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Not the People's Giveaway

Not the People's Giveaway
Updated: Monday 20th July 2015

Billed as the ‘People’s £50million Lottery Giveaway’ when it was launched on 13 November 2007, this fantastic amount of money was to be given away to one of four worthy causes as voted for by Britain’s lottery players. Now the whole idea is in danger of becoming another TV phone-in farce.

Votes were to have been cast after an envisaged prime-time nightly program, with the great British public voting via non-premium line or internet for their choice to receive the money.
Worries of phone-in abuse as has been reported recently across so many TV programmes would not arise as this poll would not use premium line calls, and you would also be able to vote by email.

With £50 million at stake, fraud is ever present, but at least the beneficiary in this case is a worthy cause.

Although the Electoral Reform Services will be providing advice and certify the final result, the methods are open to question. Only one vote will be allowed per number (so anyone voting via a switchboard will have problems) and ‘number witheld’ votes will be 'monitored'.  As for voting via the internet, they say the IP address will be logged and only one vote allowed per IP address.  That is fine if you assume everyone has a fixed IP address unique to their own computer.  But most people will find they are sharing IUP addresses allotted by their service provider – so first person in gets to block of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of potential votes.

And now, a new problem has arisen. The great British public will remain largely ignorant of the whole £50m giveaway as the TV programmes promoting it will last 15mins and will be aired at 11.05pm on ITV1. It’s common knowledge that this time slot is the start of twilight viewing, and is in no way prime time viewing. When did you last watch TV at 11pm on a weekday night?

So, votes can be made by phone from Friday 7-12 December (from 9am on 7 December) or online (already open) but it’s only night owls who will know about the opportunity. Or, is it? You can be sure that supporters of the four worthy causes selected to be in with a chance of winning this £50 million have spotted an opportunity. With telephone and email trees, and targeted correspondence to their supporters they should be able to make a sizeable swing of votes to their cause. This may have been diluted if the great British public had been voting, but now it’s really going to be a four-way race between the four worthy causes’ supporters as to whom can muster the most votes by the closing date of 12 noon on 10 December. The winner will be announced on ITV1 on 12 December - presumably after midnight?

What a mess.

Published: Monday 3rd December 2007

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