Extract taken from the Guardian, dated May 4 1979.
“Mrs Margaret Thatcher looks certain this morning to be the next tenant of 10 Downing Street and the first woman prime minister in the western world. Yet the measure of her victory seemed likely to fall below her party' s hopes. The strong surge of Tory support for which she had been hoping materialised right across southern England, but in the North swings were low and in Scotland it was Labour who gained ground, displacing as they did so Mrs Thatcher's likely Scottish Secretary, Mr Teddy Taylor. These were the most diverse results of any British election since 1945, and they had a distinct smack of "two nations" about them .
In North Devon the former leader of the Liberal Party crashed to defeat at the hands of his Conservative opponent. Mr Jeremy Thorpe, who faces trial at the Old Bailey on Tuesday charged with conspiracy to commit murder, lost his West Country stronghold by 8,000 votes. The campaign was distinguished by the huge number of "other" candidates, ranging from Mr Auberon Waugh of the Dog Lovers Party to Dr Frank Hansford Miller of the English National Party. Mr Thorpe has held the seat since 1959.
Liberals had little to celebrate as the early results came in with their vote down by around 5 per cent. They had a particularly sharp disappointment at Newcastle Central, scene of a sturdy Liberal advance in a by-election in November 1976. The 29 per cent of the vote they took then was down to 13.4 per cent - barely enough to save their deposit.
The first Liberal success of the night came at Edge Hill, the Liverpool seat won on a by-election just as the old parliament ended. Predictions that Mr David Alton might turn out to be the shortest-lived MP of all time were proved wrong. Mr David Steel's hopes of between 20 and 50 seats looked like being disappointed as seats regarded as especially promising, like Richmond, Surrey and Salisbury, remained in Tory hands. Elsewhere there was a steady decline in the Liberal vote, running through the early results at about 5 per cent.
The most spectacular Tory gain of all was Anglesey, formerly held by Mr Callaghan 's Rhodesian emissary, Mr Cledwyn Hughes, which Labour lost on a swing of 12 per cent. Hornchurch, one of a string of East London seats where the swing ran into double figures, was not far behind. Right across London there was a string of Labour casualties: Putney, where former Arts Minister Hugh Jenkins lost his seat, Fulham (formerly held by the one time Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart who did not stand this time), Ealing North, Ilford South - which joined the by-election seat of Ilford North in turning Tory - with Enfield North among them.
Outside London, the Conservatives regained Rochester and Chatham, putting a former Prices junior minister Mrs Peggy Fenner back in the House after a five year absence due to another 1974 Labour gain .
There were solid Conservative swings and valuable prizes across the Midlands. At Lincoln, the Tories turned out Miss Margaret Jackson, a junior minister who captured the seat from the Democratic Labour MP Dick Taverne. The late appearance of a Democratic Labour candidate in this constituency may well have tilted this result decisively.
Newark, a Labour seat for almost 30 years, went Tory, too, dispatching another junior minister, Mr Ted Bishop, and Labour lost Birmingham Yardley, though holding Birmingham Hansworth. But there were notable Labour successes: Dr David Owen won Plymouth Devonport against a particularly dedicated Tory campaign.
In the North-west the Tories failed to capture a crop of winnable seats, which they needed for a really substantial majority. Bolton East, the seat which in all previous elections had gone to the winning party, stayed Labour. Middleton and Prestwich, held by the other James Callaghan, also remained with Labour. So, even more impressively, did the much more marginal Bolton West.
Seats which did change hands, like Nelson and Colne (1.4 per cent swing to the Conservatives) and Rossendale (around 2 per cent), did so on a relatively modest shift to the Right.
The best Labour results of all came in Scotland. The juiciest capture of all was Glasgow Cathcart where Mr Teddy Taylor had clung on since 1964 to a seat which to the naked eye looked inevitably Labour. The Tories held on to Aberdeen South, an even more marginal seat. The cruellest results of the night were for the Scottish National Party, which after doubling its representation in the last decade was last night wiped off much of the map of Scotland.
Mrs Winifred Ewing lost Moray and Nairn, Mr Hamish Watt lost Baniff, and Angus South, too, went back to the Tories. But Labour moved up from third place to take Dunbartonshire East, thus displacing Mrs Margaret Bain and Mr George Reid, much more suprisingly, failed to hold his seat in Clackmannan and East Stirling.
The sole SNP survivors on the night's results was Mr Gordon Wilson in Dundee, through opinion poll projections suggested that Argyll and Mr Donald Stewart's Western Isles would stay Nationalist, too. The extraordinary divergence of the results, region by region, upset the computers and led to displays of extreme caution by some of the party leaders. Mrs Thatcher, acknowledging the applause as her own result was announced at Finchley towards 2 a.m., said: "The night is yet young and we don't know what it will hold." Mr Callaghan in Cardiff made no comment.
One sad feature of a night on which a woman reached the highest-ever office in Britain was a crop of casualties among retiring women MPs. Apart from Miss Jackson in Linoln and Mrs Wise, Mrs Helene Hayman was dismissed from the Labour benches and the SNP women representation was cut from two to nil. Ms Maureen Colquhoun, Northampton North's controversial MP, in the last parliament, was also defeated.”