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Date: 06/05/10 and counting...

Election Night Live Blog

Psst! Start at the bottom of the page and work up. It looks daft otherwise...

07:35: Right, I think this is as far as I can go. There are a number of recounts going on, and some seats haven't even started counting yet. This has been the craziest general election I can remember, and I've been watching them closely since 1979. It's quite clear that not even the shiny new Cameron Conservatives have managed to convince quite enough people that they're to be trusted with governing outright. It's also obvious that - with the exception of Scotland - no-one much wanted Labour to be able to cling on to power. The big mysteries of the past few hours have been:

At least it looks as if the Conservatives are going to have to govern without their customary arrogance for a while, although it wouldn't be surprising to see another election before the year's out.

I'm off up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire on this grey, damp morning. If you have been, thanks for reading. an arrow to click on to take you to a follow-up item

07:09: I'm still here, but trying to catch up on results I'd missed earlier on. Also, trying to reach some sort of summing-up of the results so far. I intend getting to bed by 08:00 if I can...

06:08: Ah, lovely! There's now a Green MP! Well done to Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion!...

05:39: I've now been at this just short of eight hours, the sparrows are shouting at each other in the back garden, and the point where my neck meets my left shoulder is a small but intense world of pain...

05:26: Good to see Jacqui Smith and Charles Clarke - two of the most ridiculous Home Secretaries in living memory - both having to find new jobs next week. Perhaps Jacqui can give her husband a helping hand around the house...

05:04: Tories picking up a lot of votes and seats in the Midlands. Sorry to see Dr Richard Taylor lose Wyre Forest. There will be no genuine independents in the Commons this time with Dai Davies having lost Blaenau Gwent earlier. How bloody stupid of the Lib Dems to field a candidate against him. And how do nearly two thousand people vote for Esther fucking Rantzen in Luton South?...

04:41: Some consolation to see that the appalling Phillipa Stroud didn't take Sutton & Cheam, although it was bloody close. Unfortunately, the wretched Nadine Dorries sailed home in Mid Bedfordshire, so there'll be no shortage of religious wingnuttery in the new parliament...

04:34: Sorry to see the defeat of Dr Evan Harris, one of the few MPs who had any real scientific expertise. I believe that he was the target of some fundamentalists, who will no doubt be happy with their work...

04:06: This really is all over the place. Lib Dems lose Rochdale (where they were incumbent, although notionally a Labour seat), but gain Redcar on a swing of nearly 22%. Someone on UK Polling Report has expressed the opinion that we are seeing a highly regionalised election. It's difficult not to agree. The South of England seems to be reverting to a pattern familiar to us from the 1980s, although one or two more islands of Lib Dems and Labour; the South West seems to be dividing between Lib Dem and Con more than for some time; the East Midlands seems to be heading largely rightwards; and Scotland seems to be piling them up for Labour. The prediction is still in line with the revised exit poll from the start of the night, but many seats in naturally rural Conservative areas have yet to declare. There are also some key recounts (Birmingham Edgbaston, I'm told)...

03:36: I've got a stiff neck, not eased any by the head-shaking I'm doing at some of these results...

03:03: So, five hours in and where are we? Very confused, I think. This is not how it was supposed to be. There has been no Lib Dem surge (in fact they seem to be doing pretty badly, especially in Scotland) ,the Tories are piling up huge swings but not taking that many seats as yet. Labour's vote has even increased in Scotland. I don't know what to make of it all...

02:24: In Wales, Labour regain Blaenau Gwent - not too big a surprise. Two big shocks, though: not only do the Lib Dems hold Ceredigion, they take it with 50% of the vote. This may console them for what happened next door, where the eccentric Lembit pik has been defeated by the Conservatives on a swing of over 13%. Now he can spend more time with his Cheeky Girl...

02:00: Little sign of that surge for the Lib Dems. In fact, they seem to be losing ground, especially in the South of England. They've failed to regain Guildford - in fact they suffered a huge swing against them. Troubling...

01:49: The Broon has held his seat, and Labour are piling up huge majorities in their Scottish heartlands...

01:41: Hmm, so I've still got a Labour MP. What a surprise. 5.8% swing from Lab to Con, though...

01:23: A lot more coming in now. Labour have lost Kingswood near Bristol, and have suffered large swings against them elsewhere. Plaid have taken Arfon (a notional Labour seat), but have failed to regain Ynys Mn, where the Tories would probably have finished a close second but for the presence of an Independent who was previously a Conservative candidate...

00:57: Big shock in Northern Ireland as Assembly First Minister Peter Robinson loses to the Alliance after the Unionist vote splits three ways...

00:52: The logjam appears to have been broken. LD hold Thornbury & Yate, but with a reduced majority and a sizable drop in Labour's vote. Labour hold Durham North. A big majority but again, like the Sunderland seats, a big swing to Con. They also hold Darlington, but their majority cut by nearly two-thirds...

00:46: A couple of results from Norn Irn: Sinn Fin hold Tyrone West and the DUP hold Antrim North (putting Junior Paisley into office in succession to his da')...

00:34: I don't remember such a long gap in declarations at this time of night before. I suspect that there are a lot more recounts in the offing tonight than we've seen since 1974...

00:04: I suspect that the final result of this election will not be clear for some time. Apart from the fact that Thirsk and Malton will not now be voting until May 27 because of the death of the UKIP candidate there, there are so many reports coming in of people not being able to vote (not just because of the time factor, but because of out-of-date electoral rolls) that legal challenges could drag things out for weeks or even months...

23:46: Result: Sunderland Central: LAB HOLD. Percentages and change: Lab: 45.9 (-4.2), Con: 30.1 (+4.7), LD 16.9 (+1.6). Now everyone in Sunderland can go to bed...

23:36: I've decided I need some music to get me through the night. Now playing: Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians...

23:30: Right, at last! Second result: Washington & Sunderland West: LAB HOLD. Percentages and change: Lab: 52.5 (-9.8), Con: 21.9 (+7.5), LD: 17.1 (-0.3)...

23:19: Why do constituencies vie with each other to be the first declaration? Surely it would be better to make sure that they got it right rather than first. But then that, as the late, great Robert Calvert put it, is the Spirit Of The Age...

23:13: The exit poll has now been revised slightly. Con: 305, Lab: 255, LD: 61. A distinction without a difference, methinks...

22:57: First result: Houghton & Washington South: LAB HOLD. Percentages and change from notional 2005 result: Lab 50.3 (-13.3), Con 21.4 (+4.8), LD 13.9 (-2.4)...

22:43: Reports from a number of constituencies of people being turned away from polling stations at 22:00 and being prevented from voting. Sheesh! Why did they leave it so late to go?...

22:30: Just for the sake of information, this is the first general election I've monitored without the aid of a television set. Instead, I'm switching between the BBC, The Guardian and UK Polling Report to keep up with things. I might look further afield as well, time permitting...

22:26: First result is expected to be Houghton and Sunderland South, an ultra-safe Labour seat, sometime shortly after 23:00...

22:07: Reports of a high turnout, and also of problems with missing postal ballots in a number of constituencies which could lead to challenges to the results in some places...

22:01: Exit poll gives Con: 307, Lab: 255, LD: 59. So, Cameron short of an overall majority, but near enough to try to govern, and near enough to try to do a cosy deal with the Ulster Unionists. I'm not entirely convinced by these numbers: the number of LD seats seems very low - a net loss, in fact. But it'll be about an hour before we get the first actual result in, so...

Preamble: Well, there we are. We've had our brief moment of illusory power (mine was at 07:20 this morning), and now it's a case of waiting. Voting ends in a minute or so, and then we'll have the dreaded exit poll to consider. Back in a tick...