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Thursday, May 06, 2010 

Election live blog (possibly).

11:15. And fuck it, I'm going to get some sleep, or at least attempt to. Back later.

11:10. Sarah Teather back in, in new Brent constituency. Great result for her and the Liberal Democrats. Real shame that wasn't repeated elsewhere.

10:54. Galloway out. No surprise. Not sure what he's going to do with himself now, or rather I do; spend just as much time away from politics in this country as he always has.

10:43. Really strong speech by Nick Clegg. Disagree vehemently on Tories having the first go at forming a government when all the constitutional precedents say it's the prime minister's (and Gordon Brown remains prime minister) right to make the first attempt, but it's not going to change anything on that score, even as Ed Vaizey is currently attempting to reach out to them. Frankly that makes it even more unlikely that a Lab-Lib and others coalition is possible. Cameron can, in that horrible cliché, start measuring up Number 10's curtains.

10:20. David Steel talking absolute sense. All the leaders should leave negotiations until tomorrow and get some sleep. Don't think I'm going to do the same just yet.

09:42. Formally a hung parliament. I said it was the best possible result, and it still probably is, only I wished desperately for the Lib Dems to at least get around 80 seats. It wasn't to be. Conservative government incoming in one form or another.

09:00. Clearly Gordon Brown isn't going to concede today, but I can't see any possible way in which any sort of coalition is either credible or could ever be agreed with the Lib Dems plus the other minor parties. The Tories have not won this election, but they've come within touching distance, and will almost certainly either govern with a minority or form some kind of coalition, most likely with the DUP and maybe others if needed. As suggested below, I still think a second election is worth a bet, if you're into that sort of shenanigans: the Tories would dearly love an actual majority they could call their own, but with the press the way it is they might be able to manage without it.

The Liberal Democrats are going to blame the electoral system, and that's exactly what I would do. The opinion polls were wrong in predicting them gaining parity with Labour; the exit poll, however, was almost dead right. Nonetheless, to lose seats is a catastrophe. On the day they were squeezed, Clegg simply wasn't enough to dislodge those who were always determined to try and get a Conservative majority, and as downhearted as I personally am with such a poor overall result, perhaps we should have expected it. Every time hopes have been raised for the Liberals, whether in the guise of the SDP/Alliance or otherwise, they've been dashed on the day itself.

Labour's result isn't as terrible as it could have been: the share of the vote looks to be higher than 1983 and the longest suicide note in history. On the plus side for the party itself, only minor ministers or ex-cabinet members have lost their seats; all the big names remain. It faces opposition, but this is not even approaching the oblivion which the Tories woke up to in 1997. It needs to be remembered just how unpopular this government, whichever form it eventually takes, is likely to be: if the Tories decide to govern by consensus and follow the cuts outlined by Labour and the Liberals which amount to the levels from the 1970s, then it might be able to hang on next time. If it goes instead for the biggest cuts since the second world war, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies believes it will impose based on its costings, then absolutely anything could happen, including Greece style rage. If it insists on going ahead with raising the inheritance tax threshold, just for one example, one can only imagine how much anger that will inspire; it will make the fury over the 10p tax rate's abolition look like the proverbial tea party.

We are facing a Conservative government. There is no way to claim this shows a progressive consensus, regardless of what the added share of the vote says. The left now more than ever needs to unite, and we need to fight. We have to battle the Conservatives and what their agenda threatens to be on every single front. We can't pretend that this result was not predicted, but equally we have to take heart from the Conservatives not gaining the majority they threatened for so long. We can be proud that regardless of the overwhelming media bias in favour of the Conservatives, especially that of the Murdoch press, the Sun has not even begun to have won it; if anything, ever since that paper's endorsement the party's support has fallen. More than anything, David Cameron has not had the endorsement which he has so keenly sought. We are humbled, but we are not even close to having been humiliated.

08.00. My local result has come in, as if you care. As predicted, Conservative rout: majority of nearly 9,000 over Labour in a new seat with a technical Labour majority of around 1,500. Greens came behind UKIP and the BNP, which is rather sad, but at least my vote had I chosen to go with Labour was nowhere near making a difference. The turnout, believe it or not, actually went down by 0.6% on last time. The turnout as a whole seems all over the place, and wouldn't be surprised if overall it's only slightly up. Hardly an endorsement of a campaign or our democracy when so much has been at stake.

07:37. A thought - Labour has all but been completely wiped out in England outside of the major cities/larger towns. The Tories have made gains in Wales but have got nowhere in Scotland yet again. The question has to be - why on earth is the Tory party still so committed to the union? With Scotland fully independent, the Tories outside of huge swings like 1997's could rule England itself almost perpetually. The West Lothian question looms larger than ever.

07:12. Another Portillo moment for me personally in a night mostly devoid of them: Blairite git and former minister (I think I might have used more colourful epithets slightly too liberally earlier in the evening) Tony McNulty has lost his Harrow East seat, the Tories getting a comfortable 3,403 majority.

7:00. The gorgeous Julia Goldsworthy has just lost her seat in Cambourne and Redruth, by a heartbreakingly close 66 votes. I know I shouldn't reduce it to such terms, but there goes easily the sexiest MP of all 650. Sigh. If you were one of the more than 6,000 that voted Labour when they didn't have a chance, hold your head in shame.

To, err, less priapic matters, it won't have escaped your attention that Labour and the Liberal Democrats can't form a coalition as it stands, and it's doubtful whether they can even if they gain the support of most of the sympathetic smaller parties. Gordon Brown is constitutionally fully entitled to attempt to form a government, and is doubtless attempting to do so as I type this. Far more realistic however is the Tories either forming a coalition with the likes of the unionists in NI, or attempt to govern with their minority without an actual deal. Here's a prediction which I may end up eating: the Tories won't be able to pass an emergency budget/and or a Queen's speech unless they make major concessions on cuts this year. I think we're set for a second election, which the Conservatives will gain an easy majority in.

06:22. For those wondering about Salma Yaqoob, i.e., just me, she sadly came second with 12,240 to Labour's 16,039 in Birmingham Hall Green. The Lib Dems were third with 11,988; they really should have tactically voted for Salma there. Sure she'll be back regardless.

06:00. And to follow that, the Fuhrer himself comes absolutely nowhere in Barking. Well, to be fair, 6,600 votes for the BNP is still a massive result for them, but 24,000 for a hardly ideal Labour candidate in the form of Margaret Hodge is a superb result. Tactical voting, the Hope Not Hate campaign and hatred of the scum clearly all worked to the BNP's disadvantage.

A word on the exit poll: looks like we were all wrong, and it was right, sadly.

05:52. Caroline Lucas wins in Brighton Pavilion by just less than 2,000 votes! Best result of the evening, absolutely fucking brilliant, first ever Green MP and under FPTP. Literally just been pumping the air like an absolute moron.

05:17. Gisela Stuart has held on in Birmingham Edgbaston, which was 39th on the Tory target list, with a majority of 3.1%, an excellent result. I presume that tactical voting played a role there. The Liberal Democrats have continued to fail where they should have won had Cleggmania been real - Labour have held on in Islington South.

To sort of attempt a brief summing up - even though we're still looking at a hung parliament, this has been a disastrous night for both Labour and the Lib Dems, Labour's vote potentially below Michael Foot's 1983 share. The Lib Dem vote has held, but not increased, which is bitterly, bitterly disappointing, and the electoral system has once again meant the bankrupt continuation of two party politics. The Conservatives have not triumphed by any means, but let's be honest - they're going to almost certainly be able to govern with a minority, whether or not Brown has the first throw of the dice. We're looking at Cameron in 10 Downing Street, hung parliament or not.

04:54. Ed Balls has held on in his new seat, despite the Tories throwing everything at it in the hope of a "Portillo moment". The BNP took 3,535 there, so we have racist cunts to thank for Ed Balls staying in, which is always nice. My own personal Portillo moment however is the defenestration of Charles Clarke, one of the few Liberal Democrat gains tonight in Norwich South. Farewell sweet Safety Elephant, for you most certainly won't be missed. Another notable result is Hammersmith - the Tory candidate there was Shaun Bailey, one of the infamous Tatler group of young, happening, hip, super-sexy modern Tories - and he's lost. Hah! 78th on the Tory target list as well. John Denham has also just won, one of the few ministers to resign over Iraq war - possible leadership candidate for Labour should it come to it?

04:20. 40 minutes on and we're still no nearer to knowing for certain whether hung parliament is going to be the result, although definitely heading that way. Tories simply aren't winning enough of their target seats, with the parties other than Labour holding on most fiercely. Wales and Scotland seats especially haven't gone for them. One of the worst results so far is Evan Harris' apparent loss - one of the most decent MPs gone. Labour have just held onto Luton South, despite Margaret Moran and Esther Rantzen, who got all of 1,800 votes. Ed Balls in Normanton apparently gone to recount, much as I dislike the bastard I'd love him to hold on. Jacqui Smith has lost, as she always going to, good riddance to a despicable Blairite, regardless of her expenses.

03:40. Labour have held on in Rochdale. If the opposition couldn't win off the back of "bigotgate", then that's a poor show all round and good news for Labour. Far less good news is a Conservative triumph in Carlisle, which wasn't even on the Tory target list. Results are coming in so thick and fast now that it's difficult to keep up. The difference in Birmingham Edgbaston may be as little as 20 votes, second recount there. Very handy page is here - the Tory target seats. Nick Griffin apparently conceded defeat in Barking, although nothing official. As for the Greens, declaration in Brighton isn't expected until 5am, closer than initially thought. Dearly hope Caroline Lucas grabs it.

03:04. Piss-poor speech from Cameron, didn't even attempt to claim victory, only said Labour had "lost mandate to govern". And you haven't won the right to at the moment. Couple of good results for Tories - taking Erewash on 10% swing, Dover also. The difficulty for Labour if everything stays as it is will be claiming there's a progressive majority when their vote is down, even if not by as much as thought, and when the Liberal Democrats have done so poorly when expectations were so high. Tory press is going to be fucking savage, claims of a coup bound to made. It's going to be incredibly nasty, potentially defining politics for years to come.

02:49. Switched to ITV - coverage is so much better, just keeping it simple, telling you the results as they come in. Lib Dems have taken Eastbourne, their first gain, Chris Huhne also hanging on in his seat, against the horrible hand-picked Maria Hutchings, who declared she didn't care about asylum seekers. Birmingham Edgbaston, major target for the Tories, appears to be going to a recount. The lovely Annunziata Rees-Mogg, or Nancy Mogg as Cameron allegedly suggested she call herself, has also been beaten by the Lib Dem incumbent. Again, Tories don't seem to be taking seats they absolutely have to, Lib Dems flat-lining, Labour holding on, hung parliament looking increasingly likely.

02:25. Lembit Opik out in Montgomeryshire on a swing to the Tories of an incredible 13.2%. Opik might have been a publicity whore and turned people off, but that's immense. Along with Robinson story of the night so far, and yet more evidence of a dreadful night for the Lib Dems.

02:13. Think it needs to be pointed out just how fucking atrocious the BBC coverage is. It's not just the boat, it's the almost complete ignoring of the actual results to talk to people who are saying absolutely nothing.

02:03. This doesn't just look depressing on the Liberal Democrat front, it looks disastrous. Failed to win in Guildford, which was their number one target, with a swing to the Tories of 6%. Going to be incredibly disappointed if the pattern continues.

01:51. Sadiq Khan doesn't just hang on in Tooting, keeps a 3,000 majority. Looks like a clear example of tactical voting. Tories take Battersea, but with Labour taking a better share of the vote than predicted. Wondering out loud here - could it possibly be that Lib Dems have been prepared to vote tactically while Labour supporters haven't?

01:37. David Blunkett essentially conceding defeat. Brown despite an increased majority with no bombast whatsoever. Lewis Bastion on the Graun live-blog calling a majority for the Tories. Still don't think you can realistically do that yet - some claiming, nothing official yet, that Sadiq Khan has hung on in Tooting, Labour held Durham against a Lib Dem challenge. The real disaster of this seems so far, and yet again with the usual caveats, no sign whatsoever of the Lib Dems rising to the heights which the opinion polls suggested. After the suggestion earlier in the campaign that we might finally have something other than 2 party politics, that would be incredibly depressing.

01:12. This is way too volatile to predict yet. 9% swing in Kingswood, not a main Tory target, 2% swing to LD against Tories in Torbay, 10% swing to Tories in Putney. Those huge swings look alarming but still nothing even approaching a pattern emerging.

00:55. Peter Robinson loses his seat with a huge swing to the Alliance, that's fairly massive. Did anyone predict that? Especially awesome that a non-sectarian candidate won. On matters far more profane: just how many cunts are there on this boat on the Thames? Toby Young, Maureen Lipmann, Piers Morgan, David Starkey, any more for any more? If it wasn't for Armando Iannucci and Ian Hislop I would heartily advocate sinking the thing.

00:45. Okkkkkk, went to play some Left 4 Dead 2 and in the meantime err, nothing has happened. Result from Sunderland Central is interesting: a "wildcard" for the Tories so an almost 7,000 majority for Labour, with only a 5% swing to the Conservatives is far more in line with what both exit polls and opinion polls were saying. Best bit so far: Joan Collins saying how important the family was. She should know, she's been in so many.

23:34. 11.6% swing to the Tories in Washington and Sutherland West. That's massive, and only on a low turnout which still went up by 7%. Again, shouldn't really be extrapolating, but that's worrying on all fronts. FiveThirtyEight also live-blogging, with their alternative to uniform swing calculations.

23:01. Incidentally, unlike others, I shall be imbibing energy drinks to get through the night, while munching through an already half-empty tin of Lindt truffles. Not sickly at all. No. Oh, and the first Sunderland result tells us fuck all. That's my opinion with psephologist hat on.

22:40. If the exit poll is right, and frankly the Liberal Democrats losing seats is making it look ridiculous, Brown clearly can't hang on. The Tory press will be in absolute full cry, Nick Clegg has already said that the Tories in this position should have the first go, against constitutional tradition but never mind, and the hangers on are proclaiming the biggest swing since 1931.

The sudden Damascene like conversion to PR from Mandelson and Johnson is incredibly cynical, as if it had be scripted should the exit poll say something similar beforehand. Desperation, as much as a Lab-Lib coalition would be preferable to any form of Tory coalition.

The electoral law is also clearly an ass; how can anyone justify shutting the polling stations when there are still people queueing, as reported in Manchester and Sheffield? Legal challenges in the offing also.

Justin is also live-tweeting over at Chick Yog, and I expect to be popping into the Lib Con live chat later.

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Mad results with the Liberal Democrats. What the hell happened?

Thats the big story, the lib dems are going to increase their vote share a bit and their seats not much.

The thing is, sometimes that would translate into a mandate for reform, but, if they don't get the seats, even with the vote share they won't be able to push through reform.

A worrying development.

As I said somewhere up there, the way this is going, Liberal Democrats by far the biggest losers. Best hope remains a hung parliament but Labour needs to hang on like it has in Tooting and Gelding.

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