Tag Archives: Conservatives

Told you so…

So there we have it – an answer to my previous post, what was wrong with the press office is that it’s head honcho was resigning… It’s been covered endlessly elsewhere, and to be honest the whole phone-tap marlarky isn’t a topic that I’m all that interested in, so I’m not going to give it any more air here other than to say that the ex-hack in me can’t help but chuckle when the likes of John Prescott, himself of a profession steeped in corruption, lies and thievery, can even begin to keep a straight face saying he thought that hacks might have had ‘higher standards’.

Higher standards? He’s lucky most hacks have any standards at all these days!

Conservative Press Machine in Crisis?

It’s not been a good week for the Conservatives in the press: they’re being slammed over interest rates, job cuts, still-rioting students, and now Baroness Warsi has put her foot in it with a speech which for the most part I think we can agree with, that there is a level of casual discrimination in the UK where all of those who follow Islam as a faith are either moderate and quiet, or extremists with suicide vests.

It could have been dealt with as a quiet matter, a general rebuttal that the PM/ Cabinet/Government agree broadly that all forms of discrimination should be tackled openly – but no. Furious ex-ministers led by the swivel-eyed-past piled into studios up and down the country, a messy operations note came out from No.10 that the speech hadn’t been ‘approved’ – possibly the worst thing that they could have said about it.

So we all looked at this, and we scratched our heads and wondered – just what the hell is going on in the Downing St. press office these days? How did they drop such a clanger in a week of on-going bad news…

This week should have been easy: Miliband is the most ineffective party leader since Iain Duncan Smith, the opposition are in disarray flip flopping, the Shadow Chancellor can’t add up, and today we find out that he’s allegedly (according to the Daily Mail) a cuckold. On top of all of that the golden goose of bad labour press is back: Blair is all over the news dragging the expensive and potentially illegal war back into the public consciousness all over again.

One can only assume that there is something bubbling under the surface about to break miserably all over the Government.

Communications Control

Dear lord, the past few days have been interesting: the Liberal Democrats are really showing how far in opposition they really are – they’ve got so little control of their communications it’s hard not to feel sorry for them – they’re a mess. No clear line, briefing against each other secretly (but in a horribly obvious way) and just generally having the communications strategy of a bunch of rabid puppies.

They desperately need to get a grip: for the first time in their history they’re in power – and it’s all about to go awfully wrong if they don’t stop a few movers from acting like they’re running a university debating society, it’s shabby and unbecoming of a party in power.

This goes for the Conservatives as well – better press handling will result in slicker relations with the media; not spin, but at least making sure people are saying the same things at the same time: what will kill the coalition dead is the press, if they scent descent or a mixed message it’ll be leaped on every single time. I’m amazed with all of the support they have from really influential lobbyists, communications specialists, old-style PRs and digital and social media people that it’s still such a mess.

Some have blamed it on the state of the economy, the mess they’re having to sort out – the rush of the coalition talks, but they’re all just making excuses. A good communications plan and superb people to carry it out will work whatever the situation, so please. Stop making excuses and start exercising some communications discipline.

The Great Reform Act

A blinder of a speech from Nick Clegg, I’ve been wanting to hear a politician talk like this for a very long time – and I’ve not felt so enthused since I heard Cameron’s speak at the Conservative conference without notes about how he wanted real change.

Nick Clegg today laid out what the Change Coalition can do: and it’s exactly what Britain needs right now – a rebalancing of power, more trust in us the people of the UK to run our own affairs, and a real movement toward a fairer, safer society that isn’t feared by it’s people.

I have spent my whole political life fighting to open up politics. So let me make one thing very clear: this government is going to be unlike any other. This government is going to transform our politics so the state has far less control over you, and you have far more control over the state. This government is going to break up concentrations of power and hand power back to people, because that is how we build a society that is fair. This government is going to persuade you to put your faith in politics once again.

I’m not talking about a few new rules for MPs; not the odd gesture or gimmick to make you feel a bit more involved. I’m talking about the most significant programme of empowerment by a British government since the great enfranchisement of the 19th Century. The biggest shake up of our democracy since 1832, when the Great Reform Act redrew the boundaries of British democracy, for the first time extending the franchise beyond the landed classes. Landmark legislation, from politicians who refused to sit back and do nothing while huge swathes of the population remained helpless against vested interests. Who stood up for the freedom of the many, not the privilege of the few. A spirit this government will draw on as we deliver our programme for political reform: a power revolution.A fundamental resettlement of the relationship between state and citizen that puts you in charge. So, no, incremental change will not do.

It is time for a wholesale, big bang approach to political reform. That’s what this government will deliver.

It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop.

So there will be no ID card scheme. No national identity register, no second generation biometric passports. We won’t hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so. CCTV will be properly regulated, as will the DNA database, with restrictions on the storage of innocent people’s DNA. And we will end practices that risk making Britain a place where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question. There will be no ContactPoint children’s database.Schools will not take children’s fingerprints without even asking their parent’s consent.

This will be a government that is proud when British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state. That values debate, that is unafraid of dissent. That’s why we’ll remove limits on the rights to peaceful protest. It’s why we’ll review libel laws so that we can better protect freedom of speech. And as we tear through the statute book, we’ll do something no government ever has: We will ask you which laws you think should go.

Because thousands of criminal offences were created under the previous government… Taking people’s freedom away didn’t make our streets safe. Obsessive lawmaking simply makes criminals out of ordinary people. So, we’ll get rid of the unnecessary laws, and once they’re gone, they won’t come back. We will introduce a mechanism to block pointless new criminal offences.

Nick Clegg 19th May 2010

Strong stuff – said from the heart from both Cameron & Clegg: but by god – we will be watching. So don’t let us down.

Scorched Earth

I predicted this would happen some time ago, and it turns out, not wanting to blow my own trumpet, that I was horribly right. The Times this morning is reporting that a significant amount of government ‘spending’ was rushed through just before Labour’s election defeat and kept secret and off the balance sheet’s that were publicaly available to the other parties.

These include a £13 billion tanker aircraft programme whose cost has “astonished and baffled” ministers. £420 million of school building contracts almost all of which are targeted at key Labour marginals – this was signed off by Ed Balls only a week or two before the general election was called against the public advice of the Treasury that further new build investment should be controlled. £1.2 billion seems to have gone up in smoke on the disastrous “e-borders” IT project for the immigration service, which is running even later and more over-budget than Labour ministers had previously admitted. £600 million has been committed to (yet another) computer service for the new personal pensions account scheme which was rushed through by Labour this spring: the real scandal of this is after 13 years and a dozen hugely expensive IT failures the contract is written in such a way that it’ll cost at least £25 million even if it is cancelled. The crisis-laden Student Loans Company looks like it’ll now require extra to avoid the chaos of last year’s systems failure which left tens of thousands out of pocket as they started their courses, and finally (although likely far from finally!) the multi-billion-pound cost decommissioning project of our aging nuclear power plant has exploded all over the balance sheet, the Government paying private industry to clean up their own mess which in-coming ministers claim has not been properly accounted for in Whitehall budgets.

If you thought the cuts were going to have to be brutal, think again. This is a bomb that’s just going to keep going off for the next few months, and what it means to you and me – the taxpayer – is that we’re going to get hammered time and time whether we like it or not to avoid Britain defaulting on it’s debts. The gilt markets won’t remain buoyant off the back of the election forever, and if the Euro continues to slide the ratings agencies will look at all of the European economies for cracks, and if this is anything to go by it would appear our economy is fatally undermined.

David Cameron, Prime Minister

I’ve waited a long time to say that, a damn it feels good. Well done to David & Samantha, Well done to everyone that took part in the talks, and a huge well done to the grassroots that stuck by the detoxifying of the Conservatives and the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.

I’ve got a tear in my eye.

Cameron is New Prime Minister

Live blogging the Election

Afternoon folks, silly season starts now. I’ll be live blogging the election all night: following the polls and the news.

11.00am And as if silly season couldn’t get any sillier Nigel Farage has just proved what a lucky bastard he actually is having walked away from a plane crash (towing a UKIP banner – yes there is a metaphor in there somewhere) with only minor injuries. Considering the plane ended up upside down, with it’s back broken and the cockpit apparently destroyed he’s an extremely lucky man. It appears that all of the leaders have cast their votes: so that just leaves the rest of us. Polls close at 10pm, so get out and vote.

12.30pm Sky are reporting that the polls are busy, exit pollsters are busily keeping count why anyone ever gives their vote choices to exit pollsters is beyond me, but there we go – 44million of us are registered to vote, is that up on the last General Election?

12.40pm Not entirely election related, but will cause an international headache for who takes the keys to No.10 today, they’ve apparently found crude off the Falklands, cue Argentina moaning that the islands that they’ve made no effort to ever do anything with being ‘theirs’ all over again.

1.25pm I’m now wondering if Nigel Farage’s “bounce” this morning is going to result in a sympathy bounce in the polls this evening? He’s up against Bercow – someone who I can’t help but feel has done nothing for democracy since he became speaker. UKIP have certainly been getting blanket coverage for most of the day up until now.

2.30pm Well that it that. My democratic duty has been performed, I’ve just got back from the polling station here in Aldgate, and it’s busy – Respect have canvassers out in force telling people that they’ve done a lot for the community: I’d love to say I’ve seen it – and I’ve got no reason to doubt they haven’t, but they’re not going to sway me, the Labour candidate was practically standing in the gate of the polling station, one of the officials should really remind him that he’s not allowed to do that.

I also voted for something I had no idea was going on, which was a referendum on a local mayor for Tower Hamlets, I can genuinely say that I’ve seen absolutely nothing about this locally. The ballot boxes were full to overflowing, but no one taking exit polls (the first election I’ve ever taken part in where that hasn’t happened).

2.45pm Daniel Hannan is reworking Kinnock’s famous “I warn you” speech in The Telegraph.

3.10pm No major movement so far – it’s too early for exit polls. So we’ve got a bit of breathing room now until the polls close at 10. The weather is excellent here in London so hopefully that’ll encourage voters to come out: although that’s apparently not the case full west and north – that won’t play well for Labour based upon previous election trends which tend to show they do better when the sun is out; it’s amazing really that something as fickle as the weather could swing the result.

3.30pm Of course thinking more about my earlier post regarding UKIP – it really is a bit of good luck for them (in a really unpleasant way!) as the media aren’t allowed to report party politics today, OfCom seem to believe that we’re far to susceptible to being nobbled on the last day of the election campaign, so on the most important political day of the political calendar there’s virtually nothing on broadcast media, just the dead print media who’ve all chosen their side by now.

3.40pm The facebook ‘tell us you’ve voted’ counter has just pass 700,000 – I do hope people are just being coy on facebook, as that’s quite low for this late in the day.

3.50pm Sterling is now trading below $1.50 as it looks like markets are beginning to get the willies about the potential change of government: the polls pointing to the uncertainty of a hung parliament will not help to settle the markets – which are already skittish after the downrating of some of our European neighbours.

4.05pm In European news the one party that’s been extremely quiet about the Greek affair is the French – despite being at the forefront of the European project since it’s inception they’ve barely said a word internationally about the Greek crisis: perhaps now we know why: BNP Paribas has just owned up that it’s exposed to almost €5 billion in Greece alone. That’s just one bank – god alone knows how the other French and Spanish banks are going to hold up to this: not well would be my guess. And in other news UKIP are still dominating the media agenda.

4.25pm Guido Fawkes is reporting that a Labour source in Morley & Outwood is saying it’s going to be very close – here’s hoping that it’s a close victory for Antony Calvert who has run a superb campaign against Ed Balls: we’ll all be watching that one with interest, Blinky deserves a Portillo moment.

4.40pm Good god, Sarkozy clearly reads this blog – or perhaps I’ve just got good timing: thelocal.de is reporting that Merkel and Sarkozy are to push stricter rules on the Eurozone. However the FTSE has just closed another 1.4% down, that’ll be a combination of things today, the contagion of the Eurozone crisis, the danger of a hung parliament, and the continuing concern that we’re in for a double dip recession.

4.45pm Can’t help but snigger at the Farage tweet that’s going around on the back of the news he’s chipped his spine (poor sod) – “at least it proves he’s got one, unlike some…” Ouch.

4.55pm Elsewhere it’s still looking like Greece is going to default, the ‘austerity’ measures that they’re just passed go nowhere near sorting out their real cut rates. It’s going to get messy. Just speaking with a German chum who’s spitting feathers about this – there’s a real sense that the Greeks are still screwing the system. None of the markets have reacted well to this, all of the European markets have once again closed down… need to get a grip on this before a crisis becomes a disaster: and because there’s no political broadcasts allowed today none of our politicians have the opportunity to do or say anything about this developing situation.

5.20pm Now approaching 900,000 people on facebook saying they’ve voted. Really did expect that to have hit the million mark by now, maybe there’ll be a post work surge?

5.40pm Michael Portillo is in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section today talking about his ‘Portillo’ moment and the potential for it to be repeated tonight for Blinky Balls.

6.05pm It’s official, the facebook ticker has just gone over 1,000,000 notifications of votes.

1 million voters on facebook.

7.00pm According to PoliticsHome a “well-placed source within the Conservative campaign machine” has said that “early indications are looking good and that he expects an overall Tory majority.”

7.45pm Ummm, while everyone is obsessing about a minor plane crash, why is the main stream media ignoring the fact that the DOW and the NASDAQ have just crashed through the floor? They’ve crashed almost 9% today that’s crash of ’87 bad!

8.10pm Situation on the DOW still being ignored by MSM on the whole: ftalphaville reckon it’s more than just the European situation, rumours of a trading cock-up are circulating, but not confirmed.

8.15pm Starting to get some clarity that the 1000 point wipe off of the DOW today could have been the result of general negativity toward the European situation and an almighty (and as yet unconfirmed and unexplained) fat-finger trade relating to Proctor and Gamble that caused a series of HFT trades automatically pulling the market down on the basis of the previous error…  Let’s hope the majority of this fall is error related,  as whoever’s in No.10 tomorrow is going to have a very rude awakening when the FTSE reopens even if it’s not.

8.35pm So, not an error then. The next person into No.10 will have this to deal with.

NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)confirmed on Thursday there were no system errors during the volatile trading in the afternoon that drove the Dow <.DJI> and the Nasdaq <.IXIC> down more than 9 percent.

15:16 06May10 RTRS-US STOCKS-Indexes down 3 pct after plunging
(Adds quote, details) NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were down more than 3 percent on Thursday afternoon after briefly nosediving, with the Nasdaq at one point down more than 9 percent and the S&P 500 and Dow briefly falling into negative territory for the year, as worries about contagion from Greece’s debt problems mounted. Investors were disappointed the European Central Bank did not take fresh measures to help stem the Greek debt crisis. The ECB did not discuss the outright purchase of European sovereign debt as some had hoped for, but gave verbal support instead to Greece’s savings plan. The ECB left interest rates at a record low. For details, [ID:nLDE6450H7] “Right now you just have a panic sell. It could be a long-term negative for stock market because it could mean the long-term high is in place. It’s very likely we’ve seen the highs for this cycle,” said Keith Springer, president of Capital Financial Advisory Services in Sacramento, California. The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 340.47 points, or 3.13 percent, at 10,527.65. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index <.SPX> was down 35.89 points, or 3.08 percent, at 1,130.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 65.34 points, or 2.72 percent, at 2,336.95. (Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch, additional reporting by Al Yoon; Editing by Leslie Adler) ((caroline.valetkevitch@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6393; Reuters Messaging:caroline.valetkevitch.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS STOCKS

8.45pm Still no real clarity on the markets, but it’s going to make for a hell of a day on the markets tomorrow: especially considering that we’ll be (I’m presuming) in between fiscal policies? What is the correct thing to do in these situations – it’s now looking likely that there’s going to be a very volatile market until the weekend: if it does get bad someone from HM Government will need to do something?

9.00pm One hour to go till the polls close – apparently Cameron is in the back garden cutting wood: not sure if there’s a metaphor there. Rumours of turnout approaching 74% in some regions; large turnout nationwide can only be a good thing for our democracy.

If you’ve not voted yet, and you’re eligible to vote, get out and vote now!

9.20pm Sky News pushing the boat out with real graphics on buildings, the Battersea Power-station projection is absolutely amazing. We’re now T-minus 40 minutes to the polls being closed. Sunderland are hoping to be the first to call – apparently they’ve reduced the GSM of their polling paper from 100 to 80 GSM to make counting even quicker. I think I’ll happily stand with accuracy over speed in this case.

10.00pm – D-Day, H-Hour. That’s it folks – if you didn’t vote today and you were eligible, you’ve got no right to moan about whatever happens next. The furious counting now starts. Best of luck to everyone standing. We’re hoping to have the first couple of results in before midnight. Let the fun and games commence!

10.02pm And the first exit poll is in – A hung parliament with the Conservatives the largest party

Conservatives 307 | Labour 255Lib Dem 59 | Others 29

10.15pm So, there we go – exit polls obviously not looking good for the Liberals, and on that basis alone I can’t see that this is a particularly accurate poll. It’ll be interesting to see how this swings – it would suggest that the Conservatives have taken from the Liberals and Labour have held strong where the Liberals thought they’d make gains. I don’t believe that we’re in a position where the country or the markets would tolerate a Lib/Lab pact… How hard will Gordo cling to the door knocker of No.10 if this poll translates?

10.26pm Emily Maitless seems to have acquired the most enormous iPhone. We’re apparently only 25 minutes away from the first result: Piers “the cunt” Morgan is now saying how we shouldn’t bin Brown & The Badger.

10.35pm Mandelson is on various channels now saying how Labour are intending to strike deals to stay in power (based upon the exit polls) he’s reminded everyone that even if the polls show they’ve lost, if no one has a majority it’s up to them ‘the government’ to decide what to do next. So hopefully the exit poll is wrong, because if we go into deal striking territory everyone should bear in mind that the gilt markets open at 1am tonight as a special measure – so hang on to your pounds, they’re about to be worth a lot less.

10.50pm Report are all over twitter (and now being picked up by the MSM) that significant numbers of people have been turned away for Polling Stations nationwide – if that is true that would open the door to legal challenge.

10.51pm Houghton & Sunderland South is declaring now and with no surprise whatsoever the Labour party candidate takes a dead cert seat with 10990 majority. The great news there is the independent got more votes than UKIP & the BNP combined and the conservatives have taken an 8.4% swing from Labour – it’s a bigger swing than expected based upon the exit poll.

11.05pm So, based on an 8.4% swing across the country, we’d be heading for a conservative majority – let’s just put this in perspective, an 8.4% swing to Conservative in a Labour safe seat is really rather good.

11.20pm I’m in shock, an utterly barnstorming performance by Dimbleby criticising the ludicrous state of affairs of people being turned away from polling stations in some areas while (allegedly) some polling stations have closed late in order to accommodate the queues – IF that’s true, it’s a shitstorm waiting to be unleashed. Dimbleby described the situation as ‘third world’, never one to have an opinion is he?

11.25pm Washington & Sunderland West declares, and not at all surprisingly it’s another Labour victory – however the swing represents an 11.6% swing to the conservatives. Harriet Harman has been quoted as saying Labour ‘may’ legally challenge votes in areas where polling stations have shut their doors on queues of voters. Incidentally Hackney & Disgrace are now trending in relation to the Polling Station.

11.40pm Sunderland Central is declaring now: Labour hold, but the Conservative chap respectably cuts the majority by almost 3000: and that’s a 4.8% swing – which accounts for an 8.2% national swing. The BNP have made strong gains as well, which isn’t a good sign that our politicians (from all sides) are engaging certain sections of the community.

11.50pm More reports from around the country of differing reactions of polling stations to late voters: I don’t think this is going to go away – the Sheffield returning officer has already apologised and critically accepted that things went wrong. If things are tight at the end of the night, this one is going to go to the lawyers.

And so, we’re into Friday

It’s 5 minutes after midnight and we’re grazing on sticky chicken, pizza and fizzy drinks and we’ve just heard one of the best soundbites of the evening so far.

The queen is like Heineken Lager, there’s some parts of the Constitution that only she can reach…

12.07am The electoral commission have issued an unprecedented statement apologising for the cock up, and making the point that if you didn’t have your paper by 10.00pm you can’t vote.

12.14am A bomb alert in Londonderry in case you missed the blink and you missed announcement. We’re now in a bit of a dearth of announcements – counting in what should have been the straight-after-midnight seats has been delayed because of large turnouts.

12.35am Still waiting for more announcements, twitter is abuzz with news that Sky have pipped the BBC to Edinburgh, but I can’t seem to find details on that other than hearsay and rumour. Rumours are also pouring in that Hackney closed their doors early: which would if true be a clear breach of electoral law – the Electoral Commission is acting like a bit of a wet fish on this issue claiming they have no authority (apart from clearly the right to hold people to account under the electoral laws one would presume?).

12.39am Sinn Fein take Tyrone West. Not surprise at all there. Rumours are coming in that the Greens may take a seat in Brighton to, a clear failure of all three major parties to engage.

12.50am Peter Robinson booted out, massive massive gain for the Alliance party. Good news for democracy and superb news for Northern Ireland.

1.02am Kingswood is in – Conservative Gain! Woo hoo Chris Skidmore takes Kingswood with a 9.4% Swing and takes a seat that was 135th on the target list. Other swings to the Conservatives elsewhere very impressive.

1.08am Downing Street sources are saying that Brown will seek a coalition in the event of a hung parliament – The gilt markets have just opened, so we’ll see how they react.

1.09am Conservatives run the Liberal Democrats extremely close in Torbay. The average swing to the conservative is now standing at 8%.

1.13am Putney is in and the Conservatives hold the seat – 9.9% swing from Labour to the Conservatives, and Slyvia Hermon an Independent takes North Down with a 63.3% of the vote: a superb result for indie politics.

1.20am David Blunkett has come out expecting that there’ll be a a small Conservative majority and that tonight is a grim night for Labour.

1.25am Short shots of Brown arriving at his count: he looks exhausted, emotional and bitterly angry. I can’t help feel sorry for him – he’d have been a superb civil servant, but he’s always been an awful politician: he wanted this job all his life, and he’s been nothing but miserable it seems for his entire tenure in No10. – Gordon, for gods sake. Go. Go and write books, spend time with your lovely wife and children, rediscover the joy in life.

1.30am Menzies Campbell holds his seat, great news – he’s a man of enormous integrity.

1.32am Durham is declaring – this is as Labour as they come, since the 30s they’ve held Durham.

1.35am There appears to be a a man in a skirt and a white black panther (land is power apparently) at Gordon’s count. Gordon wins, and the look on his face is one of ‘fuck – now I’m going to have to stand again’.

1.36am 2nd Con gain in Battersea with a 6.5% swing which is superb news. Lib Dems have held onto Yeovil, that’ll keep Clegg happy.

1.39am Interesting speech from Brown, it seemed to be a speech resigned to losing the Premiership; no real fighting talk – a lot of talk about his achievements and the friends that have supported him.

1.41am Interesting news from the Royal diary that the Queen isn’t expected to see anyone until mid-afternoon at the earlier

1.42am Ken Clarke is re-elected, loafers, jazz, and cigars are safe.

1.45am Sadiq Khan holds Tooting, but only just – considering there were people clambering to have him strung up along with the rest of the expense-troughers, it seems that people have forgotten the expenses debacle. In other news Conservative’s hold Guildford but with a massive gain – huge disappointment for the Liberal Democrats there, they wanted that one badly.

1.54am Failing to gain Telford, Tooting & Gedling is going to be causing some worry for the Tory’s – the chances of winning a majority are slipping with these losses. Sadiq Khan’s seat should have been an easy win.

2.00am The Liberal Democrats are having an awful evening so far – what the hell has happened when polls out on Wednesday put them as being in a strong position to take 70+ seats? Has the TV debate done nothing but polarise the vote between the Conservatives & Labour – considering the turn out (which so far seems high), they should be doing better, but they just seen to be haemorrhaging support.

2.04am Ben Bradshaw holds his seat despite his support of the #DEAct but only just 6% swing to the Conservatives with turnover up by 3%. Richard Benyon has held Newbury with a 7% swing against the Lib Dems for the Conservatives in a count that saw Labour lose their deposit.

2.10am Conservatives hold Castle Point, Ribble Valley, Kettering and gain Loughborough on a 5.5% swing. Well done to Nicky Morgan!

2.13am And in the 4th Conservative gain of the evening the Conservatives take Aberconwy: that’s a good solid gain with turnout at 67% and a 7.6% swing from Labour.

2.18am The Conservatives have held onto West Dorset with Oliver Letwin and Crewe and Nantwich with Edward Timpson

2.20am BNP concede Barking – and Westminster breathes a sigh of relief.

2.23am Lembit Opik has lost his seat to a Conservative Gain, that’s amazing?! With a 13.2% Swing no less! Shocking.

2.27am Basildon South & Thurrock East has is gone Blue – 62% turnout, 5772 majority on a 7.5% swing. Conservatives also take Tamworth and High Peak. Strong gains there.

2.30am All media outlets in a spin about the Lib Dems, Lembit Opik losing his seat a huge blow as possibly one of the most visible liberals. The higher turnout seems to have completely buggered them.

2.32am Conservatives gain Chester on 3.9%, and Andrew Bridgen takes Leicestershire North West for the Conservatives on a huge 12% swing. The bond markets are looking a little shakey, but nothing to serious yet – the real damage will come later when the FTSE opens if the DOW crash earlier isn’t explained.

2.37am Another gain in the Midlands as the Conservatives take Nuneaton.

2.40am Jenny Watson from the Electoral Commission is being eviscerated on every outlet she’s appeared on this evening, she looks awfully briefed – there’s no communications strategy for the Electoral Commission screwing something up, or if there is – she’s not following it: she doesn’t seem to have any media training at all.

2.42am Chris Huhne keeps his seat in Eastleigh Court – more’s the pity.

2.45am Conservatives gain Pendle and Staffordshire, Erewash and Harrogate that’s the 16th gain, taking the Conservatives ahead of Labour by 1% in the current standings.

2.50am This election is a bit like Alice, it just gets curiouser and curiouser – Conservatives not making gains where you’d have expected them to, and making gains in places you’d have not expected, the Lib Dems are in a tailspin and Labour seem to be plotting to hold onto power at all possible cost even if there’s no realistically workable coalition.

2.53am Conservative gain Blackpool North which is superb news, and hold Stamford & Grantham – A slap in the face for Labour who took Stamford when the sitting MP crossed the floor. The military vote their clearly working in the Conservative’s favour.

2.56am Jesus is actually at David Cameron’s count. And David Cameron takes his seat back and as this is happening David Miliband, (Labour’s next Leader potentially?) survives a 6.4% swing to the Conservatives in his seat.

3.01am Conservatives gain Broxtowe Anna Soubry pips Labour to the post by 389 votes. Well Done.

3.04am Strong authoritative speech from Cameron highlighting gains and the problems with this election so far. No triumphalism – just solid thoughts about what needs to happen next.

3.07am Alistair Darling retains his seat: a man of solid principle (and there aren’t many of them in the current cabinet). Great news as the Conservatives take Dover and it looks as if they may have a clean sweep across Kent.

3.10am A tense recount is underway in Ashfield where apparently there was only 192 votes between Labour and the Lib Dems from a 10,000 Labour majority.

3.12am It’s also being reported that a recount is being called for in Edgbaston. And congratulations are in order for Priti Patel on becoming first Asian woman Conservative MP, and I’m also extremely glad to hear that Nadine Dorries has held her seat in Bedford Mids.

3.21am David Miliband making an utter arse of himself pretending there are communications problems: he just comes across as snide – I’m sure he thinks he’s pulling a Blair, and being really amusing, but he’s not.

3.23am Conservatives gain Harlow, Newton Abbot and Dartford and hold Welwyn. The Harlow win against Bill Rammel the Armed Forces Minister – will he be cursing Gordon’s lies about funding?

3.28am Lots of rumours flying around that Balls will retain his seat – this is bad news, blinky is a sordid politician.

3.30am Conservatives gain Bedford and Lincoln as we pass the 25th gain of the evening.

3.31am William Hague re-elected and Bill Wyman is backing the Tories – whoever would have thought it.

3.33am I think everyone is forgetting how tight the 79 election was: and in more news, Heather Wheeler has won Derbyshire South with a 9.8% swing for the Conservatives.

3.36am Clegg is heading off to his count, already rumours are swirling that he may well be facing up to a leadership challenge. What will the Lib Dems do next? How did they get this so wrong? National focus when local issues matter more maybe? Is it too early in the night to tell – who the fuck can say, we’ve gone through the looking glass tonight.

3.40am A swing of 8.3 percent swing from Labour to the Tories in Rotherham!

3.41am Carlisle falls to the Conservatives for the first time since ’59 – that is superb news with a 7.7% swing from Labour to the Conservatives and they’ve just taken South Ribble with an 8.1% swing too.

3.44am Loving the 11.2% swing toward the Conservatives in Dennis Skinners constituency. That’ll be a slap in the face for the arch leftist.

3.45am Conservatives take Crawley as well as Romsey and Southampton North. The Conservative share of the vote is slowly creeping up. Presently on 34.9% with the magic figure being somewhere around 37% for an overall majority on present trends.

3.48am Conservatives make biggest gains in Rochdale, but Labour hold the seat extremely closely run by the Liberal Democrats.

3.53am Another Conservative gain in Carmarthen from Labour – that’s another solid gain.

3.58am Apparently the Solicitor General has lost her seat?! And the Conservatives have just gain Stockton

4.40am Richard Taylor the independent MP for Wyre Forest has lost to the Conservatives, great news for the Conservatives, but sad news for Richard he’s been a superb example of a solid independent MP standing up for localism in politics.

4.07am Conservatives gain Burton and we’re just past the half way mark. This is turning into a very late night!

4.10am Are we approaching the Castration of Balls? Rumours are coming out that it’s going down to a recount and it’s damn close.

4.12am and the BBC are back on the boat, Mr Hislop looks fucked, really quite amusing. He’s just agreed to be Minister for Fun.

4.14am We’ve past the 40th Conservative gain of the evening.

4.16am The SNP vote has entirely collapsed in the seats they needed to win: is it the case that Salmonds rhetoric is toxic? Most of the Scots I know, despite the sibling rivalry seem entirely happy with the current union… is the SNP just barking up the wrong tree?

4.20am Conservative gain in Swindon South, very unpleasant booing from the crowd, not very magnanimous. Oxford West & Abingdon lost by the Lib Dems to the Conservatives as well. Brigg and Goule won as well with a 9% swing.

4.27am Esther Rantzen doesn’t win in Luton South, the world breathes easy again, and David doesn’t have to leave the country.

4.29am Conservatives gain York Outer and Cannock Chase, as David Cameron arrives back at CCHQ.

4.30am So it’s 4.30 and we’re standing on 187 | 145 | 28 | 25

4.35am Redditch is being announced now.

4.36am Jacqui Porno Smith loses massively with a 9.2% swing to the Conservatives.

4.38am Conservatives take Dewsbury! Shalid Malik defeated by Simon Reevell with a swing of 5.9%

4.40am Oh well, can’t win them all – got two massive shits, but Balls remains to blink another day.

4.42am Conservatives gain Pudsey with a 5.3% swing and cross over the 200 barrier, now standing at 205 seats to Labours 153.

4.44am Just taken Croydon Central and Northampton North as well – some big city areas to come yet, but there’s solid growth here with 36.6% of the vote taken so far. +53 seats taking seats from all over the place.

4.52am Just hearing that Charles Clarke has lost his seat, and it’s offical Ed Balls holds his seat, but only just.

5.00am It’s getting light outside, and the seats keep tumbling in: it’s going to be very close. I’m genuinely not sure what the outcome is going to be. The conservatives need 99 more seats to get an outright win.

5.07am Hazel the hamster Blears retains her seat – despite being a flipper and an expenses cheat.

5.16am Conservatives bring home their first Cornwall seat since 1992.

5.19am Colne Valley becomes a Conservative seat with a majority of 4837 on a swing of 6.5%

5.22am Conservatives gain Hove, Stevenage and Elmet and Rothwell as we pass the 70th gain of the evening.

5.27am To no surprise at all Labour hold Hammersmith. The campaign might have been good, but the up hill struggle in places like Hammersmith is going to take more than what the Conservatives threw at it.

5.31am Gordon Brown is going to score lower than Michael Foot: if he thinks that he’s got any legitimacy to squat in No.10 after tonight it’ll just show how much contempt he holds the British public in.

5.35am Conservatives take Brighton Kempton. and Reading West and… WAVENEY the lynchpin seat that everyone said they’d have to win to have legitimacy

5.47am Vince ‘the oracle’ Cable wins back his seat, I’m sure he’ll say he knew that was going to happen.

5.49am Gillingham and Rainham and Gloucester are Conservative gains.

5.50am Britain get’s a Green MP from Brighton Pavilion – Good god, let’s hope this one isn’t as mad as their manifesto might suggest.

5.52am David Blunkett quoted as saying “Labour has lost, the Tories have won, the Tories should rule” as Zac Goldsmith take Richmond Park.

5.55am Richard Drax has ousted the Schools Minister Jim Knight in Dorset South with a 9.3% swing from Labour to the Conservatives.

5.59am Nick Griffin fails to win, or even come second in Barking – Margaret Hodge wins convincingly.

6.01am There’s now an interesting story rattling around twitter that’s making out that this is an amazing Liberal win: without Nick it would have been a disaster etc – can’t help but feeling that it wouldn’t have mattered if Oompa Lumpas had stood for the Lib Dems they wouldn’t have done any better or worse. The fact is that the Lib Debs did well where they focussed locally, they did horrifically where they focussed nationally.

The Lib Dem message never came through strongly enough on what they actually stood for; yes they wanted change and for everyone to be nice, but the killer for them was the wobbling on supporting Brown, scrapping Trident, the Euro and all the other things where they could have proved they were a realistic third party, a replacement even for the Labour party.

And for that, they should hang their heads in shame – an opportunity for real change was lost.

6.09am Conservatives gain Keighley, Ipswich and Brentford & Isleworth. Now short of majority by only 58 – Clegg’s going to have his back against the wall on the promises he made about standing by the party with the biggest share of the vote. To turn to Labour now would destroy his credibility – Brown, Miliband, Balls, Blears – all of them, need to go now. So come on Clegg do the right thing.

6.14am Of course, we can’t actually hear from Nick Clegg as he doesn’t even know if he’s an MP yet. Sheffield is in a complete electoral mess.

6.21am They are now saying that we shouldn’t expect Bethnal Green & Bow until 9.30am! Because they’re having to separate the votes? But I explicitly remember putting my three different votes in three different coloured buckets? How difficult can this be!

6.25am Morning people, it’s now definitely ‘morning’ – more tea is in order. This really has turned out to be quite the marathon session – seats that should have declared hours ago are still nowhere near declaring: the returning officers in some places have really been caught with their pants down, understaffed, disorganised and generally underprepared for what they knew was going to be a busy polling day.

6.30am Eric Pickles has come out fighting, he’s been quoted as saying

“Well given that Labour has just suffered an historic defeat in terms of the number of seats that it lost…I think really it’s time to go for Gordon Brown, no one every elected him, no one wanted him and that nation hasn’t taken to him!”

Fighting talk indeed, #concede and #gordonresign hash tags are starting to trend on social media platforms.

6.34am Nick Clegg retains his Sheffield Hallam seat – desperately late declaration.

6.39am Nick Clegg admits it’s been a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats, he’s be damn right there – it’s been awfully disappointing.

6.40am Still no word from the speakers constituency – they were scheduled to declare at 2.30am (this morning – not tomorrow!). But nothing, it’s a couple of Loons, Farage and Bercow, how difficult can that possibly be?

6.48am Unbelievably, the Conservatives have won more seats than in ’79, and Labour have lost more than in ’79 – and yet we’re still stuck in Limbo.

7.01am Very tight predictions, some have Conservatives taking 1 or 2 seats over the combined Lib+Lab ‘coalition’ some have it the other way round, whatever happens it seems Brown is intent on squating and shows no signs of conceding or resigning.

7.05am It should be noted that Sterling is taking a dive against both the dollar and the euro, we simply can’t afford to have the next 12 days taken up with back room politics while the country and economy drift rudderless… Brown is now back at No.10, ignoring all the press gathered outside speaks volumes.

7.08am Tony McNulty felled by the Conservative with a swing of 7% – Great news that another expenses cheat has been given the boot.

7.10am Of course, one of the big debates now will be that the Conservatives have a massive majority in England: is it time to devolve the general election properly? Rumblings would seem to be growing on that both in blogs and in the mainstream media that it’s an issue that’s going to start causing trouble if it turns out that the people who the majority of English people voted for doesn’t actually get to form a government.

7.17am Hampstead & Kilburn after 6 hours of counting have decided to have a full recount – god help us if it takes another 6 hours.

7.18am Eric Pickles is talking on Sky at the moment predicting that the Conservatives are going to come in over 309 – I’d love that to be true, but I think it’s optimistic.

7.35am Tessa Jowell holds onto her seat – no surprise there, Conservatives now short by only 41 seats. Lots of talk of deals flying backwards and forwards – frankly making a mockery over the democratic process because now we’re in this deadlock where unless something amazing happens in the next few hours and the Conservatives pick up 41 seats 55 remaining seats that haven’t declared, then we’re going to have our government picked through private back room conversations between a few political elites.

7.50am If I hear one more reporter say they’re talking to ‘real voters’ and by ‘real’ they implying that they have a job that’s a nurse, or a market stall holder – rather than someone that works in an office I’ll go insane: it’s so incredibly patronising!

7.51am Mandy is on the TV making out that there’s a constitutional duty for the Labour party to remain not just as the Government for the next few hours, but in power – ruling. He makes me shudder.

7.52am Conservatives take Milton Keynes South.

7.59am Very confused, Hain is extending a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to the Lib Dems, seems a little above his pay grade don’t you think? Let’s not forget that at Lib/Lab pact at this point don’t have a majority between them either: so it’s ludicrous to make out that they can promise anything

8.02am Tweetminster are reporting that a Kilburn & Hampstead declaration is ‘imminent’ – let’s hope so: I don’t think I could stand another 6 hour wait.

8.14am Ludicrous rumours now circulating that Brown is about to be given the boot and anyone from Harman to Miliband or Johnson installed on the throne. Wouldn’t that go against the Labour constitution, Brown would at least have to make himself ‘unavailable’ for them to move someone else in?

8.17am The FTSE is 1% down already and sterling is down against the Euro and the Dollar – the markets are going to move on their own if they’re not given some guidance as to what might happen: can Britain honestly afford that?

8.21am Milton Keynes North is a Conservative gain too – 48 seats still to declare.

8.34am Jeremy Vine has been number-crunching and there’s some interesting things coming forward from his figures… He’s projecting that Labour would have to persuade LDs, SNP, PC & Alliance into a coalition to have any change of clinging on to power – that is clearly not going to happen: it’s entirely unworkable as a ‘stable’ government – so clearly Brown is going to have to put Labour out of it’s misery and concede to a minority Cameron government?

8.39am Conservatives have made gains in Ealing Central & Acton: the former London Assembly Member, Angie Bray takes it with a 5% swing, elsewhere though Glenda Jackson clings on for dear life after a recount in Kilburn & Hampstead.

8.45am Conservative gain in Watford

8.47am An interesting thought if this really does end up as a properly hung parliament, it’s likely that we’re going to end up doing this all over again much sooner than later, So should the national parties be wary about holding Westminster to ransom? If there’s is another election soon the English voters are sure to punish them for denying them their choice the first time around?

9.03am The effect of sleep depravation now must be seriously considered when talking about political horse-trading – let’s face it after 18 hours your concentration levels is around the drink driving limit, and after 24 hours of full concentration and no sleep you’re at the same level as someone that’s downed a bottle of scotch. So maybe it genuinely is time to put our politicians to bed for an hour or two to avoid a political car crash?

9.06am Hendon to be called shortly.

9.10am Great article in the Telegraph they’re saying David Cameron’s achievement eclipses Margaret Thatcher and the scale of David Cameron’s achievement in getting his party close to the edge of power cannot be overstated. Some contributors to ConHome should read this.

9.27am Hendon a Conservative Gain.

9.30am 290 | 246 | 51 | 27 with 36 seats still to declare.

9.39am More of the same when it comes to excuses from David Monks at SOLACE and Jenny Watson at the Electoral Commission there doesn’t appear to be any real answer as to why some counts have been so absolutely shoddy. Really poor media handling from both organisations. Jenny Watson seems slightly better prepared this morning than she did last night, but basically the answer is still a ‘shrug and dunno’.

9.41am So, after all that, it’s a hung parliament, you can screw your democracy, who runs the country is going to be decided not by you, but by private horse-trading between the parties.

10.06am Interesting, Clegg is supposed to be ‘saying something’ at 10.30

You know, the more I think about this the more the blame seems to lay with Labour they promised fundamental constitutional reform from the very early 90’s and after 13 years they’ve just ended up with a kludge. We’ve got a Parliament representing Scotland, two assembly’s and still a glut of politicians able to vote for their own Country, but also for England? We’ve got a house of Lords that’s still just as stilted as it ever was – they could have used the Parliament act with their massive majority to force through change; we could have a fairer democratically elected upper house, we could have hived off the double representation, but all we have is a half cocked system where England loses it’s right to vote above the ‘rights’ of the nations of Wales & Scotland. We’ve also got a system where 7 million votes for labour turn into almost treble the amount of seats that 6 million votes for the Lib Dems delivered. As I’ve said before on many occasions, constitutional reform needs to be right up there on every party’s agenda – not for personal gain, but for fairness to ‘we the people’.

10.25am Statement from Downing Street lays out the terms of engagement for the next few days – gobbligook to the man in the street, and no real consolation to business and the markets, but a useful sign that at least some form of rule is now being followed.

On 2 February, I announced that I had asked the Cabinet Secretary to prepare a Cabinet Manual, bringing together the existing conventions that determine the formation of governments including where no party has an overall majority.

On 24 February, a draft chapter of this manual, relating specifically to elections and government formation was published and was welcomed by the cross-party Justice Select Committee.

The election results are likely to show there is no clear majority for any single party. As I said last night, it is my duty as Prime Minister to take all steps to ensure Britain has a strong, stable and principled government. This is, of course, chiefly a task for politicians and – in time – for Parliament.

But to facilitate this process and consistent with the conventions set out in the draft Cabinet Manual, I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to arrange for the civil service to provide support on request to parties engaged in discussions on the formation of government.

10.33am A very unpleasant debate occurring right now on BBC one, Harriet Harman is coming across really badly, refusing to admit that Labour lost votes, refusing to give any ground on any form of Government other than a Labour led coalition. Looking very stupid against Ed Vaizey’s reasonable arguments that in the first instance the party with the most seats should be given an opportunity to lead should no obvious coalition be able to form a majority (which presently Labour can’t provide even with the Lib Dem’s supporting them). The question of Brown is also interestingly being skipped over.

10.43am Clegg has made a crucial statement that the party with the most seats and the most votes should seek to govern… Harriet Harman has made a quick exit from BBC studio, where does this leave Brown? Surely he must now resign as it’s clear the support from the Lib Dems is now not forthcoming?

10.52am Poplar & Limehouse result is in, Respect seen off, and Labour returned. So Bethnal Green & Bow anyone?

11.12am Excellent result for Sarah Teather booting out Dawn Butler from Brent Central.

11.15am Cameron picks up the baton from Nick Clegg and announces that plans are going to be laid out by 2.30pm. How much does he need to give to Nick Clegg in order to sign, seal and deliver himself to No.10 by Dinner?

12.46pm It’s all quiet on the western front, a lot of comment, hearsay and rumour – but nothing major, Sky alleging that Labour is talking to the SNP, but that wouldn’t make any major difference if Cameron moves to side with the Lib Dems in even the loosest of coalitions. The big news will be at 2.30pm when Cameron sets his table – until then no movement.

1.45pm Gordon Brown is making his speech now, very statesman like – but presentation aside it’s basically begging: please, anyone. We’ll talk. I really do feel sorry for Gordon, he looks like a dead man walking. Gordon also offers a referendum on electoral reform, I’m not sure whether anyone would actually believe him – the last referendum Gordon promised us came with strange strings that made it disappear when we wanted it?

2.00pm Bercow holds his seat in Buckinghamshire, Farage comes a lonely 3rd – not what he’ll have been expecting.

2.30pm The room is set, what exactly is cameron going to say?

2.35pm Cameron dives straight in with facts, figures and thanks. Decisive action needed to sort things out with immediate action. He seems to be suggesting a Liberal/Conservative coalition – and an exciting one at that: clear red lines from the Cameron camp, interesting tendrils out to the Clegg camp. Definitely Prime Ministrial material.

Extremely excited at this prospect. Now awaiting Clegg’s response.

3.30pm Sir John Major is advocating a coalition for change – offering Lib Dems cabinet positions.

It’s the final countdown

We’re now in the final few days before what I consider to be the most important election in my lifetime: the choice is clear – more of the same, a slow slide toward authoritarian big state dragging out society toward economic and social failure, or two very different choices that are at the same time almost the same. You see the problem with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats is that there’s stuff in both their manifesto’s that I like and dislike in equal measure – It’s going to be a difficult one, but I think the military family history and the entrepreneur in me will keep my vote in the Conservative box: I just hope that Cameron now comes good on his big liberal society promises, and finally answers the parties European issues.

The one thing you can expect, is that this week is going to be dirty – people are going to be spinning and smearing all week: it’s going to be vicious: I think I’ll be down at Haymarket’s Sports Café for live coverage until dawn – either that or stuck in the office with pizza and beer cheering Blinky Balls getting his arse kicked.

On the reshuffle

Musical chairs this morning at CCHQ as Cameron shuffled his team in what many are arguing to be the most significant change since he took the reigns at the last leadership election.

The big news is of course Ken Clarke, an interesting move but a solid one – he’s a heavy hitter with a good grasp of the economy and an excellent style that’ll hopefully be used to the party’s advantage against the snake–tongue of the non–elected business secretary in these most difficult of times for businesses in the UK. Moving Therasa May to shadow work and pensions is a clever move that’ll again use a solid parliamentarian to best effect, as is the move of Eric Pickles to chair. Others (IainGuidoConHome and more) have covered the reshuffle in more detail, so I’m not going to go into any real detail other than to say I’m satisfied that we’re seeing positive action on the front benches.

Of course there are things that still need to be done, but I think they are more organisational than people orientated – it’s clear that CCHQ still needs better news monitoring and quicker reaction from appropriate shadow’s to introduce all of the faces to the public, but with Eric Pickles’ taking the chair I can’t help but think that these back office reforms will be swiftly implemented.

Radical Conservatism

There is an excellent article in Today’s Observer arguing that the Conservatives are offering far more radical ideas for the future of Britain than many would give them credit for, and that the next few months will see Cameron, and to some extent Brown, being given an opportunity to reshape the political landscape.