Thursday, May 05, 2005

The general election

It's just past 10 o'clock in the evening, and the polling stations have now closed. The BBC exit poll is predicting a sharply reduced majority for Labour from 160 to just 66 seats with a 5% swing away from Labour, with 37% of the vote.

The first results, from the early declaring constituencies, are expected between 11 o'clock and midnight.

Update (22.45): Sunderland South has returned first for the fourth year in a row, with a Labour majority of 11,059 and a 5% swing away from Labour on a 49.9% turn out.

Update (23.25): Sunderland North was the second constituency to return and has been held by Labour with a reduced majority of 9,995 and a 8% swing away from Labour on a 50% turn out.

Update (23:30): Houghton & Washington East returned next with a 9% swing away from Labour. Although it is tempting to make try and generalise from these first three seats we have to bear in mind that they are not typical. Its still early in the night...

Update (23:56): The first result from north of the border came in from Rutherglen & West Hamilton which was held by Labour, but with a reduced majority, down by 4%.

Update (00:32): The seats are starting to come in in quick succession now, so far all have been held by Labour but with much reduced majorities, with a swing away from them of around 7%. Although so far only safe Labour seats have returned, there seems to be a large swing towards the Liberal Democrats.

Update (00.35): Putney has just returned with the Conservatives taking the seat back from Labour who won it in the 2001 election, with a 9% swing away from Labour and a 6% swing to the Conservatives, on a turn out of 60%. While it would be dangerous to generalise at this stage we may be looking at the a sufficiently large swing away from Labour towards the Conservatives to give a hung parliament, which would be a fascinating result to say the least.

Update (01.04): John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, has held his seat in Hull East, although even here there has been a large swing of 8% away from Labour, while Gordon Brown the Cancellor of the Exchequer has won the new seat of Kircady & Cowdenbeath.

Update (01.07): My local constituency of Torbay has been held by the Liberal Democrats, although with a much reduced majority. However even with a swing away from the Liberals of 10%, the majority is still comfortably more than the 12 vote margin they held when they took the seat away from the Conservatives in 1997.

Update (01.13): We're still waiting to see if the swing in Putney of around 6% away from Labour to the Conservatives is representative of the swing in the marginal constituencies, or whether the national average of around 3% is more typical. As I mentioned before a swing of 6% would lead to the rare occurrence of a hung parliament.

Update (01.29): Peterbourgh, another marginal, has just returned with a 7% swing to the Conservatives allowing them to take the seat from Labour.

Update (01.41): This is turning into the first true three party battle in some years, or perhaps a series of two party battles, although the two parties in question aren't always the same! Coming up to 2 o'clock in the morning Labour has a net loss of 3 seats, the Liberal Democrats has a net loss of 1 seat, with the Conservatives having a net gain of 3 seats and the SNP having a net gain of 1 seat with 127 of 646 seats declared.

Update (01.48): At this point in the night we usually have at least an initial forecast of result, however tonight the results are all over the place. For instance Dumbartonshire East has just declared with a 15% swing to the Liberal Democrats away from Labour on a 72% turn out.

Update (01.51): The BBC is now forecasting that the Liberal Democrats will return with 59 seats, the Conservatives with 201 seats, and Labour with 357 and a majority of 68 seats, which is in line with the results from the original exit poll.

Update (02.16): Tony Blair, the Prime Minster, has held onto his seat in his Sedgefield constituency with a 6% reduction in his, none the less still substantial, majority.

Update (02.20): Now the first forecast is in I think I'll call it a night. It looks like I'll wake up in the morning to another Labour government, abet with their credibility damaged and with a severely reduced majority. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, is reported as saying that he believed that Labour's position on the Iraq war has damaged their position.

Update (09.45): Most of the results are now in...