Counterfire brings you live blogging throughout election night.
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Will the Green's Caroline Lucas win Brighton Pavilion will Salma Yaqoob take Birmingham for Respect - but above all, will we wake up tomorrow morning to a Conservative government wielding an axe to public services.
Counterfire has taken the ambitious challenge of live blogging through the night - will we make it until the result? 23.10 Brendan Montague (BM)
Watching some of the swings come in, and remembering that the trusty swingometer was designed for the days of two party politics. Just take the drop in one party's vote, add it to the gain in the other party's vote, and divide by two: and there's your swing. It works fine when votes alternate, as they used to, between just two parties.
But with voters spreading their intentions amongst other parties, it starts to break down. Apparently huge swings can be produced by a greater spread of votes amongst the smaller parties. So what looks like an 11.6 per cent swing to the Tories in Washington and Sunderland West is partly generated by big gains for the BNP and Ukip. Elsewhere, with weaker minor parties, the swings will be smaller.
Further evidence of the decline in the two-party system. But quite what will replace it is not yet settled. (JM)
Newcastle City Council has reportedly issued a statement confirming that some would-be voters had to be turned away. This has seemingly happened in many constituencies. This is turning into one of the biggest stories of this election. (AS)
Margaret Hodge, sitting Labour MP (and candidate) in Barking, east London, says on BBC TV that the constituency will probably not declare until "3 or 4 am". This is where BNP leader Nick Griffin is standing. Early indications are good for anti-fascists, according to UAF (via Twitter).
It's interesting to hear Hodge refer, at least a couple of times, to "fascists". New Labour types tend not to do that, but she knows it's vital if the BNP is to be knocked back. She's also quite astute about the political background to the BNP's rise in Barking and Dagenham. (AS)
Swingers! 22.9 percent swing in Belfast East where Peter Robinson loses his seat after sexual scandal around his wife. Poor woman was only dishing out contacts and contracts in exchange for love and affection. No need to get all moralistic. (BM)
Torbay hold for the Lib Dems, and (for what it's worth) 1.1% swing against the Tories to the Liberals. Not a good result for Cameron, but everything is more than a little bit all over the place - including the supposed swings (JM).
The Tories are getting their first gains. A big swing in Kingswood and they've also taken Basildon South.
Matthew Taylor at The Guardian has this: 'Labour sources in Stoke, the BNP's second target seat, are also sounding confident and say the far right party may have been be pushed into third or even fourth place.' (AS)
Labour hold Tooting, with Saddiq Khan holding on to his seat. A somewhat pleasing result, after a close-fought contest - and the nonsense Khan has put up with over his bugging of conversations with Babar Ahmed and opposition to the Iraq war, amongst other things. 3.6% is a crap swing for the Tories, too - though once again, the swing not too reliable: from the votes, it looks like the Lib Dems got squeezed in a Labour-Tory fight. (JM)
Sue Doughty failed to win back Guildford. No doubt still suffering from the headline I wrote for the Surrey Advertiser in 2003: "Quaker MP supports war". (BM)
We're still awaiting any significant results for left-of-Labour candidates. At 10.35 last night I posted a list of seats to look out for (see below for the full list). These include three Respect candidates (Salma Yaqoob, George Galloway and Abjol Miah), Caroline Lucas for the Greens and TUSC candidates like Dave Nellist in Coventry. Look out for these.
Blaenau Gwent has gone back to Labour in a massive swing away from an independent 'old Labour' candidate.
There are strong rumours of victory for Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion. Let's hope there's substance to them. (AS)
Lembit Opik loses his seat. 13% swing to farmer from the Tories; hardly representative however. (JM)
Hearing Bolton North East failing to fall to the Tories - just 1% swing up there. Labour core vote in the north holding up well so far, it seems. (JM)
Interviews, on BBC, with editor of the FT and director of the CBI pontificating abou the effect of a hung Parliament on the bond markets. They seem reasonably well-behaved, in London - so far. But across the pond it's a different story: 1,000-point drop in Dow Jones in a day is quite even to spook the most hard-bitten trader, even with a relatively speedy recovery afterwards.
Regulators there, along with the press, are talking up the role of high-speed trading in reinforcing an initial trader error. High-speed trading is quite crazy stuff: massive, cutting-edge computer hardware used to chase after the tiniest possible differences in prices, as fast possible, to squeeze out every last profit.
This is getting so extreme that traders are attempting to move their own computers as close as they can get, physically, to the exchange servers, with the extra metres gained scraping precious miliseconds off the time needed to complete a trade. One firm, quoted in Wired magazine, was colocating to New York to scrape just 21 miliseconds off its trading time.
It's certainly true that practices like this can add to instability. But without the profound uncertainties around the future of the Euro and Euro economies, in particular, they wouldn't be having this sort of effect. Expect rocky times ahead. (JM)
Some peculiar happenings on the Facebook group Andrew Burgin and Clare Solomon set up in solidarity with the Greek protests. Both have seemingly been removed as administrators of the group, and - worse - their Facebook accounts deleted. Brendan has more details over here. (JM)
This is from Press Association:
Sterling and UK Government bonds rallied today as a series of big Conservative swings suggested the party may scrape a majority. The pound rose more than a cent to 1.49 dollars and 1.18 euros in the early hours, after initially falling against both currencies amid a forecast of a hung parliament.
June gilts - a form of UK Government bond - also ticked up more than 1% in early bond trading on the Liffe exchange, suggesting more investors are expecting a "decisive" Tory administration which will tackle the UK's massive deficit.
The Liffe exchange opened more than six hours early to satisfy huge election night demand from major players such as banks and hedge funds. David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index, said: "There's definitely a feeling building that the Tories are going to scrape in with a majority. (AS)
The Guardian has more about the mayhem in Sheffield:
Sheffield's deputy returning officer, Lee Adams, said around 100 frustrated voters refused to leave one polling station in Clegg's Sheffield Hallam constituency, and police had to be called. "They were very angry," she said, "particularly some students. We couldn't cope, basically."
Adams said staff numbers at St John's church hall in Ranmore had been doubled at 4pm when it became clear that the combination of a higher than usual turnout and a large number of students turning up without their ballot cards threatened to overwhelm them.
"Many people had already turned up once, gone away and come back again," she said. "We should have had more staff on from the start. We got things wrong, basically, and we're very apologetic and distraught about that." It was not legally possible to extend opening hours, she said. (AS)
Paxman trying to claim that "talks have already begun" between Labour and the Lib Dems. David Miliband denying all knowledge. Blair managed to hold talks with Paddy Ashdown and the Lib Dem leadership before the 1997 election, before naturally dropping any prospect of a coalition once the scale of the landslide became apparent. It'd be peculiar indeed if some gang of senior Labour apparatchiks, somewhere, were not now at least attempting footsy with the Lib Dem opposite numbers. Not that any particular Miliband need be anything to do with this, of course. (JM)
Predictably, it looks like the non-Labour left is getting mercilessly squeezed by a tight contest amongst the main parties. The newly-formed Trade Union and Socialist Coalition is scraping votes below 1% in most constituencies it stood in. A few left candidates elsewhere have been able to build up strong local campaigns, but we're still waiting on results from Birmingham, East London and Brighton. (JM)
Darling, like Brown and Cameron before him, now talking up the necessity of "stability" in government. That's the watchword for the evening: with one careful eye on Greece and southern Europe, and another on the alarmingly jittery US markets, it's not too surprising our political class want a bit of certainty in the world. They're not getting it tonight, and they're not going to get it. A weak, divided government will have a hard time driving through wholesale public spending cuts.
You can see that instability in the swings that are coming through. As noted above, this crude measure doesn't work too well if the electorate starts to wander off outside the two-party system. And it doesn't tell you too much when the vagaries of local campaigns seem to determine so much in individual seats. (JM)
No official result yet, but sounds like Margaret Hodge re-elected in Barking, with Nick Griffin failing to move the BNP out of third. Hodge was on BBC coverage earlier, attempting some tremendously long-winded explanation for the relative success of the BNP in Barking and Dagenham, involving buy-to-let, other councils, the state of the London property market - anything, in fact, except the blunt fact that Labour has successively failed to deliver adequate housing there - and that means building council homes. Housing is key, but that's not a "race" issue - it's a class issue.
John Cruddas, in the next-door constituency of Dagenham, has been vastly better on this than Hodge. His votes are apparently being recounted in a close contest. A real shame if he loses, and Hodge stays in, though naturally better for them both to keep their seats. (JM)
Lib Dems have, incredibly, overturned a big Labour majority in Redcar, Mo Mowlam's old seat in Teeside. This will at least partly be influenced by the announcement of the closure of the Corus steel plant in Redcar. It's an especially remarkable result when you consider that the Lib Dems have failed to make progress more widely. (AS)
The Guardian has this about the eagerly-awaited contest involving Green Party leader Caroline Lucas:
'Were the Greens being over-confident in Brighton? On the record they were "quietly confident" of making Caroline Lucas their first MP. Off the record the confidence was quite loud. But the piled ballot papers seem to show a close-run thing, and interestingly, after weeks of predictions of a Green-Tory fight it's Labour who are running Lucas neck-and-neck, with the Conservatives seemingly some way back. One official still tips Lucas to win, though, he told me.'
OK, that's really not soothing my nerves... (AS)
Confusion, or at least uncertainty, continues to abound. None of the main party leaderships have been prepared, as yet, to stick their neck out, and the rhetoric remains that of searching for "stability" - but with quite whom, or what, is never said.
...and Evan Harris, out to the Tories in Oxford West. It's not been a pleasant night for the Lib Dems, needless to say; the headline votes seem to be stacking up like 1983, but now without the galumphing Tory majority to work against. Possibly the shimmering prospect of picking the next Prime Minister from amongst the delightful potential choices will be compensation.
Pretty dimal result for Esther Rantzen in Luton, thankfully, although looking at things it seems every independent in the world had lined up to stand there. Labour re-relected, pretty comfortably. You have to wonder why all these independents do it: the continued lack of success should be reminder enough that, witohut either a party machine, or splitting an existing party machine, you're not going to get elected.
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