As I've made quite clear in the past, British politics is dull as dishwater. Campaigning has none of the drama you get in the US. Our campaigns last about a month, and even after that short period we Brits are already bored with the spectacle.
However, this is the night it gets interesting. In the next few hours we expect to see Labour's majority slashed. My personal opinion is that they will safely remain in power. The question, though, is how much power? Stay tuned, readers. I'll be liveblogging the results as they come in, so feel free to drop in as the evening goes on.
For the past three elections, the first constituency to release poll results has been Sunderland South
. This constituency has been in Labour hands since 1992, when Chris Mullin seized the seat. The seat is considered safe by any standards, with a 63% share in 2001, 68% in '97 and a hair under 58% in 1992.
And the first result of the evening is.....
drumroll, please...Chris Mullin, Labour - 17,982
That's about 59% of the popular vote. While solid, it's by no means a good sign for Labour. It's very good for the Lib Dems - they stole 3% of Labour's share.
1 down. 645 to go.
Number 2 is Sunderland North
The winner?William Etherington, Labour - 15,719 votes.
Sunderland North is almost a mirror of Sunderland South. It has been a Labour seat controlled by Etherington since 1992 - however, this year Labout lost 9% on the 2001 election.
The third result in is Houghton and Washington East
, the seventh safest Labour seat in the UK. With 735 of the vote in 2001, Labour's Fraser Kemp seems a lock. The result?Fraser Kemp, Labour - 22,310
Again, even this safest of constituencies has seen a downturn of 9% for Labour since the 2001 election. These first results suggest that Labour could lose a huge number of their battleground constituencies as their marginal voters turn to the Lib Dems.
The next result to be declared is Rutherglen and Hamilton West
, just south of Glasgow in Scotland. This has been a Labour seat since we were fighting Hitler, and in 2001 Labour candidate Tommy McAvoy took 57,4% of the vote.
The winner is...Tommy McAvoy, Labour - 24,054
McAvoy is the first Labour candidate to show an increase in the vote since 2001. However, since 2001 there has been a reshuffle in the Scottish constituencies, so in real terms McAvoy lost 4% of his share since 2001. And the pattern continues... so far Labour have lost 6.75% of the vote since 2001. Labour won 41% of the vote in 2001, while the Conservatives took 32%. If the pattern continues we'll see Labour take around a little over 34%.Barnsley Central
is the fifth constituency to declare. One of the safest Labour seats in the country, Illsley has held this seat since 1987, and in recent years has garnered at least 69% of the popular vote. The winner this time?Eric Illsley, Labour - 17,478
Again we see a downturn in the Labour vote - 9%, in fact. That knocks up the average dowturn in Labour voted to 7.2% on the 2001 election. It seems more and more likely that the exit polls may have overstated the expected Labour margin of victory. We'll have to wait for the marginal constituencies to come in before drawing any solid conclusions.
Labour have held Hull West and Hessle
. Alan Johnson has held the seat since 1985, but lost 3% of the vote compared to 2001.
Labour have also held Rotherham
. Denis MacShane took 15840 votes, but lost 11% of the vote compared to 2001.
They also held Vauxhall
in London with 19,744 votes, down 6% on 2001.
Aw crap. It seems I'll have to cut this coverage short. I had to move to another room to let the occupant of this one sleep (he's been clerking at our local polling place from 7am-10pm, so he's a little beat). I took a laptop to the lounge, but it seems our new cordless phones are interfering with the broadband connection in there. I can't quite figure out technology more sophisticated than a bottle opener, and I fear that if I start pulling on wires I'll never get the phones back on. So, you'll have to keep up to date by such outmoded media as TV news or the wireless (they still call it wireless, don't they?)
Meanwhile, I'll retire to bed where I can watch the results until I drift off. Night all.Running Total (number of seats)