One of the surprises in the BBC's pre-prepared Election 2010 website is how overtly sectarian it is in respect of some Northern Irish constituencies.
In most of their Constituency Profiles they helpfully tell the reader how 'Catholic' or 'Protestant' the constituencies are:
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: "Just over half the population is Catholic and the nationalist voters have dominated in recent years."
West Tyrone: "This is a predominantly Catholic constituency".
Foyle: "The constituency has the second highest proportion of Catholics in Northern Ireland".
East Derry: "This mainly rural and Protestant constituency …"
South Antrim:"This is a largely Protestant and Unionist seat, with Catholics forming just over a quarter of the population".
Strangford: "Only just over an eighth of the population is Catholic. The Presbyterian community is dominant in this part of Northern Ireland".
North Down: "is a predominantly Protestant, middle class and suburban dormitory area".
Belfast East: "The seat is predominantly Protestant, with less than 10% of residents identifying themselves as Catholic. This is the smallest proportion of Catholics in Northern Ireland".
Belfast West: "is overwhelmingly Catholic and nationalist with the highest proportion of Catholics of any Northern Ireland seat".
Belfast North: "has a Protestant majority but has a substantial Catholic minority".
Now this blog is not averse to making presumptions about voters political preferences based upon their religions – but it is not often that the BBC so clearly demonstrates that it agrees! The polite pretence that religion is not an indicator of political preference has been blown out of the water by the BBC. What other reason would they have for providing information on the religions of voters in Northern Ireland, but not in Britain?
It is likely that someone will complain to the BBC, and that they will then change their constituency profiles – but the fact that in their raw state they present clearly religious data as an electoral factor shows that behind the façade that is what they think counts.