UK Election -- It's a massacre

British PM David Cameron. Photo: Getty Images

This coverage was written by Business Insider UK staff: Tomas Hirst, Rob Price, Dina Spector, Lianna Brinded, Mike Bird and Jim Edwards. All times GMT.

  • Huge victory for Cameron: BBC/Sky/ITV exit poll says Conservatives win 316 seats, Labour 239, SNP  58, Lib-Dems 10, UKIP 2, and — astonishingly — the Green Party is expected to get 2 wins.
  • Cameron could make a coalition government with the Lib Dems easily, or even proceed on his own.
  • Labour is being wiped out by a swing to the Tories that the opinion polls completely missed.
  • The SNP has stormed home in Scotland — it looks like they have won all but three seats in the country (one Lib Dem, one Conservative, and on Labour MP remain).
  • The Lib Dems have been totally massacred. They’re losing in droves, and may end up in the single figures
  • UKIP didn’t show up, either.

The Conservatives appear to have won the general election on all fronts: There was a huge unexpected swing away from Labour to the Tories. Labour lost Scotland to the SNP. The Liberal Democrats were wiped out generally. And the UKIP threat turned out to be mostly froth upon the pint of Nigel Farage’s wishful thinking.

This result was so surprising —  and so strange, given the Lib Dem/SNP/UKIP angles —  that it will be studied for years and likely represents an historic realignment of British politics.

In the short term, incumbent Tory prime minister David Cameron seems to have won enough seats to form a government and needs only a few more seats from other parties to secure a coalition with a majority.

In the middle term, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Lib Dem chief Nick Clegg both look like they may be forced to resign or at least offer their resignations to their parties, so poor has been their showing.

And then there is the long term: The Scots have elected an almost all-nationalist set of MPs who have basically now got zero influence in Westminster, because the Tories are in charge. The Scottish effectively have no representation south of the border. This will only strengthen calls for an independent Scotland just a few months after the country rejected that exact proposition in a referendum. That conflict seems unsolvable in the current projected makeup of the House of Commons.

“Something big and strange has happened,” says Andrew Marr, the pundit and TV presenter. All the opinion polls prior to the election had Labour and Conservative in a dead heat. People expected that Miliband’s Labour Party actually had the best chance of making a coalition government with the SNP.

But the real results show a shift toward the Conservatives — completely unexpected.

The Liberals have been completely massacred. They’re down to around 10 seats. In one seat, Castle Point, they got just 80 votes. Eighty. That’s less than you would expect for joke candidates or for voter errors, which tend to poll in the low hundreds.

This isn’t a narrow defeat for Labour either, it’s a wholescale collapse. Unless there are some dramatic surprises late tonight or early this morning, the Tories have rewritten the electoral map in their favour and Labour are now looking at some sort of permanent minority status — they have lost all of Scotland to the SNP, too.

The real mystery is why the pollsters were so wrong, for so long. No one seems to have expected this, in any of the activist camps.

Here is our live coverage of how it happened:

We’ll have a complete count of the seat totals later this morning.

SEAT PROJECTIONS SO FAR

Here’s Election Forecast UK’s projection, with just over half of the seats declared:

  • Conservatives 314-325
  • Labour 232-242
  • SNP 55-56
  • LD 11-16

NICK CLEGG HOLDS HIS SEAT

With 22,215 votes to Labour candidate Oliver Coppard’s 19,862.

He’s safe in his seat, but as leader of a devastated parliamentary party. He said he’ll make “further remarks” later in the day, and it sounds like he may resign.

BORIS VICTORIOUS

A result which was never really doubted — London Mayor Boris Johnson is back in parliament, taking the seat of Uxbridge.

Given how well the Conservatives are doing, that may be a little bit less important now — David Cameron seems very likely to hang on as Prime Minister. 

UKIP HOLD CLACTON 

UKIP have held Clacton, the seat that former Conservative MP won for the party after defecting — Nigel Farage’s seat, South Thanet, has yet to declare. This may be UKIP’s only win.

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS HAVE HELD ONE SEAT IN SCOTLAND
Orkney and Shetland, an ancestral Liberal stronghold, has been held by Alistair Carmichael. It may be one of only two seats in Scotland which aren’t now held by the SNP.

Alex Salmond, who was First Minister of Scotland and SNP leader until last year, has taken his own seat in Gordon.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT WIPEOUT IN LONDON

Ed Davey, Lib Dem Energy Secretary is out in Kingston — he’s lost to the Conservatives. It looks like the junior Coalition party might be seeing a wipeout in London.

Lynne Featherstone, another Lib Dem minister with a London seat, is out — losing by over 10,000 votes.

Simon Hughes, who has been a London Lib Dem MP for 32 years, lost to Labour by 5,000 votes.

Business Secretary Vince Cable’s seat has gone to the Conservatives too.

GLASGOW SW

  • SNP win with a 35% swing from Labour. Astonishing.

LABOUR ACTIVISTS ARE ALREADY TALKING ABOUT DITCHING MILIBAND

The Guardian:

A Labour HQ source has already told the New Statesman: “Ed has to resign tomorrow. Everyone here accepts that.”

THE SNP HAS BROKEN THE BBC’S SWINGOMETER

The BBC thought it would only need a maximum of 30% voter swing on its “swingometer” prop, which it uses to demonstrate how the votes are shifting. But as some seats have seen 34% swing, the thing can’t show it all properly. On average, the swing is 27% — which is a greater shift than the British electorate has seen in decades or even centuries.

THE SNP HAS WON GORDON BROWN’S SEAT

CANVEY ISLAND
UKIP made a strong showing but …

  • Con win / hold

ALL THE SCOTTISH SEATS ARE GOING TO THE SNP 

Ed miliband iron throne win genelec2015 ge2015psDan Kitwood/Getty Images/HBO/BIThat didn’t turn out the way Ed Miliband hoped.

Labour is being cleaned off the map north of the border. Of 12 seats declared so far, SNP has taken all of them.

OCHIL

Another huge swing from Labour to SNP.

DUMBARTONSHIRE

a 34% swing from Labour to the SNP. That is unheard of.

  • SNP win/ gain

PAISLEY

Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander just lost his seat to a 20-year-old student on the SNP ticket. The student has to go back to classes after the election!

  • SNP win / gain from Labour

ED MILIBAND MAY HAVE NO FUTURE AS LABOUR’S LEADER

The Guardian points out that Labour has lost ground to the Tories in England, and lost Scotland completely. And given that, it is difficult to see the party staying united around Miliband. The party won’t demand his head immediately, but a huge reorg is likely on the cards unless there’s a crazy turnaround later tonight.

KILMARNOCK

  • SNP win

CEREDIGION

  • The Lib Dems win / hold

NICOLA STURGEON LOOKS ANGRY

In a brief intervew with Kirsty Wark of the BBC she said, this “shows Labour’s inability to beat the Tories.” She’s still hoping for a Labour coalition but the look on her face indicates she’s furious. She thought she was entering government with Labour a few hours ago. It’s not going to happen …

THE OPINION POLLS ARE TURNING OUT TO BE WRONG

“Something big and strange has happened,” says Andrew Marr, the pundit and TV presenter. All the opinion polls prior to the election had Labour and Conservative in a dead heat. But the real results show a shift toward Conservative — completely unexpected. The Liberals have been completely massacred. This isn’t a narrow defeat for Labour, it’s a wholescale collapse. Unless there are some dramatic surprises tonight the Tories have rewritten the electoral map in their favour and Labour are now looking at some sort of permanent minority status — they have lost all of Scotland to the SNP, too.

The real mystery is why the pollsters were so wrong, for so long. No one seems to have expected this, in any of the activist camps.

(And, it should be noted, the BBC/ITV/Sky poll has turned out to be a good predictor – so far.)

CLWYD SOUTH

  • Lab win / hold 

NUNEATON

Conservative win. Labour needed to win that one. But the Tories have increased their majority. So far, there is no news that would indicate Labour is going to get anything like the seats it needs to get near a coalition. Again, Lib Dems have been wiped out and UKIP is now the 3rd party.

  • Lab 15,945
  • Lib D 816
  • Con 20,827
  • Green 1,281
  • TUSC 194
  • UKIP 6,582

THE BBC HAS BEGUN ITS AUTOPSY OF LABOUR’S CORPSE

Still only a few results actually in, but already the BBC is writing Labour’s obit. If the predictions hold up it will indeed be a rout — worse than 1992. Is Ed Miliband too left wing? Was Tony Blair – who won three votes on the trot – correct to pull the party to the right?

WREXHAM

Lab win / hold. UKIP come third ahead of Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems. The swing was toward the Conservatives, though.

BATTERSEA

Conservative win / hold in a swing away from Labour. That’s a result that suggests Labour has not done well — the party was hoping at least for a swing away from the Tories. The exit poll is looking more reasonable at this point. Folks at BBC can stop sweating for a little bit.

  • Con 26,730
  • UKIP 1,586
  • Lab 18,792
  • Green 1,682
  • Lib D 2,241

LIB DEM VOTE IS COLLAPSING

Nick clegg beheading ned stark lose seat lib dem ge2015ps genelec2015Mark Runnacles/Getty Images/HBO/BINick Clegg did not have a good day.

Only a handful of seats in so far but one thing is true in all of them: The Lib Dem vote is collapsing. That part of the BBC/Sky/ITV exit poll is proving correct so far. They have lost a LOT of deposits. They’re not just losing a little bit — so far it’s a wholesale rejection of the entire party. Even the veteran Simon Hughes may have lost. “Awful,” says the BBC’s Jeremy Vine. He has got a cheeky collapsing “house of cards” graphic to make his point.

TOOTING

Labour win. This is Labour shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan’s seat. Small swing to Labour.

  • UKIP 1,537
  • Lab 25,264
  • Lib D 2,107
  • Green 2,201
  • Con 22,421

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE  EAST

  • Lab win / hold
  • Strong 3rd place for UKIP.

NICK ROBINSON’S VOICE JUST GAVE OUT AND HE HAS RETIRED FOR THE NIGHT

The BBC presenter had lung surgery to remove a tumour earlier this year and his voice has been soft and hoarse since then. He has had chemo too. We wish him well, and suspect he will be furious at himself for missing the biggest show of the year.

PUTNEY

Conservative win / hold. That’s actually a small swing to Labour in a safe Tory seat:

  • Lab 12,838
  • AWP 184
  • Con 23,018
  • Lib D 2717
  • Green 2,076
  • UKIP 1,989

NATE SILVER SAYS: TREAT THE BBC/Sky/ITV EXIT POLL WITH CAUTION

He says beware the idea that the Tories already have this sewn up:

But the exit polls have been wrong before, and the odds are that the actual results will come in somewhere between the exit polls and pre-election forecasts. Suppose, for instance, that the Conservatives end up with 290-295 seats to 260-265 for Labour — that would be within the range of uncertainty common to both the exit poll and the pre-election forecast.

SWINDON NORTH

  • Conservative win / hold.

THE BBC’S DAVID DIMBELBY POINTS OUT THAT THE EXIT POLLS ARE NOT THE REAL RESULTS

Presenter Jeremy Vine’s display board of battleground seats is calling for specific results on named seats — based on a national statistical prediction. Viewers are freaking out because it looks as if they’re real results even though we haven’t seen any yet (except for 3 of 650). So Dimbelby underlined that this is speculation.

Folks at the BBC are really sweating behind the scenes right now: If they have got this wrong there will be hell to pay.

FARAGE STORMS OUT OF INTERVIEW AMID RUMOURS HE HAS COME THIRD IN THANET

Buzzfeed reports that UKIP leader Nigel Farage walked out of an ITV interview after sarcastically congratulating The Sun and The Mail. “They’re geniuses. They said the UKIP vote would split the Tory vote. God help us,” he says. The rumour is that Farage has lost his bid and that — presumably — his political career is now over.

LORD ASHCROFT POLL NOW PUTS TORIES AHEAD 34% – 31%

Ashcroft’s earlier poll had the two main parties neck and neck — so this would suggest that maybe the tide turned late in the Conservatives’ favour.

BBC BLOG NOW SOUNDING CAUTION OVER EXPECTED TORY VICTORY

There is a real feeling that no one at the BBC really believes this joint BBC/Sky/ITV exit poll, which has predicted a huge surge for the Conservatives.



WASHINGTON AND SUNDERLAND WEST

Another expected win / hold for Labour. But note that UKIP comes second and the Lib Dems have probably lost their deposit – the third lost deposit for them of the night so far. UKIP again looking bizarrely strong. But it’s early days.

  • UKIP: 7,321
  • Con: 7,033
  • TUSC: 341
  • Lib D: 993
  • Lab: 20,478
  • Green: 1,091

SUNDERLAND CENTRAL

… Stays Labour. Another Labour hold in the early calls. 11,179 majority. No surprises here except … UKIP a strong third to the Tories.   

THE SUN CALLS IT (EVEN THOUGH ONLY ONE SEAT HAS REPORTED)



THE BBC IS DISCUSSING WHETHER A TORY VICTORY WOULD PROPEL SCOTLAND TO GO FOR INDEPENDENCE.

With no concrete results in, the BBC’s people — Kirsty Wark et al — are already wondering how Scotland and the SNP will react to another five years or Tory-Lib Dem rule. It will drive Scotland further away from Westminster and make another independence bid more likely, they agree.  

THE MAIL HAS ALREADY CALLED IT!



LABOUR TAKES SUNDERLAND SOUTH:

  • UKIP 8,280
  • Con: 7,105
  • LibD: 7,91
  • Lab: 21,218

Note that UKIP has beaten the Tories in Sunderland. Suggests UKIP may be more dangerous to the Conservatives than previously thought.

YOUGOV HAS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT EXIT POLL RESULT TO THE BBC:



BBC/Sky/ITV EXIT POLL PREDICTS 2 GREEN PARTY SEATS

Wow. The BBC’s stats professor declines to say where — other than holding Brighton — the Greens get that other seat. “Statistics.” Hmm! Still, the sample is 22,000 voters so it ought to be statistically robust. Here is the chart:



THE BBC’S RESULT IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT TO THE NATE SILVER PREDICTION

Silver had predicted these numbers: 

  • Con: 278
  • Lab: 267
  • SNP: 53
  • LD: 27

THE BBC/Sky/ITV EXIT POLL SAYS THE CONSERVATIVES WILL WIN WITH 316 SEATS

That leaves the Tories just seven or so seats short of a 323 majority — which means that David Cameron can form a majority with the Liberal Democrats if they have won 10 seats as the BBC predicts. It means the Conservatives will have increased their seats in parliament. The BBC’s pre-results coverage is unrelentingly negative for Labour and the Lib-Dems. “Ed Balls has lost his seat” is almost trending on Twitter. On these numbers, Labour cannot put together a coalition even with both the SNP and the Liberal Democrats. Looks like a huge upswing for the SNP though.

Here are the exit poll numbers:

  • Conservatives 316 seats
  • Labour 239
  • SNP 58
  • Lib-Dems 10
  • UKIP 2

These are the coalition possibilities under this result:

The background:
Around 50 million people have voted for Britain’s 650 MPs.

Unlike previous elections, there was no clear favourite heading into election day. The Conservatives and Labour were neck-and-neck in the polls, with no party expected to win a majority.

Pollsters predicted a second consecutive hung parliament, the first time that’s happened since 1910.

POLLS ARE CLOSED!

IF YOU’RE IN A QUEUE BEFORE 10PM, YOU CAN VOTE

The Telegraph reports that new rules mean that if you join a queue before 10pm, then you can vote. The change was made after some voters were turned away in 2010 due to long queues that left them outside the polling stations after the deadline passed.

15 MINUTES LEFT, AND QUEUES ARE STILL BEING REPORTED

It’s looking increasingly likely that some voters may not get to vote before 10pm. There’s extensive chatter on social media of people waiting 30, 40 or even 50 minutes to get to vote. In Manchester, additional polling stations have been opened to accommodate the waiting voters.

We don’t know for sure yet, but it looks like we will have beaten 2010’s 65% turnout.

30 MINUTES LEFT!

 SUNDERLAND SHOULD BE THE FIRST CONSTITUENCY TO DECLARE ITS RESULTS

The Northern city is famous for its rapid counts, and BuzzFeed has profiled the man responsible for its speed — Bill Crawford, head of elections at Sunderland City Council. Here’s an excerpt, but the entire thing is worth a read:

Between 1975 and 1992, Crawford oversaw a team of staff who would count the city’s results, and announce them in the early morning of the day after polling day. But then in the early 1990s, the city’s returning officer asked Crawford a simple question: “Why don’t we try and declare on the same day as the vote?”

“1992 was the year Sunderland became a city,” Crawford tells BuzzFeed News. “It was the year the football team were in the final of the FA Cup, and we got university status. So the election was the conclusion to it all, and it was just a question of keeping up the momentum.”

At the time, the constituency of Torbay was famed for being the first to declare, usually at about 11:45pm on the day of the polls.

“The difference between getting dayside of midnight and declaring first was only about 10 or 15 minutes,” explains Crawford. “We changed from, ‘Let’s declare on the day of the poll,’ to, ‘Actually, if we just knocked another five or 10 minutes off, we could be first.'”

What does that speed look like in practice? Take a watch of this video from 2010:

 ONE HOUR LEFT! 

We’ve got no firm indicator of turn-out yet, but chatter on social media suggests it is at least as high as it was in 2010, 65%. 

In Manchester there have been reported queues of up to 40 minutes, and additional polling stations have been opened to alleviate strain. Authorities are obviously determined not to have a repeat of the last General Election, when some voters were left queueing even after polls closed at 10pm.

One Twitter user says they had to wait for 50 minutes earlier this evening:

ED MILIBAND’S TEAM HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR

AS OF 8.30PM, THERE’S MORE CHATTER ON TWITTER ABOUT UNUSUALLY LONG QUEUES TO VOTE

QUEUES ARE BUILDING OUTSIDE POLLING STATIONS

There are two hours to go until polls close, and as predicted, queues are starting to build. The Guardian has rounded up a selection: