i Editor's Letter: The rules were simple: before the results are announced, don’t mention the S-word


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The Independent Online

Both Yes and No camps were  confident of triumphing, they told us yesterday, briefing that their private research indicated victory was near. Bull. I don’t believe they had much more of an idea than the rest of us.

With so much riding on the result, and even the top pollsters refusing to  release their findings for fear of looking daft, it made for a nervy 20 hours  before the first results were announced in the early hours of this morning. Broadcast media found filling this time difficult. The curious thing about broadcasting on the day of a vote is that you can’t actually talk about it on air, beyond mentioning the barest facts. For a referendum, the rules say: “Discussion and analysis of election and referendum issues must finish when the poll opens.” Don’t mention the S-word.

This anachronism predates the internet and social media avalanche, and can lead to farcical scenes. But I  don’t think we should tear up the rule- book – if for no other reason than it forces the campaigners to pipe down for a few hours and allow us to recover before the madness begins again.

As you read these words, the i team will still be at their desks, some of them working straight through the night to bring you the results and prepare Saturday’s special edition: a complete breakdown of the result, with what it means for you, wherever you live in the UK.


Briefly, I would like to acknowledge the desire of Ruth Atkins – and 59 other healthy British volunteers – to be injected with the untested, experimental Ebola vaccine. Someone has to go first, and Ms Atkins, 48, answered an appeal on the radio.

If, if, the vaccine works, it will be fast-tracked for use in west Africa. We will not know for some months yet. But for their determination to contribute to what would be a  stunning public health triumph: Ruth Atkins, and your fellow volunteers, we salute you.


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