That Was The Night That Was 3
UK General Election 2017 Edition
Here we… here we… here we go again then.
Ok. This is my third election blog. For Brexit and the US Election I outlined what I wanted. Namely to stay in the EU and for Hillary to win. So things have gone well. What do I want tonight (and therefore what is definitely not going to happen)? I wrote about it yesterday but in short, it’s been so terrible from all sides that I kind of want the same result as 2015. Making this all a big waste of time. What I expect is a Tory majority above 50.
The BBC coverage is beginning. It’s likely to be David Dimbleby’s last election. Which is sad.
Ok. So here’s what’s about to happen. At exactly 10 o’clock we’ll get the exit poll. Unlike normal polls it interviews far larger numbers of people the moment after they’ve voted at hand-picked (and top secret) polling stations. The workings of it are explained here. The exit poll has been remarkably accurate since 1992 (when it got the Tories very wrong) so it’s a pretty good guide. The target for a majority is 326 but in reality, as Sinn Féin don’t take their seats, it’s likely to be 323.
At first glance it’s a disaster for the Tories. At second glance it’s very strange. The SNP are down 22 seats. That’s a huge surprise. The Lib Dems are up 6. That’s a pretty big surprise. If, and it’s a big if, the exit poll is spot on then the Tories would be 9 or so seats short of a working majority. They would need the support of the unionist parties in Northern Ireland to govern. If the Tories get less than 314 they will struggle to form a government at all and Labour may try to form a minority one. More on this later once I’ve had time to let it sink in.
The pound is down 2 pence against the dollar. We won’t see a Brexit style collapse though so don’t go big buying dollars.
Here is the main man. Professor John Curtice. The psephologist behind (with others) the exit poll. He’s in for an interesting few hours.
I have had a stiff drink. Here’s what happens now:
Not very much.
Probably more drinking.
The first result should arrive in around half an hour from Houghton & Sunderland South. It will go to the Labour party. The only thing of interest will be how much Labour have increased their majority. After that there is very little until around 2am, except a lot of speculation on TV and Twitter. Mainly about who’ll replace Theresa May because she’ll struggle to stay on if the exit poll is correct.
Last bit of speculation until we start getting an idea of the accuracy of the poll. 266 seats is a very good result for Corbyn. But is it a good result for Labour? It’s a loss. Not much better than 7 years ago when they won 258 seats. It would have been a bad result in 2015. With expectations being so low it will feel like a victory but is that a good thing?
Pundits are talking up the chances of another election soon. I’d suggest caution on that. At the last election the exit poll predicted the Conservatives would win 316 seats, similar to tonight. In the end the Tories were up 14 to 330. If the Tories out-perform the exit poll by 14 seats they’ll have a majority.
The exit poll predicts a 68% share of the vote in Houghton & Sunderland South. The result there will be the first test. It’s due shortly…
It’s Newcastle! They’ve beaten Sunderland. A shock! And the first time they’ve beaten them since a 5–1 victory back in 2010. All thanks to a Kevin Nolan hat-trick.
Back to politics…
Newcastle upon Tyne Central. Safe Labour seat. And they’ve held it. Chi Onwurah, the incumbent, has increased her majority by just over 2,000 winning 65% of the vote which is up 10 percentage points. But. It is worse than the exit poll suggested. It predicted a 74% share. So this will give some hope to the Tories.
67% turnout — up 7 percentage points.
The presiding officer from Houghton & Sunderland South, her tail between her legs, is ready to announce the result. Labour as expected. But again, their share is down against the exit poll. It predicted 68% and Labour got less. A lot less. 59.5%. In both seats in so far then, the Tories have out-performed the exit poll and Labour have under-performed. Some hope for Theresa May.
Another result tells the same story. Labour winning 3–0, if you’re keeping score.
It feels as if there’ll be a lot of regional variation tonight. Which makes predicting very tough. One thing that we can probably be pretty sure of is that turnout will be up.
I’m going to stop updating on individual seats now and just highlight the interesting ones.
Swindon North in. First seat for the Conservatives. Better news for Labour though as they’ve slightly out-performed the exit poll. Backs up my regional point from earlier. Interestingly, Swindon North was 62% Leave in the referendum so Labour have done very well here.
The Tories have held Nuneaton. Often considered a bellweather seat — so this backs up the exit poll. Still no uniform swing across the country but Labour sounding confident about many seats. Current score is 6–4 to Labour. Long way to go. No hat-tricks.
It is fascinating that it appears the Conservatives will win this election thanks to the North and Scotland but won’t win well thanks to the South. A complete reversal of the political map. A friend suggests the wealthier south want better public services as promised by Labour. I suggest they want to keep their wealth to pass on to their children who’d also have the pleasure of attending university for free.
Interesting result in Wrexham. Labour held a 2k vote majority from 2015. The Tories increased their votes by 5k but Labour increased by 4k. Meaning they held the seat. How much this is down to the dissipation of the UKIP vote and/or a possible increased turnout of young voters won’t be known for a while.
First SNP loss. First of many if the exit poll is right. 9% swing to Labour who won the seat.
London looks like being a disaster for the Tories. I can’t see them getting a majority anymore. Which means May is toast. Rumours that Boris is already sounding out colleagues. Lucky colleagues.
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader has held his seat with a 7k majority. It was expected to be a close fight.
Sterling dropping again (not Tom Watson’s fault, I’m sure).
Corbyn becomes favourite for PM on Betfair. This seems a little odd to me. Actually very odd. But then, things have been a quite odd so far. I’d put my money on Boris but then, you saw my predictions at the beginning so…
Everyone is also celebrating UKIP’s leader in Wales, Neil Hamilton (this Neil Hamilton) losing his deposit. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.
The exit poll has been revised to the benefit of the Tories. They are now expected to get 322 seats (just shy of a majority), Labour down to 261.
The SNP’s Angus Robertson, one of the best performers in the House of Commons who, frankly, has led a much more effective opposition than Corbyn, has just lost his seat.
Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister and former Leader of the Liberal Democrats has lost his seat to Labour. He was right to try coalition. He was right to bring in tuition fees. He was politically wrong to do both. He has a lot of EU experience and should be brought in to help with Brexit. But he won’t be.
Good news for the Lib Dems though as Vince Cable is back. An amazing 79% turnout in Twickenham.
I have had to put my cats to bed. To do this I had to get into bed and wait for them to both snuggle up to me and nod off. I then had to sneak out of the room. This took three attempts. And resulted in a bloody forearm.
I am never having kids.
Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected. This is not a shock. He appears to be calling for Theresa May to resign. And we’re about to find out what she’ll say in reply…
Theresa May has been re-elected. Will she stay on as PM though? She looks pretty beaten. Maybe she needs a frolic in a wheat field to cheer up. She say’s the country needs a period of stability with the Conservatives, as largest party, leading the government (she is suggesting she won’t get a majority).
Labour have won in Canterbury, a university city (univer-city?). The Conservatives have held that seat since its inception in 1918 and had a majority of almost 10k. Quite a feat.
Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats has held onto his seat. Commiserations to Mr. Fish Finger.
The exit poll has been revised again. Tories down to 318 (good news for the DUP), Labour up 6 to 267.
Cats are awake again. This is probably because I’ve started on the cheese and crackers.
UKIP’s Leader, Paul Nuttal has failed to win a seat, coming a very distant third. Sad!
Let’s have a review after 6 hours of counting. The DUP and Sinn Féin are doing very well in Northern Ireland. In Scotland the SNP are losing lots of seats to the benefit of the other three major parties but the SNP will retain the majority of seats. In Wales Labour have performed very well and are up 3 seats so far with over 50% of the vote. All taken from the Tories. Plaid Cymru have dropped to third party in terms of the popular vote. In England, Labour are up 13 seats, the Lib Dems up 2 and the Tories down 14. Those figures don’t add up but I’m too tired to work out why.
Overall then Labour have 217, the Tories 214, the SNP 28 and the Lib Dems 10.
That was very dry so let’s just remind ourselves that Paul Nuttall only won 3,000 votes.
Alex Salmond, former leader of the SNP and former First Minister of Scotland has lost his seat.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has held on to her seat by a few hundred votes. She is another possible PM.
56 seats left to declare. Conservative’s leading 285 to 245.
CCHQ say that Theresa May is getting on with business. Presumably the business of moving house.
10 seats left. Conservative’s leading 312–259.
We are in the home stretch now which is a good thing because I, and the cats, need to go to bed at some point.
John Curtice is in his element. Which is nice. The exit poll has proven to be remarkably accurate in a very volatile election.
Theresa May will speak at some point soon-ish. Possibly. It’s unclear what she’s going to say. This has been an informative update.
David Dimbleby has gone. I said earlier that I thought this would be his last election but we may be doing this again in a few months, so…
Zac Goldsmith is up. A man who resigned as a Conservative MP in a protest against his party who support a 3rd runway at Heathrow. He ran as an independent in the subsequent by-election. And lost (his second election defeat in a year after losing the London Mayoral election). He’s now standing as a Conservative who have a manifesto pledging to build a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Make sense of that if you can.
Can he lose a third election in 13 months?
No. He’s won. By 45 votes.
Disappointing end there.
The Prime Minister is not resigning according to Number 10.
There are still 4 seats left to declare but they should all go to the Tories.
I am therefore calling it a night or a day. Or whatever it is. My final thoughts (for now) are below. Hope you enjoyed — come back in about 3 months for the next one.
How to sum this up?
Hung Parliament — Conservative Largest Party (likely 3 short of working majority)
Con: 319* (-12) ; Lab: 261 (+29) ; SNP: 35 (-21) : LD: 12 (+4) ; DUP: 10 (+2) ; SF: 7 (+3) ; PC: 4 (+1) ; GP: 1 (-)
Another 5 years of a Tory led government (with the DUP either supporting through ‘confidence and supply’ or a formal coalition — likely the former).
The Tories are significantly weakened and the DUP are no fans of ‘austerity’ so expect a softening in spending plans and an increase in cross-party groups (Social Care, anyone?).
You can make an argument for every type of Brexit outcome — trouble is none are convincing.
How did the Parties do?
Weirdly the Tories did OK and the Labour Party did badly but the narrative is the other way round (with added hyperbole for Labour). Expectations, eh? Always make your worst shot you main Tinder pic.
The Tories’ 10th best result (in terms of % of seats won) in the 20 elections since World War 2.
Labour’s 5th worst result (in terms of % of seats won) in the 20 elections since World War 2 but the best since 2005.
A Conservative result that would have been seen as a success just 2 years ago.
A Labour result that would have been seen as a failure just 2 years ago and would have cost Ed Miliband his job.
The number of people voting Labour is up significantly (best share of the Popular Vote since Blair in 2001).
The Tories also increased their PV share significantly — to their highest since Thatcher in 1979. It’s also the 5th consecutive election where they’ve increased this share — which, after 7 years in power, is very impressive.
The Lib Dems will be happy. This is better than they expected. Losing Clegg is a blow though. Nice to see Cable back.
The SNP have been weakened and doubly so by losing some of their hard hitters in Parliament (Robertson and Salmond to name two) but they are still the third party. Will they continue to be the only effective opposition without Roberston? Will Corbyn step up? If not can the Lib Dems?
Plaid have slipped back in the Popular Vote but have gained a seat.
The DUP and Sinn Féin have wiped out the other parties in Northern Ireland. The DUP are the big winners tonight.
I’m sure there’s another party but I can’t quite remember. Must be tiredness.
Two-party politics has returned (don’t expect it to stay). Highest combined share of the PV since 1970.
Turnout up on 2015 (68.7% v 66.1%). Total number of voters up about 5%.
Dramatic regional changes with Scotland and the north of England moving towards the Tories and Wales and the south moving towards Labour. But traditional heartlands are still traditional heartlands.
Welcome Prime Minister Johnson! (possibly).
The Tories will be devastated but they retain power and are used to working in coalition and with small majorities.
For Labour there are a lot of positives but there is much work to do to keep the march going. Now isn’t the time for Labour supporters to celebrate. They face another 5 years of a Tory led government, after all.
What about the next election?
(Hint — 2022) Well, nobody would have predicted this 7 weeks ago so I’m not going to try and predict 5 years ahead. What’s clear though is that the political map has changed tonight. Scotland and the north of England has embraced the Tories. The South has opened its arms to Labour. In the next campaign there will be many soft votes for both sides to go for but also many soft votes to defend.
Has anybody actually won?