UK 2010 – Election night

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Click through to read the liveblog of the election results.

7:30am – The Lib Dems have been hit hard in Cornwall. The Lib Dems won all five seats in Cornwall in 2005, and notionally held all six seats after the redistribution added an extra seat in Cornwall. One seat will not be counted until later today, but out of the other five the Liberal Democrats only retained two, losing three to the Conservatives.

7:18am – The Lib Dems have gained Solihull in the West Midlands and Bradford East in West Yorkshire. Solihull was a Lib Dem seat in 2005 but was considered notionally Conservative after the redistribution.

7:16am – They have yet to begin counting in the East End seats of Bethnal Green & Bow and Poplar & Limehouse, seats where Respect is hoping to win. It has been said that the turnout has been very high in these seats. We now have 26 London seats yet to declare and 17 in the rest of the country.

7:00am – Excluding the 23 seats yet to be counted, we are expecting 28 more results in London and 20 seats in the rest of the UK, including one in Northern Ireland.

6:47am – The Lib Dems won three out of five seats in Somerset in 2005, but this time around they have won four, gaining Wells from the Conservatives, whose sitting MP was damaged by the expenses scandal.

6:34am – In most regions we have most seats now reporting, excluding the 22 seats which have yet to begin counting and the one seat which will not vote until late May. All but two seats in West Midlands have reported. All but seven seats in the South East have reported. Only five seats in the South West have yet to report, including four in Cornwall. All seats in Scotland and Wales have reported, as have all but one in Northern Ireland, East Midlands and North East England. All but three seats in the East of England have been declared. Most of the remaining seats are in the urban areas of London, North West England and Yorkshire.

5:59am – Labour MP Margaret Hodge has seen off a BNP challenge in Barking and substantially increased her majority on an increased turnout.

5:49am – The Greens have won Brighton Pavilion, their first ever seat in the House of Commons. Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Greens, has won the seat.

5:39am – Cardiff North has been retained by the Conservatives, so we have results in all 40 Welsh seats. The final figures are:

  • LAB – 26 (-4) – 36%
  • CON – 8 (+5) – 26%
  • LD – 3 (-1) – 20%
  • PC – 3 (+1) – 11%

5:19am – Colne Valley in West Yorkshire was a late addition to the Lib Dem target list. Labour has been pushed into third place by the Lib Dems, but the Conservatives outpolled the Lib Dems by 8.8%.

5:13am – The seat of Birmingham Edgbaston has been narrowly retained by Labour MP Gisela Stuart. The seat was the first gain for Labour in 1997, and was expected to be declared early, but a number of recounts has delayed a result. In the end she won by 1200 votes, which isn’t that slim. The Tories only managed a 0.5% swing.

5:07am – All but one seat in Scotland has been declared, and so far every seat has gone to the same party that won it in the 2005 election. Labour has regained the two seats it lost in by-elections in the last term, as well as retaining the seat won by then-Speaker Michael Martin in 2005. A very boring result.

4:57am – The DUP has retained East Londonderry, meaning they have maintained eight of their nine seats. We’re still waiting on Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and Cardiff North, and then we’ll have Northern Ireland and Wales completed.

4:54am – Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke has lost Norwich South to the Lib Dems. The Greens did well, gaining 8%, but still came fourth. The Lib Dem vote basically stayed still, but the Greens cut a huge swathe through the Labour vote, and the Lib Dems came out on top.

4:50am – Senior cabinet minister Ed Balls has just held on in his seat of Morley & Outwood.

4:45am – The Lib Dems are now down by five seats.

4:28am – Celebrity candidate Esther Rantzen’s challenge to Labour in Luton North only managed a distant fourth.

4:15am – The alliance of the Ulster Unionists and Conservatives has been a complete failure, with the party not winning a single seat. The DUP has maintained eight of their nine seats while former UUP member Sylvia Hermon has held on as an independent. The sole potential seat remaining for the unionists is Fermanagh and South Tyrone, where Sinn Fein is being challenged by an independent unionist, for whom both the DUP and UUP have withdrawn.

4:11am – The Leeds seat of Brown ally and cabinet minister Ed Balls is looking set to go to a recount.

4:03am – Independent MP Richard Taylor has been defeated by the Conservatives in Wyre Forest.

3:59am – We’ve got very few results from London: only three out of 73. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats currently are outpolling Labour in England, but have won far fewer seats.

3:56am – It appears that BNP leader Nick Griffin has failed to get higher than third in Barking.

3:48am – Rochdale, a Labour-Lib Dem marginal and home of the “bigotgate” affair, has been retained by Labour. It appears that the protest vote went to the Conservatives, who went up 8% while Labour and the Lib Dems both lost votes.

3:42am – The Tories have gained Carlisle.

3:38am – There are only two Northern Ireland seats and five Welsh seats yet to declare, so I should be able to give some overall results for those regions soon.

3:32am – The Lib Dems have gained Burnley, but failed to gain Newcastle Central.

3:22am – Labour has retained Oxford East, a seat that the Lib Dems were hoping to win.

3:09am – The SDLP has now retained all three of their seats, while Sinn Fein have retained all three of those that have been declared so far, with two remaining Sinn Fein seats and one DUP seat yet to declare. The DUP has lost one seat to the Alliance and sitting MP Sylvia Hermon, elected as an Ulster Unionist in 2005, has been re-elected as a pro-Labour independent unionist in North Down.

3:08am – There have been a number of Lib Dem gains and losses, but overall they have so far had a net loss of one seat, holding 10 seats so far.

2:43am – Senior Lib Dem frontbencher Chris Huhne has managed to increase his slim majority in Eastleigh.

2:29am – The SDLP has managed to hold on to the majority-unionist seat of Belfast South, which was a shock gain for the SDLP in 2005.

2:28am – The Conservatives have gained Basildon South & East Thurrock.

2:23am – Sitting Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik has been defeated by the Conservatives in Montgomeryshire in Wales.

2:14am – The Conservatives are starting to rack up some gains, having gained Aberconwy in North Wales and Loughborough in Leicestershire.

2:08am – Labour has now also gained Glasgow East, which they lost to the SNP in a 2008 by-election.

2:05am – Labour has also regained Dunfermline and West Fife, which they lost to the Lib Dems in a 2006 by-election.

1:56am – Labour has regained Blaenau Gwent in Wales from the independent who won the 2006 by-election after the sitting Labor AM had won the seat as an independent at the 2005 election before dying a year later.

1:47am – The Tories have fallen short in Tooting, which they should have won if they are on track for a majority.

1:36am – Labour has held on to City of Durham with practically no swing to the Lib Dems. This could suggest that the exit poll’s dismal prediction for the Lib Dems is accurate.

1:31am – Grrr, they were about to announce whether the Lib Dems had gained City of Durham off Labour and instead they went to Kirkcaldy to announce that – shock horror! – Gordon Brown has held his seat.

1:15am – We’re starting to see quite a few results. So far Labour has lost two seats: one to the Tories and one to Plaid Cymru, and the DUP has lost one seat to the non-sectarian Alliance Party. It also now appears that in North Down, independent MP Sylvia Hermon, a former member of the UUP who resigned over their alliance with the Conservatives, and for whom the DUP withdraw, has been re-elected.

1:10am – The Lib Dems have held Torbay from a Conservative challenge.

1:05am – Labour has now lost the Bristol seat of Kingswood to the Conservatives with a 9.4% swing.

1:03am – Plaid Cymru has now gained the new seat of Arfon from Labour. This seat covers much of the former seat of Caernarfon that was a PC seat, but the redistribution cut PC’s seats from 3 to 2, and this should take them back to 3.

12:58am – Labour has also held the North East seats of Durham North and Darlington with swings of around 9% in both seats.

12:56am – The Lib Dems have held Thornbury & Yate in the South West, but with a swing to the Tories.

12:50am – The Alliance are allied to the Lib Dems, although they’ve never had seats in Westminster since they were first created (when they gained a couple of defectors, who lost at the next election). They are the biggest non-sectarian party in Northern Ireland, and it’s a really fascinating result. Peter Robinson has been badly hurt by recent scandals, and clearly this has hurt him tonight. He still is First Minister, but it weakens the influence of the Unionists in a close hung parliament.

12:49am – Whoa. We have the first surprise result of the night, and it’s in Belfast. Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson (DUP) has been defeated by the Alliance candidate with a 22.9% swing.

12:44am – Ian Paisley Jr has retained the DUP seat of North Antrim, where his father was stepping down. He was challenged by Jim Allister, leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice, but he held on comfortably. The coalition of Ulster Unionists and Conservatives came fourth, although you’d think there would be some tactical voting in a race between two other unionist candidates.

12:41am – Pat Doherty was re-elected in West Tyrone with a swing from the DUP to Sinn Fein. Mind you, there was a strong independent in West Tyrone in 2005 who came second, and their absence makes it hard to calculate a swing.

12:37am – David Dimbleby is interrogating an Electoral Commission official, but I think I just saw the Sinn Fein seat of West Tyrone pop up, and the figures now show Sinn Fein in second place (!), so let’s call that a result, although it’s not much of a surprise. West Tyrone is now a majority-nationalist seat, although it was held by the Ulster Unionists at the 1997 election.

12:31am – Sky also believe that Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has won Brighton Pavilion.

12:22am – Sky is reporting that they believe the Lib Dems have gained Edinburgh South from Labour, but haven’t got a result yet.

12:19am – It’s very frustrating how confident BBC and Sky journalists are that their exit polls are right, despite the fact they have already adjusted the Lib Dem seat count by two on the basis of three safe Labour seats where the Lib Dems came third. The exit poll doesn’t seem particularly useful or relevant, which is exactly what Labour politicians are trying to say. It reminds me of the 1992 count, when a similar thing happened with an exit poll predicting a hung parliament and the BBC holding on to the projection long after early results indicated the exit poll was wrong.

11:53pm – There are lots of reports of long queues and some reports of voters being turned away, and at least one example each of voting time being extended and ballot papers running out. This can be a problem in countries with voluntary voting when there is a high turnout, particularly in this age of financial stringency which leads election administrators to not print enough ballots for the entire population.

11:42pm – Labour has also held Sunderland Central, a seat the Tories were picking as a possible distant target, where Labour only had a 5% swing to the Tories.

11:27pm – We now have a second result, in Washington & Sunderland West. Labour has held the seat, with a 16% away from Labour and a 7% swing to the Tories.

10:54pm – First result in Houghton & Sunderland South. A 12% swing away from Labour and a 5% swing to the Tories. Comfortable Labour win.

10:48pm – It appears that Sunderland has failed to break their record for counting. If the turnout is up substantially that would explain the delay, as well as the fact that a large number of candidates are standing. As the first seat to declare, the seat will get a lot of attention, which attracts more candidates. Sunderland South was first to declare in 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005. Having said that, in 1992 the news media completely missed the story, with a number of other seats picked as the ‘first to declare’ with dedicated reporters, but the Sunderland South result was not televised. So who knows, another seat may surprise as the first to count.

10:32pm – I’ve heard from other sources that the exit poll only included three Labour-Lib Dem marginals, despite previous evidence suggesting that the Lib Dems were doing very well in those seats.

10:27pmĀ – My understanding is that the exit poll is based on a small number of seats. FiveThirtyEight has reverse-engineered the poll to determine that they think the Lib Dems would have polled 23% in that poll. I think it’s much more plausible that the Lib Dem swing is concentrated in seats that have not been included in the poll. It doesn’t sound right.

10:10pm – Sky News is showing the fascinating spectacle of polling workers in Sunderland running with ballot boxes into the counting room in order to try and break their record by finishing the count within 43 minutes.

10:06pm – The BBC/ITN/Sky poll projects a result of 307 Conservative, 255 Labour, 59 Lib Dem and 29 other. For some reason they don’t seem to be reporting the vote figures.

10pm (7am AEST) – Polls have now closed in the UK. The exit poll will be shortly reported, and I will be beginning the liveblog.

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  1. I heard it mentioned that the poll was conducted at 130 polling stations, so that doesn’t seem like enough to get a proper indication?

    Great that BBC World is this year screening the domestic BBC coverage, which they didn’t do in 2005.

  2. There are no vote figures as yet because the British system means that they can only start counting once all booths are closed, and they can only report when it’s all counted. I doubt there will be much but poll results for about 2 hours. Sunderland should be the first to report, btw.

  3. Ben, I reckon you ought to stick with times in AEST or it might get more confusing later in the day.

  4. BBC has first results in, 8.4% swing Lab to Con. North-east so I assume it’s the Sunderland seat

  5. The Lib Dem vote is down in Sunderland S, perhaps not a good sign for their prospects of picking up seats in the North East.

  6. Turnout wasn’t up all that much in that first seat, but plenty of reports of long queues of voters being turned away from booths when the polls closed in various parts of the country.

  7. Neighbouring seat of Washington & Sunderland West expected to declare shortly, another very safe Labour seat.

  8. Imagine if Australian elections were like this. The rolls close, ABC goes live, and Kerry and Antony just sit around looking at each other for 3 hours….

  9. Sunderland Central coming up, which is a bit more marginal. Remote chance of Tories winning.

  10. My recollection from watching my DVD of the 2005 coverage a couple of months ago is that amongst the other early seats to declare were Southport, a safe Lib Dem seat in the North West, and Rutherglen & Hamilton South, a safe Labour seat in Scotland.

  11. All they have to do is put an X in one box. Why does it take so long to count them?

  12. I don’t remember. I have heard though that in many places they are expecting the count to take longer this year because of the local council elections, and those ballot boxes needing to be checked and some being transferred to different counting centres in seats that cross borough boundaries and so forth.

  13. Well in Northern Ireland one counting centre has reportedly been evacuated after a bomb scare.

  14. They also seem to have this tradition of announcing the result only after all the votes have been counted. It would be nice if they could announce results from each polling booth as they come in like we do.

  15. BBC reporting Conservatives have gained Battersea, which given its tiny margin was a mere formality….

  16. Alliance are allied with the Lib Dems. Dunno what the odds were of them winning, but they would’ve been good.

  17. Tories win seat No. 135 on their target list, Kingswood in the south west. They were $1.53 favourites there.

  18. Kingswood is a bad omen. That seat was held by Labor by 26 points just two elections ago.

  19. There is no place less Tory-friendly in Britain than Scotland. You go into a pub in Glasgow and not a single person there can relate to David Cameron and co.

  20. Motherwell & Wishaw in Scotland see Labour increase its vote too.

    Maybe Scottish solidarity for Mr Brown?

  21. Ynys Mon, a Welsh constituency if ever I’ve heard one, holds Labor. Plaid Cymru needed only a 3% swing but lost ground to Labor.

  22. Putney swings to Tories by 10% for a safe Tory hold. We may see a lot of these previously marginal Tory seats swing heavily to the Conservatives as Labour spent all their funds protecting their own seats.

  23. Sedgefield, Blair’s old ground if I’m not mistaken, swings heavily to both the Tories and LDs. Labour holds on 45/23/20 from 59/14/11 in 2005.

  24. No surprises here, Belfast West goes Sinn Fein with 71% of the vote. Literally across the road in the seat of Lagan Valley Sinn Fein manage 4%. That’s Belfast in a nutshell for you.

  25. Lib Dem stalwart Menzies Campbell returned in Fife North East, Scotland, though with a swing to both the Tories and even more so Labour. I’m not ruling out a Labour gain in Scotland based on this early trend.

  26. I was filling in the seats as they come in on my copy of Ben’s map, but can’t keep up now.

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