Sunday 30 September 2018

BBC opts against the term "second referendum"

Just under a week ago, a question...

...led me to half-complete a post. 

It originally ran as follows:
Hmm. Checking TV Eyes for Radio 4 from 6-9am that morning [i.e. 24 September] and listing all the mentions of "referendum" by BBC reporters and presenters found the following: 
"another referendum" - 6 
"a second referendum" - 3 
"a further referendum" - 3
"a new referendum" - 2 
So that's 3 uses of "second referendum" compared to 11 uses of the (non 'People's Vote') alternatives to "second referendum". Two of the uses of "a second referendum" came in a single sentence by Nick Robinson.
Well, maybe I should have finished it as it turns out that, yes, there really is a BBC editorial policy about it and, yes, "second referendum" genuinely is deliberately being sidelined as a term by the BBC. 

It’s not just Labour and the Tories who are tying themselves in knots over a “people’s vote” — the BBC has joined in, too. Its presenters and news reporters have been ordered to stop referring to a “second referendum” on the grounds that it annoys people who think we’ve already had one. 
“Some people regard 1975 as the first referendum,” says a memo from Ric Bailey, the BBC’s chief political adviser. “Others insist that, even if 2016 was the first vote, calls for another referendum now would be asking a very different question and therefore should not be described as the second.” The accepted terms are “further referendum” or “another referendum”. 
A BBC radio source seethes: “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
It's also absolutely typical of the BBC.


  1. 'The People's Vote' is a more palatable name for the rerun of the 2016 vote, imagined by some sharp suited ad agency execs and focus groups - no doubt at great cost, because their sponsors are seeking to overturn the 2016 result. The only question that needs to be asked is:

    Do you believe in parliamentary democracy? Yes or No.

  2. Quite right, perhaps we ought to add 'Maybe'. Depending on whether the rabble in the HoC respects the outcome of the vote two years ago.

  3. whats the point in another referendum, they ignored the first one , if we vote to leave again they will ignore that one.

    If they gerrymander the result , which they will one way or another , will we then be discussing soft remain, hard remain, cliff edge remain , remain in name only.

    I think we all know the answer to that one. If they can keep us in by hook or by crook we will never be asked again


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