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11.18pm: Tomorrow’s Times articles on the fortunes of the LibDems, Conservatives (both by the other Sam Coates), and Labour.

10:22pm: Didn’t the BBC do an exit poll this time? If not, why not? Asks John Hayward of The Difference magazine.

10.07pm: Newsnight is on for an hour tonight with Kirsty Wark, Michael Crick, Danny Finkelstein, Peter Hyman, and Olly Grender.

7.51am: LibDem spokesmen are  predictably doing their best to make out that it’s the percentage of vote that matters, not net gains/losses of seats and councils. Comparing the percentages with last year’s locals would be more useful if it was the same seats being contested. Having immersed myself in the coverage and commentary of these elections for the last 24 hours, I’m quite cynical about how the parties spin what matters according to what puts them in the best light. Someone should set up a website monitoring what each politician and party says on election nights, it would be interesting to see how consistent they are over the years!

7.29pm: It’s all quietening down a little now. I notice we haven’t seen anything like the rise of some of "the others" that many predicted. So far it looks like the Greens have made 18 gains, the BNP have gained two, and UKIP just one.

6:43pm: Gordon
Brown has been watching the election results from home all day, merely
releasing a statement saying that Labour should "listen and learn". 18 Doughty Street’s Macavity video,
a short film about Brown using an adapted version of T.S. Eliot’s
Mystery Cat poem, sums up well his tendency to run a mile when things
get heated.

Salmond_bbc
6.35pm:
James Forsyth on the new Spectator blog
laments the problems with Proportional Representation in Scotland. Alex
Salmond has just told the BBC he would launch a judicial review of the
ballot paper problems, and whilst speaking positively about forming a
coalition he was understandably coy about his preferences.

6.17pm: What are the coalition prospects in Wales? Tory Assembly leader Nick Bourne said one is needed for stability:

"Confronted with the arithmetic we’ve got, if you’re going to have some degree of stability
you’re going to have to have a coalition. There’s got to be
compromises, there’s got to be horse-trading, that’s the way coalitions
work. The alternative is instability where you’ve got a Government that
is being defeated week in, week out."

LibLab alliance? Rainbow coaliton of Conservatives, Plaid and LibDems?

6.07pm: The Press Association points out examples of where the bin collection issue seemingly made a difference. The
balance of power in Kirklees went from the Conservatives to Labour
after they announced they’d bring in alternate collections, and we lost
North Lincolnshire to Labour and Salisbury
to NOC after the councils there trialled the fortnightly collection
system.
Eric Pickles told the press this afternoon that HQ were watching this trend and will draw up on an analysis of it.

6.00pm: Unlike the BBC, Sky News headlines focus on it being a bad night for Menzies Campbell.

5:58pm: New CCHQ map – Labour’s 89 local government wildernesses are in white:

No_go_areas

 

5.53pm: Londoner points out that the BBC’s Have Your Say debate on the election results hasn’t approved any comments for four hours… 

5.42pm: Fun and
games in Liverpool. The Conservatives had a full slate in the city for
the first time since 1992 but didn’t quite get a foothold. Not
unusually Liverpool went against the national trend a little as Labour
made several gains, but the big regional news story is footage of
fighting between rival groups (not Tories) in the highly marginal
Croxteth Ward.

5:33pm: Francis
Maude has just said on the BBC that he wouldn’t be surprised if we get
up to 900 seats. An official statement by him has just come through:

"Now that most of the results are in, it’s clear
that we’ve made a massive breakthrough. We now control over 200 councils
across England
– three times as many councils as Labour and the Lib Dems combined.
What’s more, we’ve made a great breakthrough in the North of
England with more councils than Labour in the North West
and Yorkshire. We’re now the only party that represents the whole
of England.
This is a great base on which we can build victory at the next election.”

5.32pm: Confirmed
figures in Scotland – the SNP have got 47 seats (+20) and Labour have
46. This means the SNP are the largest party in Parliament, Salmond
says they have the "moral authority to govern".

Confirmed_2

5.21pm: Alan
Johnson has just been on the BBC using spurious logic to defend Blair’s
ridiculous comment that these results are "a springboard" for the
General Election.

5.17pm: With control of 155 Councils, the Conservatives have exactly five times as many as Labour do.

5.06pm: Latest
overall figures for seats in Scotland  (SNP 40, Lab 40, LD, 15, Con 12,
Others 1), Wales (Lab 26, PC 15, Con 12, LD 6, Others 1) and England
(Con +837, Lab -460, LD -247, Others -126).

4.45pm: I’m signing off now.  Exhausted but it’s been enormous fun and a massive day for traffic.  Sam is now taking over…

4.44pm: 13 Tory
gains see Tories win Staffordshire Moorlands.  Labour’s leader, wife
and Chairman all lose their seats.  Great result for Karen Bradley.

4.32pm: Current
English councillors tally with 40 councils still to fully declare –
Tories up 776; Labour down  424; LDs down 228 (my favourite number);
Others down 126.  I expect pressure to mount on Ming Campbell over the weekend.  Expect real rumbling by Sunday.

Fullbrookandcameron4.19pm: David
Cameron is pictured with South Ribble’s Lorraine Fullbrook.  South
Ribble Tories stormed to control yesterday after gaining 25 seats.
They offered a five point manifesto to the Lancashire council’s voters:
Kill the council merger forever / Inflation-only council tax rises/ No
council tax snoopers/ Protect local greenfields/ Cleaner streets.

4.13pm: Sam
Coates writes: "The CCHQ briefing paper linked to below (2.55pm) is
well worth a read. One of the key messages is that Labour have no
representation on at least 80 councils now, a line picked up by James
Lansdale on the BBC. In terms of share of the vote the Conservatives
have the same lead as Labour did in 1996, when Blair famously said that
"there are, quite simply, no no-go areas for New Labour". Pickles seems
to have revised his projected net gain from 600 to 700 seats.  Pressed
at the media briefing this afternoon about a lack of representation in
the big northern cities Pickles said that, lovely chaps as the press
were, they reminded him of a small child on a long journey. The Party
had retreated from these areas in the past so infrastructure had to be
established first, and "a Chinese view" taken on progress there. Even
so, the Party is "more than back in business" in the North as a "very
major political player". The LibDems are heading for their worst loss
of councillors in a decade, and have less councillors in the north than
the Conservatives."

4.12pm: BBC now saying that Tory percentage will be 40%, not 41%. Hmm.

4.10pm: "The night that shamed Scottish democracy" – Edinburgh’s Evening News on the voting fiasco.

3.27pm: Fraser Nelson
– "Ming Campbell is trying his best not to look shell-shocked. Truth
is, the Tory "love bomb" deployed on LibDem voters actually
detonated."  I was too slow to capture it but Ming was just
interviewed in Eastbourne (on Sky) with LibDem canvassers holding
balloons in the background but all looking in the other direction.  It
looked dreadful.

3.12pm: Blackpool and Torbay next stops for Cameron’s ‘victory tour’.

2.55pm: Here is a pdf of CCHQ’s briefing on the results – just emailed to me.  The map below of ‘The New North’ also comes from CCO (click to enlarge).
Sam Coates is currently at a press conference being given by Eric
Pickles.  Hopefully he’ll return with some additional insights…

Thenewnorth
2.37pm:
Nick
Robinson is flying up to Scotland as we speak.  It’s all about Scotland
now.  If the SNP become the largest party these elections will be seen
as bad for Brown/ Blair/ Labour.  If Labour hold on it will be seen as
a good thing for Brown. Nick Robinson is saying there may be only one
seat that decides who is Scotland’s First Minister.  I’m exaggerating a
bit but not much.  Blair’s spindoctors are orchestrating one last
operation.

2.31pm: Conservatives gain South Shropshire with six new councillors.

2.28pm: The
Evening Standard notes that the move to a fortnightly bin collection
was politically toxic for any council that suggested it.  It puts the
ousting of the LibDems in Bournemouth and Waverly plus the Tory loss of
North Lincolnshire and Labour’s reverse in Telford as places where the
rubbish vote was decisive.

Losinghere
1.47pm:
PoliticalBetting’s Mike Smithson is reflecting on the disappointing LibDem performance and speculating about "long-term implications…"

1.39pm: PA – "In
Bury, Labour received eight seats with 35.6% of the vote, while the
Conservatives took only six on 39.9%. Bury South’s Labour MP Ivan Lewis
hailed the result as "crushing" for the Tories. And in Bolton, Labour
won nine seats on 31.6% of the vote, against the Tories’ seven on
36.1%.  Electoral Reform Society campaigns director Havard Hughes said:
"The first-past-the-post system has cheated another community out of
the representation they asked for.  The Labour Party should take no
comfort in this victory. It is yet another aberration generated by our
winner-takes-all system. Across England and Wales this system benefits
both main parties, but it’s voters who will pay the price."

1.37pm: Former Tory MP Dame Elizabeth Peacock calls for more emphasis on law and order and secure borders to win in Yorkshire. 

1.20pm: Conservatives
take control of North Shropshire and gain 9 seats in Karen Bradley’s
Staffordshire Moorlands backyard.  Terrific news.

1.17pm: The Guardian on the BNP’s failure to make progress.

1.15pm: Decision to give casino to Manchester may explain Conservative success in Blackpool.

1.07pm: David
Cameron – "We have made a real breakthrough in the north of England. We
are now the national party standing up for every part of Britain and
ready to serve this country."

12.30pm: Three gains see Tories take control of Rugby.

12.23pm: Cameron is in Chester to celebrate Tory northern gains.  Ming is in Eastbourne.

Cameroninchester
11.54am:
At 1.43am we suggested Tory gains of 600 (well above the average ConservativeHome prediction).  Gains may now be closer to 700.

11.46am: Alan Duncan is on BBC News 24 and notes that the LibDems are in decline.  I’m amazed that there isn’t more speculation as to Menzies Campbell’s future.  He has led his party in an uninspiring way and Mr Duncan is right – they’re going backwards.

11.43am: The bookmakers are confused.  Labour’s chances at the next election have improved slightly according to William Hill after they did a little better than expected but Ladbrokes has cut odds on the Tories being the largest party.

11.31am: On Wednesday ConservativeHome republished
an anti-BNP leaflet from Holbeach Conservatives.  The local MP John
Hayes has just rung me to say that the Tory councillor who defected to
the BNP was ousted last night.

11.08am: The
scale of the spoilt ballots issue in Scotland is slowly becoming
clear.  100,000 ballot papers have been disqualified.  Annabel Goldie:
"As we predicted, the numbers of spoilt vote has dramatically increased
as voters face two voting systems with three votes.  In some seats the
number of spoilt ballots has increased ten fold and on occasion is
greater than that of the majority of the winning candidate.  When taken
in conjunction with the level of turnout it brings into question the
whole democracy of the Scottish Parliament.  It is quite simply
unacceptable that tens of thousands of voters have effectively been
disenfranchised."

11.07am: Conservatives gain North Somerset from NOC.

11.05am: Stephen Pollard’s take:
"Brown will be the next Prime Minister. Cameron has done a good job as
Conservative leader but needs to do a lot better. This morning we know
exactly what we knew yesterday morning."

11.01am: A grand, non-Labour coalition looks possible in Wales after PC and Tory gains.

Bournenick
10.53am:
Just
captured this screenshot from Sky News.  The results are being
summarised by a Snakes and Ladders game.  It’s pretty playschool stuff.

Snakesandladders
10.46am: Great
soundbite from Nick Wood on Sky News – "We’re heading for a hung
parliament in Scotland.  We’re heading for a hung parliament in Wales.
Soon we’ll be heading for a hung parliament in Westminster."

10.34am: Was a 52% increase in councillors’ expenses the reason for the loss of Eastbourne to the LibDems!?

10.15am: 18DoughtyStreet Talk TV is live this morning.

10.01am: Click here
for Matthew d’Ancona’s take on the results on the new Spectator Coffee
House blog. He describes the Tory performance as "respectable".   

Maude_looking_right
9.49am:
Francis Maude has issued the following statement:

“These
results mark a real breakthrough. Our share of the vote has broken
through 40 per cent and we’re back in business in the North with
spectacular gains in places like South Ribble and East Riding – a
council we have never held before. We now control more councils in the
North West and Yorkshire than Labour and we’re now the largest party in
Birmingham.  We’ve also had some fantastic progress against the Lib
Dems – like the 23 seats we gained from them in Bournemouth. Clearly we
cannot be complacent about winning the next General Election, but these
results provide a great base on which we can continue to progress
across the entire country”.

9.44am: David Cameron headed off to South Ribble and Chester today as Tories spin northern progress.

9.43am: After about two-and-a-half hour’s sleep Tim Montgomerie is back in charge of the blog!

9.34 Nick Clegg joins Jon Sopel. Says "where we work, where we’re strong, where we’re organised we do well" – is that a surprise?

9.16 George
Osborne is on News 24. He is hailing the breakthrough in the North,
highlighting the Ribble result. He says that there are now over 70
councils in England with no Labour MPs. He talks about the progress
Conservatives have made over the Liberals.

9.09 Jon Sopel is
reporting that the Electoral Commission has said that they will hold a
full independent inquiry into the voting problems in Scotland.

8.40 Ming
Campbell is interviewed on BBC Breakfast. He says "It’s a mixed bag of
results for us" but in typical Lib Dem cherry picking spin he
highlights their success in Hull (from Labour) and Eastbourne (from the
Conservatives).

8.22am Nick
Robinson says "By any conventional measure if you look at Labour alone
then this is pretty dire." He says that Labour will cheer themselves up
with a slightly increased share of the vote and news that their
opponents had not made a breakthrough.

8.16am After a
discussion about the voting confusion in Scotland – apparently the
Scottish Executive ignored officials advice to delay the count until
the morning to sort out problems – Hazel Blears comes on to defend
Labour’s record. She says "It’s not been the best of nights, I never
expected it to be" – clearly the line to take.

8.01am The Today programme says "Labour have fared better than expected…" Not a view universally held!

7.52am We’re
back! Andrew Burkinshaw covering for Tim and Sam. With just over an
hour to go before counting starts for the councils not counting
overnight we await the Today headlines at 8 to know what the BBC are
saying.

288 comments for: Friday’s Election Blog (LIVE)

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