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Polling night

Well, it's nearly five a.m., well over half of the seats have declared now, and so far it's a pretty depressing picture. There have been a few surprising results, but no sense of a big swing of popular opinion; no big shocks or iconic defining moments. Just a slow but steady trickle of seats of all sorts falling to the Conservatives.

Far more depressing, of course, is the spectacle of thousands of voters being deprived of the chance to cast their votes at all because of an inexplicable failure on the part of polling stations across the country to predict that they might want to. I'm particularly bothered to note that most of the places where the polling stations ran out of ballot papers or didn't have time to process everyone who wanted to vote before 10pm were urban constituencies - that is, exactly the places that are most crucial to both Labour and the LibDems.

My silver linings about this are two. One - it has already clearly produced widespread rage, and we have been promised a thorough enquiry by the Electoral Commission into exactly what happened. Some results may be declared invalid, and if the overall situation is a hung parliament, it may be yet another argument for basically have a re-run of the entire election in the very near future. Two - this issue, along with high voter turn-out in general and large numbers of postal votes, seems to be contributing to delayed counts in a lot of the seats where it happened. As I've said, they are generally the types of seats which are most likely to come out as Labour or LibDem. So as their results do come out, they may start to show that the real Tory lead is actually smaller than it currently looks like it is going to be - at least if they are held to be valid, anyway.

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for my current constituency, Leeds North West, to declare. I note with pleasure that Bristol West, where I lived in 1997 and cast my first vote, has seen an increased LibDem majority. But that pleasure is distinctly tarnished for me by the news that my more recent former constituency, Oxford West, has fallen to the Tories, causing the wonderful Dr. Evan Harris to lose his seat.

Elsewhere, it's a pretty depressing night for the LibDems. They've lost a few here, gained a few there, but generally look on track to do what the exit poll predicted, which is retain more or less the number of seats in parliament which they already had. I'd like to know what their overall share of the vote nationwide is - has that gone up? I hope so, as it will strengthen their ability to claim that they should be able to have a decisive input into whatever happens in the wake of this election. But it's disappointing after the support they've been enjoying lately, and far short of what I'd hoped for them.

Ooh, this just in, though - Charles Clarke loses out to a LibDem candidate, and has a face like a slapped arse! That was fun.

Anyway, dawn is breaking, and David Dimbleby is sounding pretty tired and fed up now. I guess most of us feel much the same. I'm not too tired myself, as I have been deliberately time-shifting myself over the past week in anticipation of this evening - as the time-stamps on my last few posts will make clear. This is still rather later than even I'm used to staying up, but I can do another hour or so. If you're still up too, or even getting up early to check in on LJ before you go to work, drop me a comment and let me know you're out there!

ETA (05:30): excellent! Leeds North West holds, with an increased LibDem majority! Now why couldn't that have been repeated nationwide, hmm? I could go to bed now, especially since it will still clearly be a good 24 hours before we really have the slightest clue what this result will actually mean. But I'm still anxious to hear what has happened in Sheffield Hallam (Nick Clegg's seat, and clearly badly affected by polling station problems).

ETA the second (06:40): Clegg's seat now declared, and I'm very impressed by his speech emphasising the utter unacceptability of people being deprived of their votes first, and then saying we shouldn't rush into anything without taking time to think it through. Sensible man. Apparently the Queen is a sensible woman, too - she said early on that she wouldn't see anybody before 1pm. This seems to me like advice for life; and besides I don't think she's in much danger of being disturbed today at all. I could go to bed now, but still don't feel much like it. I will pay for this later.

ETA the third (09:00): OK, the BBC are closing down their election night coverage, it's still not completely certain that the Tories won't win an outright majority but it's pretty likely, and now I think I really am going to have to go to bed. Annoyed that the LibDem's share of the vote seems to have gone up slightly overall, but their number of seats has gone down. FPTP the post is clearly never going to work for them - so here's hoping that there is enough willingness now for them to push successfully for electoral reform.

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 7th, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
Still here, although it's only just gone midnight here.

Also staring at the results and squinting in disbelief. It's all gone a bit mad, frankly.
May. 7th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
Ah yes, of course - you have a big time advantage there. I'm definitely staying up at least until my own seat gets declared, which hopefully shouldn't be too long now, as some of the neighbouring seats have come in. I'd like to see Nick Clegg's seat (Sheffield Hallam) declare, too, but I suspect that's been delayed by the problems with people being shut out of polling stations, which Nick Clegg has (obviously) taken a personal interest in. He'll be busy ensuring that the fairest and most scrupulous possible process is now following, so it may be quite a while before they can declare an official result there.
May. 7th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
I didn't stay up for Chingford and Woodford Green, but as it's Iain Duncan-Smith's seat, I kind of trusted that there wouldn't be much excitement there! And this is why my big political mandate is all about electoral reform, which used to be so dull when I did it in politics A-level and over the last few years has become Really Sexy.
May. 7th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
This is still rather later than even I'm used to staying up, but I can do another hour or so. If you're still up too, or even getting up early to check in on LJ before you go to work, drop me a comment and let me know you're out there!

Approaching it from the other end. I'm a morning person so went to bed as usual and woke at 4am. I thought it might be all over but for once I may get to hear the actual result.
May. 7th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
This time round that was probably the best policy - all that waiting up and I still don't really know what's going to happen! I will clearly have to go to bed still wondering.
(Deleted comment)
May. 7th, 2010 04:52 am (UTC)
Yup, that's my main reason for still being up - I doubt I could sleep if I tried. And, given that I've just witnessed Caroline Lucas winning Brighton Pavilion, it does feel as though there are still interesting stories coming through.
May. 7th, 2010 04:55 am (UTC)
I'm still here, but that's easy for me, as it's just approaching 3pm here in Sydney.

Keeping my fingers crossed that that a Lib-Lab coalition is still possible (though I know it's looking increasingly unlikely).
May. 7th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
It's really going to depend on fine details - much more so than I had anticipated. It's still just about possible for the total number of Labour and LibDem MPs combined to come to more than 326, but it's by no means a foregone conclusion. In fact, it's far more likely that Tory + LibDem would equal a majority - and unfortunately Nick Clegg is on record as saying that whatever party wins the most votes and the most seats (definitely the Tories) has a right to seek to form a government. So a Tory-LibDem pact is starting to look possible - and I really hope that does not happen.
(Deleted comment)
May. 7th, 2010 06:55 am (UTC)
I'm still awake at the moment, and thinking I might stay up until I'm sure that there are fewer seats left to declare than the Tories would need to win a majority (at the moment it's still just about possible for them). Once I'm sure that won't happen, I'll feel reasonably relaxed. But yes - it could all have worked out a great deal better.
(Deleted comment)
May. 7th, 2010 06:56 am (UTC)
Yes - some real reform would be the best outcome from this for everyone. I'm still holding out hope for that.
May. 7th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
It really does seem to be something of a surprise to see that the Lib Dems didn't make the impact people thought they would and actually lost seats. Perhaps when it came down to it, people decided to vote one of the other parties due to 'wasted votes' and such like. But it's very strange. Also, the opinion polls beforehand dealt with the public opinion and sadly a lot of those people probably still don't bother to vote. Or else they like the idea of an overall Lib Dem surge but prefer another candidate in their area.

I'm glad that it seems to be a hung parliament. I wouldn't have liked to have seen the Tories in with a majority. I hope their inability to have a sweeping defeat will somehow dent their confidence but hey, who knows.
May. 7th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
It's like I said yesterday about 'better the devil you know'. I knew that would help to save Labour from the total ruin they might have expected, and it looks like it's also helped the Tories. People talk about wanting change, but ultimately prefer to stick with the known quantities. Very depressing.

Still, this outcome may not be so bad. No-one has really done very well, including the Tories, and it's fun to see the overtures that both main parties are now making towards the LibDems. Nick Clegg has some big decisions to make, but I think it might actually be possible for him to get some of the things he wants out of this without damaging himself or his party too much.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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