Sebastian Payne

Election night: the ten ‘Portillo moments’ to watch out for

Election night: the ten ‘Portillo moments’ to watch out for
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Election night is going to be a long affair but some excitement will ensue if any prominent politicians lose their seats — unexpectedly or otherwise. There is likely to be at least one 'Portillo moment' — akin to the the 1997 election night when then-Tory MP Michael Portillo lost his seat and signalled that the Tories were on course to be out of power for 13 years. In chronological order, here are the big name politicians to watch out for tomorrow morning:

1. Douglas Alexander in Paisley and Renfrewshire South

Expected declaration time: 3:00am

Region: Scotland

Majority: 16,614

MP in 2010: Douglas Alexander - Labour

2010 result: Lab 60%, SNP 18%, Con 10%, Lib Dem 10%

Final Ashcroft poll: SNP 50%, Lab 39%, Con 6%, Lib Dem 1%

Why to watch: Polls in Scotland, both national and marginal, suggest that the march of the SNP is going to take some high profile victims. Labour's campaign chief Douglas Alexander looks set to be one of them. The last marginal poll from Lord Ashcroft puts the nationalist above 50 per cent of the vote in Paisley. Much of Alexander's energy has been tied up in running Labour's national election campaign. If he manages to hold on, and Miliband is the next Prime Minster, he is a sure bet to be the next Foreign Secretary.

2. Jim Murphy in East Renfrewshire

Expected declaration time: 3:00am

Region: Scotland

Majority: 10,420

MP in 2010: Jim Murphy - Labour

2010 result: Lab 50%, Con 30%, Lib Dem 9%, SNP 9%

Final Ashcroft poll: SNP 39%, Lab 36%, Con 20%, Lib Dem 3%

Why to watch: Murphy has had a difficult time since becoming leader of Scottish Labour after last year's independence referendum. His efforts to hold up Scottish Labour's support have failed, some say because he’s a Blairite but others say there wasn’t much he could do given how late he took over and given the extent of the neglect of the Scottish party. While his party is expecting to lose a significant number of seats to the SNP, Murphy himself might also be in trouble. Ashcroft's most recent poll had the Nats four points ahead but given his high profile and incumbency, Murphy could just hang on — especially if Tory voters tactically vote for him. But if it's a very good night for the SNP, Murphy's loss would be a symbolic moment for Scottish Labour.

3. Simon Hughes in Bermondsey & Old Southwark

Expected declaration time: 3:00am

Region: London

Majority: 8,530

MP in 2010: Simon Hughes - Liberal Democrat

2010 result: Lib Dem 48%, Lab 29%, Con 17%

Final Ashcroft poll: Lib Dem 36%, Lab 35%, Con 14%, Ukip 9%, Green 5%

Why to watch: Few are expecting the Liberal Democrats to hold onto all their present seats — but Bermondsey is a particularly special constituency for the Lib Dems, having been represented by Hughes since the infamous 1983 by-election involving Peter Tatchell. Labour has been working this seat hard and the latest marginal polling suggests it could be within its grasp. If there is a nationwide swing towards Labour, Hughes could be in trouble. The Liberal Democrats could lose their leader and deputy leader in one night.

4. Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam

Expected declaration time: 4:30am

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber

Majority: 15,284

MP in 2010: Nick Clegg - Liberal Democrat

2010 result: Lib Dem 53%, Con 24%, Lab 16%, Ukip 2%

Final Ashcroft poll: Lab 37%, Lib Dem 36%, Con 15%, Ukip 7%, Green 4%

Why to watch: One of the most eagerly anticipated results of election night will be Sheffield Hallam. Nick Clegg has had a bruising five years as Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader and now he risks being kicked out of Parliament. The latest marginal polling has Labour and the Lib Dems almost neck and neck but Clegg's incumbency and popularity are likely to save him. But if he does lose, it would almost certainly be the Portillo moment of 2015.

5. Alex Salmond in Gordon

Expected declaration time: 4:30am

Region: Scotland

Majority: 6,748

MP in 2010: Malcolm Bruce - Liberal Democrat

2010 result: Lib Dem 36%, SNP 22%, Lab 20%, Con 18%

Final Ashcroft poll: SNP 43%, Lib Dem 26%, Lab 14%, Con 11%

Why to watch: Alex Salmond has been rather quiet throughout this campaign, leaving Nicola Sturgeon to rebuild the SNP's reputation after last year's independence referendum. He has instead been beavering away in Gordon to ensure his return to the House of Commons. The incumbent Liberal Democrat Malcolm Bruce is retiring and assuming there is a nationwide swing towards the SNP, Salmond won't be too concerned about losing. The latest marginal polling suggests he will be home and dry — but losing Gordon would definitely mark the end of his political career.

6. Esther McVey in Wirral West

Expected declaration time: 5:00am

Region: North West

Majority: 2,436

MP in 2010: Esther McVey - Conservative

2010 result: Con 42%, Lab 36%, Lib Dem 17%, Ukip 2%

Final Ashcroft poll: Lab 46%, Con 43%, Ukip 5%, Lib Dem 3%, Green 2%

Why to watch: The Tories have just one seat on Merseyside and a lot of campaigning has gone into ensuring they hold it. McVey is a rising star, currently serving as Employment Minister, and if she and the Conservative Party manages to hold on, a promotion further up the Cabinet table is definitely in store. But the latest marginal numbers suggest that Wirral West is going to be a tight race. If the Tories can win here, it will demonstrate their marginal operation has been successful and their appeal remains in the North.

7. Danny Alexander in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey

Expected declaration time: 5:00am

Region: Scotland

Majority: 8,765

MP in 2010: Danny Alexander - Liberal Democrat

2010 result: Lib Dem 40%, Lab 22%, SNP 19%, Con 13%

Final Ashcroft poll: SNP 50%, Lib Dem 21%, Lab 13%, Con 10%

Why to watch: Possibly the biggest Portillo moment north of the borderthe Chief Secretary to the Treasury is also in danger of losing his seat according to the marginal polls. Although Alexander previously had a comfortable majority over Labour, it presently looks as if he will be swept up by the nationalist tide. If he loses, it will be a end to a short remarkable career for Alexander, who was first elected in 2005, made it to the top table of government by 2010 and was then out of a job by 2015.

8. Mark Reckless in Rochester & Strood

Expected declaration time: 5:00am

Region: South East

Majority: 9,953

MP in 2010: Mark Reckless - Conservative

2010 result: Con 48%, Lab 31%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 3%

Final Ashcroft poll: Con 36%, Ukip 33%, Lab 24%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 3%

Why to watch: Mark Reckless first made his name by being 'too drunk to vote', then for defecting to Ukip. He has used his new-found prominence to fight for local issues in Rochester but this be enough to save him? He won the seat comfortably in last year's by-election but the Tories have put in a lot of effort this time to shoot the Ukip fox. The seat isn't particularly kipper friendly territory so if Reckless loses, it will place a question mark over the limits of Ukip's appeal. But if he does win, it will suggest the party is going to have a good night. Privately, those in Ukip's campaign team think the result will be very close either way.

9. Nigel Farage in South Thanet

Expected declaration time: 6:00am

Region: South East

Majority: 7,617

MP in 2010: Landys Sandys - Conservative

2010 result: Con 48%, Lab 31%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 3%

Final Ashcroft poll: Con 34%, Ukip 32%, Lab 26%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 3%

Why to watch: South Thanet will be the marginal seat to focus on for many broadcasters. If Nigel Farage wins here, he will triumphantly march into Westminster with his small gang of MPs. But if he loses, it'll be the end of his career as Ukip leader and the party will likely disintegrate without him. Ukip has worked the seat very hard, as have the Tories and Labour to a lesser extent. Like Rochester, the is not the friendliest Ukip seat Farage could have chosen — but he is hoping that his personal support and national celebrity will push him over the line. If Farage wins here, then Mark Reckless (see above) is likely to be safe. But if he loses, Ukip could be reduced to a one or two man party.

10. Charles Kennedy in Ross, Skye and Lochaber

Expected declaration time: 7:00am

Region: Scotland

Majority: 13,070

MP in 2010: Charles Kennedy - Liberal Democrat

2010 result: Lib Dem 53%, Lab 15%, SNP 15%, Con 12%

Final Ashcroft poll: SNP 48%, Lib Dem 33%, Con 7%, Lab 6%

Why to watch: Kennedy has not served on the Liberal Democrat frontbench in the coalition government but remains a well-liked and prominent figure in the party. If he loses his seat to the SNP — as the latest marginal polling suggests he might — it would be an ignominious end to the political career for the man who was once seen as future of the Liberal Democrats.