Peter Hoskin

Election Night live blog

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0843, JGF: The result in Hampstead and Kilburn is remarkable. The local Lib Dems were convinced that they would win. But Glenda Jackson survives by 42 votes with the Tories in second.

0639, PH:
A dejected sounding speech from Nick Clegg.

0638, PH:
Clegg says "this has been a disappointing night for the Lib Dems - and we obviously didn't achieve what we hoped to achieve."

0637, PH: In his acceptance speech, Nick Clegg is going big on the voting problems of last night.

0634, PH: Some good news for the Lib Dems: erm, Nick Clegg holds in Sheffield Hallam. With an increased majority.

0620, JGF:
Jon Cruddas holds on, he'll have a big role to play in the Labour party machinations of the last few days.

0610, PH:
The BBC are predicting a vote share of Con 37 percent, Lab 30 percent, Lib Dems 23 percent, and others 10 percent.

0605, JGF: One interesting thing about tonight's result is that the Tories have quite a comfortable majority of English seats.

0602, JGF:
Sky predicting that the Tories have 309 seats, just short of what they would need to have more than Labourr and Lib Dems combined.

0558, PH:
Nick Griffin achieves 6,620 votes in Barking - easily beaten into third place by the winner, Labour's Margaret Hodge, and the Tories.

0556, JGF: The Lib Dems' awful night continues as Zac Goldsmith wins Richmond Park. He's faced a real nasty campaign but has just out-campaigned his Lib Dem opponent, doing meeting after meeting.

0551, PH: So there we have it, the Greens have just gained their first MP: Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion.

0549, JGF: Tories just took Sherwood, which needed an 8 percent plus swing. Fascinating how they have outperformed so much in some seats and underperformed in others.

0534, PH: The BBC's seat projection has the Tories on 306, Labour on 262, and the Lib Dems down to 55. That exit poll is suddenly looking pretty accurate.

0529, PH: Nick Robinson points out that, currently, Labour's vote share is lower than Michael Foot's in 1983.

0520, JGF: Charlotte Leslie has won in Bristol NW. She's close to the leadership and I expect that she'll be used to do a lot of media work by the party.

0510, PH: Labour hold on to Edgbaston, after all - one of their best results.  And Hazel Blears has survived in Salford.

0507, JGF: The Guardian is reporting that ICM has a projected national vote share of Tories 37.7 percent, Labour 28.2 percent, Lib Dems 23.1 percent and others 11.1 percent.

0504, PH: Ashcroft thinks Tories will reach 300 seats, but unsure whether they will hit the "magical" 320 seats.

0504, PH: Ashcroft describes his involvment with the Tory operation as "quite an interesting experiment".

0503, PH:
Ashcroft indicates that he'll give up his non-dom status to remain in the Lords.

0500, PH: Woah. Lord Ashcroft is being interviewed by Andrew Neil on the Beeb. The first question: "What's gone wrong?" And Ashcroft, tellingly, doesn't deny that the situation has "gone wrong".  Instead, he blames the TV debates for shaking everything up.

0457, PH: Labour holds on to Westminster North - at Joanne Cash's expense. A major disappointment for the Tory leadership, given how much time and effort they've invested in her candidacy.

0455, JGF: This is one Labour loss I suspect the Brownites won't be crying over: Charles Clarke has lost his seat.

0453, PH: Ed Balls's acceptance speech is surprisingly gracious. His leadership bid is still on.

0450, PH:
And Ed Balls does survive in Morley and Outwood - just. He gets 18,365 votes to Anthony Calvert's 17,364. A bittersweet result for the Tories.

0450, JGF:
ITV saying that Shaun Bailey hasn't won which is a big blow to the Tories. Bailey has had several Cameron vists and been promoted by the party at every opportunity.

0437, PH: Sky are reporting that Ed Balls has survived.

0435, PH: Jacqui Smith looks shellshocked as the results are read out in Redditch.  And with good cause: she gets 13k votes to the Tories' 19k. The former Home Secretary is an MP no more.

0430, PH: Classic. The BBC decline to give a vote share prediciton.  It's too "unpredictable," says Dimbleby.

0429, PH: Tories bagging some seats from way down their target list: Warwickshire North and Cannock Chase are the latest.

0427, PH:
Incredble. Labour have held on to Luton South - in the aftermath of Margaret Moran.  Esther Rantzen could only scrape a measly 1,800 votes.

0424, JGF: The night just gets worse for the Lib Dems. Evan Harris loses Oxford West to the Tories.

0420, JGF:
Tories hold St Albans despite expenses trouble.

0416, PH: A mischievous intervention from Rachel Johnson. She tweets:

"It's all gone tits up. Call for Boris."

She adds that Jo Johnson has "stormed it" in Orpington.

0411, PH: Michael Crick reinforces the idea that things are "very tight" in Morley and Outwood - says that there are rumblings about a recount.

0405, JGF: FiveThirtyEight is saying that the Lib Dems are, so far, beating Labour in terms of votes in England.

0401, JGF: Word is that the Tories are second in Barking, keeping the BNP in third. Simon Marcus has run a really gutsy, hardworking and brave campaign there. He has a bright future.

0358, PH: David Davis tells Sky that he still thinks the Tories will win an overall majority.

0355, JGF: This is odd, the Lib Dems have won Redcar which had a huge Labour majority. This was a seat people thought they would only win if they had a very good night, which they haven't.

0349, JGF:
Tories gain Romsey from the Lib Dems, this really is turning out to be a shocking night for the Lib Dems.

0349, PH: Ed Balls tells Sky that his seat is "looking tight".

0348, JGF: Tories gain Romsey from the Lib Dems, this really is turning out to be a shocking night for the Lib Dems.

0346, JGF: Louise Bagshawe wins in Corby, expect her to rise through the Tory ranks very quickly. Tory high command very impressed by her media skills.

0344, JGF:
Michael Gove back with an increased majority.

0343, PH: The Tories have just won Carlisle, number 132 on their target list.  The results are still very erratic: a bizarre cocktail of successes and disappointments for the Tories.

0339, PH: Labour (notional) hold in Rochdale. What happened to the Duffy Effect?

0335, FN: I wonder how many versions of tonight's speech Cameron drafted for tonight's speech in Witney? The cameras caught him going through a draft tonight. He said his party is "on target to win more seats at this election than we have any for about 80 years" - but the target was to win outright. It looks, right now, as if that target will be missed. It is clear that "the country wants change" as he says - but to what? If he thinks about entering talks with LibDems tomorrow, then he will find that his party won't wear it. "Can you imagine doing a deal with the LibDems?" Paxo asked Fox. No answer. Fox would rather resign than do a deal with the LibDems but he daren't say so tonight. David Miliband says "we are honour bound to recognise we are in a new situation ... That must be the right thing to do".

If I were Cameron I'd get to bed now. He won't be making any speeches outside National Theatre this morning. He will need all his energy and guile tomorrow.

In Scotland, the Tory uplift is as absent as the LibDem uplift in England. Darling, so often seen as a victim of the Tories on a uniform national swing, took a massive 70pc of the vote with a Tory-to-Labour swing. It's a good night for Labour in Scotland, no wonder Charlie Whelan likes to live there. It retook Dunfermline (lost in by-election, so BBC reporting it as Labour hold). Yet again, Scottish Tories are talking about the need to have a "long, hard think" about why they failed. (13 years of thinking and two years of collaborating with the nats don't seem to have helped.) No other seats have changed hands in my motherland so far (3.30am).

0330, PH: First bit of real positive news for the Lib Dems: they've taken Burnley from Labour.

0326, JGF: Tories gain Newton Abbot from the Lib Dems, a seat they needed a 4.75% swing from the Lib Dems to win. The results tonight just keep surprising us.

0318, JGF: Lib Dems miss out in Oxford East (Labour) and Worcestshire West (Tories). What is happening, has the hung parliament talk hurt them, was it the illegal immigrant amnesty or the classic third party squeeze?

0312, PH: ComRes's Election Predict tweets that "Ed Balls looks like he's going to hang onto his seat after all..."

0309, JGF: Tories take Dover, now have a 6K majority there. The Tories are doing very well across the South, the region where the state is the smallest proportion of the economy.

0308, PH: Alistair Darling holds onto his seat.

0303, PH: Noteworthy that Cameron's emphasis was on Labour losing, and not on the Tories winning. There was a clear note of uncertainty in his address.

0302, PH: Cameron: "Our country wants change ... and that change requires new leadership."

0301, PH: David Cameron says that Labour "has lost its mandate to govern".

0259, FN:
In Scotland: Labour doing well, SNP badly and Tories may lose remaining seat. Will Cameron be first PM of a party with no Scotland seats?

0257, PH: Unbelievable, David Cameron has held on in Witney.  As it happens, he scores a huge 33,973 votes, and 6%+ swing.

0250, PH:
Hold on, there's a recount in Edgbaston.

0249, PH: The Labour performance is hardly anything to shout about, but there are a few strange high-points for them. For instance, Gisela Stuart has unexpectedly held on in Birmingham Edgbaston.

0248, JGF: Contrary to earlier rumours, the Lib Dems have gained Eastbourne. But the Tories have won Harrogate from theme, a seat they needed an 8 percent plus swing to win. The results are very localised but they aren't looking good for the Lib Dems.

0230, PH: A slight lull, as people ponder whether the exit poll was fairly accurate after all.  The background battle of the evening is reducing to the Tories' call that Brown has to go against Labour's innuendo about a "progressive coalition".

0226, PH: The scorecard currently reads: Labour on 52 seats, Tories on 36, Lib Dems on 5, and others on 14. The Lib Dem performance is very underwhelming so far.

0223, PH:
Montgomeryshire was 210th on the Tory target list. The swing was a whopping 13.2 percent.

0222, JGF:
The Lib Dem nights goes from bad to worse as Lembit loses his seat to the Tories. So odd, the Lib Dems appear to be having a worse night than anyone would have expected even before the TV debates.

0220, JGF: Tories have held Eastbourne, a seat that the Tories were writing off a fortnight ago. What has happened to the Lib Dems tonight, were their resources spread too thin after the Clegg surge?

0219, PH: More and more folk seem to be less sceptical about the exit poll now...

0218, JGF: Tories hold Crewe and Nantwich, real achievement for Edward Timpson.

0215, PH: Oliver Letwin holds onto his seat. Some Tories weren't confident about that earlier today.

0214, PH: Tory rumblings that they're doing well in Derby South - Margaret Beckett's seat. If they win there, it would really be quite extraordinary. They need a 14 percent swing. Might Beckett be the first major expenses victim of the evening?

0204, PH: Ben Bradshaw holds onto Exeter, despite a 6 percent swing to the Tories.

0201, PH: Channel 4's Cathy Newman tweets that things may be looking good for Zac Goldsmith:

"Senior Lib dem source: big tory turnout hurting them in south and zac may get in in richmond after all..."

0200, JGF: All day, there's been a sense in Tory circles that they'll get a majority or as good as. But there's now some real doubt creeping in. But the results are so unpredictable that we're just going to have to stay up.

0156, PH: Sky are reporting that the Conservatives have won Loughborough from Labour. It's number 30 on the Tory target list.

0154, PH: It's still early days, but the Lib Dems have to be slightly disappointed by their performance so far.

0153, JGF: Tories I spoke to this afternoon were writing off Guilford--accepting the Lib Dems would take it. But they've held it. On the other hand, Labour have held Tooting and Gedling.

0150, PH: 7 percent swing towards the Tories as they hold Guildford.

0150, JGF: Results are varying considerably from seat to seat, UNS is pretty useless tonight.

0141, FN: So will David Cameron have failed if this is a hung parliament? I asked him last week, and he replied "of course". He is right. Blair inspired an 10pc swing in 1997 - and that was against a Tory government that had just saved the economy. Cameron needs a 6pc swing tonight against a man who trashed the economy and is hugely unpopular. Right now, it seems he will struggle to get it.

All this takes us into the strange paradox where Cameron can inspire the greatest pro-Tory swing since 1931 and yet still fail. Such a verdict is cruel and possibly unfair. But it is the one which hangs over Cameron at this point in proceedings.

0138, PH: Brown: "My job, coming out of this election, is to make sure that I play my part in ensuring Britain has a strong, stable government." Does that mean he'll resign, then?

0136, JGF: Brown speech sounds valedictory.

0133, PH: Gordon Brown keeps his seat in Kirkaldy, with an extended majority. He doesn't look too pleased about it...

0132, PH: David Blunkett admits that it looks as though Labour have lost. But he adds that "anti-Tory" forces should unite against the Conservatives.

0130, PH:
ConHome's Jonathan Isaby tweets that his sources say that Labour has held on in Tooting. The seat was numbered over 100 on the Tories' target list, but they were quite hopeful that they'd make it.

0126, PH:
The results are coming in more quickly now. Current score is Labour on 12 seats, Tories on 4, Lib Dems on 2, and others on 7. The thing that's encouraging the Tories, though, is the 8%+ swing in their direction.

0124, FN:
Fascinating dividing line being drawn between Tories, who say the exit poll means "Cameron in, Brown out" and the Labour team trying to play the "progressive coalition" card. David Miliband says: "Voters have given us an injunction to talk to each other". (As opposed to an injunction to take a running jump.) Blunkett, too, making wooing noises. The Kingswood victory - one of the bellwether seats which indicates a Cam majority - does lead me to suspect the Tories will get to 326 in the end. But not for a few hours yet.

0120, JGF:
BBC were backing away from exit poll. Now, rowing away.

0118, PH: Average Tory swing so far is 8.4 percent. Suggests that exit poll is way off.

0115, JGF: No surprise that Justine Greening holds her seat. Feel that CCHQ could have used her a lot more during the campaign.

0111, PH: Torbay result demonstrates just how the Tory vote is oscillating across the country. A swing of only 1.1 percent from the Lib Dems to the Tories. Lib Dems hold.

0109, FN:
Ed Miliband on Sky: Exit poll means "a majority would have voted for fundamental reform of our voting system."

0104, PH: Chris Skidmore scored a 9.4 percent swing. That's some way over the 6.9 percent that the Tories need nationally for a majority.

0102, JGF:
Chris Skidmore wins Kingswood, this is a seat the Tories needed to win for a majority and they have.

0059, PH: The Sky News twitter feed is reporting this:

"Downing St sources say Prime Minister will try to form coalition government in event of a hung parliament."


0053, JGF: The defeat of Peter Robinson is the biggest moment of the night so far. The DUP has problems - it is getting squeezed by the TUV and hurt by expenses. From a mainland perspective, the DUP had been telling people it would work with the Tories. The Alliance are linked to the Lib Dems.

0042, PH: The Guardian have this video of voter disgruntlement in Hackney:

0038, PH: Tim Montgomerie's sources quote Kate Hoey as saying that "if the results are as they look tonight, Gordon will go very, very quickly."

0030, PH: Reports that Caroline Lucas has won Brighton Pavilion. If so, she would be the first ever Green MP.

0028, PH: A few outlets are calling Edinburgh South for the Lib Dems. They were third in 2005.

0020, PH: The Guardian reports that the Tories are expect to win South Basildon and East Thurrock (17th on their target list).

0008, PH: One thing to look out for tonight is the size of the BNP vote. They've scored fairly eyecatching totals so far. If they get a fairly significant vote share, then it could dissuade people from backing PR.

0002, PH: The Electoral Commission is going to investigate the voting problems.

0001, PH: Reports that Tories are set to gain Battersea.

0000, FN: The Electoral Commission has the following rules when it comes to voting late in the day:

-- Anyone who has been issued with a ballot paper by 10 pm must be allowed to vote

-- However cannot issue after 10pm, even if elector was in a queue at 10pm

2356, PH: Weird line from David Miliband: "If no party has an overall majority in the House, then no party has a right to have a monopoly on power." So is he banning minority government, then?

2350, PH:
This story about voters being turned away is building. The Tories are calling for it to be "thoroughly investigated".

2341, PH: Another Sunderland seat - Sunderland Central - goes to Labour. Julie Elliot gets over 19,000 votes, and the Tories' Lee Martin gets around 12,000. The Tories did have some hopes for this seat, so they'll be a little disappointed that it got their smallest swing of the evening so far: 4.8 percent.

2340, PH:
George Osborne says that, going off the exit polls, "it's clear that Labour cannot continue in government."

2338, FN: Reports say voters turned away in Hackney, Hull & Lewisham as well as Sheffield. This inability to cope could be issue if election is close.

2336, JGF: Let's wait for a marginal seat but so far the swing is suggesting that the exit poll is off, as so many people said at the time.

2337, PH: Second result of the night is in, and it's 2-0 to Labour. Sharon Hodgson holds Washington and Sunderland West with a hefty majority. But the swing to the Tories is an even more hefty 11.6 percent.

2325, JGF: In the US, if you are in the queue when the polls close you can vote. Sensible policy that we should introduce here.

2308, PH: Curiouser and curiouser. A revised exit poll has the Tories on 305 seats, Labour on 255, the Lib Dems on 61, and others on 29. The Lib Dems have gained two seats, and the Tories have lost two, from the last poll.

2303, PH:
Alastair Campbell is still spinning with a vengeance:

"If we are in to hung parliament territory and stopping the Tories getting a majority then this would be an amazing result."

Meanwhile, the Tories keep stressing that the exit poll would represent Labour's biggest loss of seats since 1931.

2253, PH:
The first result of the night is in, and Labour hold Houghton and Sunderland South. Bridgit Philipson wins with 19,137 votes (over 50 percent). The Tories are in second with 8,147 votes (21 percent).  The swing to the Tories, from the last election, is 8.4 percent - over the total that they need nationally for a majority. 

2243, JGF:
Here is what Clegg told this magazine about how he would deal with a hung parliament:

"I want to try and establish a basic principle which is that on the whole, on the whole, by and large, even if a party doesn’t  have an outright majority it is usually flamingly obvious which party the British people favour and I think in those circumstances, what I’ve said is that that party has the moral right, if you like, to seek to govern either on its own or to reach out with others."

2240, PH:
Alan Johnson is talking up the areas of "agreement" between Labour and the Lib Dems.

2236, PH: If you're wondering why the exit poll only shows seat totals, not vote percentage, then I direct you to Anthony Wells, writing earlier:

"The aim of the exit poll is to predict the seat totals, not the share of the vote, and the team will try to work out if there are different shifts in support in different types of seat. The call is based on a probability of each seat going one way or the other, all summed up to make a seat total."

But John Rentoul has done the working using electoral calculus, to come up with: Tories, 37; Labour, 29, Lib Dems, 23.

2230, PH: Eric Pickles says his "gut instinct" is that the exit poll is "probably wrong". Someone's going to end up with egg on their faces, you feel - either the Westminster pundits, or the pollsters.

2227, JGF: Vince Cable is saying that no party has 'legitimacy' if the exit poll is correct. But Clegg always said that the party with the most votes and the most seats would have a right to seek to form a government. Indeed, I think his language was stronger in his Spectator interview.

2220, PH:
Cameron has said that the Tories could govern with the exit poll result. They would do "everything possible," apparently.

2215, PH: Tories on TV are spinning the exit poll as a "decisive rejection of Gordon Brown". But I suspect they're highly ambivalent, even sceptical, about it.

2210, PH: Labour politicos on TV still look stoney-faced, even after that exit poll.  There seems to be widespread disbelief that the final count will match it.

2203, JGF: The exit poll contrasts with the mood from both the Tories and the Lib Dems. One Lib Dem source told me a few hours ago they were expecting to get close to a hundred seats and this exit poll has them losing seats.

2200, PH: The exit poll is out, and it points to a hung parliament with the Tories as the largest party. They're on 307 seats, Labour on 255, the Lib Dems on 59, and others on 29. The low Lib Dem support does make one sceptical.

2137, PH: So here we are, CoffeeHousers: the big one, decision time, etc. First news to report is this ICM rumour that an exit poll has the Tories on 39 percent. That's overall majority territory.