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British elections 2010 - a global perspective

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Dave Lee | 12:41 UK time, Monday, 12 April 2010

By Rajan Datar

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has announced the date of the country's general election. The chattering classes here are all of a Twitter but of how much interest is it to the rest of the world - and indeed World Service listeners outside the UK?

That's the question we pose this week to two language service chiefs and the editor of Focus on Africa. The gist of their response is it's the BBC's job to find angles and stories so the political situation in the UK becomes even more gripping and relevant to their listeners!

One view expressed by the head of the Vietnamese service, is that it is the British Broadcasting Corporation you are all listening to, so of course you'll be interested and of course the language sections will take the opportunity of their presence in the UK to cover the election thoroughly. And I'd be interested to know if any of you dissent from this position? Let us know - post a comment to this blog.

Joseph Warungu the editor of Focus on Africa, reflects on his role providing occasional reports on how the British 'do' elections. As a veteran of two American presidential campaigns and several African elections, he casts a wry look at the similarities and differences between a UK poll and the others he's covered. As he told us, people in Africa are particularly interested in issues such as the expenses scandal which has led the British public to question whether their politicians are as honest as they could be. Joseph says "I was speaking to a lot of people in Africa who said aha these are the people who tell us how to do it! Ah, now let's see how they get themselves out of this mess. You think Africans are corrupt, you need to watch Westminster!"

As Britain's politicians hit the campaign trail, we also hear this week about a different kind of journey as the BBC's Hindi service completes three weeks of on-the-ground reports on the effects of the construction of brand new roads across India. The Highways Minister Kamal Nath has announced plans to build 20 kms of roads a day from June 2010. A team of five BBC journalists have travelled over 2,500 kms to speak to people who will be affected by this new infrastructure.

Incidentally, as a footnote to our interview with Amit Baruah, the head of the Hindi service, I was gratified to learn that Amit was so keen to appear on Over To You, he fitted us in before heading off directly to the Indian Prime Minister's office!

Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. It airs at 00:40, 03:40 and 12:40 every Sunday (GMT).


  • Comment number 1.


    As always, good news regarding the information that you are giving the audience!


  • Comment number 2.

    What a pity Parliament isn't in session - a funnel could be directed from the house into the sky, that amount of hot air would quickly disperse the ash cloud................

  • Comment number 3.

    As an American, I would have liked to have heard the entire first debate of Britain's top three candidates on BBC World Service. The British "take" on the very sterile American debate format is an eye-opener as to the possibilities of the organization and volatility that can be generated in a national debate of this nature. I realize that the BBC World Service caters to an every growing world audience of divergent interests, and as a result, might err to the world view rather than the British, but I honestly appreciate the special insights into British society and politics that the airing of the first debate in its entirety would have provided. I wonder if the World Service could add a special link on its site to "events as they are happening" (speeches, debates, etc.) apart from the regular World Service programming, which would let those of us interested in hearing them "tune in" while the rest of the world audience does not. Too complicated? For most maybe, but you guys are on the cutting edge of news concepts and delivery and I'm sure you can invent a way to add this new layer to your already outstanding programming.


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