This Is Not A
Date: 07/05/15, etc.
Election Night Live Blog
Hint: Start at the bottom of the page and work up. It might make marginally more sense that way.
07:49: I think I'm heading for some attempt at a summing up here, chums. There are still eighty-odd seats left to declare, and the Tories are currently on 265. Most of the remaining results are due either from existing Tory seats or from LibDem seats in areas where the Tories are the challengers. From what we have seen so far, the Conservatives will not only hold their own, but take all of the LibDems' constituencies as well. Out of the eighty-odd seats, they need only sixty of them to get an effective majority (forget about the mythical '326': Sinn Féin never take their seats, and you have to factor in the Speaker and his deputies as well). It isn't beyond the bounds of possibility that they will do this.
There were three big stories from the night. The first was the near-total inability of Labour to win the key marginals which they needed even to become the largest party. When Warwickshire North, Hendon, Thurrock and Cardiff North are beyond you, and you lose Bolton West and Southampton Itchen to boot, you are not having a nice time.
The second big story was the total collapse of the Liberal Democrats. In every part of the UK where they held seats, and even in the case of seats that they had held for several parliaments, they were minced. Labour grabbed seats as far down the bucket list as Bristol West and Bermondsey and - in England and Wales at least - the Tories have taken care of nearly all the rest, leaving just eight at the time of writing. This includes the party's 'leader', the witless Clegg, who was only saved by tactical voting. It wasn't just the fact that they lost all those seats which makes the mind boggle slightly either; it was the clear margins by which they were defeated. In short, their share of the vote collapsed in seat after seat after seat, often being overtaken not only by UKIP but also the Greens.
Overall, as far as England is concerned (and Wales to a substantial degree as well), it's almost as if the constituency maps of the eighties had been unrolled once more: Tory dominance of the South outside of the major conurbations, Labour filling in the gaps in urban areas and the LibDems picking up the odd one or two where they could. Except that now, they don't seem to be able even to do that.
As expected, UKIP picked up a large number of votes in most areas - out-polling the LibDems by a ratio of 3:2. But our wonderful electoral system meant that they couldn't translate that into more than one seat (although Rochester & Strood and Thanet South have yet to declare at this time).
But the biggest story - and the one which will reverberate long after the new parliament itself has passed into the history books - was what happened in Scotland. It seemed absurd to me that the BBC exit poll stated that the SNP would win 58 seats. It still seems absurd to me now even after spending the whole night boggling at the results as they came in. They didn't quite reach 58 - the three unionist parties did manage to hold on to one each - but to gain 56 seats in an election where you were only contesting 59 is (and for once the term is appropriate and proportionate for describing its effect) seismic. Not only did the SNP win in all parts of Scotland, but they overturned massive majorities for Labour and LibDem alike, and not merely beat their main opponents but beat them hollow and back again, with swings of 25, 30 or 35 per cent commonplace.
The ramifications for Westminster politics remain to be seen in full, and much will depend upon the final arithmetic across the even-less-accurately-titled-than-before 'United Kingdom'. What is absolutely clear is that the Labour Party in its current form is finished as a political force in Scotland for a generation unless it finally gets a hold on reality and realises that insulting tribalist behaviour, arrogance and a willingly servile relationship to the Party's Westminster machine will serve them no good at all. A specifically and independently Scottish party has to be set up, otherwise there will be no challenge to the SNP's dominance for a decade or more; something which, despite the glee with which many of us greeted each result as it came in, cannot be in the best interests of democracy in the long term.
Will this total dominance now lead to a second referendum on independence within a handful of years? Well, a lot will depend on how Scotland is treated not only by the Westminster élite, but by their embedded media. Perhaps it will dawn on them that - as with the lesson which may finally be learned by Labour following its abject humiliation tonight - shouting, screaming and calling the people of Scotland imbeciles is not going to work. There is a spirit in the people of Scotland which is not going to be cowed and which will need to be handled with tact, diplomacy and honesty.
No, I don't think they will, either.
I'm off to bed. More thoughts later, perhaps.
If you have been, thanks for reading.
06:34: That vicious little twat Grayling will be coming back, rather like a bad curry.
06:25: Well, Monkey McVey may have gone, but Corpse Grinder General Iain Duncan Smith is back, alas.
06:09: "Gorgeing George, who ate the pies/Bores us with his shameful lies/But when the people had their say/Georgie filled his litter tray!". Away with you, you gobshite!
06:00: "MeepMeepMeepMeepMeep!". Bye-bye, Beaker!
05:58: Oh dear! The dreaded Sontaran Ambassador Pickles has been re-elected. Guard the buffet!
05:49: Bit of a shame to see David Ward lose Bradford East; one of the very few MPs to tell the truth about Palestine. Don't know what's happening with Gorgeing George in the seat next door.
05:46: As expected, the Kippers have held their by-election gain at Clacton.
05:30: So Champagne Charlie is no more, eh? That means there's only Beaker left (apart from one totally obscure LibDem whose result won't be declared until about lunchtime).
05:16: Rumours of a recount in Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk. Not between the LibDem incumbent and anyone else, but between SNP and Tories. The world is turned upside down. In other news, the first bus of the day has not long gone by, the day is dawning, and the point where my left shoulder meets my neck is feeling like it has spent a week buried in rocks.
05:09: Hell's bells, Labour can't even take Stockton South! 4.5% swing to the Tories there.
05:03: YES! The appalling cripple-kicking Esther McVey is OUT!.
04:58: The Tories have held their only seat in Scotland coming into all this, but only by 800 votes. So it looks like the unionist parties are going to end up with one seat each.
04:56: The wretch Clegg has held Sheffield Hallam, but only because of very obvious tactical voting by Tories. I'm glad, because we can then see his total humiliation in full public view.
04:50: And a fond farewell to Vince Cable. Now, about the £1bn you stiffed us for when you flogged Royal Mail off to your Tory chums...
04:44: Nice joke from Twitter: Q. How many Scottish Labour MPs does it take to change a lightbulb? A. All of them.
04:34: Labour have held Edinburgh South, due in no small part to a confected shit-storm against the SNP candidate which the unionist media played and played and played. I suspect that Ian Murray will be the only Scottish representative of his party after tonight.
04:25: I think the BBC's Election site has just stalled. Reports from elsewhere state that Alex Salmond has won Gordon by a country mile.
04:19: If Labour can't win Cardiff North, then they truly are shagged beyond redemption. The trouble is, so are we. Remember, we've had scarcely a third of the seats declared so far, and most of what are left are in central and southern England.
04:15: And that's the end of Simon Hughes in Bermondsey, thirty-odd years after he won the seat in a by-election made infamous by the homophobic smears against the Labour candidate Peter Tatchell.
04:00: Well that's spoiled the pattern. The LibDems hold Orkney & Shetland, but by less than 4%. Mind you, let's be honest with ourselves, that it could even be considered possible - let alone likely - that Carmichael would lose gives some indication of the enormous political change which has swept Scotland tonight.
03:49: Oh, bollocks! (x2) - Labour have held Ynys Môn, but only just; a majority of 229 with a 3.2% swing to Plaid. What happened to that fourth seat Plaid were supposed to be getting according to that exit poll?
03:30: Let's just get off Fantasy Island for a moment and take a broader view. The Tories are gaining seats in Wales. What the fuck is that about? They've just taken Vale Of Clwyd from Labour to add to Brecon & Radnor, in addition to holding Aberconwy and Montgomery. The fact that these areas are either border constituencies or nothing much more than dormitory suburbs for Chester, Merseyside and Manchester may have something to do with it. In England, we still haven't had very many of those barometer swing seats, although Labour have failed to win Worcester and have even failed to get back Warwickshire North, the most marginal Tory seat of all. Moreover, there was a swing to the Conservatives of over 3%. It seems that that exit poll was rather closer to the truth than perhaps many of us wished to believe. The LibDems have held only one seat so far although, as I said before, their key areas have yet to come up. It's quite dispiriting in a way, especially when you know that the Blairite clique which still has an inordinate influence on the Labour Party will be chuckling quietly tonight, planning the defenestration of Junior Milliband and the shifting of the party even further to the right.
03:12: "HEY, MURPHY? YER TEA'S OOT!" Yes, the Blairite thug who was going to turn around the fortunes of the Scottish Accounting Unit of the Labour Party has actually delivered. He's turned the Labour Party in Scotland into a non-entity, and has lost his own seat. I'll just repeat that: JIM MURPHY IS TOAST! BURNT ON BOTH SIDES! Let joy be unconfined!
03:03: LibDems losing seats hand over fist here. Burnley to Labour, Brecon & Radnor to the Tories. And we haven't had any from the south west of England or Cornwall yet.
02:54: Remember where you were when you read that the SNP had taken Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, Labour's safest Scottish seat. Gordon Brown's old constituency. With a swing of 34.5%. Momentous times.
02:45: The thing to remember about these SNP gains is that they are not just edging them; they're taking them on huge percentages and enormous swings on a very high turnout. This is history we're witnessing here.
02:27: Keep 'em coming, Scotland! Bye bye Dougie Alexander, hammered by 20-year-old Mhairi Black on a 27% swing! And it's toodle-oo to Gemma Doyle, beaten on a swing to SNP of 34.5%!
02:20: More Welsh results coming in: Plaid have held Arfon with a swing from Labour of 4%, but have failed to land Llanelli, due in no small measure to another surge to the Kippers. Blaenau Gwent stays Labour, with UKIP second.
02:15: THIS IS WHAT WE WANT! First Scottish declaration from Kilmarnock & Loudon - SNP gain from Lab. Not just a gain, but a swamping victory - over 55% of the vote, and a swing of nearly 26%!
02:13: Oh, bollocks!, the LibDems have held Ceredigion, albeit with a sharp drop in their share. At least it's now a marginal again.
02:04: And the first seat to change parties is...Antrim South, where the DUP's songbird, Warbling Willie McCrea, has lost to the Ulster Unionists.
01:53: And the moment I say that, Nuneaton declares for the Conservatives again, with a 3% swing from Labour. That was one which Labour had to win. They're fucked. And not one seat has changed hands yet.
01:50: This is a bit frustrating; we've not had any declarations for any of those bellwether seats in central and southern England which will give us some real idea of what is happening.
01:45: And I still have a Labour MP, but a small swing to Con. The wretched Kippers third here, too. LibDems trashed - another lost deposit.
01:29: Wrexham - the seat next door to mine - held by Labour, but is now a Lab/Con marginal for the first time in about 25 years. UKIP third after yet another LibDem collapse.
01:12: Lab hold Newcastle Upon Tyne East with a small swing from Con. Again, UKIP third but this time LibDems holding off the Greens. Elsewhere, rumours of a recount in Bradford West and strong indications that the exit poll may be correct regarding Scotland - Labour insiders admitting that they may have lost the whole of Lanarkshire and most of Glasgow. Tee-hee!
01:00: Tories hold Putney - no surprise - minuscule swing Con to Lab.
00:47: Right! First possibly meaningful result: Con hold Swindon North, 4.2% swing Lab to Con, UKIP third and again the Greens pushing the LibDems into fifth.
00:36: Oh, do get on with it, chaps!
00:17: While it's quiet, I think I'll go and grill a couple of Sainsbury's Cumberland Sausages to help me get a couple of hours further in.
23:52: We're in that annoying lull caused by one local authority area determined to flash themselves on a 'national' stage. It used to be Torbay back in the eighties and nineties, and they were helped by the fact that it was a rock-solid Tory seat at that time. Once it became a Con/LibDem marginal they had to pull their horns in a bit.
23:38: And that completes the voting of the Sunderland jury - Washington & Sunderland West: Lab hold, UKIP pushing Tories into third, Greens dumping LD into fifth. 2.7% swing Con to Lab. These three results give us very little to go on; it'll be well past midnight before we get the seats which will give us a better idea of what's going on.
23:26: Small but important clarification: YouGov's poll was not an exit poll.
23:18: Ah! A bit quicker for Sunderland Central. Labour hold, 5.5% swing Con-Lab, UKIP third, Greens again pushing LD into fifth, with the Cleggonauts getting scarcely 1000 votes. Elsewhere, UK Polling Report is back up, but as Anthony Wells is working for the BBC tonight, there'll only be below-the-line comment from there. All else is gossip - including a rumour that Ed Balls may have lost his seat.
23:10: Just like last time, there seems to be a long wait for the other two Sunderland seats. It was 23:30-23:45 before they came along last time. From the one result so far, it would seem that the Kippers will pick up a lot of votes but spread in such a way that they will gain few seats, and that the Liberal Democrats may be burnt toast come breakfast time.
22:53: First result: Labour hold Houghton & Washington South, Tories shunted into third by UKIP. LibDems knocked into fifth by Green. 3.9% swing Lab to Con.
22:28: First Bad Sight Of The Night - Michael 'Smuggins' Gove. YouGov exit poll for the Sun gives a very different set of figures: Con 284, Lab 263, LD 31, SNP 48, PC 3, UKIP 2, Green 1. That certainly seems more in line with the polls leading up to tonight, and would mean that Con plus LibDem wouldn't quite be enough.
22:21: I'm sitting here boggling at the exit poll. In other news, someone on Wings' Twitter feed has just posted a photo of a packet of indigestion tablets; UK Polling Report's site has crashed; and Philip Challinor has kindly tweeted a link to here.
22:10: Exit poll suggesting that SNP will take all bar one of Scotland's seats (although it doesn't say which one it won't - possibly Willie Bain's seat in Glasgow). Wow!
22:02: Fucking hell! Look at that exit poll from the BBC! Tories 316! Labour 239! SNP 58! LibDems 10! Plaid 4! Two seats for the Greens and two for the Kippers! Now, in 2010, the same poll was pretty near to the mark, although I doubted it very strongly at the start. This one seems even more batshit to my instincts. I can't believe that - even with a cipher as leader - Labour would lose seats at all, let alone to this extent (Scotland excepted, of course). Well, we shall see...
21:55: Just so's you'll know. In one Firefox window I have this page (or, rather, the master copy which gets sent to the server once I've done what I need to do) and the HTML validation page at W3C so that I can be sure I haven't cocked the coding up.
In another Firefox window, I have tabs for the BBC Election site, UK Polling Report, and a third one which is currently on Wings Over Scotland's Twitter feed (where they are whiling away the final moments by tweeting photos of their stash of snacks for getting them through the night).
I have my FTP client open and ready to upload updated versions of this page, Notepad++ open to edit the page, and I have my external hard drive connected in case I'm in need of music to get me through (quietly, however; I'm aware that the bloke next door will be getting up for work at about six in the morning).
Right! Here we go...
Preamble: Hell's bells, is it really five years since I last did this?
Anyway...at this point on election night, historically speaking, it would have been customary to utter some little ol' cliché, like that of, "It's all over bar the shouting". This time, however, I suspect that the shouting is going to go on for quite a few days, or even weeks.
Because what is quite certain at this stage is that this will be the most inconclusive general election in over forty years. Neither Tweedle-dee nor Tweedle-dum is going to get an outright majority, and it's not particularly likely that buying the remaining Liberal Democrats will get either of them through the finishing line this time.
And the shouting, screaming, stranking and kicking is certainly not going to stop from a print media which has shown itself to be not so much waving as drowning, even the so-called 'quality' papers (always something of an overstatement in any case) abandoning any sense of being journals of record, and descending to hyperbolic tabloid hysteria to grab attention (yes, Toryglyph, I do mean you).
It has, in the main, been an utterly uninspiring campaign, with only the casting of jealous eyes northwards and the regular sight of Kippers in various stages of self-destruct mode to entertain. But that part of the mallarkey is all but over now, and we now await the consequences.