North East Referendum Campaign and Media Coverage, 2003-2005

The North East referendum of November 2004 asked voters whether an elected assembly should be created for the region. The referendum aimed to formalise New Labour's regional programme in England and to mirror the creation of elected assemblies in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. Initially, referendums had been planned in three northern English regions, including the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East. However, two referendums were cancelled by the government once it became apparent that defeat was almost inevitable. Only in the North East was a referendum held. In the event, voters in the North East rejected an elected assembly by almost four votes to one, effectively ending plans for elected regional government in England.This project investigated the activities of the official 'Yes' (supporting an elected assembly) and 'No' (opposing an elected assembly) campaigns in the North East. It set the referendum in the wider context of debates on English regionalism and spatial inequalities of power in the UK state. The interaction between the campaigns and the regional and national media was also researched. It was felt that the media played a key role in translating campaign arguments into issues of public interest.There were three distinct research elements in the project.The first was a programme of qualitative interviews with key actors in the campaigns and regional and national media. Second, an extensive media monitoring exercise was carried out, reviewing newspaper coverage of the referendum over two years leading up to November 2004. It used LexisNexis archives and the web archives of individual newspapers (source:, no copyright permissions necessary). These data were aggregated into summary information on media coverage. Third, quantitative analysis of elite social networks within the North East region was conducted using UCINET V software. This looked at the board membership of regional and local institutions of governance. A comparison of networks in the North East, North West, and the Yorkshire and the Humber regions was also conducted.

Alternative title Qualitative Study of the North East Referendum Campaign and Media Coverage, 2004
Creator(s) Tickell, A., University of Bristol. School of Geographical Sciences
Funder Economic and Social Research Council
Publisher UK Data Service
DOI 10.5255/UKDA-SN-5747-1
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