UK Elections

It’s going to be an interesting night as an exit poll says Tories will take 316 seats and Labour 239

Dan Griffin Thu, May 7
LIVE: UK Elections

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  • 16:12
    Good Evening and welcome to the very special Irish Times UK Election news blog that will roll non-stop for the next 500 years (or 24 hours more probably).

    Between now and sometime tomorrow afternoon, when we should be able to paint some class of picture of the new political landscape in Westminster, we will be focussing exclusively on the general election taking place across the water to the east and the border to the north of our newsroom.

    At no point - except this one - will we use the phrase “hung parliament”... because that is an anachronistic term that is only ever used in Britain where they still think the word “coalition” is weirder than a Miliband eating a bacon sandwich.

    By way of introduction, my name is Conor Pope. And our plan is to provide real time breaking news, Tweets, YouTube clips and links to interesting things we come across as the polling stations across the UK close and the results become apparent.
  • 16:20
    First, let’s deal with the elephant in the room – at least the elephant in the room right now. It is just after 4pm on Thursday. Voting is still ongoing and will be for six hours. This means this Live Blog’s scope for reporting actual news is, you know, limited. We’re like cricket commentators on day one of a five day test.

    Apart from sentences like: “Turnout is reported to be brisk at polling stations around Dagenham” and “The Sun had a crazy front page today” (of which there will be more later) there will be precious little by way of hard news for the first whileen.

    But then, at 10pm or so there will be real breaking news . First up the results of the BBC/ITV/Sky exit polls will be published. Dan Griffin will have most likely take over the blog at that point and he will cover the glamour shift of between 10 (ish) and six (ish) . And then early tomorrow morning a bleary-eyed Hugh Linehan will pick up the baton and cover himself in glory by reporting the actual result and not the random speculation that I will be dealing with!
  • 16:26
    What’s in this election for us? Let’s be honest, the result of elections in other countries are of only marginal interest unless they impact on us.

    That is why we have always had a great interest in British votes because since the 800 years began they have always had a profound affect on this State.

    In the 70s, 80s and 90s, much of the focus was on the Troubles and how various political groupings would handle an always volatile situation in Northern Ireland.

    Today, it is all about Britain’s stance on Europe. The bad news is that, according to Mark Hennessy – a man who knows more than a thing or two about British politics and the impact it has here – almost every possible outcome is bad news for us.

    While the “nightmare scenario” is an outright majority for the Tories, the alternatives are not better.

  • 16:34

    The always brilliant John Oliver had a short item on his show Last Week Tonnight last week about the UK elections. ICYMI, it was rather splendid.  


    Note: We'd have embedded the YouTube clip but the people at HBO are not so keen on people doing that.

  • 16:37

    According to an Irish Post poll of Irish people living in Britain published this morning, Labour is by fair the most popular party. And who do you think is in second place?

    It's UKIP, obviously.


  • 16:42
    H/T to  Jamie Ralph on Twitter - ‏@JFRalph - for that Irish Post survey.
  • 16:44

    Planning to stay up all night watching the results? Ruadhán Mac Cormaic has helpfully written a guide to all the landmark moments that are coming down the tracks.  

    The excitement is still some way off. Polling stations won't close for five hours.

    After than the results of a BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll will be announced on all three channels. Those exit polls were fairly accurate last time out. And the first results will come in just after 11pm. Houghton and Sunderland South – a resolutely Labour seat is most likely to be the first to declare after which there will be a whole lot of cheering - their mad for finishing first in election counts in Sunderland.  

    Other Sunderland seats and three Newcastle seats will be confirmed by midnight. That is when the real business starts.

  • 16:59

    All the big wigs have voted.

    Labour leader Ed Miliband wore a red tie.  The  Lib Dems Nick Clegg wore a yellow tie. David Cameron, shockingly went tieless. The SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon voted in a green dress and the Greens Natalie Bennet wore something grey.  Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood went to her local polling station on the back of a fire breathing dragon (ah no, she wore shocking pink)

    And not so shockingly, UKIP leader Nigel Farage wore a sensible blue tie.  

  • 17:09

    Incidentally, in case you think we've lost the run of ourselves with that fashion update, that is - in a nutshell - the lead story on the BBC's website right now.

    Calm before the storm, wha?

  • 17:11
  • 17:12

    There are just a few of the British newspaper front pages today.

    And yiz think we're partisan in Ireland?

  • 17:17
    I reckon The Sun wins the prize for the most inappropiate front page. It is not as partisan as it normally is, mind you. Stand by please.  
  • 17:18
  • 17:18
    Remember this?  
  • 17:44

    Okay, I don't want you to think I am obsessed with newspaper covers and I know  there are other election related things happening right now - like the pre-dinner turnout figures in Dagenham are sure to be announced presently -  but I want to post one more newspaper front page, lest you think the modern era press stand alone when it comes to OTT front page splashes. The next front page is from the Daily Mirror and it leaves the current crop of Red Tops - and the Daily Mail - in the ha'penny place.  


  • 17:44
  • 17:45
  • 17:46

    This Snow/Stewart interview is great.  

  • 18:01

    The Guardian's political reporter Frances Perraudin is reporting that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has had a madly busy 24 hours and is spending polling day knocking on doors looking for votes.

    "After the Liberal Democrat campaign bus completed its mammoth 40-hour road trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats last night, Nick Clegg hopped on a small private plane down to Sheffield.

    Despite the torrential rain, the Lib Dem leader spent today knocking on doors in his constituency of Sheffield Hallam, trying to get every last voter out to the polling booth to put a cross next to his name.

    He said he would not be watching the election unfold on TV tonight, but would instead have a quiet dinner with his wife Miriam at the flat he rents in his constituency, before arriving at the counting hall in the small hours to hear the result.

    Sheffield Hallam’s results are expected around 4am."

    And it's a marginal seat too. The poor man will be in bits by morning.

  • 18:10

    UKIP is not happy this evening. And in fairness, their unhappiness is entirely justified.  

    An error saw its Darlington candidare left off a batch of ballot papers.

    He has just issued this statement:

    "Whilst the error was rectified after a number of people contacted Ukip to complain that my name was not on the ballot paper, there are serious questions to answer at the Council.

    How can this have happened? Who is going to take responsibility? And what will be done to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again and no candidate ever finds themselves removed from the ballot paper in future.

    What is particularly galling is that Darlington Council is not prepared to take responsibility nor offer an apology.

  • 18:14

    The top 10 most Googled questions in the UK today?

    1. Who should I vote for?

    2. Who are my local candidates?

    3. How do I vote?

    4. Where do I vote?

    5. Where is my polling station?

    6.  What is the ‘who do I vote for’ quiz?

    7. What do I need to vote?

    8. Can I vote online?

    9. Who will win the election?

    10 Who can vote in the UK?

    It is hard to know which of those questions to be most troubled by, really. I mean we all know Google is good but should people really be asking it who they should vote for?

  • 18:51

    Say what you like about the Internet, but you can never, ever criticise its memory. Unlike politicians and - dare we say it journalists - it never forgets mistakes made and stupid things said.  

    There was a time when we had to rely on old school television programmes like Have I Got News For You to allow us to revisit all those things that politicians said that they would soon regret.  

    Not any more. Thanks to 10-year-old YouTube all the howlers are just a click away.  

    And with that in mind....


  • 18:53



    No, only kidding, the voting is still going on so breaking news of an election kind is still some ways off.  


  • 18:56
    Back to the most ridiculous moments of the election as brought to us by YouTube.

    It is easy to forget many things when you are on the hustings. Which football team you support is, however, not one of those things.

    Is it, David?

  • 19:17
    Then there was Ed Balls line dancing.

  • 19:23
  • 19:23
    Found this alternative election schedule on The Poke - it;s a "trove of internet treasure. Homemade and hand-picked".
  • 19:27
    The Daily Telegraph has the Gang of 22  The seats that will define this election.  
  • 19:38

    For people of a certain age and political persuasion, the routing of the Tories by Tony Blair's New Labour in the early summer of 1997 was an election night not to forget.

    Labour gained 147 seats, the Tories had their lowest seat tally in more than 100 years and seven ministers lost were sent packing. Michael Portillo, standing in  Enfield South was one of them. And the moment his defeat was confirmed defined the election.  

  • 19:45

    Oh, and in case you're wondering what happened to my Dev post - well, it is possible someone is!!!  As soon as I put it up, the whole system crashed. I couldn't work out what was going wrong so I deleted that post. Then everything started working again.  


  • 19:48

    Oh God. Remember when Neil Kinnock fell into the sea?


  • 19:54

    Right, time for a news update.  

    The BBC is going with

    "Millions vote in UK general election"

    while the Guardian leads with

    "Labour and Tories prepart for post-poll battle for power"

    The Telegraph has a somewhat racier

    "Intimidation, scuffles and market jitters as generation-defining vote goes down to the wire"

    The Times has gone with:

    "Palace in U-turn over Queen’s Speech"

    And the Daily Express has:

    New probe into Diana's death as chocolate revealed to be cause and/or cure of all cancers. *

    * Not really.

  • 20:39

  • 20:40
    Apart from Miriam O'Callaghan there doesn't appear to be a sinner in the King's Hall in Belfast .  
  • 20:46

    A while back we linked to a story in the Daily Telegraph about the 22 seats that would decide the British general election.  

    Well the Independent - the London one, not our dear frie nds in this country - have not just gone one better, they have gone a whopping 53 better and have come up with the 75 seats that will define the election.  

  • 20:50

    While this Live News Blog is focussed on major events happening across the water (and the border) - and we promise those events will actually be happening soon (ish) - there are other things going on in the world.  

    Important things.  


    The mayor of Vitoria, Javier Maroto is in hot water after refusing to pay for a five metre tortilla he ordered last year.

  • 21:02

    "Here on Sky News, however long it takes we will be with you every step of the way, " Kay Burley has just said somewhat ominously.  


  • 21:03

    The exit poll will be published in 56 minutes.  

    The excitement

  • 21:08

    So far the Sky people have said "wee small hours of the monring" twice.  

    And their election coverage is only six minutes old.  

    It is going to be a long, long nigh.... hang on!  

    The Telegraph had 22 key seats, the Independent had 75 seats that would define the election. Sky have just trumped them both and come up with a "Sky 150". They will be focussing on, wait for it niow, 150 seats.

    Up next, the Guardian's 650 seats that will make or break Cameron.  

    It is inevitable.  

  • 21:09
    No news on turnout. "Anecdotally" journalists are hearing that the weather may have helped and the turnout could be up on the 65 per cent who voted last time out.  
  • 21:11

    50 minutes to the exit polls. And 50 minutes until Dan Griffin takes over the Live Blog of (no) News.  

    Well, he will have to grasp the controls from my cold dead hands if he thinks he's getting to break the exit polls story. That is mine. I have waited hours for that moment and no-one is going to take it away from me.  


  • 21:14

    News just in. Nick Clegg has told journalists he is going to have "a spot of dinner and maybe a drink" tonight.  

  • 21:15
    Mind you, he has also said the Lib Dems are going to be the surprise of this election so who knows what he's actually going to do tonight.  
  • 21:21

    David Dimbleby versus Jeremy Paxman.  

  • 21:23

    And speaking of the peerless David Dimbleby, take a look at this clip of him eating chocolate. He was even able to do that with class.

    And check out the simple graphics. Those were the days, eh? Simple graphics, mars bars on air, Margaret Thatcher...

  • 21:27

    33 minutes until the exit polls.  


  • 21:37

    This is some spectacular reporting from the BBC's Michael Cockerell in 1979.

  • 21:38
    Well that's brilliant. I slagged of the reporting of that man from the BBC and managed to spell both his name and the word spectacular wrong while I was doing it.

  • 21:45
  • 21:45
    Beware of exit polls and chicken counting.
  • 21:47
    Now having sounded that note of caution about the exit polls, a note you would expect from a sober and serious newspaper like The Irish Times, I am preparing to lose the run of myself entirely and will be calling the election one way or the other within the next 14 minutes or so - depending on how fast my stubby little fingers can type the results.
  • 21:48
    Farage Wins. UKIP storm to power in shock result.
  • 21:48
    Sorry, just practicing.
  • 21:56
    Three minutes to go.

  • 21:58
    There is a queue of school kids wearing goalie gloves outside a count centre in Sunderland waiting to get the boxes to the counters as fast a they possible can so they can be the first to declare for the sixth election in a row.

    Oh you British people! You are funny.
  • 21:58
    We like to take our time with a count and if it stretches into three or four days all the better.
  • 21:59
    Oh God! Less than a minute to go.
  • 22:00
    Lib Dem 10
    Lab 239
    Con 316
    SNP 58
    UKIP 2
  • 22:03
    Well if that is the actual result it is a big, big night for the Tories and a disastrous night for Labour and the Lib Dems.....

    That is a big if, of course, but the first past the post system does make it easier to call.
  • 22:04
    The YouGov poll of actual voters taken today appears to conflict with the exit polls. I don't have the details yet.
  • 22:05
    Even if the margin of error is 10 per cent - and it isn't - it would still be a terrible night for Labour.
  • 22:05

    In the Upper Ban constituency, Sinn Fein hopeful Catherine Seeley is reporting an exit poll showing her 2% behind outgoing Democratic Unionist Party MP candidate, who she says is polling at 30%.
    The count is due at 1.30am.

  • 22:06
    And as for the Lib Dems - down from 56 seats to 10? That would be an absolute nightmare for Clegg.
  • 22:08
    Right, that's me done.

    Dan Griffin will be looking after all your UK election needs until the dawn's early light.

    Ta ra.
  • 22:12

    Thanks for that, Conor.

    So, an exit poll at variance with all the polls we've seen up until now and the Tories appear to be way in the lead. It is, of course, just an exit poll. Counters in Sunderland now going like the clappers to get the first real result in. That should be available in under an hour.

  • 22:15
    Nicola Sturgeon has said she would be very cautious about the exit poll, which has given her SNP a whopping 58 out of 59 seats in Scotland.
  • 22:24

    Harriet Harmon, Labour deputy leader, says if the exit poll is correct then the coalition's majority is down. That surely is based on the disastrous predictions for the Lib Dems, down to 10 from more than 50. She questions whether the coalition will be able to command the confidence of the Commons.

    If the exit poll is correct, it seems they will.

  • 22:30
    The exit poll, predicting a considerably better than expected election for the Tories, has lead to a surge in the value of the pound, which has increased about 1 per cent against the dollar.
  • 22:33
    Peter Kellner, from pollster YouGov, has said he is "puzzled" by the exit poll. If it's correct then all the pollsters were way off.
  • 22:34

    From our Northern Editor Gerry Moriarty:

    Very early in the night but if exit poll is right then DUP and Peter Robinson could indeed be a kingmaker. Should Conservatives win those predicted 316 seats in a 650-seat House of Commons then nine unionist seats, most and possibly all of which would be DUP, would get David Cameron over the line.

  • 22:36

    The Conservatives could form a minority government on the back of an extraordinary exit poll, which puts Cameron just 10 seats short of a majority in the House of Commons, writes London Editor Mark Hennessy.

    The BBC exit poll, which was accurate on many counts, but not all in predicting the final result in the 2010 general election, put the Conservatives on 316, but Labour has fallen back dramatically, to 239.

    Former Liberal Democrats leader, Lord Paddy Ashdown said he believed that the BBC exit poll is widely off the mark, offering "to eat my hat publicly" in the BBC studios. Labour insisted that they are "wide of the mark"

  • 22:37
  • 22:40
    The YouGov poll puts Tories on 284 seats, Labour on 263.
  • 22:45

    The first actual declaration from Sunderland is expected shortly. That'll be Labour, as usual--they'll need it.

  • 22:50
  • 22:50
    Here comes Houghton and Sunderland South...
  • 22:51
    Bridget Phillipson secures that for Labour
  • 22:52

    No surprises there. But Ukip did manage to overtake the Tories. Will that be repeated elsewhere?

    So one down, 649 to go.  

  • 22:53
    "The Tories have failed people here and across Britain," says Phillipson.
  • 22:56
    The counters in Sunderland were hoping to beat their own record for quickest count which is about 45 minutes. They didn't quite manage that.
  • 23:00

    Ukip on course to get two seats according to the exit poll. Will Nigel Farage secure a seat? We'll find out in about seven hours when the results for South Thanet come in. If Farage fails to get elected he'll resign, he says.

    But what of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, He might hang on to his seat in Sheffield Hallam but he can hardly expect to hang on as party leader with a pitiful 10 seats.

  • 23:01
    Counting well underway across Northern Ireland according to our team of reporters and correspondents. Will the DUP emerge as king makers in a Tory-led government?
  • 23:04
    "If this exit poll is right, there's going to have to be a pretty big look at the polling industry," says former Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell as it appears all polls leading up to the election (and there have been effing loads of them) have been well wide of the mark.
  • 23:04
    "I'll eat my kilt if the SNP get 58 seats," Campbell adds.
  • 23:06
    Michael Gove says the Tories have clearly won the election if the exit poll is correct. They won't have won an overall majority though.
  • 23:10
  • 23:16
    And there's Labour again, taking Sunderland Central, as expected. This time the Tories outdo Ukip.
  • 23:20
    Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says the exit poll is "very striking". That's one way of putting it. He's "hoping" it's going to be wrong but goes on to say that the coalition would appear to have lost their majority. That seems to be the Labour line so far. It rings a bit hollow.
  • 23:22
    "I'll still be smiling," says Balls about his own prospects as rumours swirl about his chances of holding his seat.
  • 23:25
  • 23:33
    It looks like the BBC Northern Ireland election coverage is coming from the Apres Match studio. The panellists might as well be sitting on each others laps.
  • 23:36
    Meanwhile, Sky TV are screening aerial shots of their "election hub", which looks a bit like ET's spaceship.
  • 23:40
    Anyway, there's time to make a cup of tea now, or maybe half a dozen of them because after the initial Labour hat trick in Sunderland we'll have to wait until about 1am for the first Tory-held marginal -  Nuneaton - to declare. This is the sort of seat Labour needs to win if they expect to achieve anything in this election.
  • 23:44
    According to Sky, David Cameron settled down in the last while to a meal of beef pie with salad and broccoli. Does that sound like a man confident of retaining the premiership?
  • 23:44
    Oh wait...
  • 23:45
  • 23:46
    That's unlikely to be the last reporting discrepancy of the night.
  • 23:49
    The Lib Dems have lost their deposit in all three constituencies declared so far.
  • 23:56

    Gerry Adams on what judging by the exit poll numbers is a very possible UK in/out EU referendum said:
    “What I think is important, and I made this point in the Dail earlier today, if Cameron comes back in and keeps to his EU referendum commitment and if by chance that was carried, then that will have profound consequences for the people of the island of Ireland. Because this part of the island, the six counties would be sucked out along with Britain itself and we have argued very strongly that people here should have a vote and I have called on the Taoiseach to engage the prime minister urgently.”

  • 23:59
    "What does it mean for your leadership ambitions," a BBC reporter asks Boris Johnson. Mutterings from the London mayor in reply. If the exit poll is correct, David Cameron is unlikely to be going anywhere.
  • 00:07
    Lib Dem sources being quoted online as saying Danny Alexander has lost his seat. Nothing confirmed.
  • 00:09
    Same goes for George Galloway. Well, the Lib Dems aren't saying that but lots of others are.
  • 00:17
    Some of tomorrow's front pages.
    Some of tomorrow's front pages.
  • 00:18
    Some more of tomorrow's front pages.
    Some more of tomorrow's front pages.
  • 00:21

    The DUP's Nigel Dodds has been speaking in the last while. The party could bolster a Tory government. Here's what he said:

    "We have set out clearly that we want to see a stronger United Kingdom- that’s both as a country nationally, and within the United Kingdom we want to strengthen the union.
    But those are not issues that are just unique to a DUP-Conservative relationship, we can have that relationship with the Labour party as well."

  • 00:29
    All eyes will be on Norwich South. The BBC expects it to go Green--the party's single gain.
  • 00:29
    It looks now like Nuneaton, which Labour was targeting, is likely to remain in Tory hands.
  • 00:38
    Now the results from Swindon North...
  • 00:40
    The Tories open their account, taking that seat.
  • 00:45
    Trouble apparently for shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander in Paisley and Renfrewshire South. A big scalp for the SNP that would be.
  • 00:47

    From Mary Minihan, up north:

    Sinn Fein incumbent MP Pat Doherty expressed confidence as he arrived at the West Tyrone count centre in Omagh at around 12.30am.

    "From what the director of elections and constituency manager are saying we're well ahead...we'll know shortly," Mr Doherty said.

    Asked what time he expected a final result, he said: "We were told by the returning officer sometime around one or half one but you know what counts are like, rumour factories."

  • 00:53
    Labour have gone backwards in Swindon North. The party is still putting a brave face on things, saying its early yet--which it is. Now here comes the declaration from Putney...
  • 00:54
  • 00:57
    The Tories hold on there comfortably with Justine Greening winning the seat. The Lib Dems are down 11 per cent in that constituency.
  • 01:01
  • 01:06
    "Some have lost this election more than others," said a philosophical Peter Mandelson earlier. They're all losers, especially Ed Miliband, but especially Nick Clegg. And maybe Nigel Farage too!
  • 01:08

    Newcastle Upon Tyne East goes to Labour handily enough but the Lib Dems have "absolutely tanked" (BBC), falling 22 per cent.

    Oh they're going to get slaughtered.

  • 01:09
    The results should be coming in thick and fast now, says David Dimbleby before asking, "what does 'thick and fast' mean?"
  • 01:09
    Sean If Sinn Fein don't take their seats then less than 326 are needed for a majority, right?
  • 01:10
    That's right, Sean. About 323 should do the trick.
  • 01:13
    Tooting: Sadiq Khan wins the seat for Labour.
  • 01:17
  • 01:20
    That's Labour's Scottish leader Jim Murphy's constituency. It looks like he's going to be flattened by the SNP bulldozer.
  • 01:21
    Labour said early on they thought the exit poll was incorrect. Indeed, it seems to have overestimated their performance.
  • 01:22
    The DUP have held Lagan Valley.
  • 01:24
    And the Tories hold firm in the battleground constituency of Battersea. That was one Labour wanted but they only managed to increase their vote by 2 per cent.
  • 01:25
    Where are we so far? Lab 6; Tories 3; DUP 1
  • 01:26
    From the BBC: "Bradford Council has reported Respect's George Galloway to the police for allegedly breaking election law for tweeting about exit polls before polls closed."
  • 01:31
    Labour wins Wrexam, as expected but the swing towards Conservatives shows Tory momentum.
  • 01:34
    Nick Powell from Sky reckons a recount is on the cards in Twickenham where business secretary Vince Cable is defending a 12,000 majority.
  • 01:34
    In Lagan valley Jeffrey Donaldson increases his vote. UUP's Alexander Redpath pips Alliance into second
  • 01:35
    SDLP sources at the Foyle count in Derry are reporting that their candidate and outgoing MP Mark Durkan will increase his majority over Sinn Fein despite a lower turnout compared to the 2010 General Election. Then Durkan had a majority of just over 4,800. The sources are now reporting that Durkan will have a majority close to 5,800 over Sinn Fein's Gearoid O'hEara.
  • 01:35
    Official says a declaration is due in North Antrim in 15 minutes
  • 01:37

    Result in Upper Ban constituency is due shortly but tallies show the result will be extremely close.
    It is likely to be a head to head between David Simpson of the DUP and Jo-Anne Dobson of the UUP.
    But Catherine Seeley from Sinn Fein is also performing well.

  • 01:42
    The SDLP hold Foyle while Sinn Féin win Tyrone West.
  • 01:45

    DUP sources say Ian Paisley has got just over 18,000 votes in North Antrim and retains seat. Official declaration due.

  • 01:46
  • 01:49

    How does Sunderland get its votes counted so quickly?

    Black ballot boxes, sprinting teenage volunteers sporting white gloves, yellow voting slips, eager counting fingers, nervous hovering candidates

    George Walker has more

  • 01:51
    Now, Nuneaton. Labour wanted this one badly. This is the type of seat they need to win if they expect anything from this election.
  • 01:52
    Oh and they've lost by quite a bit -- the Tories hold on to it by nearly 5,000, increasing their majority by about 3,000. In fact, the Labour vote has actually fallen.
  • 01:57
    Ian Paisley retained his North Antrim seat winning by a landslide with 18,107 votes which was well ahead of second placed Timothy Gaston of the TUV on 6,561.
  • 01:58
    After Nuneaton it looks like the Tories could be on their way to an absolute majority, says the BBC.
  • 01:59
    Jim Shannon DUP won in Strangford with over 15,000 votes
  • 02:02
  • 02:07
    In Glasgow, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon says she still wants to lock the Conservatives out of power but she says that if that isn't possible it's because of "Labour's inability to beat the Tories in England."
  • 02:12
    Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty said happiness was winning or re-winning West Tyrone "and also retaining a 10,000-plus majority".  
  • 02:13
    Sylvia Herman (Independent) declared the winner of the North Down constituency
  • 02:15
  • 02:19
    Lib Dems saying they made the decision to go into government five years ago in the "national interest", certainly not in the party's interest. Well they're paying for that now. They could have looked to Ireland in recent elections to see the fate that can await the junior partner in coalition governments. Will they even want to carry on in Government after this?
  • 02:24
    Here we go now, Paisley and Renfrewshire South where Douglas Alexander, shadow foreign secretary and Labour election coordinator, has just lost his seat to 20-year-old student Mhairi Black.
  • 02:28
    Douglas Alexander: The people have lost faith in the Tories but they have chosen not to put it in Labour. It's up to Labour to win it back.
  • 02:28
    Gearóid There's a well known phenomenon in UK polls that people are too embarrassed to say they are going to vote Conservative - hence figures for pre-election polls are usually wrong
  • 02:36
    The Conservatives hold on to Castle Point, which had been targeted by Ukip. The count centre is in Canvey Island -- "the best pina-colada in Essex", says Dimbleby.
  • 02:44
    So eight of 18 declared in the North now: four for the DUP and one each for the SDLP, Ind, SF and UUP.
  • 02:44
  • 02:48
    Make that five for the DUP, winning East Belfast back from the Alliance Party.
  • 02:50
    Alex Salmond says the SNP will try to form a progressive alliance in the Commons. He says the party could cause trouble in parliament.
  • 02:55

    Labour's tone is beginning to change a bit, going from defiance when the exit poll was published almost five hours ago to more of acceptance now. The party is saying: "If the exit poll is right, the seats the SNP are taking off Labour will turn out to be crucial if David Cameron ends up back in No 10. The next government will have huge task uniting country."

    And they've just lost Gordon Brown's old seat, a swing of 35 per cent from Labour to the SNP.

  • 03:00
    "We almost broke the swing-o-meter," says Jeremy Vine on the BBC. He's standing in front of a computer-generated Big Ben clockface that looks like something out of Encarta 95.
  • 03:05
  • 03:07
    So 79 of 650 seats declared so far. Not exactly "thick and fast" just yet but the molasses slick of results is surely on its way.
  • 03:08
    Sinn Féin have held West Belfast, obvs.
  • 03:12
    And Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has just lost his seat, defeated by the SNP.
  • 03:12
  • 03:13
    That makes it 19 - 0 in Scotland to the SNP, who could be on for a clean sweep of all the constituencies.
  • 03:14
  • 03:18

    The UUP is back on the green benches of Westminster. It was neck and neck throughout the count but in the end the UUP won the South Antrim seat held by the DUP for the last decade.
    Danny Kinahan's victory in the constituency over William McCrea is one of the big upsets of the general election in Northern Ireland.

  • 03:22

    It was a campaign that "slumped to the gutter", said the DUP's David Simpson as he retained his seat in Westminster.

  • 03:28

    From Ruadhán Mac Cormaic in Scotland:

    It’s now clear that the Scottish National Party is set for a spectacular success that will re-shape British politics. Nicola Sturgeon’s party has won all 26 seats declared in Scotland so far this morning. But that only tells part of the story: the swing towards the nationalists has been as high as 35 per cent in some constituencies. The party’s momentum is huge and unstoppable.

    Its most eye-grabbing victory was in Paisley and Renfrewshire, where 20-year-old politics student Mhairi Black comfortably defeated Douglas Alexander, Labour’s national campaign coordinator and shadow foreign secretary.

    Black will become the youngest MP for centuries. Just after 3am, the SNP claimed another scalp when it unseated Jim Murphy, the leader of Scottish Labour and the party’s figurehead in its efforts to fend off the SNP challenge.

    The nationalists have also taken Gordon Brown’s old seat, Kirkcaldy, while former party leader Alex Salmond looks almost certain to win in Gordon.

  • 03:29

    In her first comments this morning, Sturgeon said the results were “historic” and that she was “immensely proud” of her party’s candidates. “I think the results we may be about to see unfold in Scotland tonight show that the anti-austerity message that the SNP put at the heart of this campaign has resonated across Scotland,” she said.

    Sturgeon said she was holding out the possibility - now extremely remote, based on current trends - of a centre-left alliance between Labour and the SNP to keep David Cameron out of Downing Street. “If the parliamentary arithmetic allows us to lock out the Tories then as I have said throughout this campaign that’s what we should do and my message to Ed Miliband is that we should work together to do exactly that,” she said.

  • 03:30
    Diane James says she has ruled herself out as future Ukip leader should current boss Nigel Farage lose in South Thanet.
  • 03:35
    It's been a bit of a "we'll fight them on the beaches" effort from Ukip this year. The party has targeted mostly working class, seaside constituencies. It's not looking good for them based on tonight's projections. How did Diane James describe the election? "Disappointing."
  • 03:37
  • 03:38
  • 03:41
    Apparently a Labour HQ source has told the New Statesman that Ed Miliband has to resign tomorrow--"everyone accepts that".
  • 03:46
    The Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey has been given the boot in Kingston, losing out to the Tories.
  • 03:49
    The SNP march continues apace as Labour lose Glasgow North East.
  • 03:52
    There's something quite Star Trek about the BBC election studio. David Dimbleby is in command on the bridge, Andrew Neil is off in some capsule with his team ("We're probably bouncing off the moon at the moment," he said a short while ago) and then that exit poll chap appears on a sort of mezzanine level every now and again.
  • 03:54
  • 03:57
    SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell hangs on in South Belfast.
  • 03:58
    Labour gain Ilford North from the Tories. They needed a 6 per cent swing. They got it.  
  • 04:02
    Oh wait, what's this? Alistair Carmichael holds on by the skin of his teeth to retain his seat in  Orkney and Shetland against a strong push from the SNP. So there you go, no clean sweep for the SNP.
  • 04:06
  • 04:11
    In Southwark and Old Bermondsey--a battleground for Labour and the Lib Dems--Neil Coyle unseats Lib Dem minister of state at the department of justice Simon Hughes. Hughes had been MP for 32 years.
  • 04:13
  • 04:20
    Douglas Carswell holds onto his seat in Clacton for Ukip.
  • 04:25
    Oh but Ukip have lost in Thurrock. They were expected to win that. Now if Farage loses in Thanet South which apparently seems likely, Ukip will only have one representative in the Commons. After all that talk, the bluster, the £1 million donation from the owner of the Daily Express--it's amounted to hardly anything.
  • 04:31
    Lord Toby Jug misses out in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to Boris Johnson.
  • 04:35
    "The people of Britain...have decisively rejected any attempt to take this country back to the 1970s," says Boris. flanked on one side by the candidate from the Monster Raving Looney Party and on the other by a chap covered in rosettes. "The people want us to go forward with sensible, modest proposals."
  • 04:35
    Oh here we go, Twickenham... Vince Cable.
  • 04:37
    And he's gone. The business secretary has been defeated by the Tories.
  • 04:39
    "Ming Campbell, one by one the giants of your party are being toppled," says Andrew Neil on the BBC.
  • 04:41
    "The fact is we were hit by a very well organised national campaign," says Cable. "This has been a terrible day for our party."
  • 04:43

    A turnout figure of 72.96 per cent has been recorded in Fermanagh South Tyrone.  The eligible electorate was 70,108 and the total vote polled 51,152.

  • 04:51

    And while that was all going on Labour managed to hold a seat in Scotland.


  • 04:52
    In Sheffield Hallam Nick Clegg holds onto his seat. You think he'd be as well off resigning as leader in his speech.
  • 04:53
    He was up against a candidate called Neil "Stop the Fiasco" Wilde.
  • 04:55
    Which he effectively does.
  • 04:57
    "It is now painfully clear that this has been a cruel and punishing night for the Liberal Democrats," he says, adding that he intends to make further remarks about the implications for his leadership of the party when he addresses colleagues later today.  
  • 05:06
    Word coming through now that Sinn Féin supporters in Fermanagh South Tyrone are growing increasingly worried that the seat is going to be lost to Ulster Unionst Tom Elliott.
  • 05:08
    The SDLP's Margaret Richie retained her South Down seat.
  • 05:12
    Yes, it seems Elliott has all but won Fermanagh South Tyrone.
  • 05:17
    Former Lib Dem Leader Paddy Ashdown, in an email to party members says last night was perhaps "the most bitter night of all" for the party.
  • 05:20
  • 05:21
    Lib Dem Charles Kennedy just lost his seat. Ed Miliband is about to be declared elected. It will be interesting to hear his speech.
  • 05:27
    The Labour leader said "this has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for the Labour party," adding that the party has been overwhelmed by a surge of nationalism in Scotland. He said he will now go to London to await the full outcome of the election.
  • 05:30

    There was shock among Sinn Féin supporters following the Fermanagh South Tyrone count.
    Michelle Gildernew, MP since 2001, lost to former Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott.
    Sinn Féin supporters said Ms Gildernew's vote had actually increased.

  • 05:36
    <table border='0'>
<td class='newstext' colspan='2' align='left'>Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez after Mr Clegg won his Sheffield Hallam seat at the EIS Sheffield. Photograph: PA</td>
    Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez after Mr Clegg won his Sheffield Hallam seat at the EIS Sheffield. Photograph: PA
  • 05:38
  • 05:42
    Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgon celebrates as election results are read out in Glasgow.
    Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgon celebrates as election results are read out in Glasgow.
  • 05:44
    Labour leader David Miliband leaves the count centre after retaining his seat of Doncaster North.
    Labour leader David Miliband leaves the count centre after retaining his seat of Doncaster North.
  • 05:49
    "This is clearly a very strong night for the Conservative Party," says David Cameron after retaining his seat in Witney. During his speech he said Britain "must hold" a referendum to decide its future in Europe. He also says he wants to reclaim the mantle of one nation.
  • 05:56
    Danny Alexander chief secretary to the treasury is comprehensively defeated by the SNP. Andrew Marr on BBC says it's interesting, if you're a Conservative you go to the people with your record in government and are rewarded. But if you're a Lib Dem you get trounced.
  • 05:58
  • 06:02
    <p>Prime minister David Cameron reacts after retaining his parliamentary seat at a count centre in Witney. Photograph: Reuters</p>

    Prime minister David Cameron reacts after retaining his parliamentary seat at a count centre in Witney. Photograph: Reuters

  • 06:06

    The revised BBC/Sky/ITV exit poll projections are now:

    Conservatives: 325
    SNP: 56
    Lib Dems: 12
    DUP: 8
    Plaid Cymru: 3
    Ukip: 2
    Greens: 1

  • 06:12
    And that's where my shift ends. I'll hand over now to my colleague Hugh Linehan, who  will guide you through the morning as the sun rises on David Cameron.