Firstly, can say that this post is officially the 199th post on my blog, since i set this blog up in 2007. My next post (the 200th) will probably be reaction to the exit polls, so I'm not sure if I will remember to pass comment. However I would like to say many thanks for reading.
Back to business then. With the closest General Election since 1992 due to reach its climax at 10pm tonight, and the polls showing a hung parliament, the question is what will happen?
Tradition dictates that the first inkling of a result is from the exit polls, which are released as the polls close. The BBC though don’t have a great record in this respect, having predicted a hung parliament in 1987 and 1992. The first results normally come in at around 11pm, with Sunderland Central normally one of the first to declare. This election, the thing to watch with this seat is the probable Tory swing as this seat is thought to be the more “Tory friendly” of the Sunderland seats, even though New Labour are still expected to win this seat.
Due to declare at around 1am are a couple of seats which will act as real pointers as to what will happen. Birmingham Edgbaston is among the top of the Tories target list, a swing of 2% should take this seat, while Battersea will only require a swing of 0.4%. Of significance also declaring at this time is Basildon South & Thurrock East, the successor seat to Basildon. David Amess win here in 1992 was a harbinger that Labour were not going to win that election. A swing of 1.1% is required for the Tories to win this seat. Due to declare half an hour later are a couple of interesting seats. Rochdale has been the centre of attention because of “Biggotgate”, but a swing to the Lib Dems of 0.16% will see them re-take this seat the relinquished in 1997. Ipswich on the other hand is among the seats that will be crucial for the Tories if they are to win a majority, a swing of 6.1% is required to take this seat.
Gordon Brown should win his Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeith seat around about 2am. Among the key results to be announced around this time are Dudley North and Amber Valley, both constituencies the Tories need to take to win an outright majority. Ben Bradshaw’s Exeter seat is also due to be declared around about 2am. If his seat falls to the Tories, and a 9.1% swing is required here to topple him, a real shock could be on the cards – a Tory majority in the 60-70 seat bracket. An indicator of Lib Dem fortunes will be Torbay, a 3.6% swing (which is within the realms of their polling) will see the Lib Dems take this seat. The two local Paisley seats are also due to be declared around this time.
2:30am is pencilled in for Nick Cleggs victory speech as he retains his Sheffield Hallam seat. At this point we should know which way the wind is blowing. Swindon North (Swing Required – 3.1%), and Blackpool North (Swing Required - 4.26%) are key seats for Cameron to win if he is to have a majority. A swing of 7.1% will see the Tories take Stockton South, and will point to a small majority. Jim Murphy should also know his fate at around this point in the proceedings,with a similar 7.1% swing required by the Tories to unseat him. We should also have the first indications of how well the SNP have done in this election. Stirling is an SNP target seat, with a swing required of 5.5% needed for the SNP to take this seat. The SNP are defending Perth and Perthshire North, a swing of 1.5% will be enough for the Tories to win this seat.
By the time Cameron makes his victory speech after retaining his Witney seat, we should know if the he is on his way to 10 Downing Street. The six Glasgow seats are due to declare around about 3am, we will find out the fate of John Mason, the SNP’s shock winner of Glasgow East in a By-Election in 2008, around this time. Carlisle and Luton North are both due to declare around about 3am as well, a 7.1% swing is required to win Carlisle, a win here will see Cameron home with a majority. A Conservative win in Luton South – with a 8.2% swing – will point to a win with a comfortable majority. Also due to declare at 3am is Morley & Outwood, the seat of New Labour’s much loved Schools Minister Ed Balls. A swing of 12% is required to unseat him, and to fulfil all of those Tory fantasies of a “Portillo” moment, which funnily enough occurred at a similar stage in the proceedings.
By 3:30am we should have a clear picture of whether Cameron will be Prime Minister or we will have to wait for the horse-trading to begin. Whatever happens, history looks like it will be made.