Live Coverage: Cameron Pulls Off a Stunner, Tories Win Outright Majority
Real-time coverage as the United Kingdom votes.
The British elections have come to a close, and what a roller coaster ride it has been. The pre-election polls predicted a hung Parliament and a period of protracted coalition negotiations, but they were all wrong. The Tories cruised to victory, winning a majority in the House of Commons. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party routed Labour in Scotland, cementing their role as Britain's most important political upstart. Here's how it all went down:
The British elections have come to a close, and what a roller coaster ride it has been. The pre-election polls predicted a hung Parliament and a period of protracted coalition negotiations, but they were all wrong. The Tories cruised to victory, winning a majority in the House of Commons. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party routed Labour in Scotland, cementing their role as Britain’s most important political upstart. Here’s how it all went down:
10:15 a.m.: Signing off & a final photograph.
The day after Britain’s general election coincides with VE Day, marking the surrender of the Nazis and the end of World War II in Europe. It’s a day of public commemoration in Britain, and the party leaders gathered in London for what must have been a delightfully awkward line-up. Both Labour leader Ed Miliband and and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg have announced that they will resign after being trounced at the polls by David Cameron’s Tories. Oh to have been a fly on Cameron’s shoulder for this one:
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
With that, we are ending our rolling coverage of the British elections. We’ll have much more in coming hours and days both here on the blog and on FP’s main site as we make sense of this political earthquake, its repercussions for Britain’s political landscape, and the UK’s role in the world.
9:00 a.m: Final (or nearly so) results.
The wildest predictions from the early hours turned out to be true: David Cameron’s Tories have secured an outright majority in the Commons, 330 seats as of this writing. The SNP didn’t complete their sweep of Scotland, but they got very close: winning 56 seats, three short of gobbling up all Scottish seats in Parliament. And the Lib Dem rout is even worse than feared, with the party picking up only 8 seats.
The results hand Cameron an uncontested majority in the Commons to implement his policies without having to rely on a coalition partner. Perhaps the most important political force that he will have to reckon with is the rise of the SNP, and on Friday morning he pledged to preserve the union and devolve significant powers. “I have always believed in governing with respect that’s why in the last parliament, we devolved power to Scotland and Wales and gave the people of Scotland a referendum on whether to stay within the UK,” Cameron said. “In this parliament I will stay true to my word and implement as fast as I can the devolution that all parties agreed for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
With the results in, heads are rolling. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader who moved his party away from the center and toward the left, has resigned after presiding over what can only be described as a catastrophic result. Nick Clegg, after overseeing the decimation of his party’s influence in the Commons and entering into a highly criticized coalition with the Tories, has also stepped down. UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he would resign if he failed to win a seat in Parliament. He didn’t and has made good on his word. He, too, will step down as his party leader.
11:30 p.m.: Results & sign-off.
With the day coming to an end on the American East coast, we are brining our coverage of Britain’s elections to an end for now. We’ll back in the morning with complete results. Until then, here’s where things stand.
Labour is ahead in the count at the moment, but don’t let that deceive you. Notice that they’ve racked up 37 losses so far and appear to be headed toward a thumping once all the votes are counted. There’s even talk that the Conservatives could outperform the exit polls and secure an outright majority, but that may very well be no more than talk.
Graphic, via the Guardian:
10:45 p.m.: The knives come out for Ed Miliband.
So far, we’ve seen no reason to doubt the exit polls, though that could certainly change as more results arrive. But as things stands, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are two of the night’s biggest losers, and it early reports indicate the Labour leader won’t last long in his current position at the party’s helm. Jockeying has already begun as to who will succeed him:
10:15 p.m.: The depths of Lib Dem despair.
A data-point that should put into perspective the full measure of the Liberal Democrats’ brutalization at the polls:
9:40 p.m.: The youngest MP since 1667.
The Scottish National Party looks poised to end Labour’s hold on Scotland’s representation in the House of Commons, and the new face of Scottish politics is likely to be the party’s slyly charismatic leader, Nicola Sturgeon. But perhaps it should be 20-year-old Mhairi Black, who just became the youngest MP since 1667. She just delivered her victory speech, and delivered a zinger at Douglas Alexander, her Labour opponent who just so happened to be running that party’s entire campaign.
Alexander is the biggest scalp to have been claimed so far tonight.
9:30 p.m.: The SNP landslide is on.
The results are starting to trickle in, and the bad news continues for Labor, with more joy for the SNP. The rout is on in Scotland with the SNP picking up Kilmarnock & Loudoun, Dunbartonshire West, Paisley & Renfrewshire, and Ochil & Perthshire South.
Here’s where things stand at 2:30 a.m. local time, per the Guardian:
9:00 p.m.: The decimation of the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg.
One of the major storylines emerging from Thursday’s polling is the decimation of the Liberal Democrats. In 2010, Liberal Democrats won 57 seats, and if the exit polling holds up, they’ve now been reduced to a mere 10. That reduction likely has a great deal to do with dissatisfaction among Lib Dem voters with the actions of the coalition government that leader Nick Clegg entered into with David Cameron. That government embarked on an austerity agenda that saw the Lib Dems backtrack on a series of promises, including the raising of tuition fees.
The exit polling indicates that the Tories and the Lib Dems can together command a majority in the Commons, but given the brutalization Clegg just received at the polls, it’s not clear whether he has the support to lead his party into another coalition. A key question in the coming hours and days is whether Clegg can secure a sufficient number of seats to retain his position as leader of the Lib Dems or whether this crushing defeat has ended his days atop the party.
8:15 p.m.: First batch of official results.
There are lots of rumors swirling about prominent scalps that have been claimed during this election, but we’re going to stick with hard results here. We expect results to start coming hard and fast in the coming hours, and the results so far have been uneventful, with Labour and the Conservatives holding a series of seats. Labour has held Newcastle upon Tyne East, Washington & Sunderland West, Sunderland Central and Tooting. The Tories have held seats in Putney and Swindon North.
7:40 p.m.: #IVoted
Twitter has been encouraging users to cast their ballots with the hashtag #IVoted, and with the polls now closed, they’ve released a pretty visualization of activity on that hashtag:
7:20 p.m.: Farage’s bizarre interview.
We’re still a way from getting a fuller picture of the results. And if this mystifying interview is any indication, UKIP leader Nigel Farage is feeling a bit on edge as he awaits news of whether he has achieved his long-held dream of entering Parliament:
6:45 p.m.: A tale of two front-pages.
Final results won’t be in for several hours, but England’s newspapers have issues to put to bed. So the news of the exit polls dominate. The right-leaning Sun is exultant. The Labourite Daily Mirror is gloomy, to put it mildly.
6:20 p.m.: Explaining the confusion.
The data gurus over at FiveThirtyEight have put together a very helpful chart illustrating the incredible divergence between pre-election models and the outcome of tonight’s exit poll:
6:10 p.m.: The clothing eating threats continue.
No one can quite believe what the exit polls are predicting, and threats to consume one’s clothing seems to be the go-to metaphor to express disbelief. Alastair Campbell, a former Tony Blair aid, says he’ll eat his kilt if the SNP has won 58 seats in Scotland.
5:45 p.m.: YouGov clarifies.
YouGov has tweeted to clarify that their polling numbers are not a bona fide exit poll:
5:30 p.m.: A note of skepticism on the exit polls.
With the main exit poll showing a shock result, many are sounding a note of caution about their accuracy. Lord Paddy Ashdown, who ran the Lib Dem’s election campaign, said on BBC that he would eat his hat if the results hold up.
Nicola Sturgeon, head of the SNP, which, according to the exit poll, won every seat but one in Scotland, is also urging caution in interpreting the results before the votes are counted:
Indeed, an exit poll carried out by YouGov, another polling group, shows the opposite result:
5:15 p.m.: Is this a Tory victory?
If the results of the exit polls are accurate — and in 2010 they were — the Conservatives have beat pre-election expectations and look poised to retain control of the House of Commons, with David Cameron remaining as prime minister. To hold a majority in the Commons requires 326 seats, and between the Tory’s projected 316 seats and the Liberal Democrats’ 10, the current coalition partners would have a majority.
Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives are already claiming victory. “The Conservatives have clearly won this election, and Labour has clearly lost it,” Michael Gove, the Tory chief whip, told the BBC.
Unless the exit polls are hugely inaccurate, it’s hard to see how he isn’t right.
5:00 p.m.: Exit polls are in.
The polls are closed, and the exit polls are in. If these results hold, it’s a catastrophe for Labour, a massive victory for the Conservatives, and a historic moment for the Scottish National Party. An outright majority in the House of Commons requires 326 seats, and the exit poll does not indicate that anyone has secured control of the lower house. These are the results of the exit poll:
Liberal Democrats: 10
Scottish National Party: 58
UK Independence Party: 2
Plaid Cymru: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 8
2:30 p.m.: Wikipedia shenanigans.
The Wikipedia pages of David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg were briefly defaced today with images of Labour head Ed Miliband:
1:30 p.m.: Farage has been drinking.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has become a political phenomenon in part through his folksy appeal, no small part of which has to do with his fondness for booze. It’s election day in England, and Nigel Farage has been drinking:
12:30 p.m.: #dogsatpollingstations.
Voting is underway, and the top Twitter trend in the United Kingdom is #dogsatpollingstations. Seriously, it’s a thing:
11:45 a.m.: The partisan press.
The right-leaning British print media has been aggressively beating the drum for the Tories throughout the election campaign and today was no exception. Here’s the Telegraph‘s blunt front-page appeal for readers to pull the lever for the Conservatives.
11:30 a.m.: Musical interlude.
While we await results to come in, here’s a musical interlude that sums up what might be described as the sense of anticipation ahead of the outcome.
11:00 a.m.: Final polling.
The final Guardian poll shows just how tight this race is as voters cast their ballots. Labour and the Tories are neck and neck, and the SNP looks poised to deliver a historic election. SNP gains in Scotland would wipe out what has historically been a Labour stronghold. If these results hold, Prime Minister David Cameron will struggle to maintain a majority of 326 seats in the House of Commons.
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
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