The morning overview 1) The Conservatives are heading towards a narrow majority

150508 Newspaper montage

“David Cameron says he hopes to govern for all of the UK as a BBC forecast gives the Tories 329 seats – enough to form a slender majority in the Commons. … The prime minister said it was ‘too early to say’ the final result but he hoped to form a government. … The BBC forecast, with well over half of the results now in, is Conservative 329, Labour 233, the Lib Dems eight, the SNP 56, Plaid Cymru three, UKIP two, the Greens one and others 19.” – BBC

  • “‘We haven’t had an incumbent government increase its majority like this since 1983 and it would be an unprecedented vote of confidence in David Cameron’s leadership,’ Michael Gove, the chief whip, said as the exit poll was released.” – Financial Times
  • “The pound rose sharply after exit polls suggested the Tories were set to be the biggest party winning 316 seats out of a possible 650.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “A message to the Tories: beware triumphalism, stormy waters lie ahead.” – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • “Why were so many people afraid to admit that they wanted to vote Tory?” – Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph
  • “Tim Montgomerie, the Times columnist, has suggested a bold pitch for the political centre that Mr Cameron would do well to consider as the basis for a Queen’s Speech.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “If Cameron is able to form a Government today, we encourage him to continue his prudent handling of the finances and creating jobs and wealth for all. And we mean all.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Today:

The morning overview 2) Cameron: I will govern as a One Nation Prime Minister

“Mr Cameron all but declared victory in a speech after being returned as MP for Witney, in which he set out his intention to press ahead with an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union and to complete the Conservatives’ economic plan. … ‘I want to bring our country together, our United Kingdom together, not least by implementing as fast as we can the devolution that we rightly promised and came together with other parties to agree both for Wales and for Scotland. … In short, I want my party, and I hope a government I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost – the mantle of One Nation, One United Kingdom. That is how I will govern if I am fortunate enough to form a government in the coming days.'” – BBC

  • “The result is a stunning vindication of the Prime Minister.” – John Rentoul, The Independent
  • “At David Cameron’s favourite pub in Witney, Oxfordshire, a crowd of Conservative drinkers greeted the exit poll with controlled satisfaction.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

> Today: ToryDiary – Congratulations, Prime Minister. Now you’ve the chance to host a Conservative family reunion

The morning overview 3) The SNP sweep all before them in Scotland

Scottish flag“Scotland faces becoming a one party state following an astonishing performance from the SNP that could see the party win as many as 56 of the 59 seats available in the country. … The SNP’s incredible success and the threat of calls for a second independence referendum is set to cause David Cameron his first big headache as a second term Prime Minister should Labour’s collapse present him with the opportunity to return to Downing Street. … Commentators have even raised the prospect of Cameron being forced to grant Scotland full fiscal autonomy in return for the SNP backing the Conservatives’ Queen’s Speech.” – Daily Mail

  • “Scotland is facing the prospect of another independence referendum in the next five years after the SNP’s dramatic election triumph. … The party’s deputy leader ­appeared to warn last night that grievances over the new powers coming to Scotland could prompt a fresh vote.” – The Scotsman
  • “Former SNP leader Alex Salmond has said the Scottish lion has roared and fired a warning to David Cameron after his party swept the boards north of the border.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Scotland has broken firmly with an England that has rejected Labour but embraced the Conservatives.” – John McDermott, Financial Times
  • “British politics is now about two existential issues: Scotland and Europe.” – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • “There is a new political landscape in Britain.” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

> Today: ToryDiary – Exit poll, exit United Kingdom?

The morning overview 4) Will Miliband be resigning soon?

“Labour politicians have begun openly questioning Ed Miliband’s future as Labour leader as he declared himself ‘deeply sorry’ about the election result. … Former sports minister and ex-MP Gerry Sutcliffe said Miliband will have to consider his position, saying it was ‘time for someone else to take over’. … Jack Straw, the Labour ex-home secretary, also said it would be up to Miliband to think about his future as leader of the party. … Given the likely scale of Labour’s loss, it is now highly probable that Miliband will resign. However, there is an internal debate within the party about whether it would be better for him to stay on until a new leader is chosen without the process being rushed.” – The Guardian

  • “Sources said the beleaguered party chief would be ‘gone by lunchtime’ in the wake of his election humilation. … The Sun has learned that Mr Miliband wanted to emulate Neil Kinnock by staying on as leader even if he lost the election – as his predecessor did in 1987.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “The reason the Labour Party has just lost the 2015 general election is that the Labour Party didn’t try to win the 2015 general election.” – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph
  • “So it wasn’t, after all, as bad a night for the British left as those dramatic exit polls had suggested. It was, if anything, worse.” – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
  • “Forget neck and neck, this was a terrible trouncing.” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • “Labour’s election strategy utterly failed, and it has to admit as much.” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • “Ed Miliband wrote his own epitaph on an 8-foot tombstone.” – James Slack, Daily Mail
  • “Ed’s bitter lesson: you can’t win from the left.” – Philip Collins, The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – Labour. The Left lost – but so did the Blairites.

The morning overview 5) And Clegg, despite holding on to his seat?

CLEGG Bird“Nick Clegg has sensationally survived the Liberal Democrat bloodbath which felled a string of his high-profile ministers – but has hinted that he could step down as leader in a matter of hours. … In a candid speech which alluded to his imminent resignation, the Deputy Prime Minister – whose majority was decimated in his Sheffield Hallam constituency – revealed he would be discussing his leadership with his colleagues following a ‘cruel and punishing night’ for the party.” – Daily Mail

  • “Nick Clegg is facing the prospect of the Liberal Democrats being reduced to just single figures in the Commons.” – The Independent

> Today: ToryDiary – The Lib Dems: another small party crushed by coalition

The morning overview 6) And Farage, despite UKIP coming third overall?

UKIP glass“Ukip has won at least one seat after Douglas Carswell took Clacton – but the party’s leader Nigel Farage appeared to be heading for defeat this morning. … Mr Farage, standing in South Thanet, has pledged to step down as leader ‘within ten minutes’ if he fails in his seventh attempt to get into Parliament. … Across the country the party is set to surge into third place on the amount of votes – overtaking the Lib Dems and even the SNP – but is still only projected to pick up two parliamentary seats.” – Daily Mail

  • “Nigel Farage warned that there would be ‘a lot of very angry Ukip voters’ today amid predictions that the party would win only two seats despite having secured millions of votes across the country. Such a result would prompt calls for electoral reform.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Ukip has done brilliantly. And totally failed. How can that be?” – Matthew Goodwin, Daily Telegraph

Boris is back! (And calls for a “federal offer” to placate Scottish voters)

boris-johnson“Following his victory with a 10,000 majority he said: ‘It’s been a long and exciting evening and obviously I’m very excited by some of the results that are coming through. … Overall I think it’s been an amazing night for the Conservatives.’ … On Scotland, he added: ‘There has to be some kind of federal offer. Everybody needs to take a deep breath and think about how we want the UK to progress.'” – Daily Mail

The Conservatives exceed expectations in Wales

“The election has been a ‘game-changer’ for the Conservative Party in Wales, a newly elected MP has said. … Craig Williams, who won the hotly-contested Cardiff North seat, said the Tories were “here to stay” as they won 11 seats. … The party took Gower from Labour by 27 votes, a seat it had held for more than 100 years. … The Tories also gained Brecon and Radnorshire from the Lib Dems and Vale of Clwyd from Labour. … It is the Conservatives’ best showing since 1983.” – BBC

McVey among the few defeated Tories

“Esther McVey, the Liverpool scrap merchant’s daughter turned TV presenter, who had ambitions to be prime minister dramatically lost her seat. By just over 400 votes. … Her 2,436 majority in Wirral West was overturned and Labour’s Margaret Greenwood won the seat with a 417 majority.” – The Independent

A night full of Portillo moments, including: Ed Balls

…Vince Cable…

“Vince Cable blamed a campaign of ‘fear’ by the Tories for a ‘terrible night’ for the Liberal Democrats as he became the latest in a string of high-profile party figures to lose their seats. … The Business Secretary was defeated by Conservative Tania Mathias by 25,580 votes to 23,563 in the seat he had held since 1997.” – The Independent

…David Laws…

LAWS David Yeovil“Conservative candidate Marcus Fysh paid tribute to his Liberal Democrat predecessor David Laws as he seized the constituency of Yeovil. … Mr Fysh, a former South Somerset District Councillor, beat Mr Laws by a margin of more than 5,000 votes. … In his victory speech, he said Mr Laws was ‘widely seen as a very good constituency MP’.” – Western Morning News

…the two Alexanders…

“Danny Alexander has become the latest senior Liberal Democrat collapsing to defeat, losing to the SNP’s Drew Hendry by more than 10,000 votes. … Mr Alexander said: ‘I will always be proud of the difference I and my party have made to the country in the last five years.'” – The Scotsman

Douglas Alexander“She is a 20-year-old Scottish student who likes football, describes Smirnoff Ice as the drink of gods and is studying for her final exams at university. … But Mhairi Black has pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the night by taking the Paisley and Renfrewshire South seat from Labour heavyweight and former shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander becoming the youngest MP since 1667 for the SNP.” – Daily Mail

…Jim Murphy…

“Labour’s Scottish leader Jim Murphy has lost his seat to the SNP, with the Scottish nationalists storming to an unprecedented victory north of the border. … He was first elected in Tony Blair’s landslide election in 1997 – winning the East Renfrewshire seat by more than 10,000 votes in 2010.” – The Independent

  • “His colleague Ian Davidson, who lost his Glasgow South West seat to the SNP, said Mr Murphy could not now continue as leader and called on him to resign.” – The Times (£)

…and Mark Reckless

RECKLESS Mark“UKIP has endured a night of frustration as Mark Reckless – one of the party’s only two MPs – lost his seat. … The defeat to Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurst in Rochester and Strood could leave the party with just one seat in Parliament – despite it winning the third-highest number of votes across the country.” – Sky News

Galloway reported to the police after defeat

“George Galloway has been reported to the police for allegedly Tweeting about an exit poll before voting had finished in a breach of election laws. … Bradford Council are said to have alerted police over claims the Respect MP retweeted the party’s own exit poll before polls closed at 10pm last night, it has been reported.” – Daily Mail

Reports of voting problems

ballot_box“After the great 2010 election debacle – when voters were left locked out of polling booths at 10pm, because ill-prepared staff could not cope with the demand – the Electoral Commission promised lessons would be learned. … Yesterday, however, there were reports of similar chaos afflicting the 2015 contest – which, of course, is so close that the disenfranchisement of just a handful of voters may be decisive in many constituencies. … Once, this country had the finest civil servants and electoral machinery in the world. Shamefully, our modern day bureaucracy – which wrecks almost everything it touches – is more akin to a banana republic.” – Daily Mail editorial

  • “Police are investigating suspected cases of vote-rigging in general election seats in Scotland.” – Daily Mail
  • “Voting in the General Election was embroiled in controversy with some Muslims told not to vote while others were allegedly ordered by spiritual leaders to back Labour.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “A police car has exploded outside a General Election count.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The pleasant weather across most of the country, including the crucial battleground of Scotland, is likely to increase turnout.” – The Times (£)

Non election news:

And finally 1) Will Ashdown eat his hat?

Paddy Ashdown 21-04-15“It certainly raised a few eyebrows as exit polls suggested the Lib Dems would be reduced to just ten seats, while the Tories would only be a few short of an overall majority – but Paddy Ashdown was having none of it. … The former Lib Dem leader told Andrew Neil on the BBC that he would ‘publicly eat my hat on your programme’ if the exit poll turned out to be correct.” – The Independent

And finally 2) A futile act

“Vandals have changed the Wikipedia pages of a string of top politicians to a picture of Ed Miliband and the words: ‘Vote Labour’. … Entries on David Cameron, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Ken Clarke were all defaced.” – The Sun (£)

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