Partying Like It's 1999


This was originally posted in the ASB forum here and is here reposted without comments as requested by some readers.


Go on, you know you want to.

Are we doing the whole bold text normal text thing? This is the ASB forum after all. They make their own rules there.

Come on, you know it’s not 2007 any more! There is worthy stuff in the forum these days, like Iain’s ISOT timeline and so on. We’re going to be civilised.

You say that after that starting image...[./b]

You’ll see.

Oh, and by the way, the gimmick to this TLIAF is fairly easy to guess if you know a thing or two about a thing or two. Can I ask that people try not to spoil it for as long as possible so those who don’t know will get the full experience of being weirded out? Thanks. .



Rather vague static, really. Not even honest-to-God realistic-looking static. Maybe this was what the static on digital TVs looked like. Couldn’t say, didn’t have one yet.

Music played, confusing the static further. It wasn’t “Arthur” of course, that would be so twentieth century. It was a forgettable tune that, at times, sounded like it was sampling Robbie Williams’ “Millennium”—which in turn had sampled a Bond theme. The 1990s really had had all originality drained out of them and there was nothing left. It was the end of history.

Out of the static swam a familiar face. It smiled for the camera. The smile did not reach the eyes. The eyes betrayed that this was the human equivalent of a grizzly bear that had been awakened from its hibernation while there was still snow on the ground and was about to go and find the person responsible and remove their pic-a-nic baskets. With extreme prejudice.

David Dimbleby—for, alas, it was he—opened his mouth.

“The people have decided, and soon we will know their decision. In fifteen minutes the polls will close and we will have our exit poll. We have Peter Snow on hand with his wonderful graphics to explain what we see, we have our panel of psephologists and election experts, led by Professor Anthony King, we have Jeremy Paxman ready to interview a wide variety of cabinet ministers and other politicians, and we have our correspondents across the United Kingdom as its people decide their next government.

“Welcome to Election Night 1999.”

The set surrounding Dimbleby was...odd. It was grandiose and appropriate but looked strangely neither one thing nor t’other, as though someone had interrupted an episode of Changing Rooms halfway through. Half of it had a red colour scheme and half of it a purple one. Bits of it looked a bit shaky even on standard definition, goodness knows what they looked like on widescreen. There were probably BBC prop men standing just out of sight holding everything up.

“As votes are cast across the country we have Robin Oakley, the BBC’s Political Editor, to look back upon the campaign. Robin.”

Dimbleby briefly vanished, replaced by clips accompanied by Oakley’s voiceover. “It has been a campaign like no other. The election nobody expected. When we sat there on that fateful night two years ago to see Tony Blair win the biggest Labour majority of all time, we could be confident that the voters would not be called to the polls again for another four or five years. Mr Blair’s government would be the one to see in the New Millennium. But suddenly doubt has been cast on that certainty.”

A blue flag emblazoned with gold stars flapped in the breeze. “Mr Blair’s enthusiasm for taking the UK into the single European currency, the ‘Euro’—” one could hear the inverted commas falling into place as delicately as an old lady picking up something nasty with a pair of tongs, “—has often been remarked upon and exercised his political enemies—not all of them on the other side of the House.” The image dissolved from a picture of William Hague shouting at Prime Minister’s Questions to one of Gordon Brown looking sullen. The underlings charged with finding stock photos had not had to search far for that one.

“But what is most surprising is the opposition Mr Blair has suddenly sparked on the other side not of the House, but of the Channel. The French President’s comments about Britain being a ‘Trojan Horse’ within the single currency project shocked commentators in both countries and beyond. It is believed that his hand lies behind the resolution by the European Commission that, somewhat in contrast to previous European Union policy, any country wishing to continue on the path to the Euro must hold a public vote to show public support for the aim.

“It is not that our European partners disagree with the UK joining the ‘Euro’, but that they believe that the UK joining as early as Mr Blair desires would destabilise the project. They would rather have the UK join later on, once the currency is stable—and, some critics say, lessen the UK’s influence within the currency union. Mr Blair has, however, called their bluff. Rather than a referendum, as most speculated might happen, he has instead asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament and hold a fresh election upon this singular goal. It is an extraordinary and unprecedented situation, and anything could happen. David.”

Dimbleby’s hand whipped away from his face as the screen dissolved back to him. “Yes indeed,” he said quickly. “This is an election like no other, and we will be going to our correspondents soon to see how it has played out. But we have Peter Snow with us to make sense of the results as they come in. Peter.”

“YES DAVID!” Snow said enthusiastically from his natural habitat in front of a bluescreen. “As always, we will have a number of ways of analysing the results. First and foremost among them, of course, my sswwwwingometer.” Many people could roll their Rs, but it took a special talent to roll a W. Lord Jenkins would have been impwessed.

The screen behind Snow changed to show a pendulum swinging back and forth, with red and blue dots visible around the edge of its heretical hemicycle. “We will see whether the country has seen a swing to blue or to red—to Conservative or Labour—as the votes come in. Will Tony Blair win an even bigger majority than last time, or will William Hague gain ground for the Tories? He has a mountain to climb, as you can see if we build a virtual mountain out of all the seats he has to win to take back an overall majority for the Conservatives.” Terrifyingly, this in fact happened, with a frightening CGI figure of William Hague’s face on a mountaineer’s body slowly clambering up a mountain of red, yellow and green seats and turning them blue one by one. As a special effect, it was something that might have been seen on Doctor Who—if of course that hadn’t just been a half-forgotten old programme fit only to be mocked by Steve Moffat on Comic Relief.

The mountaineer Hague stuttered and stopped halfway up the mountain even as Snow talked about the possibility of a Conservative majority. Clearly not all the bugs had been worked out of the effects, and no wonder given how rushed the whole business had been. A month ago no-one would have dreamed that a general election would be in the offing.

“—and of course this doesn’t take into account the Liberal Democrats, who have their own, very exciting and interesting, individual battles against both Labour and the Tories,” Snow said, his enthusiasm not flagging. Of course he couldn’t see his own graphics.

Diplomatically Dimbleby cut him off. “Thank you very much Peter, and we shall see what you have to show for us later. Meanwhile, Zeinab Badawi is over on our brand-new, just-launched digital TV channel, BBC Knowledge. What will you be doing, Zeinab?”

The Sudanese-born presenter gave him the brittle smile of someone who has drawn the short straw and is determined to tough it out. “Well, David, over here on ‘U-Vote ’99’ for the first time we will have the capability for people to send in their own thoughts on the election—whether by phone call, e-mail or even SMS phone text messages. We will be interviewing ordinary people about their experiences of the campaign and thoughts on the result.”

“Yes,” Dimbleby said, “and as well as being shown on BBC Knowledge—” to an audience of twelve, “—it will be simulcast on BBC Radio Five Live and displayed on Ceefax and on the BBC website at aitchteeteepee colon forward slash forward slash doubleyoudoubleyoudoubleyou dot beeb dot com forward slash uvote99. “ Dimbleby delivered the words in a monotone, much to the displeasure of the executive who had wanted him to scowl while mentioning outmoded means of communication like Ceefax, radio and verbal phone calls.

“Meanwhile in South Sunderland, that seat is hoping to make the hat-trick by being the first to declare for three elections in a row. Nick Robinson is with them. Nick.”

“Yes David,” said an ambitious-looking political reporter. He was crammed into the passenger seat of a white van with a comedically large microphone in his hand. “It’s like a military operation here, as soon as the last ballot box arrives, we will be straight to the count. Sunderland are hoping to beat their record of around 45 minutes and be the first to declare once again.”

“And we will see if they do it,” Dimbleby agreed. “But now our fifteen minutes are up and the polls are about to close. In a moment we will have our exit poll, and we have our cameras on the parties’ headquarters to see their reactions...”

The camera zoomed in on a live view of Big Ben as the Westminster chimes sounded. Bing bong bing bong bing bong... The bell rang, and rang.

And on the tenth stroke, the exit poll appeared.

And all hell broke loose.


“And our exit poll says...” Dimbleby trailed off, lost for words. The polls had made him ready for a range of possibilities. This wasn’t one of them. “...A...a hung parliament. The first since...since 1974. With...with the Conservatives as the largest party. Our poll is saying that Tony Blair has failed in his goal to be returned as Prime Minister again...” Dimbleby pulled himself together. “I should say of course that all exit polls are only an approximation and the real numbers could vary some deal on either side,” he muttered. This was going to be 1992 cubed if Labour turned out to win another majority, as the pre-election polls had implied.

“And the news is reaching the headquarters of the political parties,” Dimbleby added, almost on autopilot. The camera views on the headquarters showed chaos above all things. Some of the Tories cheered, some of the Labourites shouted in anger, but mostly there was just confusion and disavowal, even from some of the Tories. The exit poll was so removed from what the campaign had suggested up to now.

“We will hear more on that later...doubtless...but now over to Peter with the numbers. Peter.”

At least nothing could dampen Snow’s boundless enthusiasm. “Yes David. Let’s put up the percentages from 1997, when Mr Blair won his historic landslide. You can see the Labour Party on forty-three percent, the Conservatives on just thirty-one percent and the Liberal Democrats on seventeen percent—with the others on nine percent,” he added dismissively. “This time things are rather different. Our exit poll shows this.” There were some muted gasps in the studio as the coloured bars on the digital bar chart shrank and grew. “Labour on thirty percent. Down thirteen from last time. The Conservatives on thirty-five percent. A gain from John Major’s disastrous defeat, but not as large as the decline in the Labour vote so this is not a simple swing. The Liberal Democrats on fourteen percent, a small decrease for them but remember it is in the individual seats where things will become important. But what is most extraordinary perhaps is that the Other parties are now on a colossal twenty-one percent, more than doubling their score from 1997. And yet that is perhaps not unexpected.”

“Ye-es,” Dimbleby said. “We’ll pla – we’ll hear from Robin on the background to that,” he said tightly. That film wasn’t meant to be played until later in the evening, but it would buy them a few minutes to figure out what the hell was going on.

“This has been an election like no other in more ways than one,” Robin Oakley’s recording said imprecisely. “Not only is this election held in response to the European Union’s demand for a public vote on entry into the single currency, but it has also been the first election held in compliance with new European Commission regulations that has forced the UK to abandon its former practice of requiring a deposit of £500 for those standing for election, to be refunded if—and only if—they receive at least five percent of the vote. This means there has been a proliferation of minor party candidates for this election, though only two have managed to work very quickly and achieve a full slate of candidates—or one as full as that of the main parties which generally do not contest Northern Ireland for example. Those two parties are the United Kingdom Independence Party, or ‘You-Kay-Eye-Pea’, and the Green Party—which is in fact three parties operating separately in the different parts of the UK, but can be treated as one. Other minor parties, such as the continuing Liberal Party and the British National Party, did not manage to put up a full slate. However, the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, that is the Scottish National Party or Ess-Enn-Pea and Plaid Cymru pronounced Plied Cummry respectively, are contesting all the seats in those parts of the UK. David.”

The screen resolved to show Dimbleby looking slightly less flustered, but only slightly. “Yes indeed. And for that reason for the first time we will be tracking the U.K.I.P. and Green Party, er Parties, separately on our scoreboard when Peter brings up his percentages rather than as part of the ‘Others’. But we now go over to Jeremy to get the reaction from the politicians themselves to our exit poll.”

“Eeeearrrrrssssse,” said Jeremy Paxman from his fortress of terror in another part of the studio. “Here I’ll be putting that question and many others to past, present, and perhaps even future MPs . Whether they’re past-it doddering old yesterday’s men or young inexperienced striplings, they’ve all got something to say. Let’s start with someone who could fall into more than one of those categories, Michael Portillo. Mr Portillo, you famously were the cherry on the cake for Labour two years ago when you lost your seat of Enfield Southgate near the end of election night.” Portillo gave a pained smirk. “Tonight you will find out if the voters have rejected you once again. Are you a glutton for punishment? Were you not burned enough last time?”

“Thank you, Jeremy,” Portillo said breezily, “and I, too, look forward to finding out if the good people of Enfield Southgate have chosen to invest their confidence in me once again. But I believe you were meant to ask me about the exit poll.”

“Yes, that,” Paxman said dismissively. “So William Hague has failed to obtain an overall majority for the Conservatives. Will he be resigning?”

Portillo was seasoned enough to expect a lot from Paxman but this made even he raise his eyebrows. “Jeremy, if—if—your exit poll is accurate, William Hague will have gained the most seats in one shot of any Conservative leader since...” he hesitated, “...since the war, anyway. He will have undone what looked like a mortal blow for the Conservative Party and consigned Mr Blair’s radical government to silence. It is an achievement on the same scale as Lady Thatcher’s election victories.”

“Eaaarrssse, except it’s not actually a victory, is it?” Paxman persisted. “Nobody says Harold Wilson won in February seventy-four, do they?”

“Perhaps not,” Portillo said smugly, “but he did become Prime Minister.”

“Well,” Paxman said, looking at the camera and one step away from rolling his eyes. “We shall see, indeed. David.”

“Yes Jeremy,” Dimbleby said, a finger to his ear, “we can now go over to Nick Robinson again at Sunderland South...Nick? Excuse me, are you quite all right, Nick?”

Robinson looked like he had walked into a nearby pub wearing a Newcastle United shirt. A bruise was blooming on the left side of his face. Nonetheless he continued stoically. “A minor incident among Sunderland South’s well-oiled machine,” he explained. “One of their workers picked up a ballot box and—”

“He accidentally hit you with it?” Dimbleby asked, puzzled.

“N-ooo,” Robinson said, “he misjudged the weight and his elbow shot back and hit me. Turns out the thing was nearly empty.”

“Well,” Dimbleby said, “there have certainly been some talking of a historically low turnout for this election. Professor Tony King?”

“That fits with all our analysis,” King said smoothly. “The last two tranches of local elections themselves involved spectacularly low turnout, even for local elections, and came with Liberal Democrat victories at the heart of some of Labour’s stronghold metropolitan boroughs. Are Liberal Democrat supporters more likely to turn out and vote? Will that benefit them tonight? But the exit poll says otherwise. It will be fascinating to see the results as they pour in.”

“And that will begin before too long,” Robinson interjected, “Sunderland South is already well into their count.”

“Good,” Dimbleby said. “Peter, you have more for us?”

“Yes,” Snow said. “We can now put those figures into the swwwingometer and find out what our uniform national swing will look like. And, oh my, that’s an eight point five swing to the Conservatives. Smaller than the eleven point swing we think they will need to take an overall majority, but it will still turn a swathe of red seats blue.” The Swingometer needle spun to the right as he spoke. “People like Stephen Twigg, who narrowly defeated Michael Portillo last time, are looking very vulnerable.” A small and rather pixellated portrait of Twigg appeared over one of the red-turned-blue seats. “That is one of the largest election swings in history, yet still smaller than last time in ’97.” The bar chart came up again. “And we should not forget that for the first time since 1974, both the Conservatives and Labour are predicted as having fallen below forty percent of the popular vote—which means that our simple swing may not reflect the real picture. This will be an exciting night.”

“Yes it will,” Dimbleby said, resisting the urge to wipe his brow. A little longer, just a little... “While we wait for Sunderland South to declare, we go over to Michael Buerk with the news headlines...”


Nothing could faze Michael Buerk. The exit poll could have said that the election would be won by the Natural Law Party and he would have continued on calmly as he floated upwards from his seat. “In response to the treaty being signed, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic—” who is not the tortoise from ‘Bill and Ben’, get the pronunciation right “—has agreed to withdraw Serb troops from Kosovo. NATO sources were cautiously optimistic about...” Buerk frowned at the light flashing beneath his desk. He was still on the lead story, he was supposed to do a full report. “And I think we now need to go back to the studio for an update on the most important news of the night, the general election.”

Dimbleby, if anything, looked more frazzled than before. “Yes, thank you Michael. Sorry to interrupt you there, but we have heard from Nick Robinson that, astonishingly, Sunderland South is ready to declare after only twenty-nine minutes. Nick?”

Robinson hastily hid what might have been a raw beefsteak behind his back. “Yes, David. We thought they might beat their record, but not by this much. I can only conclude that from what I am hearing and seeing from the vote counters, the turnout is indeed very low and thus they have completed their count faster than expected. Either way, the acting returning officer is up on the hustings stage right n...” Robinson undignifiedly faded away as the camera focused on the titular stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the returning officer in a soft Mackem accent, “I’d like to announce the results for the Sunderland South constituency election.” With all that effort put into coming first, he might have found a better sentence structure to open the night. The fact that he was stood in front of a massive tourism banner advertising the City of Sunderland’s manifold delights did not lend any dignity to the proceedings. “I, being the acting returning officer, hereby give notice that the total number of votes given for each candidate at the election was as follows.

“Aaron Alan Aadvark, British National Party—” The rest of his words were obscured by a fusillade of boos (and one or two cheers) from the hall. The BNP’s deed poll stunt had been national news, if hardly frontpage news, in the last week of the campaign. Rather than putting in the effort into getting a full slate of candidates, they had focused on just being the first name mentioned of the night. That booing had probably been a concerted effort to undo the plot, and indeed the number of votes cast for the BNP was obscured, as were those for the next candidate, a blameless Socialist Labour lady.

But the acting returning officer continued stolidly: “Nicolas Best, Green, four three five. Mark Greenfield, Liberal Democrat, nine three two.” There was a murmur at that. A three-figure score wasn’t bad for the Greens under normal circumstances, but for the Lib Dems it was disastrous. But that was as nothing compared to what came next. “Christopher John Mullin, Labour Party, four seven four eight.” A great cry of shock that almost obscured the final two names. “Timothy John Schofield, Conservative Party, three three five two. Margaret Wilkinson, UK Independence Party, seven seven oh.

“And I declare that Christopher John Mullin has been duly elected to serve as Member for Sunderland South constituency.”

“Well,” Dimbleby’s voice interrupted as ‘Labour Hold’ flashed at the corner of the screen, “Labour’s Chris Mullin is returned to power once again, as expected, but his number of votes...down from twenty-seven thousand last time to less than five this time. Quite remarkable, quite extraordinary. But that has been mirrored across the board and...we will hear Chris Mullin’s speech. Once again he has the best position of the night to express himself to the British people.”

“I praise the people of Sunderland South for confirming their support for myself as their representative and for the Prime Minister’s strong leadership in following a course that is forward, not back,” Mullin said, but his mouth was clearly running (quite expertly) on autopilot. His eyes had the look of a rabbit in the headlights. Not for himself, clearly, but for his party. His speech trailed off after a few platitudes, nothing compared to what he had achieved in the past.

The BBC diplomatically pulled away and returned to Dimbleby. “Well,” he said again. “We heard that there might be a low turnout, but this is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, or rather nightmares. Peter, you have the full numbers?”

“I DO!” Snow boomed. “And they are up on your screen right now!”

[b]Sunderland South[/b]
Electorate: 66,329 	Total Votes: 10,679 	Turnout: 16.1%

Lab	4,748	44.5% (-23.6)
Con	3,352	31.4% (+12.5)
LD	932	8.7% (-2.8)
UKIP	770	7.2% (+5.7)
Others	442	4.1%
Green	435	4.1% (+4.1)

Maj.	1,396	13.1% 
Swing Lab to Con 18.1%

“That represents an enormous swing from Labour to Conservative, far beyond the national swing our exit poll predicted. Will it be typical? Perhaps not. The North East has been known for its low turnouts for some time, though certainly nothing on this scale. But nonetheless for the first time since Labour’s nadir of 1983, their majority has dipped below fifteen percent.”

“Yes. We go over now to Hull for the reaction from the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. Mr Prescott...?”

Prescott went out swinging, of course, but his face was pale. “Well David I think you’ll find that in point of fact this success in the heartland of working people has ably demonstrated the confidence in Tony Blair’s successful leadership as the leader of the most successful government for hard-working working people in the UK of ever. If anyone seriously thinks that William Hague and his cutting slashing Tories with their obsessions of Europe and tax can manage to perform half as well as your exit poll thinks then they want their head examined, which in point of fact they can do for free on Labour’s NHS, not if they weren’t but if not it was privatised as William Hague and his Tories think they want to know how to have to do...”

As the Deputy Prime Minister ranted, Dimbleby’s gaze wandered to his monitor. Another? Already?

It had begun.


To Dimbleby’s surprise, the second constituency to declare was not another in North East England, but one far more northerly even than that, in Scotland. The Scots had nearly managed to pull the rug out from under Sunderland South’s party piece, but had fallen at the last hurdle. They didn’t even have the excuse of more votes to count, shockingly. The turnout was higher—slightly—but Scottish constituencies were smaller in size and covered fewer voters. Though, given that new devolved Parliament that had just had its first elections, that state of affairs might not continue...

“The numbers there for Hamilton South,” said Peter Snow, “our second result of the night and our first from Scotland.”

[b]Hamilton South[/b]
Electorate: 46,908 	Total Votes: 9,710 	Turnout: 20.7%

Lab	4,281	44.1% (-21.5)
SNP	2,496	25.7% (+8.1)
Con	1,074	11.1% (+2.4)
Others	930	9.6%
LD	480	4.9% (-0.2)
Green	367	3.8% (+3.8)
UKIP	82	0.8% (+0.8)

Maj.	1,785	18.4% 
Swing Lab to SNP 14.8%

“And a somewhat different picture to Sunderland South. Once again a very low turnout and a huge decline in the Labour vote, yet the beneficiaries are different. The Tories are up just two point four percent, while it is the SNP that close the gap on Labour and cut their majority from an impressive forty-eight percent to just eighteen. Perhaps the SNP are flush from the results of the inaugural Scottish Parliament election recently in which they became the second largest party. Of course, we shouldn’t over-analyse this,” he added with a straight face. “Whatever the numbers below the surface say, there is no denying that we have had two Labour holds and that Chris Mullin and George Robertson have been returned once more to serve in Parliament. But these numbers cast a shadow over our election night and paint portents of what may be to co—”

“Sorry to cut you off there, Peter,” Dimbleby lied, “but we have yet another result. Has the stampede begun? We shall see.”

Ignoring Snow’s protests that he had a 1997 map of Scotland ready to compare the Hamilton South result with, he was cut off by the acting returning officer of Sunderland North—who had a matching tourism poster behind him to his counterpart in Sunderland South. The numbers he read out were also a good match:

[b]Sunderland North[/b]
Electorate: 64,462 	Total Votes: 10,185 	Turnout: 15.8%

Lab	4,724	46.4% (-21.8)
Con	2,978	29.2% (+12.5)
LD	840	8.3% (-2.1)
UKIP	741	7.3% (+7.3)
Others	485	4.8%
Green	417	4.1% (+4.1)

Maj.	1,746	17.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.2%

“Another Labour hold but another huge Labour decline,” Peter Snow said, reluctantly abandoning his prepared speech about the decline of the Conservative vote north of the border. “Once again, under our electoral system the only relevant point is that Bill Etherington is returned as our third MP of the night and our third Labour MP of the night, and yet...”

“What about the performance of the minor parties?” Dimbleby inquired.

“Indeed,” Snow agreed. “The Green Party—Parties did not stand in many constituencies in 1997, while the UKIP stood in more, but generally played second fiddle to their rival eurosceptic party, the late Sir James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party. Given that that party has now been wound up and largely absorbed by the UKIP, we did consider calculating swings for the UKIP based on including the Referendum Party vote from 1997, but we decided that would be misleading given that some seats had both a UKIP and Referendum candidate.

“Having said all that, the only place so far that had a candidate from either party was Sunderland South which possessed a candidate from the UKIP in 1997. There was almost a six percent increase there, but the UKIP candidate in Sunderland North recorded a very similar voteshare, so perhaps having previously contested the seat will not be so important. Either way, though it seems unlikely that either party could win a seat tonight, the votes they take from other parties could be vital. The end of the deposit could represent an earthquake in our political system.”

“As too could this turnout,” Dimbleby grumbled. “It is rather disheartening that only around one in five people or so seem to be exercising their right to vote so far.” He realised that this had strayed dangerously close to an opinion and hastily pushed on. “I understand that Fiona Bruce has Charles Kennedy, the new Liberal Democrat leader, on the line.”

The scene cut to Fiona Bruce, who was sitting in what looked like a totally different and rather better-designed studio. “Yes David, I’m hear to speak to many of the celebrities that the political parties have been using as weapons in the campaign. But Charles Kennedy is ready to talk to me now from his house in the Highlands. Mr Kennedy has of course made headlines for his own engagement with celebrity, his popular appearances on panel games and so forth.” Bruce expertly pulled off a Tenuous BBC Link to cover the fact that actually parts of the system had failed and they couldn’t get Kennedy’s image on Dimbleby’s screen for him to interview the Lib Dem.

“Charles Kennedy, what are your views on what we have seen so far?” Bruce asked.

“Well Fiona, thank you for your call,” Kennedy said wryly. He was standing out in the darkness outside a cottage that looked like something that would appear in a book about the Highland Clearances, lit only by BBC spotlights. “I found your exit poll quite hard to believe, frankly, and I would be disappointed if there is such a decline in our vote—though, because of the country’s ridiculous and outdated voting system, we could win more seats with fewer votes.”

“Yes, you did so last time, didn’t you?” Bruce said. “One percent fewer votes than 1992, but almost triple the seats.”

Kennedy frowned. “Ye-es, but we have come a long way since then. The Liberal Democrats have shown that we are a party unlike the others, running a positive campaign rather than mud-slinging which only turns people off, as you can tell from these dreadful turnouts...”

“How would you respond to the criticism that the Liberal Democrats have grown too close to Labour under both your predecessor Paddy Ashdown and yourself?”

“I think those are just smears by Conservatives who are outraged that we have dared provide an alternative to good people in the UK who are sick of being let down by entitled Tory MPs but unwilling to trust Labour and with good reason. Yes, we have supported Mr Blair in his commendable position to bring Britain into Europe and the future, but that does not mean we agree with him on everything, or with Labour on everything. Indeed, the people of Liverpool and now Sheffield have embraced us as an alternative to the tired old politics and endemic misrule of Labour in their cities. I think the government’s position is profoundly—”

“Sorry Mr Kennedy we will have to cut you off there,” Bruce said, businesslike, “as we have another seat declaring...”

Despite her timely intervention, they still missed part of the declaration, but Peter Snow had his simplified result up again quickly enough. It was one of the constituencies that always confused the hell out of American correspondents.

[b]Houghton & Washington East[/b]
Electorate: 68,278 	Total Votes: 10,788 	Turnout: 15.8%

Lab	5,976	55.4% (-21.0)
Con	2,078	19.3% (+6.4)
LD	1,014	9.4% (+1.7)
UKIP	860	8.0% (+8.0)
Green	480	4.5% (+4.5)
Others	380	3.5%

Maj.	3,898	36.1% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.7%

“Another North East Labour hold, another sharp decline in the Labour vote, another notable rise for the UKIP—who perhaps have benefited from this election being fought on European issues—and another very low turnout.” Dimbleby restrained himself from using any emotive adjectives this time. “However, a stronger majority remains for Fraser Kemp than for his colleagues. Four Labour MPs now—who will be the first from a different party?”

Despite his calm words and commitment to the script, Dimbleby was feeling overwhelmed. He was used to the early results trickling in slowly and giving them time to analyse and over-analyse and repeat themselves while they prepared for the stampede later. But this time, with the low turnout and so many fewer votes to count, the stampede might already have begun...


There was a script and they were damn well going to try to stick to it. “We have here a number of voters selected to provide a representative sample of the UK voting population,” said Badawi. She was speaking not only to the viewers of BBC Knowledge (both of them) but was briefly being simulcast on BBC One as well, and unconsciously straightened up in her chair. “Firstly we’ll be talking to a family from Streatham in Greater London. Leroy is a construction worker while Rashida is a teaching assistant in training and they have one child, Nelson.” Rashida diplomatically nudged the boy in question, who had idly taken some pogs out of his pocket. “Would you tell us what your thoughts are on which party to vote for?”

“Well, Labour have always been on the side of working people and those trying to get by, I think,” said Leroy.

“And that Tony Blair is…is a good leader,” Rashida said a little dreamily. “Not like that horrible Hague.”

“So, if you don’t mind me asking, did you cast your vote for Labour?” Badawi asked.

“Oh yes,” Leroy said, “two years ago. When is the next election, anyway?”

Badawi stared at him blankly. “It was today.”

“Sorry, I’ll have to cut you off there,” Dimbleby smoothly interjected. “We have another result coming in—will it paint the same picture as the others—Peter?”

“YES. This is not a North Eastern seat, nor a Scottish one, but it is another safe Labour seat. Though given the swings we have already seen, can we speak of safe seats at all?” Snow said importantly. “Barnsley Central is an urban seat dominated by social housing of this mining area which saw such a confrontation with the Tory government over the miners’ strike. Unsurprisingly it has voted solidly Labour since its creation, with the voteshare only once dipping below sixty percent. Last time in Mr Blair’s landslide it cast over three-quarters of its votes for the Labour candidate, Mr Eric Ilsey, who succeeded Roy Mason in 1987. But what will happen tonight?”

“We’ll find out momentarily,” Dimbleby said breezily, “and we also I believe have a camera showing the reaction among the assembled Labour Party members of the town.” The view indeed briefly cut to the interior of a working men’s club that had still stayed true to its roots, bearing large and almost Soviet-style photographic posters of former Labour Party leaders. As the nation watched, an eight-year-old child stared raptly at the one depicting Hugh Gaitskell for reasons unknown.

As a result of the gimmicky second camera they again missed part of the declaration, but at least they had the reaction among the party members. They cheered at another victory, but the cheer died away into muttering. The majority was still quite healthy, but the turnout was anything but.

[b]Barnsley Central[/b]
Electorate: 60,861 	Total Votes: 7,912 	Turnout: 13.0%

Lab	3,892	49.2% (-27.8)
Con	1,609	20.3% (+10.5)
LD	1,003	12.7% (+3.2)
UKIP	537	6.8% (+6.8)
Others	498	6.3%
Green	373	4.7% (+4.7)

Maj.	2,283	28.9% 
Swing Lab to Con 19.2%

“Well, once again a…a very low turnout,” Dimbleby managed. “Eric Ilsey is safe, as anyone could have predicted, but that has to be the lowest Labour voteshare in the constituency ever. Peter?”

“Yes indeed David and also the highest Tory voteshare since 1983, which I remind you was before the miners’ strike. Another modest rise for the UKIP, though they’re not going to be beating the major parties here any time soon it is still perhaps a surprise for such a movement—or indeed for the Greens given the connection of mining to the area. And for the first time we have seen a small rise rather than a small fall for the Liberal Democrats. Yet again, all that really matters is a fifth Labour MP is returned.”

“Indeed,” Dimbleby said. “For further analysis, we go over to—” that damnable light again, “—no, we have another result. Er. Back to the North East. Tyne Bridge.”

By now the recalcitrant computer system was finally cooperating and Snow’s numbers flashed up almost as rapidly as the acting returning officer spoke.

[b]Tyne Bridge[/b]
Electorate: 60,475 	Total Votes: 8,769 	Turnout: 14.5%

Lab	4,710	53.7% (-23.1)
Con	1,550	17.7% (+6.6)
LD	848	9.7% (+1.7)
UKIP	716	8.2% (+8.2)
Green	534	6.1% (+6.1)
Others	411	4.7%

Maj.	3,160	36.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 8.3%

“Tyne Bridge contains some of the most deprived areas in the UK and it’s perhaps not surprising that Labour continue to dominate, even with this historically low turnout. Once again a strong performance for both the UKIP and the Green Party and a slight rise for the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems generally do not show a consistent performance across all seats: what will be important is their performance in the seats they currently hold and their marginals, mostly with the Conservative Party.”

“Yes, and—” Dimbleby restrained himself from sighing. “Another result. Another from Scotland. The Scots are catching up.”

[b]Dunfermline East[/b]
Electorate: 52,787 	Total Votes: 12,194 	Turnout: 23.1%

Lab	5,360	44.0% (-22.8)
SNP	2,985	24.5% (+8.9)
Con	1,590	13.0% (+3.0)
Others	899	7.4%
LD	714	5.9% (±0)
Green	487	4.0% (+4.0)
UKIP	159	1.3% (+1.3)

Maj.	2,375	19.5% 
Swing Lab to SNP 15.9%

“Another dramatic fall in Labour and a substantial rise for the Scottish Nationalists – Alex Salmond will be pleased tonight,” Snow said. “Once again the Tories do not improve much on their abysmal performance from last time, and Scotland so far seems less enthusiastic about the Greens or the UKIP. And as for the Lib Dems, well, it’s no help in deciding whether they will rise or fall, for their votes have remained exactly the same as last time.” He paused and corrected himself. “Well, their voteshare. Their number of votes is…about a third what it was in ’97.”

Dimbleby had a feeling that a lot of people would have to make that self-correction to night. It was so natural to speak of “This party taking votes from that party” when in reality both parties had far fewer votes than last time. But before he had time to reflect, another message popped up. “And it seems we will soon have a result from Birmingham, perhaps more than one. The Labour Party won every seat in the UK’s second largest city last time, but will things be different now…?”


“Celebrities have played a big part in this campaign and we are ready to interview some here,” Fiona Bruce said smoothly. “Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear and chat show presenter, made news when he intervened into the campaign to criticise Mr Hague, whom he had formerly backed, on matters concerning Europe. He also signed Michael Heseltine’s open letter on the subject. Mr Clarkson, Jeremy, do you have a colourful metaphor to describe this election?”

“Well, I—” Clarkson began.

“Sorry, we’ll have to interrupt you there,” Dimbleby interjected, “as those Birmingham results are in. First we go over to Ladywood where the acting returning officer is about to declare—”

The monotone Brummie accent was uniquely suited to someone reading out vote numbers. Even if they were fewer numbers than usual.

[b]Birmingham, Ladywood[/b]
Electorate: 71,225 	Total Votes: 11,040 	Turnout: 15.5%

Lab	5,836	52.9% (-21.2)
Con	1,789	16.2% (+2.9)
Others	1,393	12.6% 
LD	1,186	10.7% (+2.7)
Green	564	5.1% (+5.1)
UKIP	272	2.5% (+2.5)

Maj.	4,047	36.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.1%

“Ladywood, another safe Labour seat,” Peter Snow said, “where even a large decline in the Labour voteshare does not endanger the party for no single opposition party has particularly benefited from it. The Tories and Liberal Democrats both making only minor gains and similarly for the UKIP which has not previously contested this constituency. Clare Short, who has represented this constituency since 1983, will continue to represent it. We can now hear her victory speech—”

But the International Development Secretary could get out only a few words praising Tony Blair for his heroic courage in facing down a populace hostile to his foreign policy before the camera dissolved away once again. “I’m afraid we’ll have to leave there because there is a second constituency declaring in Birmingham, and this one, with no offence to the people of Ladywood, is more interesting. Peter.”

“Yes David, Birmingham Edgbaston was one of the big shocks of election night two years ago, in which it was also early to declare. One of the most consistently Conservative seats in the country, it had never elected a Labour MP and had been represented only by Tories throughout the twentieth century. But almost at the end of that century, Gisela Stuart gained the seat and set the tone for that election night. What will it say this time?”

It said this:

[b]Birmingham, Edgbaston[/b]
Electorate: 70,169 	Total Votes: 14,525 	Turnout: 20.7%

Con	6,117	42.1% (+3.5)
Lab	4,193	28.9% (-19.7)
LD	1,587	10.9% (+1.2)
Others	1,209	8.3%
Green	871	6.0% (+6.0)
UKIP	548	3.8% (+3.8)

Maj.	1,924	13.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 11.6%

It was fortunate the data was appearing directly now, for the actual camera feed was totally obscured by the uproarious cheers of Tory supporters at the count. Gisela Stuart looked shocked and the winning candidate, Nigel Hastilow, went to make his own victory speech.

“Interestingly,” Peter Snow talked over Hastilow saying something about Blair’s relentless taxation, “this brings to an end a half-century streak of Edgbaston being represented by only women MPs. Dame Edith Pitt was first elected at a by-election in 1953, then succeeded by Jill Knight, now Baroness Knight, in 1966 and then by Gisela Stuart two years ago. Now, however…”

Perhaps fortuitously, another seat intervened before Peter Snow could trail off. “Our first London seat,” Dimbleby said. “Another Labour stronghold. East Ham.”

The turnout was again dreadful but at least there was some comfort for the Labour supporters reeling from the loss of Edgbaston.

[b]East Ham[/b]
Electorate: 67,528 	Total Votes: 15,194 	Turnout: 22.5%

Lab	8,618	56.7% (-7.9)
Con	2,785	18.3% (+2.2)
Others	1,443	9.5%
LD	1,099	7.2% (+0.7)
Green	708	4.7% (+4.7)
UKIP	541	3.6% (+3.6)

Maj.	5,833	38.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 5.1%

“Stephen Timms returned again for Labour there with his huge majority only slightly dented,” Peter Snow said. He considered this. “In percentage terms, that is.”

“A key ally of Mo Mowlam in the Northern Ireland peace process,” Dimbleby added.

“Our first London seat shows much less of the anti-Labour swing we have seen elsewhere, while being sadl—while being consistent with the turnout figures,” Snow continued. “Will this be typical of London? Will Labour do better in the capital than elsewhere? We shall see.”

However, they would not see just yet, because the next seat to declare was not in London, or even in England. “Wrexham, our first Welsh seat of the night,” said Dimbleby. “Huw Edwards, what has the reaction been there to the results so far?”

Edwards appeared, in front of an obvious blue-screen background of Cardiff. “There is surprise at the low levels of public engagement in the election,” he said musically, “as we in Wales have estimates that suggest the turnout figures were projected to be higher, at least in some areas. But before I can continue, Wrexham is about to declare.”

There was a giant notice in the background here as well, but this one was bilingual: “Welcome to Wrexham” and also “Croeso I Wrecsam”. The acting returning officer also read out all the parties’ names in both languages, meaning it took a bit longer than for the previous constituencies, but finally the results were there:

Electorate: 51,383 	Total Votes: 10,996 	Turnout: 21.4%

Lab	3,917	35.6% (-20.5)
Con	3,073	27.9% (+4.0)
PC	1,783	16.2% (+13.0)
LD	1,219	11.1% (-2.2)
UKIP	538	4.9% (+4.9)
Green	255	2.3% (+2.3)
Others	211	1.9%

Maj.	844	7.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.3%

“Well, it looks as though Wales is in line with the turnout figures elsewhere,” Dimbleby said a little snippily. “That is a noticeable increase for Plade Cumroo as well.”

Edwards winced, doubtless suspecting Dimbleby was doing it on purpose. As he probably was. “Yes, after some impressive results in the inaugural Welsh Assembly election recently, Plaid appears to be building on those to expand beyond its traditional heartlands in the north and west. We shall have to see how successful they are.”

“Indeed,” Dimbleby said, and the screen briefly cut away to show Big Ben striking. “And at eleven o’clock, the results declared stand as follows:”

LAB 10


Dr John Marek had barely got two sentences into his speech (interrupted by ‘double-hatter!’ catcalls from the floor) when the camera swung away from Wrexham to yet another part of the UK. “We’re now in Greater Manchester, of course Birmingham’s great rival for the crown of Britain’s second city, and specifically we’re in the constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne. Simon Willis, are you ‘under the line’ when it comes to turnout figures?”

The Look North (North West & Cumbria) presenter frowned at him. Dimbleby didn’t see concerned looks from others in the studio. There had been something a little...unhinged about his voice when he’d made that terrible pun, though none of it showed on his face. “I think it’s looking much the same as elsewhere,” Willis said. “But, speak of the devil, if I can say that about the acting returning officer...”

[b]Ashton under Lyne[/b]
Electorate: 72,400 	Total Votes: 11,584 	Turnout: 16.0%

Lab	5,276	45.5% (-22.0)
Con	2,957	25.5% (+6.6)
LD	1,186	10.2% (+0.5)
Others	824	7.1%
UKIP	793	6.8% (+6.8)
Green	548	4.7% (+4.7)

Maj.	2,319	20.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.3%

“Yet another safe Labour seat, yet another fall in the Labour vote while those votes, er, percentage points scatter between several opposition parties, and yet another Labour MP elected on an unprecedentedly low turnout,” said Peter Snow. “Robert Sheldon is returned once again. A veteran of the House, the 1997 election was speculated to be his last.” Sheldon began to speak of his family’s background as immigrants from Iraq and praised Tony Blair for pursuing the European ideal of free movement, but was, predictably, cut off by another result.

“Back to Barnsley then,” a rather dizzy-sounding Dimbleby said, “as Barnsley East and Mexborough now declares.”

“Though Mexborough is technically in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncas...” Snow began before the footage cut in.

[b]Barnsley East & Mexborough[/b]
Electorate: 67,302 	Total Votes: 10,028 	Turnout: 14.9%

Lab	5,122	51.1% (-22.2)
Con	2,057	20.5% (+9.1)
LD	1,392	13.9% (+3.5)
Others	560	5.6%
UKIP	508	5.1% (+5.1)
Green	389	3.9% (+3.9)

Maj.	3,065	30.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.7%

“Fitting the general pattern again, not a whole lot more to say. The voters have gone to the polls for the third time in three years there, as Jeff Ennis was first elected in a by-election in 1996.” Snow pulled up some figures. “By-elections of course usually have low turnout, which was in this case, er...” he swallowed, “still twice as high as the turnout we’ve just seen.”

“Is there a direct comparison possible here then?” Dimbleby asked, interested despite himself. “Professor King?”

“Well, it certainly appears that the fall in the Labour vote is not only due to turnout differential; there appears to be a effect on top of that, a swingback...of course the by-election Peter mentions was held at a very good time for Labour, but it merely the shine wearing off Mr Blair now he is in government, or is there a genuine opposition to his goals in calling this election? It’s much too early to say, but—”

The psephologist was, of course, interrupted. “We now return to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott whom we spoke to earlier,” Dimbleby said, “ready to hear whether he will continue to represent the constituency of Hull East.” The acting returning officer, the first female one of the night, read out the figures in a Hull accent with its characteristic trailing vowels. It was an appropriate accent for reading out figures that seemed impossible to believe.

[b]Hull East[/b]
Electorate: 68,547 	Total Votes: 8,637 	Turnout: 12.6%

Lab	3,871	44.8% (-26.5)
Con	1,893	21.9% (+8.2)
LD	1,091	12.6% (+2.8)
UKIP	895	10.4% (+10.4)
Others	477	5.5%
Green	410	4.8% (+4.8)

Maj.	1,978	22.9% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.4%

“Mr Prescott is back again, then, but with his majority the smallest it has been since 1983 and the lowest turnout we’ve seen so far. Surely a great disappointment to him,” Snow added.

“We will find out when we get him on the line again later,” Dimbleby said as Prescott loaded a selection of words into the verbal equivalent of a blunderbuss, “but for now we go over to Anne MacKenzie who has more news for us from north of the border. Anne.”

MacKenzie appeared on the screen in front of an obvious bluescreen of Arthur’s Seat. “Yes David, there has already been one declaration from Scotland—” which she probably hadn’t been ready for, no-one had expected them this early, “—and now there are two more, hot on the heels of each other. We will have to split-screen to give you them both, first in Glasgow...”

[b]Glasgow, Rutherglen[/b]
Electorate: 51,076 	Total Votes: 12,003 	Turnout: 23.5%

Lab	4,629	38.6% (-18.9)
SNP	2,382	19.9% (+4.6)
Con	1,627	13.6% (+4.3)
LD	1,522	12.7% (-1.8)
Others	1,232	10.3%
Green	539	4.5% (+4.5)
UKIP	72	0.6% (+0.6)

Maj.	2,247	22.9% 
Swing Lab to SNP 11.8%

“...and then north of the Firth of Forth we have Kirkcaldy...”

Electorate: 52,234 	Total Votes: 12,484 	Turnout: 23.9%

Lab	4,696	37.6% (-16.0)
SNP	3,523	28.2% (+5.3)
Con	1,735	13.9% (+0.2)
LD	941	7.5% (-1.2)
Others	862	6.9%
Green	591	4.7% (+4.7)
UKIP	136	1.1% (+1.1)

Maj.	1,173	9.4% 
Swing Lab to SNP 10.7%

“Two Labour holds, two MPs re-elected – Tommy McAvoy who has the rather old-fashioned but important title of Comptroller of the Royal Household, and Dr Lewis Moonie—and two second places for the SNP, though with only modest swings. The Conservatives must be disappointed with this failure to build on their 1997 performance.”

“We’ll be hearing from them soon enough, Anne,” David said. If we can fit them in. “And now, er...” his eyes frantically searched his screens and the hand-scrawled notes being discreetly shoved in front of the autocue, “we return to Birmingham, sorry, to the West Midlands, to the Warley constituency, where Labour are again defending...”

Electorate: 59,618 	Total Votes: 10,791 	Turnout: 18.1%

Lab	4,898	45.4% (-18.4)
Con	2,895	26.8% (+2.7)
Others	1,131	10.5%
LD	777	7.2% (-2.5)
Green	613	5.7% (+5.7)
UKIP	477	4.4% (+4.4)

Maj.	2,003	18.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 10.6%

“So, despite the swings against the Labour Party we have seen so far, yet another Labour MP is returned. John Spellar is a junior minister at the MoD. Some defence issues have been raised during the campaign in relation to Mr Blair’s plans for Britain in Europe: were those relevant to this result?” asked Peter Snow in the voice of an insurance agent required to ask someone with a piano on their head whether it might be hereditary.

“Well, perhaps we can go over to Tony King—no we can’t, here comes another result from Barnsley. This is the third Barnsley seat, Barnsley West and P...and Penistone,” Dimbleby pronounced carefully. Pennis-tun, not the other way. He’d nearly been caught out there, showed how stressed he was. He hoped Scunthorpe wouldn’t come at the end of the night when he was tired.

The acting returning officer looked rather harrassed after climbing onto the hustings stage for the third time in the space of a few minutes, and the candidates had barely had time to assemble behind him, but he announced the results nonetheless.

[b]Barnsley West & Penistone[/b]
Electorate: 65,607 	Total Votes: 11,547 	Turnout: 17.6%

Lab	4,683	40.6% (-18.7)
Con	3,241	28.1% (+9.7)
LD	1,462	12.7% (-5.3)
UKIP	786	6.8% (+6.8)
Green	689	6.0% (+6.0)
Others	686	5.9%

Maj.	1,442	12.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.2%

“Well, now we can go to Tony King. Tony?”

“This looks to be a slightly more significant narrowing of the Conservative and Labour vote and one which may spell trouble for Labour elsewhere. Though, as everywhere it seems, what we are seeing is much more a swing against Labour than a swing to the Tories. We had already ceased to be a two-party system, but these new deposit rules are complicating matters further. Even without low turnout, questions might be asked about people winning on small pluralities of the vote.” King shook his head.

“But at least Michael Clapham, ex-miner and a left-wing firebrand, can be content in his forty percent,” Snow said. “Even if it’s forty percent of, well, not that many votes...”

King nodded. “No, indeed. Some of these are like one ward’s worth of results for a whole consistuency. There are councillors who’ve been elected with more votes than this...”

“Sorry to cut you off, Tony, but I’m hearing Anne in my ear, ah, another Scottish seat...”

[b]Dunfermline West[/b]
Electorate: 53,679 	Total Votes: 12,722 	Turnout: 23.7%

Lab	4,302	33.8% (-19.3)
SNP	3,384	26.6% (+7.4)
Con	1,914	15.0% (+2.4)
LD	1,498	11.8% (-1.8)
Others	815	6.4%
Green	645	5.1% (+5.1)
UKIP	164	1.3% (+1.3)

Maj.	918	7.2% 
Swing Lab to SNP 13.4%

“Rachel Squire, who has battled cancer in the past and is a PPS in the Education Ministry, er, the DfEE, is re-elected. However the SNP close the gap considerably.”

“But what I said about the Conservatives in England is equally true of the Nationalists here,” said King. “If the SNP gain a seat from Labour, based on these results it looks more like it will be caused by Labour falling than the SNP rising. Or with the Tories...”

“Fascinating,” Dimbleby said noncommittally. “Perhaps we may indeed see such a result. And we have our first result from the South East. Sally Taylor is there for us. Sally?”

The presenter for BBC South Today frowned slightly at the ‘South East’: the English regions defined by the EU differed from those used by the BBC’s regional television services, and to South Today ‘the South East’ was their rival. “Yes, we have the first result, and it’s on the Solent. Portsmouth North. Peter talked about the possible significance of military issues, here’s where we might see them come into play.”

“Of course,” Snow agreed. “Portsmouth North is historically a Tory seat, aside from a few brief Labour interludes, but in 1997 the controversial Tory MP Peter Griffiths was defeated by Labour’s Syd Rapson, a trade unionist with an aeronautical industry background. Will he hold it given tonight’s trends?”

They would soon find out.

[b]Portsmouth North[/b]
Electorate: 65,505 	Total Votes: 12,839 	Turnout: 19.6%

Con	5,388	42.0% (+4.4)
Lab	4,064	31.6% (-15.5)
LD	1,307	10.2% (-0.4)
UKIP	1,055	8.2% (+7.5)
Green	669	5.2% (+5.2)
Others	356	2.8%

Maj.	1,324	10.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 10.0%

“, no he will not hold it!” Dimbleby’s voiceover cut through the Tory cheers as the acting returning officer concluded his statement. “Chris Day has regained the seat for the Tories, overturning Mr Rapson’s majority.” He hesitated, wondering if that phrasing was appropriate when Day’s entire vote total was barely more than Rapson’s 1997 majority margin. “Our second gain for the Tories from Labour for the night. We will now go to Michael Ancram, the Conservative spokesman on Constitutional Affairs—arguably the central point of this campaign—for his reaction.”

“Well—” a smiling Ancram began.

“No, sorry, I’m going to have to interrupt you there, Michael Ancram, as we’ve got another result, this time from the South West.” The rapid pace of results was clearly wearing Dimbleby down. The furrows on his forehead might as well have spelled out the words ‘NEVER AGAIN’. “Torbay, in fact. Torbay used to be an early declarer, but perhaps not so much these days. Nonetheless, it is ready to declare and this will be interesting as a Conservative-Lib Dem marginal.” Dimbleby stared at the acting returning officer as he mounted the hustings stage. Surely they hadn’t deliberately found someone who bore a passing resemblance to John Cleese as Basil Fawlty? “Peter.”

“Yes. After gradually closing on the then incumbent Rupert Allason, the Lib Dems finally broke through in ’97 with Adrian Sanders defeating Allason by a margin of just twelve votes, one of the narrowest results in that election,” Snow said, showing some irrelevant graphs. “This is definitely one to watch—if the Conservatives have gained at all against the Lib Dems, this will be the first Conservative gain from the Lib Dems, as opposed to from Labour, of the night. Whereas if the Lib Dem vote has held up well in their current seats—”

Electorate: 72,713 	Total Votes: 21,087 	Turnout: 29.0%

Con	8,774	41.6% (+2.1)
Lab	3,535	16.8% (-1.9)
UKIP	3,285	15.6% (+11.9)
LD	3,224	15.3% (-24.3)
Green	1,313	6.2% (+6.2)
Others	956	4.5%

Maj.	5,239	24.8% 
Swing LD to Con 26.4%

“It would...” Snow trailed off, at a loss for words. “No. The Lib Dems have fallen to fourth place, losing two-thirds of their votes, err, their voteshare. The UK Independence Party has taken third place in a contest for the first time in its history. And the Conservatives, while not gaining that much in voteshare, have easily retaken the seat with, er, with...” Snow stared in disbelief at the names as they flew up. “With Christian St. John Sweeting.”

“A dramatic result,” Dimbleby managed.

“And, depressingly, that’s the highest turnout we’ve seen so far,” King added. “But will this be typical of the Conservative-Lib Dem battlegrounds?”

“I don’t know, but I do know this: Michael Ancram looks like a cat that’s got at the cream,” Dimbleby said as the cameras cut back to the man in question. “Michael Ancram, before we’re interrupted again, your thoughts?”

“Well, David, I’m very pleased that the voters in those three constituencies have recognised that only the Conservatives are here to defend Britain’s interests rather than selling out,” Ancram said. He was clearly trying to be on-message but it was breaking down amid his obvious glee. “And the good people of Torbay seem to have had quite a serious case of buyer’s remorse about voting for the Liberal Democrats last time. I do wonder if their view will be shared elsewhere...”


“Do we finally have the clip now?” Dimbleby muttered under his breath as Ancram continued explaining why Blair was the greatest threat to British democracy since the hypothetical lovechild of Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler.

“The problem’s fixed, they tell me,” whispered Anne MacKenzie’s voice in his ear.

“Michael Ancram, thank you,” Dimbleby said loudly. Next time, he’d let Paxman do this bit. The latter was sulking about the fact that for once not even he had managed to get a word in edgeways given the continuous results. There was a brief respite now, it seemed, but it would still not be Paxman’s time, for other things took priority first. It had been one of the first seats to report, but BBC Scotland hadn’t been ready and the signal had cut out early. Only now, after a bit of technical jiggery-pokery and possibly a few favours exchanging hands with ITV, did they have Gordon Brown’s victory speech.

“I would like to thank the people of Dunfermline East for once again putting their trust in me. Equally, I am confident that the British people will once again choose to be governed by the only party that stands up for ordinary working- and middle-class people,” Brown droned, “that will govern by prudence and moderation, not seeking the false dawns of boom and bust.” He looked up from the microphone. “I do, however, find it disquieting that so few people have chosen to exercise their hard-won right to vote. I feel that the Prime Minister...” the tiniest of pauses, “...and the rest of the government, including myself, must shoulder some responsibility for failing to make it clear to the British people just how important this election is. It is a choice between forward and back, between the hidebound policies of prejudice and xenophobia and the bright sunlit uplands of the twenty-first century. We do this not because we are forced to, but because we embrace the possibilities of a life better for us and our grandchildren.” Brown’s face twitched into a terrifying smile. “Or as Miss Billie Piper would say, because we want to, because we want to. Thank you.”

The BBC technical staff had been hard-pressed to keep up with all these live transitions at a much faster pace than expected, so could be forgiven for making a few mistakes—like cutting directly to Paxman rather than back to Dimbleby first. As a result, households across Britain (those that had bothered to tune in) were treated to Paxman’s face bearing a look of utter disgust and revulsion for a moment before the mistake was realised. “...The Chancellor Gordon Brown there,” Paxman muttered. “God help us, really. And speaking of appealing to the upper house, I have here Lord Steel, former leader of the Liberal Party and the Alliance that became the Liberal Democrats. David Steel, surely this situation for you in Torbay is nothing more than a grotesquely humiliating catastrophe?”

Steel, only two years out of the Commons himself, frowned at Paxman. “Well, it’s certainly not good, Jeremy,” he said frankly. “Adrian Sanders was a great MP and we had worked very hard on a long road to see him in Parliament. I’m saddened that so few voted and—”

“Though it was still the highest turnout so far,” Paxman said. However, he sounded as though even he wasn’t taking his own argument seriously.

“Less than one-third,” Steel retorted. “Of course, in our electoral system you can see candidates elected with less than one-third of those who do vote, so perhaps it is not surprising that so few could be bothered to cast an almost meaningless vote...”

“...and in particular not for your party?” Paxman said dismissively. “How do you feel about being beaten by the UKIP, a party devoted solely to removing the UK from the European Com – the European Union? You have always been the big defenders of Britain in Europe, that has been your thing, but now Mr Blair has usurped you, hasn’t he?”

“While Tony Blair may have some right-thinking ideas on Europe, he was grossly wrong to treat this election as a binary choice between himself and the Tories. There is surely a wide diversity of views within a position you journalists so crudely descripe as ‘pro’ or ‘anti-Europe’, and—”

“Eeeeearse, looks like we have to stop there,” Paxman said smugly. “Lord Steel, thank you.”

“And thank you Jeremy,” Dimbleby said, sounding like he meant it for once. Time had been bought. “We now have three declarations in close succession, it appears, all of them for safe Labour seats in the North West of England...”

[b]St. Helens North[/b]
Electorate: 71,760 	Total Votes: 10,764 	Turnout: 15.0%

Lab	4,957	46.0% (-18.9)
Con	3,073	28.6% (+11.3)
LD	1,024	9.5% (-3.2)
UKIP	649	6.0% (+5.3)
Others	566	5.3%
Green	495	4.6% (+4.6)
Maj.	1,884	17.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.1%

“David Watts, a former shop steward in a biscuit factory—a respectable industry if not the one synonymous with his constituency, that of glass—is easily returned despite a substantial swing to the Tories...”

Electorate: 67,870 	Total Votes: 8,891 	Turnout: 13.1%

Lab	4,775	53.7% (-19.6)
Con	2,001	22.5% (+7.1)
UKIP	622	7.0% (+7.0)
LD	551	6.2% (-2.1)
Green	477	5.4% (+5.4)
Others	465	5.2%

Maj.	2,774	31.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.4%

“Makerfield, near Wigan at the western edge of Greater Manchester, will continue to be represented by Ian McCartney, who led his first strike action as a fifteen-year-old paperboy...”

Electorate: 57,460 	Total Votes: 7,240 	Turnout: 12.6%

Lab	4,468	61.7% (-21.2)
Con	1,085	15.0% (+6.5)
LD	527	7.3% (+1.6)
Others	491	6.8% 
Green	355	4.9% (+4.9)
UKIP	314	4.3% (+4.3)

Maj.	3,383	46.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.9%

“And finally, it is doubtful whether anything short of divine intervention could prevent Joe Benton being re-elected in one of the safest Labour seats in the country. Back in 1990 Bootle had the dubious honour of two by-elections in one year after both the incumbent MP and his replacement passed away within months of each other.”

“It’s worth noting, however,” King said nervously, “that turnout never fell anywhere near this far even in the second by-election.”

“So you are saying that there is more to this than simple election fatigue?” Dimbleby queried. “Coming so soon after the local elections and the first elections to the new devolved assemblies for Scotland and Wales?”

“There must be more to it than that,” King agreed. “But it may have played a role.”

“Well...” Dimbleby trailed off. “Our second London constituency now. And what a constituency it is. Putney. A Tory seat throughout the Thatcher years, represented by cabinet minister David Mellor, who lost his seat in 1997 to Labour’s Tony Colman. Peter.”

“Indeed, David,” Snow said. “David Mellor of course suffered from a sex scandal and also a fallout with gun advocates due to his actions in Parliament following the Dunblane Massacre, but what might have been a very significant factor was the fact that he was opposed by the leader of the Referendum Party, Sir James Goldsmith. That gentleman has of course since passed away and the Referendum Party wound up, but we shall see if the UKIP—which interestingly also contested the constituency in 1997—can benefit.”

“Well, it looks like we’re about to find out...”

Electorate: 60,930 	Total Votes: 14,928 	Turnout: 24.5%

Con	5,628	37.7% (-1.2)
Lab	4,813	32.2% (-13.4)
LD	1,629	10.9% (+0.1)
Green	1,205	8.1% (+8.1)
Others	990	6.6% 
UKIP	663	4.4%(+3.9)

Maj.	815	5.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 6.1%

“And another Conservative regain! Another seat Mr Blair turned red two years ago only to flip back to blue. Michael Simpson unseats Tony Colman as member for Putney.”

“Yes, David, and as for the UKIP, a rather disappointing result for them given what I said, coming behind the Green Party who did not even contest the seat in 1997.”

“Quite. Tony?”

“It seems the UKIP’s more hardline stance on Europe will not rob the Tories of seats, as some had speculated—indeed, some had wondered if Mr Blair would welcome the presence of the UKIP for that reason,” King said. “There is of course the possibility that the Green Party might do the same to Labour or the Lib Dems—the spoiler effect, as we call it in psephology.”

“It seems not indeed, but we shall have to see. I’m hearing in my ear that we now have another three Scottish seats. Anne?”

MacKenzie reappeared on the screen. “Yes, three more, David, from constituencies across several parts of the country: Fife, Inverclyde, Lanarkshire...” It was fortunate that the camera did not cut away to show the blank expressions of several of the English journalists. “All currently held by Labour, all should be safe, but...”

[b]East Kilbride[/b]
Electorate: 66,301 	Total Votes: 16,708 	Turnout: 25.2%

Lab	5,669	33.9% (-22.6)
SNP	5,017	30.0% (+9.1)
Con	2,302	13.8% (+1.8)
Others	1,555	9.3% 
LD	1,045	6.3% (-0.9)
Green	991	5.9% (+5.9)
UKIP	129	0.8% (+0.8)

Maj.	652	3.9% 
Swing Lab to SNP 15.9%

“Adam Ingram, a junior minister at the Northern Ireland Office, just barely keeping his seat there as the SNP close on him! A huge majority demolished. That is the biggest threat to Labour from the SNP we have seen so far, while the other parties mostly hold fairly steady, save for the Greens doing surprisingly well...”

[b]Fife Central[/b]
Electorate: 59,490 	Total Votes: 13,088 	Turnout: 22.0%

Lab	5,494	42.0% (-16.7)
SNP	4,125	31.5% (+6.5)
Con	1,357	10.4% (+1.4)
Others	783	6.0% 
LD	751	5.7% (-0.7)
Green	446	3.4% (+3.4)
UKIP	132	1.0% (+1.0)

Maj.	1,369	10.5% 
Swing Lab to SNP 23.2%

“Henry McLeish, just recently elected for the same constituency to the new Scottish Parliament...on more than double the turnout, I might returned again, but also sees the second-placed SNP threaten him, if to a lesser extent.”

“The Conservatives gain only slightly there,” Tony King observed, “despite this time not having a candidate who went around in a Bentley canvassing with the help of his nanny. What was his name again?”

“William Rees-Mogg’s son, can’t remember his name I’m afraid,” Dimbleby said absently. “And the third seat?”

[b]Greenock & Inverclyde[/b]
Electorate: 48,646 	Total Votes: 11,140 	Turnout: 22.9%

Lab	3,667	32.9% (-23.3)
SNP	2,655	23.8% (+5.2)
Con	1,617	14.5% (+3.0)
LD	1,544	13.9% (+0.1)
Others	1,008	9.1%
Green	523	4.7% (+4.7)
UKIP	126	1.1% (+1.1)

Maj.	1,012	9.1% 
Swing Lab to SNP 14.3%

“Once again a surprisingly sharp challenge by the SNP in this very Labour-friendly area, home to a declining but still extant shipbuilding industry. Nonetheless, Norman Godman—a man with connections to that shipbuilding industry—is returned once again. But will all Scottish Labour MPs be so lucky?”

“Will we indeed see a smile on Alex Salmond’s face once again by the end of tonight?” Dimbleby wondered. “Thank you, Anne. And, if we ever get an opportunity, I understand that the Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary, Michael Howard, is ready to talk to us from his constituency—the constituency he hopes to retain—of Folkestone and Hythe...”


“It is quite clear to me that the pee-pul of this nation are rejecting the false dawn of Mr Blair and have seen the hollowness of his promises,” Michael Howard concluded, clutching an imaginary beachball, “and are putting their trust back in the party with a proven record on the economy.”

“A proven record of boom and bust, Mr Brown would say,” Paxman retorted.

“Mr Brown has better things to do than cast aspersions on our record,” Howard said idly. “Such as consider his position and that of his good friend Mr Blair as party leader. As the results roll in, the thumbscrews will tighten...”

“Eeeeaaarrrssee,” Paxman said. “And speaking of duress, did you threaten to overrul—”

Mercifully the scene cut back to Dimbleby.”Well—we won’t know if Michael Howard will be re-elected at Folkestone and Hythe for some time, but what we will soon know—” Tenuous BBC Link, “—is who will be representing Stockport. Peter.”

“Yes. Stockport was a Tory seat in the 1980s before being very narrowly won by the current MP, Labour’s Ann Coffey, in 1992. She increased her majority enormously in 1997 but what will the current situation yield?”

“We’ll find out now, as the acting returning officer is about to begin...”

Electorate: 65,450 	Total Votes: 12,632 	Turnout: 19.3%

Lab	4,933	39.0% (-23.9)
Con	3,635	28.8% (+6.5)
LD	1,415	11.2% (+0.6)
UKIP	1,092	8.6% (+8.6)
Green	879	7.0% (+7.0)
Others	678	5.4%

Maj.	1,298	10.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.2%

“Analysis, Peter?”

“That is a much smaller majority for Ann Coffey than last time but still larger than in 1992: the Tories have failed to gain enough ground to seriously threaten her. A curiously good result for the UKIP there in a seat they have never contested. The Greens, though they did not stand in 1992, did do so in the past and their decent score there is perhaps more justifiable. But perhaps Tony has more to say about that.”

“Perhaps,” King said doubtfully. “We are in uncharted territory with both the UKIP and the Greens, neither of whom have contested many constituencies before. The evident public disengagement with the campaign means that a smaller number of motivated voters can have a bigger impact, and that perhaps is what we are now seeing.”

“Perhaps,” Dimbleby agreed. “Simon Willis is here with another constituency from the North West, I believe.”

“Yes indeed, the count here at Crosby—north of Liverpool,” Willis added reluctantly for the benefit of the establishment, “is now complete. Crosby was thought of as a safe Tory seat until Claire Curtis-Thomas for Labour unseated Malcolm Thornton in ’97. It was however also the site of the famous by-election that was won by Shirley Williams for the SDP in ’81 at the height of their power. She ultimately failed to keep it in 1983 where it reverted to the Tories.”

“Another surprise then, perhaps?” Dimbleby asked wryly, but his voice was already fading to be replaced by that of the acting returning officer.

Electorate: 57,442 	Total Votes: 12,982 	Turnout: 22.6%

Con	5,565	42.9% (+8.1)
Lab	3,825	29.5% (-21.6)
LD	1,453	11.2% (+0.3)
Green	730	5.6% (+5.6)
Others	717	5.5%
UKIP	692	5.3% (+5.3)
Maj.	1,740	13.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.9%

“Another surprise indeed,” Willis said in shock. “A Tory regain was not beyond the bounds of possibility, but the scale of that swing...”

“And of the collapse in the Labour vote, or rather voteshare,” King agreed. “Not quite knocked back to 1992 levels, but Claire Curtis-Thomas has lost, er, about two-fifths of her vote...share...and her seat with it. Robert Collinson will be the next MP for Crosby.”

“And another seat joins the Conservative tally,” Peter Snow said, bringing another of his graphs. Labour still had a healthy lead over the number of declared Tory seats, while there was nothing yet from the Liberal Democrats or the minor parties. “How many more? Will it be enough to get William Hague all the way up that mountain?” This time the animation worked, unfortunately: the terrifying not-quite-human stop motion effect on the Hague mountaineer was all the worse once he reached the top.

Dimbleby raised his eyebrows: Snow had actually managed to get out one of his repetitions of his spiel, which usually filled space for much of the awkward time before the main mass of constituencies began to declare. Predictably, though, the brief respite was soon over. “Four more constituencies coming in in quick succession,” he, Dimbleby, said. “Three in Yorkshire and one in Greater Manchester...”

[b]Leeds Central[/b]
Electorate: 67,373 	Total Votes: 13,003 	Turnout: 19.3%

Lab	6,120	47.1% (-22.5)
LD	2,795	21.5% (+10.2)
Con	1,969	15.1% (+1.4)
Others	867	6.7%
Green	694	5.3% (+5.3)
UKIP	558	4.3% (+4.3)

Maj.	3,325	25.6% 
Swing Lab to LD 16.4%

“Leeds Central is held for Labour by Hilary Benn, the son of maverick left-wing firebrand Tony Benn, and believed to be a tad more moderate. He was selected quite rapidly after the sad death of the incumbent MP Derek Fatchett just a month ago. Without this snap election of course there would probably have been a by-election, and who knows how that would have turned out? As it is, that will be a welcome result for the Liberal Democrats, the first big gain in votes they have made in any constituency so far, and perhaps suggesting that not every seat will be like Torbay.”

Electorate: 70,660 	Total Votes: 10,599 	Turnout: 15.0%

Lab	5,525	52.1% (-16.8)
Con	2,445	23.1% (+7.5)
LD	762	7.2% (+4.0)
Green	692	6.5% (+6.5)
UKIP	639	6.0% (+6.0)
Others	536	5.1%

Maj.	3,080	29.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.2%

“Leigh, in the western part of Greater Manchester, remains safe for Labour in the hands of Lawrence Cunliffe, in what will probably be his last election. Indeed, there was some speculation he would step down this time, but a number of Labour MPs who had probably intended to retire in 2001 or 2002 have stayed on due to the brief time gap before this election available for candidate selections.”

Electorate: 68,176 	Total Votes: 10,431 	Turnout: 15.3%

Lab	4,792	45.9% (-24.7)
Con	2,931	28.1% (+10.3)
LD	1,010	9.7% (-0.8)
UKIP	642	6.2% (+6.2)
Others	570	5.5%
Green	486	4.7% (+4.7)

Maj.	1,861	17.8% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.5%

“Hemsworth, in West Yorkshire—the southeast corner, bordering South Yorkshire—elects left-wing Labour MP Jon Trickett for the third time in three years, for he first gained the seat in a by-election in 1996.”

[b]Hull West & Hessle[/b]
Electorate: 65,230 	Total Votes: 9,067 	Turnout: 13.9%

Lab	3,317	36.6% (-22.1)
Con	2,459	27.1% (+9.0)
LD	1,559	17.2% (-1.0)
UKIP	776	8.6% (+8.6)
Others	498	5.5% 
Green	458	5.0% (+5.0)

Maj.	858	9.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.6%

“And Hull West and Hessle, bordering Mr Prescott’s seat of course but represented by former postman Alan Johnson, recently appointed Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Mr Johnson seems more threatened by the Tories than Mr Prescott, who close to within ten percent of his position...on another very low turnout, of course...”

“Yes, quite,” Dimbleby cut in. Not only was it getting repetitive, but he found it easier to concentrate if he tried not to think about the turnout and just pretend this was a normal election. “And, before we have time to consider the consequences of this, I’m hearing from Anne that we’re once again going back to Scotland. Anne.”

“We’re about to see our first constituency of the night held by a party other than the big two,” MacKenzie informed them. “The Angus constituency and its predecessors have been held by the Scottish National Party since 1987. In the Scottish results we’ve seen so far, the SNP has improved its voteshare; will the same hold true here, and will Andrew Welsh increase his majority?”

“Andrew Welsh, yes,” Dimbleby said, rolling the name around his mouth, “an ironic name for a Scottish nationalist,” he added, just in case anyone who worked in a Christmas cracker factory hadn’t got it.

MacKenzie shook her head tolerantly. “Here comes the acting returning officer now...”

Electorate: 60,178 	Total Votes: 15,887 	Turnout: 26.4%

SNP	6,455	40.6% (-7.7)
Con	4,128	26.0% (+1.4)
Lab	2,322	14.6% (-1.0)
LD	1,202	7.6% (-1.8)
Others	822	5.2% 
Green	700	4.4% (+4.4)
UKIP	258	1.6% (+1.6)

Maj.	2,327	14.6% 
Swing SNP to Con 4.6%

“So,” Peter Snow said, “an SNP hold but the reverse pattern to what we’ve seen so far: a decline in the SNP vote. As with some of the safe Labour seats we’ve seen, no one party really benefits from this.” He hesitated. “Of course our system here groups ‘others’ as one category—in Scotland the Scottish Socialist Party has managed to contest many seats and may make up a sizeable share of the votes. However, the important part for now is that the SNP has their first MP of the night. How many more will they get? Will they equal the 6 they won in 1997? Or, after their good performance in the recent devolved election, perhaps aspire to their all-time high of 11 from 1974?”

“We won’t know for a while, Peter,” Dimbleby said, “as our next results are all south of the border. Firstly, we return to London...”


“Yes, in Battersea we have Andrew Marr. Andrew.”

The camera on Marr was rather zoomed-out, providing a more than sufficient view of the count behind him at the former Battersea Town Hall that was now an arts centre. The reason for the position soon became clear as Marr’s arms unfolded like an elaborate frame tent and began moving as though being operated by two separate Thunderbirds puppeteers who weren’t on speaking terms. “Well David, Battersea might have radical connections historically, electing Britain’s first Communist MP—and interestingly one of our first ethnic minority MPs, being a Zoroastrian Parsi originally from India—as well as its first black mayor, John Archer—but the seat has been more marginal recently. Labour held it in 1983 but from 1987 until two years ago it had a Conservative MP, John Bowls. Mr Bowls lost his seat to Labour’s Martin Linton then. Mr Linton is known for his environmentalist positions, but like everyone this time, he is facing an actual Green Party opponent as he fights to retain his seat...” Marr’s left arm almost collided with the boom mike.

“Thank you Andrew, and we can see that the acting returning officer is about to declare...”

Electorate: 67,908 	Total Votes: 15,551 	Turnout: 22.9%

Con	5,896	37.9% (-1.5)
Lab	5,686	36.6% (-14.1)
Green	1,309	8.4% (+8.4)
LD	1,241	8.0% (+0.6)
Others	986	6.3%
UKIP	433	2.8% (+2.3)

Maj.	210	1.3% 
Swing Lab to Con 6.3%

“Another crucial Conservative gain if William Hague wants to walk through the doors of Number Ten,” said Snow. “A very narrow result. The newly elected MP, Conservative Lucy Shersby, will have to work hard to keep her seat. And as Andrew suggested, the Green vote, er, voteshare was very high, with the Green candidate Ian Wingrove reaching third place for what I believe is the first time ever. Will there be accusations that he played a spoiler to Martin Linton? We will see.”

“Quite so Peter, and speaking of such matters we can now go live to...” Dimbleby trailed off in annoyance. “After these next five results we can go live to Robert Worcester, head of the polling organisation MORI, for his views on the polls. But first...”

Electorate: 69,327 	Total Votes: 11,439 	Turnout: 16.5%

Lab	5,383	47.1% (-19.6)
Con	2,969	26.0% (+7.3)
LD	984	8.6% (-2.1)
UKIP	740	6.5% (+6.5)
Others	738	6.5% 
Green	625	5.5% (+5.5)

Maj.	2,414	21.1% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.5%

“Another safe Labour seat in Greater Manchester is held quite easily by Labour despite a sizeable swing. Ian Stewart will continue to represent this constituency, centred on the town of Eccles near Salford.” Dimbleby privately rolled his eyes at Snow’s words: as though that provided any context. When had anyone in the media ever been to Salford?

[b]Liverpool, Riverside[/b]
Electorate: 73,000 	Total Votes: 7,519 	Turnout: 10.3%

Lab	3,495	46.5% (-23.9)
LD	1,197	15.9% (+2.6)
Con	1,157	15.4% (+5.9)
Green	829	11.0% (+11.0)
Others	631	8.4%
UKIP	210	2.8% (+2.8)

Maj.	2,298	30.6% 
Swing Lab to LD 13.3%

“A very safe Labour seat and one that is notorious for low turnout at the best of times, it’s perhaps not surprising that Liverpool Riverside stands out even now.”

“We should perhaps count our blessings that it’s not into single figures,” Tony King said hollowly.

“The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are almost neck-and-neck as distant opposition challengers and another good score for the Greens, but to the surprise of no-one, Labour’s Louise Ellman will continue to represent this area in Parliament.”

[b]Shrewsbury & Atcham[/b]
Electorate: 75,000 	Total Votes: 19,425 	Turnout: 25.9%

Con	7,825	40.3% (+6.3)
Lab	4,533	23.3% (-13.7)
LD	2,595	13.4% (-11.6)
Others	1,714	8.8%
Green	1,515	7.8% (+7.8)
UKIP	1,243	6.4% (+5.5)

Maj.	3,292	17.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 10.0%

“A fairly rural seat, well suited to the Conservatives, whose gain by Labour’s Paul Marsden last time was an impressive achievement and illustrated just how much the country had swung to Labour. It’s perhaps not too surprising that we have seen swingback and a Conservative regain this time, Mr Marsden would have had to do very well or the Tories would have had to do very badly to keep it. Anthea McIntyre regains Derek Conway’s old seat for the Conservatives.”

“And up next a crucial seat, that of the Foreign Secretary Mr Robin Cook,” interjected Dimbleby. “Anne MacKenzie?”

“Yes David, Mr Cook is there at the count in his seat at Livingston and the acting returning officer is about to declare...”

Electorate: 62,668 	Total Votes: 12,847 	Turnout: 20.5%

Lab	4,481	34.9% (-20.0)
SNP	4,262	33.2% (+5.7)
Con	1,452	11.3% (+1.9)
Others	903	7.0%
LD	834	6.5% (-0.2)
Green	761	5.9% (+5.9)
UKIP	154	1.2% (+1.2)

Maj.	219	1.7% 
Swing Lab to SNP 12.9%

“WELL! A shock result there,” MacKenzie exclaimed. “Mr Cook, the holder of one of the Great Offices of State, only just barely holds his seat against a challenge from the SNP candidate Graham Sutherland. Is that an indictment of Mr Cook and Mr Blair’s foreign policy from his own constituency?”

“Or the fifth of his constituency that voted,” Dimbleby muttered. “We can’t give you Mr Cook’s speech now, but Jeremy will try to get him on the line later for his reaction to this shock result. And our fifth seat of this batch is also from Scotland...”

“Yes, the safe Labour seat of Motherwell and Wishaw—though after that result I wonder if we can describe any seat as safe...”

[b]Motherwell & Wishaw[/b]
Electorate: 52,842 	Total Votes: 11,414 	Turnout: 21.6%

Lab	4,959	43.5% (-13.9)
SNP	2,845	24.9% (+2.4)
Con	1,432	12.6% (+1.6)
Others	1,173	10.3%
LD	579	5.1% (-1.3)
Green	338	3.0% (+3.0)
UKIP	88	0.8% (+0.8)

Maj.	2,114	18.6% 
Swing Lab to SNP 8.2%

“The SNP in second once again, but former steelworker Frank Roy holds the seat for Labour quite easily—certainly more so than his colleague Robin Cook. David.”

“Yes. Some startling results there, but we can now finally go to Robert Worcester of MORI. My apologies for keeping you waiting, Robert.”

Worcester, an elderly man whose slight American twang betrayed the country of his birth, had the harassed look of an important man who had just come off the phone from five panicking underlings and ordered them to go and put out fires. “Thank you for having me on David.”

“What are your thoughts on the polls? They do seem to be quite out of alignment with what we have seen so far?”

“You won’t find any argument from me, David. All we can do is report what we find to the best of our ability, but sometimes we have to make judgement calls when the situation is unclear. And nobody makes the right decision every time,” Worcester said authoritatively. “It’s happened before, it happened just last month in fact with the first devolved elections where all of us pollsters overestimated Labour and didn’t take depressed turnout into account, not enough. It’s the same thing here, but, frankly astonishingly, the turnout is even lower for this general election!”

“Can you contrast what the polls said with the picture the actual results are painting?” Dimbleby asked.

“Sure. If you look at our poll of the twenty-seventh, we had Labour on fifty, the Conservatives on twenty-nine, the Liberal Democrats on fourteen percent and the others on five percent. But, and this is important, we also filtered it based on who was certain to vote, and that changed the figures to forty-five, thirty-one, fifteen and five respectively.”

“Still a good way out from what we’re seeing,” Dimbleby pointed out.

“Yes, well, either some of those saying they were certain to vote were lying or changed their minds, or...” Worcester shrugged. “I will pay tribute to our distinguished competition ICM who did a poll just two days ago for the Guardian that seems to be somewhat closer to these results: Labour thirty-eight, Conservatives thirty-one, Liberal Democrats fourteen and Others on seventeen. But then that was held after some of the revelations of the campaign and how there’s a full slate for some minor parties was announced...”

“Flip the Labour and Tory figures and that’s almost close to our exit poll,” Dimbleby commented. “It still shows a huge overestimation of Labour and we’ll have to discuss that in more detail. Whither the pollsters, Mr Worcester?”

“Obviously we will have to work hard to refine our techniques in response to this,” Worcester said with a shrug. “All of us. New technologies and ways of polling people are always being created and these may eventually help us avoid being caught out by unexpected situations like this shockingly low turnout.”

“You mention new technologies,” Dimbleby said, “what about the possibility of polling people using SMS text messages or the world wide web?”

“That will probably come about in the future,” Worcester said, “but it’s too soon. In the Thirties there was a phone poll that gave a totally wrong prediction for a presidential election in the country of my birth, in America, where Kansas’ own Alf Landon was predicted to be president. Back then only richer people owned phones so it was too self-selecting. It would be the same here if we tried polling by e-mail or whatever now: only the technically minded, early adopters, people who use it at work, and so on would be polled, and that would give a biased result. But when it becomes more common...”

“Fascinating, thank you,” Dimbleby said. “Sorry to leave it there, but we have more results. Robert Worcester, thank you.”

“Thank you.”

“Our next result is from Yorkshire. Philip Hayton is at the count in Rotherham. Philip.”

Hayton nodded. A man who had nearly been blown up while reporting on African conflicts more than once, he nonetheless betrayed the nervousness of any Look North (Yorkshire and Midlands) presenter required to leave Leeds and acknowledge the existence of the rest of the region. “Yes David. I’m here in Rotherham Town Hall for the count. Rotherham is a former mining area and a safe Labour seat, but after some of the results we’ve seen so far...ah, here comes the acting returning officer now.”

Electorate: 59,185 	Total Votes: 9,588 	Turnout: 16.2%

Lab	4,385	45.7% (-25.6)
Con	2,690	28.1% (+13.8)
LD	1,072	11.2% (+0.8)
Others	543	5.7% 
UKIP	499	5.2% (+5.2)
Green	399	4.2% (+4.2)

Maj.	1,695	17.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 19.7%

“A fairly sharp swing to the Conservatives on, again, a low turnout, but Labour’s Denis MacShane—who first won the seat in a by-election in 1994—is returned once more to the surprise of no-one. Richard Powell for the Tories makes gains while David Wildgoose, something of a perennial candidate for the Lib Dems, fails to do the same to any great extent. A fair result for the UKIP, whose Peter Griffith keeps his deposit—er, would, if we still had them.”

“Thank you, Philip. And back to Scotland now it would seem...?”

Anne MacKenzie interjected once again. “Yes David, and a crucial seat for the Scottish Conservative Party. Stirling had been a Tory seat for years, though an increasingly marginal one, before Michael Forsyth was defeated by Anne McGuire two years ago—as was every Tory in Scotland, famously. If the Tories are to make any recovery in Scotland, this is the point where we will see it—or not.”

“And here it comes...”

Electorate: 52,866 	Total Votes: 16,653 	Turnout: 31.5%

Con	4,728	28.4% (-4.1)
SNP	4,112	24.7% (+11.3)
Lab	3,895	23.4% (-24.0)
LD	1,445	8.7% (+2.5)
Green	1,198	7.2% (+7.2)
Others	1,099	6.6%
UKIP	176	1.1% (+0.7)

Maj.	616	17.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 10.0%

“Well! Geoff Mawdsley regains the seat for the Tories in a spectacular result—despite losing votes, er, voteshare compared to 1997! The SNP surge through the middle and knock Labour into third place. Anne McGuire loses more than half her voteshare from last time, that has to be a bitter blow!”

“An extraordinary result, and on one of the highest turnouts so far, sad to say. The winning candidate wins with less than a third of the vote, as David Steel warned us earlier might happen. But under our electoral system, the only important thing is that we have our first Conservative seat in Scotland of the night. The Scottish Tories are back.”

“Yes, something that deserves more analysis—” Dimbleby said, Snow brightening up, “—but which we don’t have time for, for it’s back to the West Midlands for our next seat. Kay Alexander is there at the count in West Bromwich East.”

“Yes David. As you can see, the count here is rather, erm, colourful...”

“Why are those young people with the blue rosettes drawing red Zs on their foreheads? It looks like some sort of cult!”

“Those are the Conservative candidate, David McFarlane’s, supporters. I understand it’s a reference to that children’s book series that took off recently, the one Stephen Fry talks about—” Alexander cut herself off. “Here is the acting returning officer.”

[b]West Bromwich East[/b]
Electorate: 62,955 	Total Votes: 10,010 	Turnout: 15.9%

Lab	3,679	36.8% (-20.4)
Con	2,960	29.6% (+7.2)
LD	1,348	13.5% (-1.4)
Others	1,121	11.2%
UKIP	498	5.0% (+5.0)
Green	404	4.0% (+4.0)

Maj.	719	7.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.8%

“And so Peter Snape is returned again for Labour to what will probably be his final parliament, but his majority is cut sharply to less than ten percent.”

“Apparently drawing red Zs on your forehead can help your campaign,” Dimbleby said dryly. “There’s another constituency from the West Midlands area—no, I tell a lie, there’s one from Greater Manchester first...”

Electorate: 64,673 	Total Votes: 9,701 	Turnout: 15.0%

Lab	4,642	47.9% (-20.7)
Con	2,552	26.3% (+9.4)
LD	760	7.8% (-2.2)
Green	616	6.3% (+5.3)
Others	580	6.0%
UKIP	551	5.7% (+5.7)

Maj.	2,090	21.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.1%

“A large swing against Labour, but Neil Turner holds the seat for his party—a late entry after the incumbent Roger Stott pulled out due to ill health.”

“And now for that Midlands seat...”

[b]Birmingham, Northfield[/b]
Electorate: 56,670 	Total Votes: 9,974 	Turnout: 17.6%

Lab	3,387	34.0% (-23.4)
Con	3,270	32.8% (+4.8)
LD	1,281	12.8% (+2.3)
Others	957	9.6%
Green	574	5.8% (+5.8)
UKIP	505	5.1% (+5.1)

Maj.	117	1.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.1%

“A strong challenge to Richard Burden from the Tories, but he narrowly retains the Northfield seat he first won from them in 1992. So far Edgbaston remains the only Tory seat in Birmingham.”

“Indeed. Yet another Midlands s—no, we’re being interrupted again, it’s Wales.”

[b]Vale of Clwyd[/b]
Electorate: 51,300 	Total Votes: 15,185 	Turnout: 29.6%

Con	4,749	31.3% (+1.5)
Lab	4,590	30.2% (-22.5)
PC	3,383	22.3% (+16.4)
LD	1,072	7.1% (-1.7)
UKIP	725	4.8% (+4.1)
Others	360	2.4%
Green	306	2.0% (+2.0)

Maj.	159	1.1% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.0%

“A dramatic swing from Labour to both the Tories and Plaid Cymru narrowly delivers the seat to the Conservative candidate Brendan Murphy. Chris Ruane for Labour loses his seat with an almost eighteen percent majority being demolished.”

“And again on a relatively high turnout for tonight, sad to say. Will Scotland and Wales do better on turnout than England? Perhaps the aftereffects of the first devolved elections?” King asked.

“Perhaps. Back to the Midlands now for a very unusual seat. This is the first time in many years that there will be no Speaker’s seat at the election, as Betty Boothroyd announced her retirement and there was no time to elect a successor from the MPs before Parliament dissolved. The appointment of a new Speaker will have to wait until after the election. As a result, for the first time since 1992 the people of West Bromwich West will have a seriously contested election with major party candidates on the ballot.”

[b]West Bromwich West[/b]
Electorate: 68,643 	Total Votes: 8,855 	Turnout: 12.9%

Lab	3,783	42.7% (+42.7)
Con	2,646	29.9% (+29.9)
Others	987	11.2%
LD	701	7.9% (+7.9)
UKIP	409	4.6% (+4.6)
Green	329	3.7% (+3.7)

Maj.	1,137	12.8% 
Swing not meaningful

“A Labour gain, by default, with Adrian Bailey taking the seat. The first Labour gain of tonight and, given the results so far, one wonders if it will be the only one...”


“A brief word now from Zeinab over on BBC Knowledge. Zeinab.”

Zeinab Badawi had the peculiarly bright and attentive expression of someone who has just been hastily poked out of a doze of ennui. “Yes David! We’ve had lots—quite a few—several e-mails, SMS text messages and phone-ins from members of the public. Like this one just coming in now from David, in Brighton, which says...err...’all the parties are the same, they’re all run by lizard people, except the Greens, they’re okay’. I think that might be a joke,” she added uncertainly. “I really hope that’s a joke...”

“What are some others you’ve had?” Dimbleby asked hastily.

“Yes, well, we’ve had a lot asking about why we are showing coverage of the election instead of the football, the snooker or repeats of the late Jill Dando’s funeral,” Zeinab said carefully. “We’ve also had a few people pledging money, we had to explain this wasn’t Comic Relief or Children in Need. The Electoral Commission may need to look at that one. And we’ve also had one or two expressing a hope that President Clinton wins again.”

“I see,” Dimbleby said desolately. “It certainly appears that public awareness of this election...could be better.” He pulled himself together. “But we have another result coming in. We’re back to Greater Manchester for the Stalybridge and Hyde declaration.”

[b]Stalybridge & Hyde[/b]
Electorate: 66,469 	Total Votes: 10,901 	Turnout: 16.4%

Lab	3,892	35.7% (-23.2)
Con	3,535	32.4% (+7.9)
LD	1,039	9.5% (-2.5)
Others	832	7.6% 
UKIP	818	7.5% (+7.5)
Green	785	7.2% (+7.2)

Maj.	357	3.3% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.6%

“Another remarkable result there, David,” Snow said, showing some graphs whose bars shot up and down like the aforementioned president’s trousers. “A Labour hold, with James Purnell holding Tom Pendry’s old seat—unlike many MPs planning to retire, he had time to organise the selection of a successor—but the Conservatives close on him and almost overtook. A remarkable achievement considering this seat has voted Labour at every election since 1945.”

“I wonder if we will see the Tories pull off such a challenge completely elsewhere,” King said. “It would be as big a shock to the system as two years ago when Labour took several seats that had formerly consistently voted Tory by huge margins. Are big swings the new norm? Is the UK beginning to resemble Canada?”

“Doubtless the influence of Greg Rusedski,” Peter Snow quipped.

“Regardless, we have another seat now, in the North West once again.Simon Willis.”

“Yes, we have Southport, which is of course a port on the north-west coast of England,” Willis smiled. “This is a seat where the Lib Dems and the Liberal Party before them have long had strength, and the retiring MP Ronnie Fearn has contested the seat repeatedly for almost thirty years, sometimes winning and sometimes being defeated by the Tories, but it is usually close. He has handed over the Lib Dem torch to John Pugh, but will he be able to hold the seat, or will the Conservatives’ Matthew Gordon-Banks win back the seat he lost in 1997?”

Electorate: 71,088 	Total Votes: 15,284 	Turnout: 21.5%

Con	6,780	44.4% (+8.5)
LD	3,020	19.8% (-28.3)
Lab	2,995	19.6% (+7.5)
UKIP	888	5.8% (+5.8)
Others	834	5.5%
Green	767	5.0% (+5.0)

Maj.	3,760	24.6% 
Swing LD to Con 18.4%

“Well, that answers that question. A huge collapse in the Lib Dem vote and swing to the Tories, that’s their lowest voteshare since the 1950s. A demoralising position which resembles Torbay: if that is the norm, then the Lib Dems are definitely in trouble.”

“Yes, and it’s interesting considering Gordon-Banks had flirted with leaving the Conservative Party before deciding to seek a candidacy again here. I wonder if things had been different if Gordon-Banks had played away.”

“Quite,” Dimbleby said, somehow feeling he should be groaning but not sure why. “That means the Liberal Democrats are still yet to win a seat tonight. We will be going to another senior Lib Dem eventually to ask their reaction, but for now Jeremy is speaking to Edwina Currie. Jeremy.”

“Eeeearrrse, David. Ms Currie, you famously, one might say infamously, served as health minister in the 1980s and lost your seat in 1997. Given the pattern we’ve seen so far, are you perhaps regretting not standing again?”

“Of course not Jeremy,” Currie said, smiling at the camera in a faintly unhinged way. “Politics is a closed door to me now, I think this pathetic turnout figures show that the public is far more interested in other things—such as a certain upcoming groundbreaking series on Channel 4 in which I—”

“Eeeearse,” Paxman hastily cut her off. “But your party’s performance here pleases you?”

“Well, it hardly surprises me, I mean anyone could do better than John Major, the polls would always remain...slumped while he was leading the party,” Currie said snippily, giving the camera a funny look. “I’m sure William Hague will make an excellent Prime Minister. For example, there are certainly elements of the media that would benefit from privatisation...” she looked directly into the lens with what she probably thought was a dazzling smile.

Paxman looked as queasy as if he had eaten one of Currie’s salmonella-loaded eggs. “Er, I think we have to cut away to a new result now,” he said, a rare defeat.

Dimbleby’s face betrayed a mixture of horror and a smug sense of comeuppance. “Indeed, in the West Midlands we have one of Wolverhampton’s three seats.”

[b]Wolverhampton South East[/b]
Electorate: 53,508 	Total Votes: 9,043 	Turnout: 16.9%

Lab	4,371	48.3% (-15.4)
Con	2,407	26.6% (+6.4)
Others	845	9.3%
LD	739	8.2% (-1.2)
UKIP	381	4.2% (+4.2)
Green	300	3.3% (+3.3)

Maj.	1,964	21.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 10.9%

“Quite an easy hold for Labour’s Dennis Turner despite everything, and the consolidated Others outpoll the Lib Dems due to higher scores for both the continuing Liberal Party and the BNP.”

“Next it’s back to Wales. Huw?”

“Indeed,” Huw Edwards said, “for our second Clwyd seat, and we will see if the superior turnout we have seen so far in Wales continues to hold up...”

[b]Clwyd South[/b]
Electorate: 54,191 	Total Votes: 14,469 	Turnout: 26.7%

Lab	4,913	34.0% (-24.1)
PC	3,656	25.3% (+19.0)
Con	3,544	24.5% (+1.4)
LD	1,092	7.5% (-1.9)
UKIP	608	4.2% (+4.2)
Green	373	2.6% (+2.6)
Others	283	2.0%

Maj.	1,257	8.7% 
Swing Lab to PC 21.6%

“Well! Turnout only slightly higher, but that is another vast swing from Labour to Plaid Cymru. Nonetheless Labour’s Martyn Jones will continue as MP. Only a slight improvement for the Tories, who last time were represented by the Eurosceptic columnist Boris Johnson. This time the latter has been in the news for obtaining a candidacy in Henley to succeed Michael Heseltine in that seat—providing, of course, he is elected—despite his very different views to Mr Heseltine, who has made controversial interventions into this election campaign.”

“To the North East for the first time in a while now, to one of Labour’s safest seats even in this region...”

Electorate: 62,511 	Total Votes: 10,752 	Turnout: 17.2%

Lab	6,690	62.2% (-18.0)
Con	1,541	14.3% (+5.7)
LD	800	7.4% (+0.2)
UKIP	794	7.4% (+7.4)
Others	476	4.4%
Green	451	4.2% (+4.2)

Maj.	5,149	47.9% 
Swing Lab to Con 11.9%

“And as we have seen in some such seats, much less movement than might be expected despite the crash in turnout. Ex-miner and trade unionist John Cummings is comfortably re-elected with more than fifty percent of the vote, which is looking an increasingly rare situation tonight.”

“Yes, that’s a natural consequence of having more candidates on the ballot,” said Tony King, “and it opens questions about democratic legitimacy—though tonight those will doubtless be overshadowed by ones about turnout.”

“I have to interrupt you there because Anne MacKenzie is here once again. Anne?”

“Yes David, we’re going to Fife North East where Menzies Campbell – spelled ‘Menzies’ but pronounced ‘Mingyiss’ – is defending the seat he first won in 1987. A former Olympic sprinter, Campbell was speculated to be a possibility to succeed Paddy Ashdown in the recent Lib Dem leadership contest, but ultimately did not enter it. Will he do better than the other Lib Dem incumbents we have seen so far?”

[b]Fife North East[/b]
Electorate: 61,576 	Total Votes: 16,441 	Turnout: 26.7%

Con	4,889	29.7% (+3.2)
LD	4,002	24.3% (-26.9)
SNP	3,232	19.7% (+8.9)
Lab	1,928	11.7% (+0.9)
Green	1,245	7.6% (+7.6)
Others	878	5.3%
UKIP	267	1.6% (+1.6)

Maj.	887	5.4% 
Swing LD to Con 15.1%

“The answer is a remarkable no. Another drastic crash in the Lib Dem vote in these Lib Dem-Tory marginals, evidently no different in Scotland to England—save for the presence of the SNP, of course. The Tories’ Mike Scott-Hayward wins the seat on less than a third of the vote once again, and looks rather shocked about it! A bitter blow for Campbell, who has seen more than half his votes, er, half his voteshare, vanish in an instant.”

“A shocking result indeed,” said Dimbleby. “One wonders how many seats the Lib Dems will have left by the end of tonight.”

“Particularly considering the corresponding seat for the new Scottish Parliament was won by the Lib Dem candidate quite handily only a month ago,” MacKenzie pointed out. “There is something peculiar about this election...”

Truer words had never been spoken, but Dimbleby didn’t say so out loud. Instead he turned back to his impatiently flashing light and the list of seats that had declared. He had barely had a chance to wet his throat with his glass of water in between declarations. “Wentworth in South Yorkshire. Another former mining area and Labour stronghold.”

Electorate: 64,243 	Total Votes: 10,536 	Turnout: 16.4%

Lab	5,299	50.3% (-22.0)
Con	2,736	26.0% (+11.0)
LD	973	9.2% (-0.1)
Others	539	5.1% 
UKIP	536	5.1% (+5.1)
Green	453	4.3% (+4.3)

Maj.	2,563	24.3% 
Swing Lab to Con 16.5%

“Another easy hold for Labour’s John Healey despite a large swing to the Tories. Next, Birkenhead on the Wirral near Liverpool, home to the maverick Labour MP Frank Field, who is often a thorn in the side of his own party’s leadership...”

Electorate: 60,104 	Total Votes: 8,655 	Turnout: 14.4%

Lab	3,888	44.9% (-25.9)
Con	2,203	25.4% (+10.2)
LD	957	11.1% (+2.1)
Others	584	6.8%
Green	558	6.5% (+6.5)
UKIP	465	5.4% (+5.4)

Maj.	1,685	19.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 18.1%

“...and will continue to be so, it seems. Then there’s Middlesbrough in the North East, which was formerly in North Yorkshire until the counties were reformed, another safe Labour area...”

Electorate: 70,573 	Total Votes: 11,574 	Turnout: 16.4%

Lab	5,381	46.5% (-24.9)
Con	3,187	27.5% (+10.3)
UKIP	978	8.4% (+8.4)
LD	973	8.4% (-0.1)
Others	530	4.6%
Green	525	4.5% (+4.5)

Maj.	2,194	19.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.6%

“...and Labour’s Stuart Bell will continue to represent it despite a large decline in the Labour vote...share. In Scotland we have two, no, first one seat...”

[b]Falkirk East[/b]
Electorate: 58,024 	Total Votes: 11,837 	Turnout: 20.4%

Lab	4,175	35.3% (-20.8)
SNP	3,658	30.9% (+7.0)
Con	1,713	14.5% (+0.5)
Others	871	7.4%
LD	705	6.0% (+0.8)
Green	526	4.4% (+4.4)
UKIP	189	1.6% (+1.6)

Maj.	517	4.4% 
Swing Lab to SNP 13.9%

“...formerly thought to be a safe Labour seat now threatened by a surging Scottish National Party who squeeze the majority down to the line, yet backbencher Michael Connarty will remain its MP...”

[b]Hull North[/b]
Electorate: 65,737 	Total Votes: 9,269 	Turnout: 14.1%

Lab	3,585	38.7% (-27.1)
Con	2,306	24.9% (+9.8)
LD	1,274	13.7% (-0.9)
UKIP	815	8.8% (+8.8)
Green	723	7.8% (+7.8)
Others	566	6.1%

Maj.	1,279	13.8% 
Swing Lab to Con 18.5%

“...the last of the three Hull seats, in Humbers – in the East Riding of Yorkshire, has re-elected Kevin McNamara, but his formerly huge margin over the Tories has crumbled...”

[b]Paisley North[/b]
Electorate: 49,086 	Total Votes: 11,339 	Turnout: 23.1%

Lab	4,218	37.2% (-22.3)
SNP	3,177	28.0% (+6.1)
Con	1,377	12.1% (+2.5)
Others	1,120	9.9%
LD	876	7.7% (+0.8)
Green	472	4.2% (+4.2)
UKIP	99	0.9% (+0.9)

Maj.	1,041	9.2% 
Swing Lab to SNP 14.2%

“...and back in Scotland, much the same picture in Paisley North, where Irene Adams is returned but is seriously threatened for the first time by the SNP.”

Dimbleby took a deep breath after all of that. “And speaking of Scotland, I believe Jeremy now has Foreign Secretary Robin Coc – Robin Cook on the line...”

There was a pregnant pause while, across the country, thousands of people hunted down their remote controls and hit the ‘Text’ button followed by the ‘8’ button three times.

“Mr Cook. How do you feel about your frankly appalling performance in Livingston?” Paxman asked with his usual degree of sensitivity.

Cook frowned. “I think everyone has performed appallingly in this election,” his subtitles said bluntly. “The failure to enthuse the public in the importance of this choice rests partly on the soldiers of we as politicians," the subtitler got it slightly wrong, "but also on those of you in the media. We have heard so little about the importance of Tony Blair’s vision for the Uk at the heart of Europe in contrast to the Tories’ regressive Little Englander views. All we have heard is personality politics, gross oversimplification and innuendo.”

“You don’t think that the personal affairs of politicians are befitting of the public interest?” Paxman said nastily. “I can’t imagine why!”

“This has nothing to do with my own decisions as far as personal affairs are concerned,” Cook’s subtitles said coldly. “It has everything to do with lack of proportion and a failure of your duty as a public broadcaster to inform the public. I asked one constituent if she thought we were right to put ethics at the heart of foreign policy and she told me she didn’t want Ethics to be foreign, she wanted it to stay just south of Suffolk. That is the level that you have wrought with your lackadaisical coverage.” Cook was shaking with barely suppressed fury.

Paxman’s eyes narrowed. He was ready to go in for the kill, to push Cook off the edge and claim another ministerial scalp. But he was interrupted. “And back to Andrew Marr in London at the Tooting count!”

“Yes David,” Marr said, apparently throttling a key grip with one hand just off-camera. “Tooting has voted for Labour’s Tom Cox since its creation as a seat in the 1970s. He is standing again, will the pattern be broken?”

Electorate: 67,103 	Total Votes: 16,239 	Turnout: 24.2%

Lab	7,001	43.1% (-16.6)
Con	4,704	29.0% (+1.9)
Green	1,493	9.2% (+8.1)
LD	1,490	9.2% (-0.2)
Others	1,039	6.4% 
UKIP	512	3.1% (+3.1)

Maj.	2,297	14.1% 
Swing Lab to Con 9.3%

“No it will not. Not so large a decline in the Labour vote as we have seen in some other seats. Back to you, David.”

“And back to Liverpool for the next Liverpool seat. Will the turnout by any higher than Riverside?”

[b]Liverpool, Garston[/b]
Electorate: 65,924 	Total Votes: 10,482 	Turnout: 15.9%

Lab	3,397	32.4% (-28.9)
Con	3,138	29.9% (+14.2)
LD	2,237	21.3% (+2.3)
Others	672	6.4%
Green	595	5.7% (+5.7)
UKIP	443	4.2% (+4.2)

Maj.	259	2.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 21.6%

“Slightly. Now aside from being held by the Tories from 1979 to 1983, this seat has elected Labour MPs since the 1970s. It will continue to be represented by a Labour MP, Maria Eagle, but almost half her voteshare has vanished and the Conservatives have pushed her constituency back into being the marginal it has not been since the 1970s.”

“A remarkable result, even if, as we’ve said, the only real thing of importance under our electoral system is the person with the most votes, and that has not changed.”

“Now it’s back to Yorkshire with Normanton, another former mining area whose incumbent MP is Labour’s Bill O’Brien.”

Electorate: 65,000 	Total Votes: 9,555 	Turnout: 14.7%

Lab	3,578	37.5% (-23.1)
Con	3,143	32.9% (+9.3)
LD	1,162	12.2% (-0.2)
UKIP	673	7.0% (+7.0)
Others	527	5.5%
Green	472	4.9% (+4.9)

Maj.	435	4.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 16.2%

“And he keeps his seat but, once again, the Tories close to the danger zone. There will be smiles on the faces at Conservative Central Office based on these near misses in places Labour never expected to be threatened. But will they translate into victories in the marginals? The picture is still unclear.”

“And we can’t spend any more time on this I’m afraid because our next seat is, arguably, the most important of the night—that of the sitting Prime Minister. In a few minutes we will go over to Sedgefield where Tony Blair will discover just how many of his constituents have chosen to vote for him—or to vote at all...”


“And Nick Robinson is at Sedgefield, the constituency north of Darlington which Tony Blair has represented for Labour since 1983. Nick.”

Robinson had evidently been applying his beefsteak since his last appearance and his face was less swollen, though the bruises were purpling. “Indeed David, Tony Blair is here with his large number of opponents—facing off trivial challengers as well as those from the major parties is an occupational hazard when you are Prime Minister. Mr Blair continues to appear as self-assured as always, we can only wait to hear what his reaction will be when—” Robinson cut himself off. “Here comes the acting returning officer now.”

Electorate: 65,266 	Total Votes: 13,706 	Turnout: 21.0%

Lab	6,633	48.4% (-22.8)
Con	3,531	25.8%  (+8.0)
UKIP	1,257	9.2% (+9.2)
LD	1,192	8.7% (+2.2)
Green	552	4.0% (+4.0)
Others	541	4.0%

Maj.	3,102	22.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.4%

“So Tony Blair is safe, though his percentages resemble those he had when he was first elected in 1983, and there is a big swing to his Conservative opponent—that’s him there on the hustings shaking hands with Mr Blair now, a gentleman named Douglas Carswell. Up here in Sedgefield he has been known not so much for attacking Mr Blair as for attacking another candidate, Andrew Spence from the UKIP, for what he described as pointlessly splitting the Eurosceptic vote. However, despite Mr Carswell’s attacks, Spence has surprisingly managed to come third for the UKIP. Perhaps there is no such thing as bad publicity—” Robinson interrupted himself again. “And Mr Blair goes to the microphone to speak.”

“People of Sedgefield, people of Britain,” said Blair, sweat glistening on his forehead. “Today you faced...” One of his interminable pauses, “...a choice between the future...and the past. A choice between...modernity and the false promises of...blind nostalgia.” He looked around the room. “Your answer...currently remains unclear. But one clear. The great question of...what kind of wish to live in...has not excited your attention. I do not blame you... I blame the European Commission...for forcing us into this unwanted...and unneeded election. I can only trust...that those of you who have remained the democratic spirit for which...our forefathers fought for...for so long...prefer the the past.” He unconsciously wiped his brow, then took a folded piece of paper from his pocket. “During this supporter sent me...this poem,” he looked up, “which, in a very real sense, gave me great encouragement...and courage.” He cleared his throat.

O Susannah-Mio,
Divided girl of mine
Parked her rig
In the Dixie Pig
In the year of ninety-nine...

Blair trailed off in confusion. “Wait, I think...this is the wrong piece of paper...”

The cameras diplomatically cut out not long afterwards. “The Prime Minister, erm, somewhat shocked by events...and who can blame him,” Dimbleby coughed. “Peter, if you will give us an update on the situation so far?”

“Of course!” Snow cried jovially. Three-dimensional maps and graphs flashed confusingly around him. “If you take the average swing of the seats we have seen declared so far, which remember may not be typical, we can put that swing on our...swwwingometer...and see that it is larger than the national swing predicted by our exit poll which we saw at the start of tonight’s coverage.” The Swingometer arrow swung back and forth faster than the sexual preferances of some Tory MPs of the last parliament. “That is very important, because whereas our exit poll predicted a hung parliament, this larger swing to the Tories—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say swing away from Labour, because it is not exclusively the Tories that are benefiting—this larger swing suggests that the Conservatives may be within reach of an overall majority, and that would make William Hague Prime Minister.”

“Thank you Peter. A startling thought given the tone of this campaign, with most commentators—and perhaps Mr Blair himself—assuming that this would be a trivial re-election for the Labour government. Tony King.”

“Quite so David, and if Mr Hague does become Prime Minister, the question we have to ask ourselves—and the question he should ask himself—is whether he can lay claim to any democratic legitimacy given the fraction of the electorate that has actually voted. Already tonight we have heard some evidence that public awareness of this election is shockingly low. Will there be an argument to consider the election effectively boycotted and annul its results? There would be nothing like that ever before in British history, but I would put money on the losers of this election making that argument.”

“A sobering thought, Tony. Well...we have more results coming in now.”

[b]Birmingham, Hall Green[/b]
Electorate: 59,032 	Total Votes: 12,574 	Turnout: 21.3%

Con	4,460	35.5% (+2.1)
Lab	3,852	30.6% (-22.9)
LD	1,795	14.3% (+4.7)
Others	1,144	9.1%
Green	675	5.4% (+5.4)
UKIP	648	5.2% (+5.2)

Maj.	608	4.9% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.5%

“The Tories win their second seat in Birmingham, and once again it is a seat they lost two years ago. Steve McCabe, who defeated Andrew Hargreaves then, is unseated in turn by Chris White for the Tories.”

[b]Heywood & Middleton[/b]
Electorate: 74,786 	Total Votes: 12,938 	Turnout: 17.3%

Lab	4,743	36.7% (-21.0)
Con	4,464	34.5% (+11.5)
LD	1,453	11.2% (-4.4)
UKIP	872	6.7% (+6.7)
Others	786	6.1%
Green	620	4.8% (+4.8)

Maj.	279	2.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 4.8%

“This Greater Manchester seat is held by Jim Dobbin, a former NHS microbiologist, for Labour—but with the Tories coming perilously close to unseating him in this seat which has never voted anything other than Labour.”

“Yes, David—this is an example of how the decline in the Labour vote is much more of a problem for Labour if those lost votes line up behind a single opposition candidate rather than scattering between several.” Snow considered this. “Well, percentage points, not actual votes,” he added lamely.

Electorate: 64,065 	Total Votes: 12,621 	Turnout: 19.7%

Lab	6,484	51.4% (-13.5)
Con	2,660	21.1% (+6.2)
LD	1,718	13.6% (+2.5)
UKIP	787	6.2% (+6.2)
Others	501	4.0%
Green	471	3.7% (+3.7)

Maj.	3,824	30.3% 
Swing Lab to Con 9.9%

“Famous of course for the Jarrow March, another North East seat which Labour could probably not lose if they tried. Stephen Hepburn is re-elected again. Back to Scotland again now...”

“Yes, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, where two years ago Labour’s Rosemary McKenna succeeded her fellow party member Norman Hogg. Will she keep the seat? Under normal circumstances there should be no question of it...”

[b]Cumbernauld & Kilsyth[/b]
Electorate: 49,508 	Total Votes: 11,486 	Turnout: 23.2%

Lab	4,135	36.0% (-22.7)
SNP	4,110	35.8% (+8.0)
Others	1,193	10.4%
Con	899	7.8% (+1.0)
LD	546	4.8% (+1.0)
Green	542	4.7% (+4.7)
UKIP	61	0.5% (+0.5)

Maj.	25	0.2% 
Swing Lab to SNP 15.4%

“Oh! McKenna keeps her seat by just 25 votes, with the SNP’s Colin Barrie almost toppling her! The SNP did do well in the corresponding seat at the Scottish Parliament election but that is still remarkable. Will any of these apparently safe Labour seats go to the Nationalists? It’s still too early to say.”

“Thank you Anne, strange results indeed. Back to the Midlands now...”

[b]Dudley South[/b]
Electorate: 67,331 	Total Votes: 10,975 	Turnout: 16.3%

Con	3,794	34.6% (+5.2)
Lab	3,757	34.2% (-22.4)
LD	1,431	13.0% (+2.1)
Others	946	8.6%
UKIP	641	5.8% (+5.8)
Green	406	3.7% (+3.7)

Maj.	37	0.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.8%

“Another very narrow result, but this time Labour’s opponent, more conventionally the Tories, pulls it out. Jason Sugarman defeats Labour’s incumbent Ian Pearson—just barely. Pearson had held the seat since a by-election in 1994. Only a slight improvement for the Lib Dem candidate, Lorely Burt. This will be a seat to watch in future.”

“Assuming anyone bothers to vote at all at the next election,” King muttered.

[b]Rother Valley[/b]
Electorate: 69,363 	Total Votes: 10,682 	Turnout: 15.4%

Lab	4,789	44.8% (-22.8)
Con	2,709	25.4% (+8.7)
LD	1,284	12.0% (+0.4)
UKIP	790	7.4% (+7.4)
Others	599	5.6%
Green	511	4.8% (+4.8)

Maj.	2,080	19.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.8%

“Another former mining area of South Yorkshire where Labour are dominant. A surprisingly high result for the UKIP there, though hardly threatening the Lib Dems’ third place. Kevin Barron, himself a former miner, will continue to represent the seat he has represented since 1983.”

[b]Gateshead East & Washington West[/b]
Electorate: 64,700 	Total Votes: 11,452 	Turnout: 17.7%

Lab	5,704	49.8% (-22.3)
LD	2,427	21.2% (+10.5)
Con	1,478	12.9% (-1.3)
UKIP	946	8.3% (+8.3)
Green	450	3.9% (+3.9)
Others	447	3.9%

Maj.	3,277	28.6% 
Swing Lab to LD 16.4%

“A bit later to declare than the other Washington constituency. Unsurprisingly a hold for Labour’s Joyce Quin, but curiously a deviation from the patterns we’ve seen so far, with the Tories actually going backwards and the Liberal Democrat candidate Ron Beadle almost doubling his party’s vote.”

“Watch out, Beadle’s about,” King commented unfunnily. “And again a high score for the UKIP in a place we have not really thought they might have much support. Perhaps the low turnout is amplifying the effect of having a small number of highly motivated supporters.”

[b]Nottingham North[/b]
Electorate: 65,884 	Total Votes: 10,871 	Turnout: 16.5%

Lab	4,793	44.1% (-21.6)
Con	2,867	26.4% (+6.1)
LD	1,137	10.5% (+2.7)
Others	844	7.8%
UKIP	698	6.4% (+6.4)
Green	532	4.9% (+4.9)

Maj.	1,926	17.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.9%

“Is that our first declaration from the East Midlands? I think it is,” Dimbleby said dizzily. “One of Nottingham’s three constituencies.”

“Yes, and Labour’s Graham Allen looks safe enough with a fall in his vote...share not uniformly going to any opponent.”


Electorate: 79,732 	Total Votes: 19,694 	Turnout: 24.7%

Con	9,448	48.0% (+3.3)
Lab	2,927	14.9% (-9.4)
LD	2,891	14.7% (-10.6)
Others	2,177	11.1%
UKIP	1,486	7.5% (+7.5)
Green	765	3.9% (+3.9)

Maj.	6,521	33.1% 

Swing Lab to Con 6.4%

“And returning to the West Midlands, that’s our first Conservative Hold of the night. It seems the seats the Tories held before the dissolution will declare later, which is not unusual. Kay Alexander.”

“No real surprises there with John Taylor easily holding the seat for the Conservatives, helped by a fall in the vote, er, voteshare of both Labour and the Lib Dems. Mike Nattrass, the candidate for the UKIP who previously contested the seat for the Referendum Party, achieves another reasonable voteshare for the party and would keep his deposit if we still had them. David.”

“Thank you Kay. Next, ah, it believes we have a Liverpool seat followed by a Scottish one...”

[b]Liverpool, Walton[/b]
Electorate: 66,700 	Total Votes: 7,137 	Turnout: 10.7%

Lab	3,459	48.5% (-29.9)
LD	1,323	18.5% (+7.4)
Con	1,076	15.1% (+8.3)
Others	668	9.4%
Green	314	4.4% (+4.4)
UKIP	297	4.2% (+4.2)

Maj.	2,136	30.0% 
Swing Lab to LD 18.7%

“Again against the trend the Lib Dems make gains, but hardly enough to threaten Labour’s Peter Kilfoyle. The Others here include an independent, Lesley Mahmood, former Militant and Socialist member who previously contested this seat at the 1991 by-election and in 1997, but broke with the Socialist Party due to disputes over the ‘Euro’ recently.”

“At least someone seems to have reassessed their partisanship due to the issues Mr Blair wanted,” Dimbleby said dryly. “And now up to Scotland once again...”

Electorate: 64,411 	Total Votes: 15,652 	Turnout: 24.3%

Lab	5,336	34.1% (-18.4)
SNP	4,494	28.7% (+6.6)
Con	2,841	18.1% (+1.8)
Others	1,152	7.4%
LD	964	6.2% (-2.2)
Green	679	4.3% (+4.3)
UKIP	186	1.2% (+1.2)

Maj.	842	5.4% 
Swing Lab to SNP 12.5%

“As Anne MacKenzie said before, an extraordinary breakthrough there for the SNP in Labour’s industrial and post-industrial Scottish heartlands, considerably compressing the majority of Jimmy Hood.”

[b]Cynon Valley[/b]
Electorate: 47,954 	Total Votes: 11,701 	Turnout: 24.4%

Lab	4,891	41.8% (-27.9)
PC	4,594	39.3% (+28.7)
Con	1,089	9.3% (+2.5)
LD	518	4.4% (-5.9)
UKIP	242	2.1% (+2.1)
Green	203	1.7% (+1.7)
Others	164	1.4%

Maj.	297	2.5% 
Swing Lab to PC 28.3%

“We return to Wales and...Huw Edwards, that is a truly gargantuan swing! One for the record books.”

“Yes indeed David, almost as if Plaid wanted to one-up their compatriots in the SNP,” said Edwards. “In one of Labour’s former mining heartlands in the Valleys of South Wales, Ann Clwyd’s formerly enormous majority is smashed down to the line. Alun Davies of Plaid Cymru has come close to doing the unthinkable and unseating Labour in one of these seats. Although having said that, Plaid did do just that to Labour in the recent Welsh Assembly election in two Valleys seats, so perhaps we may see that replicated on a national scale.”

“Curious,” Dimbleby said. “Now back to Scotland where it seems the UK’s smallest constituency in terms of population is about to declare, the Western Isles. Anne?”

“Yes David, or Na h-Eileanan an Iar in Gaelic, as it was called for the recent Scottish Parliament election. That constituency was won by Labour in that election and its counterpart for national elections has also been Labour since the 1980s, though before that it was possessed by the SNP for some years. What will we see this time?”

[b]Western Isles[/b]

Electorate: 22,398 	Total Votes: 5,846 	Turnout: 26.1%

SNP	2,242	38.4% (+5.0)
Lab	1,849	31.6% (-24.0)
Con	686	11.7% (+5.1)
Others	364	6.2%
LD	358	6.1% (+3.0)
Green	240	4.1% (+4.1)
UKIP	107	1.8% (+1.8)

Maj.	393	6.8% 
Swing Lab to SNP 14.5%

“And there we have it – a dramatic regain for the SNP’s Anne Lorne Gillies, a known advocate of the Gaelic language, perhaps she might insist on using the Gaelic name for this version of the constituency too! Labour’s Calum MacDonald goes down to defeat.”

“Fascinating. And now we return to Liverpool, no, I’m sorry, to the Wirral, and specifically to Wirral South. This seat, this seat was held by the Tories until the death of Barry Porter in 1996, and when the resulting by-election was won by Labour’s Ben Chapman, that destroyed John Major’s one-seat majority in the Commons. This is therefore another seat which is going to the polls for the third time in three years...”

[b]Wirral South[/b]
Electorate: 60,648 	Total Votes: 14,495 	Turnout: 23.9%

Con	6,125	42.3% (+5.9)
Lab	4,252	29.3% (-21.6)
LD	1,819	12.6% (+2.2)
UKIP	847	5.8% (+5.8)
Others	786	5.4% 
Green	666	4.6% (+4.6)

Maj.	1,873	13.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.8%

“And another regain for the Tories, specifically for Leslie Byrom, who will be Wirral South’s new MP.”

[b]Hamilton North & Bellshill[/b]
Electorate: 54,189 	Total Votes: 11,163 	Turnout: 20.6%

Lab	4,872	43.6% (-20.4)
SNP	2,698	24.2% (+5.1)
Con	1,410	12.6% (+2.2)
Others	1,095	9.8%
LD	574	5.1% (±0)
Green	429	3.8% (+3.8)
UKIP	85	0.8% (+0.8)

Maj.	2,174	19.4% 
Swing Lab to SNP 12.8%

“As with Gateshead, it has taken rather longer for the second Hamilton seat to declare. Yet another closing of the gap between Labour and the SNP, but this time not enough to seriously threaten Labour’s Dr John Reid, the current Secretary of State for Transport.” The word ‘current’ was dropped in there almost unconsciously, but was a clear sign that everyone was starting to seriously wonder if, just maybe, ministers might be replaced by their shadow counterparts by this time next week.

[b]Ynys Môn[/b]

Electorate: 52,947 	Total Votes: 19,273 	Turnout: 36.4%

PC	9,598	49.8% (+10.3)
Con	4,086	21.2% (-0.3)
Lab	3,487	18.1% (-15.1)
LD	864	4.5% (+0.7)
UKIP	501	2.6% (+2.6)
Others	384	2.0%
Green	353	1.8% (+1.8)

Maj.	5,512	28.6% 
Swing Con to PC 5.3%

“Another Welsh result there, and what is for this election quite a high turnout. Huw?”

“Yes David. Ynys Môn, or Anglesey to use the English name, is a place that typically does its own thing politically, and has at various times been represented by Conservative, Labour, Liberal and Plaid MPs. At the moment however Ieuan Wyn Jones of Plaid has the seat and has increased his majority, while Labour has dropped from second to third. Mr Jones masterminded the recent Plaid campaign in the first election to the National Assembly for Wales we mentioned, in which the party performed very well.”

“I see, thank you Huw. We have now seen a number of declarations from every part of the UK except Northern Ireland – Peter?”

“Yes, David—Northern Ireland was predicted to declare late in any case, but there has been a minor dispute to do with recruiting vote counters, so it is likely now that it will not report until Friday night. Under normal circumstances of course Northern Ireland, which votes for its own parties, would not play a role in forming a government—but if our exit poll was correct and there is a hung parliament, then the Northern Ireland parties could play a role, as they did in propping up both Jim Callaghan and John Major’s governments.”

“Thank you Peter and we are now back to Greater Manchester...”

[b]Denton & Reddish[/b]
Electorate: 69,503 	Total Votes: 10,912 	Turnout: 15.7%

Lab	4,741	43.5% (-21.9)
Con	3,003	27.5% (+6.2)
LD	1,008	9.2% (-4.1)
UKIP	811	7.4% (+7.4)
Others	699	6.4%
Green	650	6.0% (+6.0)

Maj.	1,738	16.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.1%

“A hold for Labour’s Andrew Bennett, who has been an MP since 1974. Another strong performance for the UKIP and not a bad one for the Green Party either, considering neither have contested the seat before.”

[b]Sheffield, Hillsborough[/b]
Electorate: 74,761 	Total Votes: 13,158 	Turnout: 17.6%

Lab	4,679	35.6% (-21.3)
Con	3,295	25.0% (+10.5)
LD	2,873	21.8% (-4.0)
Green	920	7.0% (+7.0)
UKIP	752	5.7% (+5.7)
Others	639	4.9%

Maj.	1,384	10.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.9%

“A constituency whose name has sadly become too well known through the Hillsborough Disaster, Sheffield Hillsborough has elected nothing but Labour members since 1935. In fact this is the first time the majority over the Tories has shrunk to just ten percent since that time as well—though the Liberal Democrats and before them the Alliance seemed to be in a position to threaten Labour at one point. Nonetheless, Helen Jackson will return to Parliament.”

[b]Wolverhampton North East[/b]
Electorate: 61,390 	Total Votes: 10,682 	Turnout: 17.4%

Lab	4,396	41.1% (-18.1)
Con	3,679	34.4% (+6.5)
Others	969	9.1% 
LD	689	6.5% (+1.2)
UKIP	533	5.0% (+5.0)
Green	416	3.9% (+3.9)

Maj.	717	6.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.3%

“Another Wolverhampton seat and another Labour hold—though a narrower one than we might have expected—for Ken Purchase, who sees off a challenge from the Tories’ Maria Miller.”

“Yes, and—” Dimbleby was interrupted by the chimes of Big Ben. He stared at the screen in shock as it cut to show the clock once again. Midnight? Could it really be only midnight? How many constituencies had he expected to cover before midnight...four or five, something like that? Not... he glanced at the cue card being held up by the boy with the clicker. His eyes widened. “And with that, the...eighty-third seat to declare so far, more than one-tenth of the total, in midnight on election night, the numbers stand as follows...”

LAB 65
CON 15


“We’re back in Birmingham as midnight strikes,” said Kay Alexander, “for the fifth of its ten seats to declare. Yardley is a seat that was taken from the Conservatives in 1992 by Estelle Morris, a scion of a Labour dynasty—both her father and uncle were Labour MPs, though for Manchester. Will we see another Conservative regain or will she hold her seat?”

[b]Birmingham, Yardley[/b]
Electorate: 53,136 	Total Votes: 9,724 	Turnout: 18.3%

LD	2,874	29.6% (-3.4)
Lab	2,640	27.1% (-19.9)
Con	2,470	25.4% (+7.6)
Others	931	9.6%
UKIP	477	4.9% (+4.5)
Green	332	3.4% (+3.4)

Maj.	234	2.5% 
Swing Lab to LD 8.3%

“Neither, Kay!” Dimbleby remarked in astonishment. “After three losses and no holds, the first Lib Dem seat of the night is astonishingly a gain. Peter, has this seat ever voted Lib Dem before?”

“No David, it has been either Tory or Labour all the way back to its creation in 1918. At the eleventh hour of the twentieth century, the Lib Dems’ John Hemming. A triumph for a man whom, er, it says here was once beaten into fourth place in an election by a dog.” That momentarily nonplussed even Peter Snow.

“We can now show pictures from Lib Dem HQ showing their reaction,” said Dimbleby, and indeed there were scenes of cheers and applause as the news came through. Hemming’s victory speech played, tinny and double-echoed, in the background as it was broadcast to the watching party faithful. “I’d like to thank my excellent campaign team for their hard work, in particular—

But he was cut off by an audible groan from the aforementioned party faithful. “I say—what’s that?” Dimbleby asked, bewildered by the pace of events.

“Another seat has come through and it’s not so good for them,” Snow explained.

[b]Hazel Grove[/b]
Electorate: 64,559 	Total Votes: 15,688 	Turnout: 24.3%

Con	4,934	31.4% (+0.9)
LD	4,459	28.4% (-26.1)
Lab	2,940	18.7% (+6.8)
UKIP	1,469	9.4% (+8.9)
Others	1,031	6.6%
Green	855	5.5% (+5.5)

Maj.	475	3.0% 
Swing LD to Con 13.5%

“A narrow defeat in Greater Manchester. Andrew Stunnell is unseated by Nadine Bargery, a candidate who briefly made the news for some controversial marks concerning abortion. But she has regained the seat for the Tories, lost two years ago and only held narrowly in 1992. Interestingly, Labour’s vote has actually increased here, and the UKIP also sees a remarkable score—but their candidate, one Gordon Black, had previously stood last time—this is one of the relatively few seats where the UKIP mustered a candidate in 1997.”

“Yes, and we’ll probably see more of those as the night goes on. Speaking of the night going on...”

Electorate: 66,986 	Total Votes: 14,603 	Turnout: 21.8%

Lab	5,117	35.0% (-21.5)
Con	4,350	29.8% (+8.3)
LD	2,203	15.1% (+1.7)
Others	1,408	9.6%
Green	842	5.8% (+5.8)
UKIP	683	4.7% (+4.7)

Maj.	767	5.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.9%

“Labour hold a seat that no-one would expect them to lose, but by a narrow margin over the Conservatives. Llin Golding, who succeeded her husband John Golding in a by-election in 1986 after he became a trade union leader, remains the MP. The small margin is not unprecedented, but in recent years the opposition vote has typically split too much between the Conservative and Lib Dem candidates.”

“I see, Peter, but we don’t have much time to discuss the history, as here is only our second Conservative incumbent seat of the night...”

Electorate: 67,541 	Total Votes: 17,223 	Turnout: 25.5%

Con	8,553	49.7% (+7.6)
Lab	2,945	17.1% (-4.5)
LD	2,149	12.5% (-18.3)
UKIP	1,560	9.1% (+8.1)
Green	1,181	6.9% (+6.9)
Others	835	4.8%

Maj.	5,608	32.6% 

Swing Lab to Con 6.1%

“Robert Syms returned again for the Conservatives and increases his majority in this ancient seat, which has existed since the fifteenth century,” said Snow, cheerfully ignoring Dimbleby’s last instruction. “Another good performance for the UKIP, which again contested this seat in ’97, and another huge collapse in the Lib Dem vote, which was formerly in second place.”

“One of the few results from the southern counties yet, but I’m sure we’ll see more soon.”

Electorate: 70,006 	Total Votes: 11,201 	Turnout: 16.0%

Lab	4,701	42.0% (-20.2)
Con	3,219	28.7% (+4.5)
LD	1,289	11.5% (-2.1)
UKIP	727	6.5% (+6.5)
Others	688	6.1%
Green	577	5.2% (+5.2)

Maj.	1,482	13.3% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.7%

“Though not right now, it would seem. More results from Greater Manchester, more Labour MPs unthreatened by even large swings—in this case Terry Lewis.”

“Yes, it would seem the north is continuing to dominate most of the results we’re seeing so far,” said Tony King. “I wonder if that is giving us a distorted picture.”

“Perhaps,” said Dimbleby. “And here’s another from Yorkshire.”

[b]Leeds East[/b]
Electorate: 57,708 	Total Votes: 9,695 	Turnout: 16.8%

Lab	4,024	41.5% (-26.0)
Con	2,535	26.1% (+7.4)
LD	1,366	14.1% (+3.8)
Others	645	6.7%
UKIP	637	6.6% (+6.6)
Green	488	5.0% (+5.0)

Maj.	1,489	15.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 16.7%

“George Mudie is re-elected. It certainly looks as though Leeds is looking safe for Labour despite these swings,” Snow prophesised. “Of course in this election the Conservatives are being led by a Yorkshireman, but whether William Hague has a ‘home-state advantage’ as it were, we can’t yet say.”

“Well, we can certainly ask him about it—in a moment,” Dimbleby said, once again annoyed at being cut off by a result.

[b]Liverpool, West Derby[/b]
Electorate: 68,660 	Total Votes: 7,690 	Turnout: 11.2%

Lab	3,290	42.8% (-28.4)
Con	1,545	20.1% (+11.4)
LD	1,110	14.4% (+5.4)
Others	1,083	14.1%
Green	380	4.9% (+4.9)
UKIP	282	3.7% (+3.7)

Maj.	1,745	22.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 19.9%

“Another surprisingly relatively good second place for the Tories in Liverpool, but Labour’s Bob Wareing romps home regardless. And another very poor turnout even by the standards of this extraordinary election. Steve Radcliffe contested the constituency once more for the continuing Liberal Party but did more poorly than last time around—his votes make up the majority of the consolidated ‘Others’ here.”

“Yes, and as I was saying, we can go—no we can’t,” Dimbleby sighed.

Electorate: 54,538 	Total Votes: 9,326 	Turnout: 17.1%

Lab	4,003	42.9% (-22.9)
Con	1,993	21.4% (+3.8)
Others	1,075	11.5% 
LD	956	10.3% (+0.8)
UKIP	805	8.6% (+8.6)
Green	494	5.3% (+5.3)

Maj.	2,010	21.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.4%

“Labour lose here? You must be—” Snow began.

“Don’t say it,” King warned.

“Sorry. But they do hold in one of their London heartlands, or rather specifically the junior education minister Margaret Hodge, who has represented the seat since a by-election in 1994. Barking has only voted Labour since its creation in 1945.”

“Well,” Dimbleby coughed, “this is a more tenuous segue than I had hoped, I had wanted it to come after a Yorkshire seat, but we can go over to Jeremy now who is ready to speak to William Hague.”

“Yes, I’m told Mr Hague is waiting outside his house in Richmond, the poor b—lighter,” Paxman said. “William Hague, what is your view on your party’s performance so far? You’re basically just treading water and letting Labour fall over so you can seize the prize, aren’t you?” He turned to the screen.

Which showed...


Not the blackness of a blank screen. Not static, nothing so earthly and wholesome. Nothing. The eye could not focus on that nothing. It sucked at the gaze like a black hole and gave the mind’s eye a migraine. There was nothing there, nothing at all...

Then suddenly there was a brief blur of infinity effect, repeating images, and it stabilised on showing a picture of Paxman’s own face. “Oh bother,” Paxman said, his reflection repeating the words just slightly out of synch in an unsettling effect. “Looks like there’s been a few crossed wires. Well, I’m afraid we’ll have to get back to Mr Hague later. David.”

Dimbleby stared for a moment, then shook his head and turned back to his own camera. “Yes, quite. Well the next seat to declare is Portsmouth South, now we have already had Portsmouth North and that was a Tory gain from Labour. Portsmouth South’s incumbent is the Liberal Democrat, Mike Hancock, who—fitting the same pattern as with Hazel Grove—nearly beat the Tories in 1992 and finally won the seat in 1997. Mr Hancock will hope the similarity will not continue...”

[b]Portsmouth South[/b]
Electorate: 77,937 	Total Votes: 14,886 	Turnout: 19.1%

Con	5,761	38.7% (+7.6)
Lab	3,815	25.6% (+0.3)
LD	2,645	17.8% (-21.7)
UKIP	1,071	7.2% (+6.9)
Green	1,063	7.1% (+7.1)
Others	531	3.6%

Maj.	1,946	13.1% 
Swing LD to Con 14.7%

“But it does. In fact Mr Hancock has a considerably worse result than Mr Stunnell, falling to third place behind Labour—and the winner, the Tories’ Philip Warr—and losing more than half his votes...his voteshare. Aside from that one gain in Birmingham, things are looking pretty black for the Lib Dems.

“And rather good for the Green Party and the UKIP,” King added. “I doubt either of them will actually win a seat, but they are showing that the lack of the deposit means they are making a bigger impact and people are more willing to vote for them.” He considered this. “That is, the people who vote are more willing to vote for them.”

“Yes, in some of these cases it could be fewer people voting UK Independence or Green than it was in 1997,” Dimbleby said grimly. “And I’m hearing Simon Willis in my ear again. Simon?”

“Yes, we now have a swing seat for the North West region. Pendle is a mix of urban, suburban and rural, with regions of support for both Labour and the Tories. It voted Conservative before 1992, when the current MP Gordon Prentice narrowly gained it for Labour. I might add given your reference to the UKIP that it was one of very few seats contested in 1992 by the UKIP’s precursor, Alan Sked’s Anti-Federalist League, and then in 1997 by the Referendum Party. Will the UKIP build on that eurosceptic tradition, and will it serve as a spoiler?”

Electorate: 63,347 	Total Votes: 14,760 	Turnout: 23.3%

Con	5,170	35.0% (+4.7)
Lab	4,612	31.3% (-22.0)
UKIP	1,494	10.1% (+10.1)
Others	1,363	9.2%
LD	1,250	8.5% (-3.1)
Green	871	5.9% (+5.9)

Maj.	558	3.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.4%

“The answer is yes and no—a very strong result for the UKIP but the Conservatives’ Rasjid Skinner wins the seat anyway.”

“Rasjid Skinner is an interesting combination of names,” King observed.

“According to my gang of off-camera researchers,” Snow said with a misplaced sense of pantomime, “he married a Muslim lady and converted to Islam himself.”

“An interesting case for those who debate whether Parliament is representative of minorities,” King noted.

“And now I’m hearing Anne MacKenzie again. Anne?”

“Five more results from Scotland, David. All of them are quite similar, strong Labour seats that are holds despite considerable losses.”

[b]Cunninghame South[/b]

Electorate: 50,428 	Total Votes: 10,237 	Turnout: 20.3%

Lab	4,005	39.1% (-23.6)
SNP	2,811	27.5% (+6.7)
Con	1,413	13.8% (+3.7)
Others	994	9.7%
LD	502	4.9% (+0.4)
Green	367	3.6% (+3.6)
UKIP	145	1.4% (+1.4)

Maj.	1,194	11.6% 
Swing Lab to SNP 15.2%

“This constituency, which takes in the southern mainland part of the former district of Cunninghame, will continue to be represented by Brian Donohoe, a former nuclear engineer.”

[b]East Lothian[/b]

Electorate: 59,186 	Total Votes: 15,566 	Turnout: 26.3%

Lab	5,199	33.4% (-19.3)
Con	3,739	24.0% (+4.1)
SNP	3,272	21.0% (+5.3)
LD	1,365	8.8% (-1.7)
Green	985	6.3% (+6.3)
Others	827	5.3%
UKIP	179	1.1% (+1.1)

Maj.	1,460	9.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 11.7%

“East Lothian, including the town of North Berwick—not to be confused with Berwick-upon-Tweed of course—remains the seat of John Home Robertson, who won the corresponding seat in the Scottish Parliament election last month.”

[b]Falkirk West[/b]
Electorate: 54,040 	Total Votes: 11,943 	Turnout: 22.1%

Lab	4,323	36.2% (-23.2)
SNP	3,652	30.6% (+7.2)
Con	1,729	14.5% (+2.4)
Others	1,018	8.5%
LD	595	5.0% (-0.1)
Green	487	4.1% (+4.1)
UKIP	139	1.2% (+1.2)

Maj.	671	5.6% 
Swing Lab to SNP 15.2%

“A large swing to the SNP here turns this former safe Labour seat into more of a marginal, understandable considering the controversy over the expulsion of its former MP Dennis Canavan from Labour concerning the aforementioned elections. He is succeeded by the hastily chosen Eric Joyce.”

Electorate: 48,598 	Total Votes: 12,101 	Turnout: 24.9%

Lab	5,130	42.4% (-11.1)
SNP	3,030	25.0% (-0.5)
Con	1,389	11.5% (+0.6)
LD	919	7.6% (-1.6)
Others	765	6.3%
Green	753	6.2% (+6.2)
UKIP	115	0.9% (+0.9)

Maj.	2,100	17.4% 
Swing Lab to SNP 5.3%

“Another of the Lothian seats, here is one place where Labour’s fall has not been matched by a rise in any other party except the Greens. Eric Clarke holds the seat, though he has pledged to retire before too long, meaning we might see a by-election in the next Parliament.”

“Which will be won by two votes to one,” King muttered.

[b]Airdrie & Shotts[/b]
Electorate: 58,476 	Total Votes: 11,286 	Turnout: 19.3%

Lab	5,257	46.6% (-15.2)
SNP	2,645	23.4% (-1.0)
Con	1,291	11.4% (+2.5)
Others	1,114	9.9%
LD	538	4.8% (+0.6)
Green	318	2.8% (+2.8)
UKIP	123	1.1% (+1.1)

Maj.	2,612	24.2% 
Swing Lab to SNP 7.1%

“And the final seat of this batch is the urban, working-class central belt seat of Airdrie and Shotts.”

[b]Airdrie & Shotts[/b]
Electorate: 58,476 	Total Votes: 11,286 	Turnout: 19.3%

Lab	5,257	46.6% (-15.2)
SNP	2,645	23.4% (-1.0)
Con	1,291	11.4% (+2.5)
Others	1,114	9.9%
LD	538	4.8% (+0.6)
Green	318	2.8% (+2.8)
UKIP	123	1.1% (+1.1)

Maj.	2,612	24.2% 
Swing Lab to SNP 7.1%

“Unsurprisingly Helen Liddell is re-elected and again no other party significantly benefits from Labour’s decline. Both the SNP and the Conservatives have improved their voteshares in some other seats, but clearly there remains considerable diversity among Scotland’s political landscape.”

“Naturally. Anne MacKenzie, thank you.” Dimbleby shook his head. “Jeremy, do you have William Hague again yet?”

“It seems Mr Hague has left for his own count, though that probably won’t be for a while even on a night like tonight, but I have the consolation prize,” Paxman showed what was technically a smile. “In a moment I will have the Shadow Health Minister on the line...”


Anne Widdecombe stared intently at a point about two inches above Paxman’s right ear, occasionally blinking rapidly. “Yes, I am pleased with my party’s performance so far, of course I am. The number of people who have voted is disappointing but there can be no recourse for arguments that this election lacks illegitimacy. This is not the eighteenth century. Nothing stopped all those people who stayed home from exercising their right to vote. If they did not use it, then, well,” she waved a hand dismissively, “they have no right to complain about the consequences.”

“And one of those consequences may be you, not Frank Dobson, running the NHS by this time next week?” Paxman asked dourly.

“There is no guarantee that a shadow minister will be asked to do that job in government, as you well know,” Widdecombe said, then smiled ethereally. “Or, of course, she may be asked to do a different job.”

“Well, well,” Paxman said. “Enigmatic hints now! Anything to make more people pay more attention to politics, it would seem. Anne Widdecombe, thank you.”

“Yes and we have several more seats declared while Jeremy has been interviewing the Shadow Health Secretary,” Dimbleby said, frantically rearranging his notes under the lip of the desk. “First of all, Huw?”

“Yes, we have another Welsh declaration. How did the people of Caerphilly vote?”

“Very caref— sorry,” Tony King said hastily as he was caught in the crossfire of multiple glares.

Electorate: 66,812 	Total Votes: 16,035 	Turnout: 24.0%

Lab	6,309	39.4% (-27.9)
PC	5,488	34.2% (+24.5)
Con	2,241	14.0% (+3.3)
LD	1,010	6.3% (-1.9)
UKIP	371	2.3% (+2.3)
Green	349	2.2% (+2.2)
Others	267	1.7%

Maj.	821	5.2% 
Swing Lab to PC 26.2%

“Caerphilly was of course until recently represented by Labour’s Ron Davies, who suffered a scandal and resigned from the Cabinet. He has also stood down from Parliament and been replaced by Wayne David, who holds the seat for Labour despite a spirited challenge from Plaid Cymru’s perennial candidate Lindsay Whittle. Another good result for Plaid.”

“Yes, we shall have to see which of the nationalist parties has a better night, both of them seem to be doing well. But now we return to Scotland. Anne?”

“A very important seat this, David – Eastwood was the safest Tory seat in Scotland and yet last time around Labour’s Jim Murphy, a young activist and former President of the National Union of Students, won a seat he probably never expected to win. But that came on the back of a scandal with the previous Tory MP threatening some demonstrators with a pickaxe. Could lightning really strike twice and could Jim Murphy be re-elected?”

Electorate: 67,143 	Total Votes: 19,673 	Turnout: 29.3%

Con	6,542	33.3% (-0.2)
Lab	4,584	23.3% (-16.4)
SNP	4,184	21.3% (+8.2)
LD	1,729	8.8% (-2.9)
Others	1,401	7.1%
Green	1,073	5.5% (+5.5)
UKIP	160	0.8% (+0.6)

Maj.	1,958	10.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 8.1%

“The answer is no. Even though the Tory vote actually went down slightly, Jim Murphy loses his seat to Raymond Robertson, who formerly represented Aberdeen South for the Conservatives. He switched to contesting this seat instead and has won it. But this is likely not the end of the road for Jim Murphy—he will always be remembered as the man who won an unwinnable seat and is close to Tony Blair’s brand of Labour thought. There will be a future for him, perhaps at the new Scottish Parliament rather than in London.”

“Thank you Anne. More good news for the Scottish Tories and for the Tories in general. Two years ago people spoke of the strange death of Tory Scotland—it seems they were speaking prematurely.” Dimbleby blinked at the cue card held up next to the autocue. “And...that is the one hundredth constituency declared tonight, er, a bit ahead of schedule. And now back to England and to Yorkshire for Great Grimsby.”

[b]Great Grimsby[/b]
Electorate: 64,671 	Total Votes: 9,830 	Turnout: 15.2%

Lab	3,386	34.5% (-25.3)
Con	3,320	33.8% (+11.7)
LD	1,209	12.3% (-5.8)
UKIP	885	9.0% (+9.0)
Green	520	5.3% (+5.3)
Others	510	5.2%

Maj.	66	0.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 18.5%

“Labour’s Austin Mitchell, who has represented this seat since a by-election in 1977, very narrowly holds it against a challenge from James Cousins. This is not too unusual, is it Peter?”

“No David, the results in Great Grimsby have been close a number of times before, but Austin Mitchell always manages to just pull it out. The fact that he is one of Labour’s few remaining holdout eurosceptic MPs may have played a role in this Europe-focused contest, but this did not stop the UK Independence Party’s Gordon Rogers from achieving an impressive nine percent in a seat never before contested.”

“Thank you Peter. We also have the result from Northavon, which is quite literally the north part of the former reorganised County of Avon, which ceased to exist a few years ago...”

Electorate: 80,720 	Total Votes: 21,956 	Turnout: 27.2%

Con	8,818	40.2% (+1.2)
LD	5,472	24.9% (-17.5)
Lab	3,828	17.4% (+1.8)
Green	1,403	6.4% (+6.4)
UKIP	1,384	6.3% (+3.3)
Others	1,051	4.8%

Maj.	3,346	15.3% 
Swing LD to Con 9.4%

“Another bitter defeat for the Liberal Democrats, with Steve Webb, who gained the seat from John Cope in 1997, going down to Carrie Ruxton for the Tories. Another step of the way towards putting William Hague into Number Ten.”

“Yes indeed, as you can see from my mountain, William Hague has already reached the first base camp—” Snow began.

“Yes he has,” Dimbleby said loudly, cutting him off, “and here are some more seats.”

Electorate: 65,156 	Total Votes: 13,748 	Turnout: 21.1%

Lab	5,905	43.0% (-17.0)
LD	2,850	20.7% (-3.1)
Con	2,747	20.0% (+6.8)
UKIP	1,110	8.1% (+8.1)
Green	744	5.4% (+5.4)
Others	392	2.9%

Maj.	3,055	22.3% 
Swing Lab to LD 10.1%

“The North East continues to fill out on Peter’s map with this safe Labour seat, which will continue to be represented by John McWilliam for Labour.”

[b]Paisley South[/b]
Electorate: 53,779 	Total Votes: 12,208 	Turnout: 22.7%

Lab	4,686	38.4% (-19.1)
SNP	3,508	28.7% (+5.3)
Con	1,348	11.0% (+2.4)
Others	1,050	8.6%
LD	1,002	8.2% (-1.2)
Green	504	4.1% (+4.1)
UKIP	110	0.9% (+0.9)

Maj.	1,178	9.7% 
Swing Lab to SNP 12.2%

“Another sharp challenge to Labour in the central belt of Scotland from the SNP, but the seat is held by one Douglas Alexander for the party—the sitting MP Gordon McMaster has stepped down due to a nervous breakdown.”

Electorate: 68,645 	Total Votes: 14,141 	Turnout: 20.6%

Lab	4,842	34.2% (-26.9)
Con	4,730	33.5% (+8.8)
LD	1,556	11.0% (+0.7)
Others	1,262	8.9%
UKIP	1,009	7.1% (+7.1)
Green	742	5.3% (+5.3)

Maj.	112	0.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.9%

“Much like Great Grimsby, another very close result in this northern part of Nottinghamshire , but again held by Labour—in this case the incumbent Joe Ashton, who had been MP since 1968, has retired after a scandal and been replaced by John Mann.”

[b]Durham North West[/b]
Electorate: 67,785 	Total Votes: 14,506 	Turnout: 21.4%

Lab	6,738	46.5% (-22.3)
Con	3,298	22.7% (+7.4)
LD	1,694	11.7% (+0.9)
UKIP	1,617	11.2% (+11.2)
Green	682	4.7% (+4.7)
Others	477	3.3%

Maj.	3,440	23.8% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.9%

“Durham North West—which refers to County Durham not the City of Durham, which is one seat on its own—is also held by Labour. Hilary Armstrong, currently Minister for Local Government at the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions, is re-elected.”

[b]Manchester, Blackley[/b]
Electorate: 61,414 	Total Votes: 9,028 	Turnout: 14.7%

Lab	4,534	50.2% (-19.8)
Con	2,037	22.6% (+7.3)
LD	827	9.2% (+1.8)
Others	666	7.4%
UKIP	512	5.7% (+5.7)
Green	452	5.0% (+5.0)

Maj.	2,497	27.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.6%

“One of the safest Labour seats in Manchester proper or indeed in Greater Manchester, Blackley will continue to be represented by Graham Stringer, a former analytical chemist.”

[b]Bolton South East[/b]
Electorate: 67,773 	Total Votes: 11,047 	Turnout: 16.3%

Lab	5,597	50.7% (-18.2)
Con	2,742	24.8% (+5.1)
LD	884	8.0% (-0.8)
Others	795	7.2%
UKIP	589	5.3% (+5.3)
Green	440	4.0% (+4.0)

Maj.	2,855	25.9% 
Swing Lab to Con 11.7%

“Speaking of safe Labour seats in Greater Manchester, we have another in the shape of Bolton South East. One of Bolton’s three seats, it first elected Dr Brian Iddon two years ago and he has been re-elected. Dr Iddon is known as a campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis...”

Electorate: 67,621 	Total Votes: 17,311 	Turnout: 25.6%

Con	7,167	41.4% (+4.7)
Lab	5,171	29.9% (-20.7)
LD	1,744	10.1% (+0.3)
UKIP	1,234	7.1% (+7.1)
Green	1,065	6.2% (+6.2)
Others	930	5.4%

Maj.	1,996	11.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.7%

“...but that is no hallucination,” King joked.

“No indeed. A string of Labour holds is broken by a decisive swing in the key West Yorkshire marginal of Keighley to the Conservatives’ Simon Cooke. Ann Cryer loses her seat—she is part of a true Parliamentary family, as her husband was also an MP until his tragic death and her son John is, or I should say was, the MP for Hornchurch in Greater London—we will have to see if he fares any better than her later tonight.”

Electorate: 69,909 	Total Votes: 14,681 	Turnout: 21.0%

Lab	4,804	32.7% (-16.7)
LD	3,660	24.9% (-15.1)
Con	3,528	24.0% (+15.2)
Others	1,167	8.0% 
Green	762	5.2% (+5.2)
UKIP	760	5.2% (+5.2)

Maj.	1,144	7.8% 
Swing Lab to LD 0.8%

“Returning to Greater Manchester, Rochdale has been a seat that, unusually, was gained by Labour from the Lib Dems in 1997, after electing Liberal and Lib Dem MPs including most famously Cyril Smith. While Labour and the Lib Dems remain the two top parties, a surge to the Conservatives and the minor parties mean they decline by almost the same amount and the seat is held by Labour’s Lorna Fitzsimons, one of the youngest of the 1997 intake.”

“And I think that’s all for now. Jeremy, I understand you have someone else on the line now?”

“Eeeearse, I can now speak to a former Labour leader, repeated failed would-be Prime Minister and currently suspended European Commissioner...”


Neil Kinnock blinked in annoyance. “Yes, thank you, Jeremy, now do you have any questions or just more abuse?”

“The two can cross over, as you well know,” Paxman said unapologetically. “In particular, what on earth do you say to this string of Labour losses? Tony Blair, saviour of the Labour Party, is suddenly doing nearly as badly as you used to.”

“The night is young, Jeremy, and I am confident that the British people will choose the only course that leads to a future of peace and prosperity,” Kinnock said pompously. “The Royal Mint has already minted the first test British euro coins, there is no going back.”

“Yes, the ones which the Tories got hold of photos of and used on their election billboards, I recall,” Paxman said idly. “Not that it seems to have exercised the attention of too many voters. This turnout really is appalling, isn’t it?”

“It’s not good, Jeremy—nothing like any of the elections I fought as a party leader,” Kinnock returned fire. “But then important moves that decide the course of history may not be recognised as that at the time. How many people cared when Hitler was allowed to go into the Rhineland? And how many will care now if William Hague is allowed to go into Downing Street, but in the fut—”

Electorate: 54,635 	Total Votes: 12,730 	Turnout: 23.3%

Lab	4,612	36.2% (-17.9)
SNP	4,173	32.8% (+6.0)
Con	1,576	12.4% (-3.9)
Others	805	6.3%
LD	790	6.2% (-2.2)
Green	652	5.1% (+5.1)
UKIP	122	1.0% (+1.0)

Maj.	439	3.4% 
Swing Lab to SNP 12.0%

“Why’s all that text obscuring Neil Kinnock’s face?” Paxman said irritably. He visibly considered making a reference to some public-spirited IT technician, but decided against it.

“Sorry Jeremy, there appears to be another crossed wire,” Peter Snow said. “Just a quick note to say that despite an SNP challenge, the veteran anti-interventionist Labour MP Tam Dalyell has been re-elected in Linlithgow.”

“Hmmf. Speaking of anti-interventionism given your extraordinary choice of metaphor, Mr Kin-nock,” Paxman said, unconsciously slipping into Robin Day’s pronunciation. “Some would say it is the European Commission that intervened by forcing this election. Do you really think that an organisation that has been suspended, all its members forced to resign in disgrace, including yourself, due to allegations of corruption that go all the way up to Jacques Santer—and is currently covered only by a caretaker group—is that really an organisation that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should be taking orders from? Where is your moral authority?”

“Really Jeremy, you shouldn’t talk about things you don’t understand,” Kinnock said snippily. “The work of the European Commission is above and beyond that of petty national affairs. We are the architects of the future and Tony Blair, like all right-thinking people, knows it.”

“But do you really think Tony Blair and the Labour Party can pull this off? You are seeing inroads by other parties even in your heartlands.”

“If you are speaking of the results in Scotland and my own Wales, I would remind you that the SNP and Plaid Cymru, though I obviously disagree with them, do agree with the self-evident truth that is only objected to by Little Englander Tories and other far-right groups—that the future of our people lies in Europe. I do not consider the votes cast for the SNP and Plaid to represent a rejection of the values of Labour that Tony Blair has so ably put forth—”

Electorate: 51,161 	Total Votes: 13,660 	Turnout: 26.7%

PC	5,470	40.0% (+33.8)
Lab	5,378	39.4% (-34.8)
Con	1,438	10.5% (+2.6)
LD	676	5.0% (-3.4)
UKIP	292	2.1% (+2.1)
Green	227	1.7% (+1.7)
Others	179	1.3%

Maj.	92	0.6% 
Swing Lab to PC 34.3%
[i][b][u]***FOURTH LARGEST SWING ON RECORD***[/b][/i][/u]

“—and furthermore—“ Kinnock said from behind another wall of text.

“Ah,” said Paxman, at once for a loss for words, if only momentarily. “Mr Kin-no – I mean, Mr Kinnock, would you care to take a look at the result for your old parliamentary seat that just appeared?”

There was a pregnant pause, and then Kinnock did a serviceable impression of Luke Skywalker (though he wasn’t going to be in the new Star Wars film, was he, it was a prequel, wasn’t it?) “No! That can’t be true! That’s impossible!”

Paxman grinned as though all his Christmases had come at once. “Well! In the heart of the mining valleys, a true Labour heartland, it appears that the people have abandoned your party.”

Kinnock tried to rally, but it had shocked him to the core. “This isn’t...can’t be...the Tories,” he said, his voice slowly strengthening but raising in pitch, “the Tories. The Tories. THE TORIES! MRS THATCHER! THIS GOVERNMENT! This is, is all her work! Her and her apprentice Hague! Undoing everything we have worked for, so hard, for so many years—”

A brief flash of blackness. “And I’m sorry but we have to leave Mr Kinnock there,” Dimbleby said diplomatically. “A most remarkable result there, Peter.”

“Yes indeed David. As our automatic computer system noted, that is the fourth largest swing on record, beaten only by the Christchurch by-election in 1993, the Hamilton by-election in 1967 and of course the famous Bermondsey by-election in 1983.”

“All by-elections?”

“Yes, there has never been a swing anywhere close to this in a British general election. I don’t think there has ever been a swing more than twenty points or so in a general election.”

“A historic result then. Huw Edwards is there for us. Huw.”

Edwards—who wasn’t really ‘there’, unless ‘there’ just meant ‘South Wales’, nodded. “Yes. A remarkable result as Leigh Thomas unseats Don Touhig. Jubilations at Plaid Cymru’s HQ, tears at Welsh Labour’s. I should point out that this is not as unexpected as it might seem, as in the inaugural Welsh Assembly election last month, Plaid did win the corresponding constituency to Islwyn there, on a higher turnout I might add.”

“That is interesting, Huw, did they win anywhere else unexpected?”

“Yes David, they also won the Rhondda, another Labour heartland. We shall have to see if they duplicate that feat as well.”

“Well. I’m not sure we can top that, but we’ll try...”

Electorate: 56,905 	Total Votes: 14,397 	Turnout: 25.3%

SNP	4,639	32.2% (-2.2)
Lab	4,329	30.1% (-14.9)
Con	2,635	18.3% (+3.7)
LD	1,038	7.2% (+2.0)
Others	836	5.8%
Green	760	5.3% (+5.3)
UKIP	160	1.1% (+1.1)

Maj.	310	2.1% 
Swing Lab to SNP 8.6%

“Once again, it’s almost as if the SNP and Plaid are jockeying for position in their respective parts of the UK. An SNP gain from Labour now, if not as impressive as Plaid’s. Martin O’Neill loses his seat to Keith Brown for the SNP. And at the end of the day, under our electoral system the winner is all that matters, not how big his majority or how impressive his campaign.”

“And now, ah, I just mentioned the famous Bermondsey by-election of 1983, where Simon Hughes gained the seat from Labour for the Alliance on the largest swing ever. Well, Simon Hughes is still Lib Dem MP for the corresponding seat today, Southwark North and Bermondsey, and we’ll now find out if he will continue to be...”

[b]Southwark North & Bermondsey[/b]
Electorate: 64,347 	Total Votes: 13,513 	Turnout: 21.0%

Lab	4,657	34.5% (-5.8)
LD	4,129	30.6% (-18.0)
Con	1,794	13.3% (+6.4)
Others	1,401	10.4%
Green	961	7.1% (+7.1)
UKIP	571	4.2% (+4.2)

Maj.	528	3.9% 
Swing LD to Lab 6.1%

“No! A shock for the Lib Dems and some comfort for Labour after their losses. The prodigal constituency returns to Labour, albeit only narrowly. Kingsley Abrams wins it for Labour. And another Lib Dem falls.”

“Yes, it is quite strange that the only Lib Dem win we have had so far was a gain, whereas we have seen numerous losses. We will have to have Jeremy speak to more Lib Dems before the evening is out. But now back to Scotland. Anne.”

“Yes David. Dundee East is now declaring. If we go by Huw’s approach of looking at the recent devolved election, well, the SNP did quite well but Labour still won the Scottish Parliament seat. But what of its counterpart which is also currently held by Labour?”

[b]Dundee East[/b]
Electorate: 57,796 	Total Votes: 15,027 	Turnout: 26.0%

SNP	5,740	38.2%  (+11.7)
Lab	4,238	28.2% (-22.9)
Con	2,643	17.6% (+1.8)
Others	966	6.4%
LD	743	4.9% (+0.8)
Green	555	3.7% (+3.7)
UKIP	142	0.9% (+0.9)

Maj.	1,502	10.0% 
Swing Lab to SNP 17.3%

“Labour’s comfort at Bermondsey was short-lived, it seems.”

“Yes, the SNP surge to dramatically gain the seat. Shona Robison, the candidate who failed in the Scottish Parliament election I just mentioned—though she was elected on the list—instead gains the seat’s counterpart in the national parliament. John McAllion is defeated but strangely will continue to represent the same seat in the Scottish Parliament.”

“The devolved parliaments are going to complicate things considerably, won’t they—what if a party does well in those but not at the national, I suppose I should say Westminster Parliament, or vice versa?”

“I suspect we’ll find out before the end of tonight. But now, back to England, and back to West Yorkshire where we have seen mixed results so far.”

[b]Pontefract & Castleford[/b]
Electorate: 63,503 	Total Votes: 8,573 	Turnout: 13.5%

Lab	4,485	52.3% (-23.4)
Con	2,144	25.0% (+11.4)
LD	643	7.5% (+0.1)
Others	525	6.1%
UKIP	465	5.4% (+5.4)
Green	311	3.6% (+3.6)

Maj.	2,341	27.3% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.4%

“Some more encouraging news for Labour there as Yvette Cooper is easily re-elected. It doesn’t look as though there is a single trend visible in West Yorkshire based on the results we’ve had so far.”

“As yet, I suppose we still see through a glass, darkly. Meanwhile, we have a safe Tory seat coming up now, one of the first of the night. Spelthorne has voted only for Conservatives throughout its existence with the exception of the Labour landslide of 1945. This wealthy Surrey constituency is currently represented by David Wilshire, notable as being (together with Jill Knight) the architect of Section 28, which has threatened to disrupt the party of late. Currently Mr Hague’s leadership remains in support of it, though there have been opposing voices. In any case, will Mr Wilshire be re-elected or are safe Tory seats, too, no longer safe tonight?”

Electorate: 71,013 	Total Votes: 16,191 	Turnout: 22.8%

Con	7,976	49.3% (+4.4)
Lab	3,479	21.5% (-16.7)
LD	1,628	10.1% (-3.0)
UKIP	1,498	9.3% (+8.4)
Green	1,100	6.8% (+6.8)
Others	510	3.1%

Maj.	4,497	27.8% 

Swing Lab to Con 10.6%

“Unsurprisingly perhaps the answer is no. A decline in the opposition parties’ vote but something of a surge for the UKIP’s John Fowler, who previously contested this seat in 1997.”

[b]Nottingham South[/b]
Electorate: 73,600 	Total Votes: 14,941 	Turnout: 20.3%

Lab	5,372	36.0% (-19.3)
Con	4,759	31.9% (+4.2)
LD	2,064	13.8% (+0.9)
Others	1,121	7.5%
Green	871	5.8% (+5.8)
UKIP	754	5.0% (+5.0)

Maj.	613	4.1% 
Swing Lab to Con 11.8%

“The second of Nottingham’s three constituencies. Another Labour hold—the left-wing backbencher Alan Simpson is re-elected—but by a much smaller margin than his colleague Graham Allen was in Nottingham North.”

[b]Sheffield, Heeley[/b]
Electorate: 63,339 	Total Votes: 10,831 	Turnout: 17.1%

Lab	4,136	38.2% (-22.5)
Con	2,482	22.9% (+7.3)
LD	2,436	22.5% (+1.2)
Green	613	5.7% (+5.7)
UKIP	594	5.5% (+5.5)
Others	570	5.3%

Maj.	1,654	15.3% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.9%

“A little further north in Sheffield, Meg Munn holds the retiring Bill Michie’s seat for Labour. Heeley has only voted Labour since the 70s and that is also the best Conservative voteshare that party has obtained since that date. Nonetheless it is still a sizeable majority.”

“Speaking of which, we now go the North West to a constituency that was quite narrowly won from the Tories by Labour’s Greg Pope in 1992, but was far from marginal in 1997. I am talking about Hyndburn, which sits neatly between Blackburn and Burnley. Which will it be this time? Or perhaps...?”

Electorate: 67,665 	Total Votes: 13,736 	Turnout: 20.3%

Con	5,292	38.5% (+6.6)
Lab	4,401	32.0% (-23.6)
Others	1,209	8.8%
UKIP	1,077	7.8% (+7.8)
LD	990	7.2% (-1.4)
Green	767	5.6% (+5.6)

Maj.	891	6.5% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.1%

“Yes! In a large swing, Peter Britcliffe—who also contested the seat unsuccessfully in 1997—defeats Greg Pope and reclaims the seat for the Conservatives.”

“A number of Labour losses as well as holds,” Dimbleby summarised. “What will Peter’s map look like by the end of the night? Will William Hague...” he sighed, “will he reach the top of his mountain? Stay with us to find out.”


“While we wait for more results to come in,” said Dimbleby (translation: while we give the Swingometer computers a chance to cool down), “we have some short films about the background to this election and the party leaders. We will begin with the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.”

The screen cut to a prerecorded film and Robin Oakley’s voiceover once again provided the backdrop for the clips of stock footage. “Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, better known as Tony Blair, was born in Edinburgh in 1953. His father Leo allegedly wanted him to grow up to be a Conservative Prime Minister: there are some on the left of the Labour Party who would complain that he followed his father’s wishes! Mr Blair read jurisprudence at Oxford University and was briefly the lead guitarist in the band Ugly Rumours.” Obligatory old photo with embarrassing hair. “Shortly after graduating in 1975 he met his wife Cherie, a fellow lawyer, and joined the Labour Party. After a failed attempt at winning the safe Conservative seat of Beaconsfield in a by-election in 1982, he was elected as member for the North East constituency of Sedgefield the year after and has represented it ever since.

“Mr Blair served as Labour spokesman for City of London affairs under Neil Kinnock and then became Shadow Home Secretary under John Smith. When John Smith unexpectedly died in 1994, Mr Blair was one of three candidates who stepped forward to replace him, easily defeating the other two, John Prescott and Margaret Beckett.” Obligatory photos of Blair and Brown eyeing one another up. “There have been persistent rumours that Mr Blair struck a deal with Gordon Brown, who had been his office roommate in the Palace of Westminster when they were both first elected in 1983, in which Mr Brown would stand aside to give Mr Blair a clear run, providing that Mr Blair would later support Mr Brown to become Prime Minister after him. Whether there is any truth to this rumour, the two have been thought of as a team of two opposing rival personalities, and in government Mr Brown has become Chancellor, a powerful number two lodging next to Mr Blair at Number Eleven. If there was a deal, it has not been tested yet.”

Footage of Labour Party conferences. “Mr Blair oversaw controversial changes to the Labour Party, including the removal of Clause IV from its constitution—which meant the party was no longer obliged to pursue the public ownership of industry—and a rebrand as ‘New Labour’.”

Footage of Blair entering Number Ten to cheering flag-waving crowds. “Mr Blair won the biggest Labour landslide since 1945 when he soundly defeated John Major’s Tories in 1997 and ended eighteen years of Tory rule under Mr Major and his predecessor Margaret Thatcher. While Mr Major’s government had been wracked by scandals and economic crisis, the scale of Mr Blair’s victory showed that he had caught the imagination of the British people. He sought to rebrand not only the Labour Party, but Britain itself: Cool Britannia.

“Yet hardly had he stepped into Number Ten when he was forced to deal with crises. The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales was memorably marked by his speech in which he described her as ‘the People’s Princess’. He also found his own government was hardly free from scandal.” Footage of Bernie Eccleston, Robin Cook, Ron Davies, etc. “But nonetheless Mr Blair has used his huge working majority to enact some of the most radical constitutional changes the country has ever seen. He has reformed the House of Lords to remove most of the hereditary peers and replace them with life peers. He has created devolved parliaments for Scotland and Wales. Perhaps most significantly he oversaw the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland which has signalled a new dawn for the peace process. His foreign policy has been dominated by his enthusiasm for putting the UK at the heart of Europe, including his recent resolution to pursue British membership of the Euro—in which he is rumoured to be opposed by Mr Brown—and as the recent conflict in Kosovo has shown, he has not been shy about taking on the non-interventionists in his party. Mr Blair has set forth a doctrine, which he codified in Chicago recently, that military intervention in distant conflicts is justified to prevent humanitarian crises.”

A flapping blue flag with twelve gold stars. “But it is Europe that now threatens to divide the Labour Party and endanger Mr Blair’s position. It has been observed that history is appearing to repeat itself...”

The screen cut to footage taken from a comedy show. Ben Elton, grinning and hyperactive, rapidly declaimed: “This is the real thing, innit! None of that Kewl Britannia or Eddiecation Eddiecation Eddiecation stuff! No, old Tony has decided that if we all voted Maggie Thatcher back in three times then maybe he should try and do ev’ryfing she did, only try to cram it all into two years! War! Scandal! And breaking up yer party over Europe! Are we sure them Tories lost the election? And now over to comedy legend Ronnie Corbett.”

The clip ran on, possibly unintentionally, to find Ronnie Corbett in his iconic chair. “Thank you, thank you. You know, the producer said to me the other day ‘Ronnie, darling, this Europe business, what do you think about the polls being so high?’” (mimes looking up) “I said, Poles, Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, they all look high to me!”

“And so Mr Blair now finds himself in a situation he probably never expected. A caretaker European Commission under what is rumoured to be French pressure, keen to prevent the UK from joining the Euro at an early stage as Mr Blair wants. Requiring a referendum, except Mr Blair has seen a loophole: it does not specify a referendum, merely a ‘vote’. Mr Blair has hearkened back to Harold Wilson’s argument that referendums are un-British and the only reason one was held in 1974 was because both parties at that time were divided into pro- and anti-European factions. Mr Blair has argued that under his leadership Labour is now almost entirely pro-European and the Tories are almost entirely anti-European, and therefore a general election will count as a vote on his course in Europe.” Footage of Blair waving from Number Ten. “Some have called it a masterstroke—polls suggest that the Euro would lose in a referendum held directly on changing the currency, but Mr Blair remains very popular, the Tories remain very unpopular, and there has been a consistent gap in the polls for the last two years. Will Mr Blair’s gambit work out? Robin Oakley.”

The screen faded up again on a slightly less flustered-looking Dimbleby. “Well, it doesn’t currently appear as though Tony Blair’s alleged plan is working out so well,” he observed. “The actual results bear little resemblance to the polls, as we heard earlier from Robert Worcester of MORI. But we now have some more results coming in from constituencies that have declared. Peter.”

[b]Leeds West[/b]
Electorate: 64,686 	Total Votes: 9,897 	Turnout: 15.3%

Lab	3,927	39.7% (-27.0)
Con	2,185	22.1% (+4.6)
Green	1,244	12.6% (+10.4)
LD	1,185	12.0% (+3.0)
UKIP	699	7.1% (+7.1)
Others	657	6.6%

Maj.	1,742	17.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 15.8%

“Labour hold another seat in Leeds despite a big swing to the Tories and a surprisingly good performance for the Green Party. John Battle, a junior minister with responsibility for energy, returns to Parliament.”

Electorate: 64,666 	Total Votes: 11,834 	Turnout: 18.3%

Lab	4,718	39.9% (-24.7)
Con	4,020	34.0% (+10.1)
LD	863	7.3% (-1.0)
UKIP	803	6.8% (+6.8)
Green	759	6.4% (+6.4)
Others	671	5.7%

Maj.	698	5.9% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.4%

“Angela Eagle—the twin sister of Maria Eagle who held her nearby seat earlier tonight—holds the seat on the Wirral that she first won for Labour in 1992.”

[b]Coatbridge & Chryston[/b]
Electorate: 48,366 	Total Votes: 11,608 	Turnout: 24.0%

Lab	5,622	48.4% (-19.9)
SNP	2,380	20.5% (+3.5)
Others	1,323	11.4%
Con	1,238	10.7% (+2.1)
LD	520	4.5% (-0.9)
Green	453	3.9% (+3.9)
UKIP	72	0.6% (+0.6)

Maj.	3,242	27.9% 
Swing Lab to SNP 11.7%

“Another Scottish central belt seat in which the SNP close the gap on Labour but Labour is simply too dominant in these post-industrial heartlands to be threatened. Tom Clarke retains his seat.”

[b]Liverpool, Wavertree[/b]
Electorate: 73,797 	Total Votes: 10,184 	Turnout: 13.8%

Lab	3,776	37.1% (-27.3)
Con	2,311	22.7% (+11.9)
LD	2,255	22.1% (+0.6)
Others	785	7.7%
Green	632	6.2% (+6.2)
UKIP	425	4.2% (+4.2)

Maj.	1,465	14.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 19.6%

“Merseyside again and, again on a rather low turnout even by tonight’s standards, Jane Kennedy is re-elected with a far reduced margin over the Tories.”

“Next is Darlington, one of the lesser Labour-friendly parts of the North East—if only relatively speaking—which was won by the Tories in 1983 and 1987 before Alan Milburn won it for Labour in 1992. He is now Chief Secretary to the Treasury, but will he continue to be MP for Darlington?”

Electorate: 65,539 	Total Votes: 13,960 	Turnout: 21.3%

Lab	5,560	39.8% (-21.8)
Con	5,042	36.1% (+7.8)
LD	1,293	9.3% (+2.1)
UKIP	1,010	7.2% (+7.2)
Green	588	4.2% (+4.2)
Others	467	3.4%

Maj.	518	3.7% 
Swing Lab to Con 19.6%

“Yes he will, albeit with only a small majority over the Conservative candidate Tony Richmond. Another surprisingly good result for the UKIP from a standing start there.”

“The next seat, Scarborough and Whitby, had only voted for Conservatives before Labour’s Lawrie Quinn won it two years ago. This was one of the more unexpected results of the night, much like Jim Murphy’s in Scotland: will Mr Quinn also find himself out of a job?”

[b]Scarborough & Whitby[/b]
Electorate: 78,594 	Total Votes: 18,234 	Turnout: 23.2%

Con	8,407	46.1% (+9.9)
Lab	4,208	23.1% (-22.5)
LD	2,310	12.7% (-1.4)
UKIP	1,660	9.1% (+9.1)
Green	1,064	5.8% (+5.8)
Others	585	3.2%

Maj.	4,199	23.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 16.2%

“Yes, unfortunately for him, he will. Another strong result for the UKIP but it does not stop a regain by John Sykes, who represented the precursor seat for the Tories from 1992 to 1997 before being defeated. How many more Tories who lost their seats in 1997 will be coming back tonight? Will Michael Portillo, whose defeat was perhaps the most iconic of all, be among them?”

“We don’t know, Peter, but we do know who’s going to be representing the second of our Bolton seats for the night, Bolton North East...”

[b]Bolton North East[/b]
Electorate: 68,984 	Total Votes: 13,659 	Turnout: 19.8%

Con	5,410	39.6% (+9.2)
Lab	5,132	37.6% (-18.5)
LD	1,015	7.4% (-2.4)
Others	838	6.1%
UKIP	655	4.8% (+4.8)
Green	609	4.5% (+4.5)

Maj.	278	2.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 13.9%

“A narrow gain for the Tories on a large swing. David Crausby loses his seat to Robert Wilson. This seat was Tory before 1997, but the sitting MP Peter Thurnham defected to the Lib Dems in the dying days of the Major ministry.”

“Those days seem far behind us now: regardless of the...uniqueness of the circumstances, the Conservative Party appears to be back in business. And next comes Durham, the City of Durham that is, not County Durham.”

[b]City of Durham[/b]
Electorate: 70,207 	Total Votes: 14,884 	Turnout: 21.2%

Lab	6,409	43.1% (-20.2)
Con	3,263	21.9% (+4.4)
LD	2,724	18.3% (+3.0)
UKIP	1,106	7.4% (+7.4)
Green	896	6.0% (+6.0)
Others	486	3.3%

Maj.	3,146	21.2% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.3%

“Yes, Gerry Steinberg is back again for Labour—though if Labour started losing seats like this, which they have held since 1931, they really would be in trouble.”

“It looks as though we have more North East results, but they are alternating with Greater Manchester ones...”

[b]Stretford & Urmston[/b]
Electorate: 70,557 	Total Votes: 13,406 	Turnout: 19.0%

Lab	5,605	41.8% (-16.7)
Con	4,798	35.8% (+5.3)
UKIP	952	7.1% (+7.1)
LD	789	5.9% (-2.3)
Green	686	5.1% (+5.1)
Others	576	4.3%

Maj.	807	6.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 11.0%

“Beverley Hughes is back, but not without a strong challenge from the Tories.”

[b]Newcastle upon Tyne East & Wallsend[/b]
Electorate: 63,854 	Total Votes: 10,983 	Turnout: 17.2%

Lab	4,957	45.1% (-26.1)
LD	2,093	19.1% (+8.5)
Con	2,043	18.6% (+4.7)
UKIP	916	8.3% (+8.3)
Green	608	5.5% (+5.5)
Others	366	3.3%

Maj.	2,864	26.0% 
Swing Lab to LD 17.3%

“A swing to the Liberal Democrats against the national trend cannot stop Nick Brown being returned for Labour.”

“Yes, it strikes me that asking what party the MP for that seat would be would be a pointless question.”

“With a pointless answer,” King quipped weakly.

“...Quite. And we continue the pattern with Oldham East and Saddleworth. This Greater Manchester seat was won by Labour’s Phil Woolas in 1997; its two precursor seats consisted on one which was strongly Labour and the other which was Conservative but was won by Chris Davies for the Lib Dems in a by-election in the aforementioned dying days of the Major government. Mr Davies came second to Woolas in the new seat and he is standing again, how close will it be this time with the Lib Dems in trouble almost everywhere?”

[b]Oldham East & Saddleworth[/b]
Electorate: 73,821 	Total Votes: 16,536 	Turnout: 22.4%

LD	4,974	30.1% (-5.3)
Con	4,399	26.6% (+6.9)
Lab	4,031	24.4% (-17.3)
Others	1,223	7.4%
UKIP	1,054	6.4% (+6.4)
Green	855	5.2% (+5.2)

Maj.	575	3.5% 
Swing Lab to LD 6.0%

“Well! Chris Davies makes me eat my words. Our second Liberal Democrat seat of the night is also a gain from Labour, in fact Mr Woolas is pushed into third place behind the Tories! Perhaps Britain’s third party is not out for the count yet.” More footage of cheers at Lib Dem HQ played.

“We will be speaking to former party leader Paddy Ashdown later, or Jeremy will,” Dimbleby said, “but first, more results.

[b]Renfrewshire West[/b]
Electorate: 52,583 	Total Votes: 13,514 	Turnout: 25.7%

Lab	3,872	28.6% (-18.0)
SNP	3,795	28.1% (+1.6)
Con	2,838	21.0% (+2.4)
LD	1,157	8.6% (+0.9)
Others	1,031	7.6%
Green	687	5.1% (+5.1)
UKIP	134	1.0% (+1.0)

Maj.	77	0.5% 
Swing Lab to SNP 9.8%

“Back to Scotland where the SNP’s Colin Campbell nearly manages to take this seat from Labour but falls just short and it is retained for Labour by James Sheridan. The situation makes this a little more explicable than it may seem at first. The previous MP, Tommy Graham, left the Labour Party after allegations that he was involved in Gordon McMaster’s suicide, and stood down at this election.”

[b]Glasgow, Maryhill[/b]
Electorate: 56,817 	Total Votes: 9,034 	Turnout: 15.9%

Lab	3,648	40.4% (-24.5)
SNP	2,185	24.2% (+7.4)
Others	1,226	13.6%
Green	703	7.8% (+7.8)
LD	649	7.2% (+0.1)
Con	553	6.1% (+0.2)
UKIP	70	0.8% (+0.8)

Maj.	1,463	16.2% 
Swing Lab to SNP 16.0%

“Our second Glasgow seat of the night has Labour’s Maria Fyfe remain firmly on top, with a strong Scottish Socialist performance being largely responsible for the consolidated Others being so high.”

[b]Oldham West & Royton[/b]
Electorate: 69,650 	Total Votes: 12,955 	Turnout: 18.6%

Lab	4,675	36.1% (-22.7)
Con	3,816	29.5% (+6.1)
LD	1,612	12.4% (+0.5)
Others	1,350	10.4%
UKIP	894	6.9% (+6.9)
Green	608	4.7% (+4.7)

Maj.	859	6.6% 
Swing Lab to Con 14.4%

“Back in Greater Manchester, Oldham’s other seat is less interesting than Oldham East and Saddleworth—no offence to its people—in that it is a hold for Michael Meacher, a key left-wing critic of Tony Blair’s leadership.”

“Yes, and we now have the seat of Plymouth Sutton in Devon. At different times this was held by both David Owen—when he was still a Labour Party member—and Alan Clark. It was won for Labour by Linda Gilroy in 1997, but will she be able to keep it?”

[b]Plymouth, Sutton[/b]
Electorate: 68,221 	Total Votes: 17,260 	Turnout: 25.3%

Con	5,902	34.2% (+3.9)
Lab	5,025	29.1% (-21.0)
LD	2,387	13.8% (-0.1)
UKIP	1,531	8.9% (+7.8)
Green	1,501	8.7% (+8.7)
Others	914	5.3%

Maj.	877	5.1% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.5%

“The answer is no. Linda Gilroy is defeated by Oliver Colvile for the Tories. Ms Gilroy had been involved with the European affairs select committee, has that perhaps played a role in her defeat? We can’t say at this point.”

“It looks like we now have some results coming in from West Yorkshire again, a key battleground. Although it had voted Labour before Chris Leslie won it from Marcus Fox in 1997, it had not done so since the 1960s. It will therefore not be a surprise if Mr Leslie loses the seat to his Tory challenger David Senior given the national trends we’ve seen, but individual seats can have different results. Will this be one of them?”

Electorate: 70,929 	Total Votes: 18,229 	Turnout: 25.7%

Con	7,974	43.7% (+5.9)
Lab	4,326	23.7% (-19.6)
LD	2,467	13.5% (-1.6)
Green	1,408	7.7% (+7.7)
UKIP	1,230	6.8% (+3.7)
Others	824	4.5%

Maj.	3,648	20.0% 
Swing Lab to Con 12.8%

“No it will not. Mr Senior is the new MP for Shipley by a considerable margin.”

“But not every seat in West Yorkshire is a swing seat. Our next seat, Bradford North, has not been won by the Conservative Party since their national landslide year of 1983. If Labour’s Terry Rooney fails to hold it this time, it will indicate that our exit poll may indeed have underestimated the scale of the surge of the Conservatives...”

[b]Bradford North[/b]

Electorate: 67,383 	Total Votes: 12,129 	Turnout: 18.0%

Con	4,287	35.4% (+9.8)
Lab	3,763	31.0% (-25.1)
LD	1,936	16.0% (+1.5)
Others	832	6.9%
UKIP	760	6.3% (+6.3)
Green	551	4.5% (+4.5)

Maj.	524	4.4% 
Swing Lab to Con 17.5%

“And that would seem to answer our question. Zahid Iqbal gains the seat for the Tories.”

“Dramatic indeed,” Dimbleby coughed. He coughed because wisps of smoke were visibly rising out of one of the rat’s nests of cables visible around the back of the Swingometer display, where the cameras couldn’t see. “We’ll be back soon with more results, but in the meantime, here’s a short film about how the election has,” he coughed again, perhaps not due to the smoke, “how the election has captured the public imagination.”