame. We have a number of variants here, including an unknown number of visitors who would have followed this link from Bloggerheads, and many Sun readers who may have downloaded the page only to see that their MP was not listed, but let’s continue the spirit of generosity and double the 1,542 figure. This gives us 3,084 Sun readers with a clear intention to email their MP (or perhaps somebody else’s MP).

Finally we’re at a stage where we can rightly use the word ‘thousands’ and not ‘hundreds’ to describe the figure… but what happens when we apply this figure to the (greatly under-estimated) number of Sun readers with internet access?

(3084/1000841) x 100 = 0.31%

Zero. Point. Three. Percent.

Not even *half* of a single percentage point.

So that’s:

Less than 3% of Sun readers support the proposed 90-day law enough to pick up a phone and push a few buttons
Just over 0.3% of Sun readers support the proposed 90-day law enough to (maybe) write and send an email

This is not what I would call a blitz. It’s more like a blip.

Let’s go back to the Sun for more:

As you made your voices heard in near-record numbers, senior Tories began to buckle – and Labour rebels started drifting back to the Government side. We urge you to keep the pressure up by phoning the number above. The sensational show of Sun reader power instantly turned the tide in favour of Mr Blair.

‘Near-record numbers’ may not be a lie. I’ve crunched numbers in this way before, and the Sun plays this game a lot. Perhaps, for them, this *is* a record response.

The rest… well, they look to be making things up to impress us, but you can’t really blame them for that, given the shocking complacency of their readers. After all….

97% of Sun readers either do not support the proposed 90-day law, or could not give a rat’s arse either way.

Page 3 swings into action!Perhaps it is this complacency that finally convinced them to bring out the Big Guns.

Yes folks, it’s time for yet another Page 3 editorial!

Today Krystle (23, from Manchester) ‘backed the Sun campaign to see the new terror laws pushed through’. She says: “It is so important the police are given the power they need to combat terrorism. Every reader must lend their weight to this vital campaign and call our hotline.”

Yes, by all means, call the hotline. Please stop emailing MPs, because – let’s be frank – it’s getting embarrassing.

If MPs got wind of this – if they put 2 + 2 together – well, it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

This is a poll of Sun readers, not the general population.

The Sun has backed Blair and his cold-hearted manipulation of terrorist atrocities since Day One.

Even when victims of terrorism are waved in their face, 97% of these readers do not support this draconian legislation enough to make a simple phone call.

So please, please do what the girl with the boobs says and call that hotline so that tomorrow, after the vote has taken place, the Sun can publish these new figures and… erm… hang on… something’s not right here…

UPDATE – Make that *eight* MPs I’ve spoken to about this. I have permission to quote this response verbatim; it was sent *before* this particular MP read my latest post…

Rt Hon James Arbuthnot: I have, as a result of the Sun’s list, received more e-mails supporting my view than opposing it.








9 Comments

  1. Tim Worstall says

    Backing Blair?

    Tim Ireland is on form again. The Sun trumpets the huge response they got from their readers backing the abolition of Habeus Corpus lock the little brown buggers up 90 extention under the Terrorism Bill whereas in fact, 97% of

  2. The Inside Of My Head says

    Things to Make and Do

    Join in the ‘90 days’ terrorism debate, counter some bum statistics and feel like a useful part of society (you may want to read the link in number 2 for some background).Use this facility to look up and contact your MP: http://www.wri

  3. davblog says

    Terrorism Bill

    Parliament will vote on the new Terrorism Bill this evening. If you want your MP to know how you feel…

  4. Talk Politics says

    Some people never learn

    Wahey, the Safety Elephant’s back in your in-box this evening and nice and late too – 10.04pm this time; presumably to give us bloggers as little time as possible to slaughter his lastest missive.So without further ado, I give you the full and unex…

  5. I Love Music says

    DID ANYONE G TO THE ORIGINAL MADONNA GIG AT CAMDEN 22 YEARS AGO?

    If I pretend I did and give The Sun free words which you’ll get paid for, can you spread this around your colleagues? They’ve probably read it already, though.

  6. bigblue says

    Estate agents are not always truthful

    The wording on the for sale sign above caught my attention today. Below the standard estate agent poster another strip has been tacked on containing the following words, in

  7. Talk Politics says

    Delusions of grandeur

    Tim’s already done a first class job of pulling The Sun down a few pegs over it’s ‘phone and tell Tony you love him poll’ and with him having taken the night off for a well-deserved beer or two, I suppose it falls to me to put the final nails in the co…

  8. Legion says

    The Sun’s campaign to abolish Habeas Corpus

    Interesting website here, pulling apart the Sun’s claims of mass support for its ‘abandon Habeas Corpus’ campaign.Did anyone see ‘this week’ last night? Tony Parsons was berating MPs for sittin…

  9. Uponnothing.co.uk says

    A Long Time

    It’s been a while since I have had enough energy to write anything, and I’m not really going to now, but I will add a few links to the best bloggers around who somehow manage to write consistantly – and brilliantly – about the fetid, rotte…

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