Just after 10 pm and so far the prediction is a shocker. I voted Liberal Democrat just before 3:15 pm: after all, if I don't who will, but I suspected some deflation in the vote. Outside were three Labour posters put up on trees by a landlord of some houses, unnoticed on my way there and only noticed on my way back when closer. Farm land had displayed Conservative posters around Barton. The Lib Dem leaflet only arrived today: that was a bit late.
It is a shocker that the party is expected to be down by three seats to 59. This is the poll that gives Labour 255 but the Tories on 310 could draw on Ulster Unionists out of the 29 to rule as a minority government. Even if the 17000 questioned poll is wrong, it does ignore the postal vote. So I shall update this blog entry every so often according to trends. Peter Mandelson (with his own agenda) has already said that first past the post is on its last legs, and surely there is no 'natural justice' in the assumed polling figures to projected seats.
12:25 and thoughts have been of the Conservatives doing better than the exit poll. BBC have already adjusted the LD seats up two, to 61. But now I am mystified because other evidence is of variable polling in constituencies. It seems that many queueing voters have been locked out and unable to vote. The voting numbers also suggest the exist poll may not be right, and the politicians "smell" that it is not right. So even at this stage it all remains quite a puzzle. But it does seem that the Lib Dem's last week deflation was actual and indeed the air could have gone out of many a ball up and down the land.
02:30 and there is a pattern at least regarding the Liberal Democrats, and it is that they are much weaker than expected. The loss of Montgomeryshire is a shock, which means the effort needed to get wins elsewhere, and they are not happening. The Labour resistance seems to be greater than expected in places against the Tories. Durham was a big disappointment for Lib Dem versus Labour. It could just be failures to take against Labour, but they may do in some places. Certainly they haven't done so against the Tories. I think the Lib Dem failure was in the last week and the hammering over immigration and the labelling of uncertainty on them. Yet still the outcome at the end is unclear. There has been an absence of Labour to Lib Dem tactical voting too. One wonders if in the final week, and looking at Greece, that many voters reverted to old tribes, some to Gordon the manager and more to Cameron the cutter or slasher before the IMF calls. Yet if the Tories get to form a minority government, or even a small majority government, the tensions will grow within the body politic as the cuts in public spending begin. The poll is right so far regarding the Lib Dems; it might actually turn out right through a huge thicket of complicated localised swings. Even Montgomeryshire was a local effect, via a well known active Tory who beat 'entertainer' Lembit Opik.
04:40 and I heard the news that our previous MP since 1997 has gone, and easily: 42.1% for the Tory Martin Vickers, 32.6% for Labour (Shona McIsaac) and 18.2% Liberal Democrat (one of those votes being mine). It was 7.8% to Con swing, more than Cameron needs to form a majority. The Liberal Democrats took a few seats but have lost more, and they are on about 22.5% nationally at the moment. The balloon went down, clearly, nor have they 'helped' Labour. I'm beginning to think that the Tories are now taking enough far off seats from their target to form a very small majority, which actually leaves them to rule and means we can dump on them as soon as the defections and losses start. The Lib Dems need to think again about the policies and also about the splitting of the broader left vote. If the Conservatives cannot get a majority the Lib Dems must get this discredited electoral system changed, and not be sucked in to propping up the Tories. You start to wonder whether the so called 'X Factor' election (via the debates) dealt a blow to the Liberal Democrats in the end, in that Vince Cable was at one time Nick Clegg's prop until it was seen he could communicate well, and perhaps with the Greek crisis and the 'uncertainty' of Lib Dem policies Vince in the end might have been better used for a slow rise towards the end rather than an having early fast rise and a final week deflation. But at 04:50 it is still a puzzling election, but one that might just return a result.
05:13 Just noticed after being elsewhere a bit that Labour kept Hull North, but Hull could become ripe for a Lib Dem grab when there are political changes. Yet again, though, a failure to get it this time, and next time Labour may be back on the up if the Conservatives falter. And another election may not be that far off.
At 06:15 there are now predictions of 309 or 308 Conservatives, 259 or 260 Labour, 54 or 53 Lib Dems and 28 others. Now the Maths is that Cameron can call upon 8 Democratic Unionists for a deal, but not one of his Ulster Unionists won a seat. So he gets a potential 317 in a deal. If the Lib Dems go for electoral reform with Labour then there can be 260 Labour, 53 LDs, 3 Plaid Cymru, 3 SDLP and 1 Green. The SDLP may not be so persuadable, but the rest benefit from a voting system change. So that is Cameron 317 up against a left coalition of 320. So what Nick Clegg should do is say the voting system is rotten to the core (lib Dem vote up 1% and loses maybe 9 seats) and the coalition should regardless change the voting system fast and have a government across the parties. Even if the Lib Dems were blamed for 'propping up' an old government, the change in the voting system would still benefit them, as indeed it would the Greens, Plaid Cymru and normalise with the north of Ireland. Labour meanwhile would do well if Gordon Brown handed the potential Prime Minister role to someone new, say Alan Johnson, who is known for wanting full electoral reform. The SNP have 6 and it is unclear about them but they might follow Plaid and agree with electoral reform. Similarly the Alliance (add 1) have no interest but may follow the Lib Dems, their closest partners. But there is no doubt that the Liberal Democrats and others have been cheated, and that the day has been saved mainly by a Labour rearguard and the system is perverse and rotten. So full power of left of centre would be some 327 in grand numbers, but that is the maximum.