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Liveblog

Enough for now!  Back later…

4.52am: Former and disgraced Welsh Secretary fails in his bid to win a Welsh Assembly seat.

4.47am: Conservative gain Windsor and Maidenhead from LibDems.  Also East Cambridgeshire gained.

4.40am: Tories on 20% in Wales (projected).

4.35am: Tories on just 15% in Scotland.  Let’s hope that Cameron will have the courage to pursue that breakaway strategy

4.24am: 16 gains see Tories in overall control of Malvern Hills.

4.12am: Finally spoke on BBC1.  Been here five hours for thirty seconds of messaging!  The company has been excellent, though.  On again in another 15 or so minutes…

4.05am: Fraser Nelson says a Tartan intifada is underway in Scotland.  England doesn’t matter he’s saying compared to what is happening to Labour in Scotland. Gordon Brown lives in hostile territory he says.  Too true.  Is Tartan intifada the soundbite of the night?

4.03am: Grant Schapps on BBC says Tory vote share up 2% to 41%.  BBC respond that it’s too early to say.

3.58am: Tories retain key northern stronghold of Trafford.

3.54am: Tories doing very well in East Devon.

3.51am: Things are now looking bad for Labour in Scotland.  My guess is that reverses north of the border are going to be the story.

3.46am: SNP gain Glasgow Govan from Labour.

3.45am: Ben Brogan: "GOSSIP JUST IN: Ming Campbell has been spotted in the Pizza Express at Millbank Tower looking in despair. Maybe he knows something."

3.40am: Alex Fergusson (Tory MSP) survives strong challenge.

3.38am: Tories gain in Birmingham.  Now largest party.

3.37am: Unconfirmed reports that Eric Pickles is dancing at CCHQ.

3.36am: LibDem leader one of casualties in nine Tory gains in Windsor and Maidenhead.

3.32am: Tories
lose Salisbury.  I know about this.  The council invested in expensive
new offices.  My mum and dad – local voters – both said they were going
to vote against the party in protest at the "waste of money".

3.27am: CCHQ
official "gobsmacked" at 24 gains in South Ribble.  We’re getting tired
here.  I’m almost ready to retire.  Sam is getting the drinks in.  I’m
having a Stella.  Is that appropriate?  Is anyone still reading this
blog?  Is everyone in bed?  Why aren’t I?

3.16am: The Times feels that the Tory result in Bury is disappointing.

3.13am: Tories win East Riding and Dover.

3.12am: I hear from Bournemouth that we’ve won control.

3.08am: Iain Dale says (1) Tory gains in north and (2) success against LibDems are main stories.

3.03am: CCHQ
tells me that there are now 72 councils across the country with no
Labour councillor.  Tonight Labour have been wiped out in Castle Point,
Maldon, Tunbridge Wells, Oswestry and Ribble Valley.  Why don’t the BBC ever talk about Labour-free zones?

2.59am: Just
heard Annabel Goldie on Radio 4.  She expects Tories to hold share of
vote but that "smaller parties" like the Scottish Tories have been
squeezed by the big SNP-Labour clash.  I don’t like our party being
described as a smaller party.

2.57am: Salmond can relax, he’s got Gordon. [end Sam-blogging]

2.50am: The Guardian got a copy
of Labour’s 27-page strategy document for ministers’ reactions to the
results. They were told to first say "wait and see before engaging in
speculation" then after more results came through to opine that "all
governments experience midterm setbacks". They were told to defend
Blair as the most successful leader Labour has ever had and Brown as
its most successful Chancellor, and not to be drawn on saying whether
it would be good or bad for Labour to have a properly contested
leadership race. It said to say the only poll that matters is the
general election which doesn’t have to be until 2010, and that Cameron
needed to make a breakthrough in the north which they already planned
to say had failed. They even offered the line, dependent on the right
results, that Cameron had done no better than Iain Duncan Smith had,
and urged them to emphasise that he was "Conservative to the core". The
paper cautioned about the Conservatives majorly downplaying prospects
in the North.

2.42am: [Sam, the
real brains behind the operation, now blogging while Tim gets some air]
First projected national share of the vote announced – Conservatives
41%, Labour 27%, LibDems 26%.

2.35am: Tories gain seven seats from Labour to take control of Gravesham.

2.32am: My brain is huge according to Dan Hannan:
"I’ve just spoken to Tim Montgomerie, the planet-brained editor of
ConservativeHome (www.conservativehome.blogs.com), who is predicting a
net Tory gain of 600 seats. This is very substantially more than the
BBC is forecasting. My money is on Montgomerie! His information, which
is being posted in real time, also seems rather speedier than the
Beeb’s – a neat proof of how dispersed private enterprise is more
efficient than any nationalised monopoly."

2.28am: Tories gain Woking (ITV News had set this as a Tories versus LibDem test) and Oswestry.

2.24am: Big gain
for Tories from LibDems… Torbay.  Many seats changing from yellow to
blue.  Added to earlier Plymouth win this is very good news for Tories
in South West.
  It’s looking like a bad night for Ming.

2.21am: Edward
Leigh on BBC says opposition to Iraq war essential for Tory recovery in
the north.  Theresa May says that there’ll be no change in frontbench
position on Iraq.

2.20am: Trish Law holds Blaenau Gwent.

2.15am: "A
Conservative councillor in Lincolnshire has held his seat by the toss
of a coin. Councillor Christopher Underwood-Frost tied with Liberal
Democrat John Birkenshaw after they both won 781 votes in the West
Lindsey district." (BBC)

2.12am: Maude on BBC – Tories not doing "fantastically well" but "making serious progress" in north.

2.05am: BBC percentage projection has Tories up 1% and LibDems down 1% with Labour hardly changed on four years ago.  BBC reporting Labour are relieved.

Hague_2005
2.03am:
This in from William Hague:

“These
elections show that the Conservative Party is back in business in the
North.  We have taken control of Chester and South Ribble and made
significant advances in Bury, Crewe and Nantwich, Preston, Sunderland,
Barrow and many others.  And we are on course to have control of more
councils than Labour in the North West.  This is the beginning of the
Conservative revival in the north of England.”

1.54am:

Theguardian
1.48am:
Earlier
this evening (1.12am) we told you about our 18 year-old Tory boy
victor.  Now an 18 year Tory girl has won, too… Hannah Berry.
Congratulations Hannah!

1.43am: This would take the Tories back to our 1990 position in terms of number of seats…

600
1.39am: Tories take Plymouth.

1.35am: Tony Travers saying Tories certainly doing "modestly well" in South-East… perhaps better than that.

1.31am: BBC people here want to know why this blog has a lot of results faster than them… The wisdom of the crowd!

1.30am: Labour wiped out in Castle Point.

1.28am: Three Tory gains in Torbay from LibDems.

1.22am: Compassionate
conservatism in action… I’m sat with LabourHome blogger Alex Hilton.
He has no laptop and so he’s borrowing ConservativeHome’s spare Mac.

1.19am: More good
news from the north.   Two gains in Macclesfield.  Sam has brought me
some sandwiches and a coke.  He’s now talking to Fraser Nelson and
Lance Price but I’m still blogging.

1.16am: Labour have lost first seat to SNP.  Dundee now all under SNP MSPs.  6% Labour to SNP swing.

1.15am: Six gains in Warwickshire North.  Tories now in control.  Set to gain Waverley from LibDems…

1.12am: The Express has the story on the triumph of 18 year-old Conservative William Lloyd. (And now The Times).

1.09am: Now stood
with The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson.  His advice is that everyone should
go to bed and wake up to the results in the morning. Very sensible
advice that I would take if I wasn’t a geek.

1.03am: Mood in
CCHQ said to be buoyant.  Eric Pickles directing operations. Results
coming in 30mins ahead of BBC. Hague, Cameron, Osborne and Maude all
there with staff.

1.01am: Dan Hannan has blogged some initial reactions here.

12.56am: Tories on course to retake Dartford for first time in 12 years.

12.49am: Sam
Coates, CH Deputy, is here with me. Whilst I’m blogging on BBC set (not
allowed to move) he’s supposed to be feeding me info from the radio but
I can see him at the other end of the pub – eating sandwiches with
Shaun Bailey, Michael Portillo and Mark Oaten.  Has he even offered me
a sandwich?  No.  You can’t get the staff these days.

12.47am: Latest
Rory Bremner joke – David Cameron does Tony Blair better than me – I
only do the voice – Cameron does the whole Blair thing.

12.44am: Rory
Bremner is currently performing in the BBC pub with me. Brown is like
The Queen apparently. He’s the only other person in the country who
keeps his views private.

12.33am: Gain of South Ribble confirmed.  Congratulations to Lorraine Fulbrook and her team.

12.30am: Labour
wiped out in Tunbridge Wells. Order has been restored in universe!
Three gains from LibDems in TW as well – confirming early pattern of
the night that we’re winning against the LibDems (at least in south).
Now sat opposite Rory Bremner.

12.26pm: Three
Tory gains now in Sunderland!! One gain in Wigan. Also on course to
largest party in Bury. Two gains from LibDems in Preston.  Remember: Bury, Chester and South Ribble all General Election targets.

12.19am: Tories have succeeded in knocking out only BNP councillor in Broxbourne.

12.17am: I’ve just been called a geek by Emily Maitliss!  The things I put up with for the Tory cause.

12.12am: Two Tory gains from Labour in Barrow.  Tories now the largest party there.

12.06am: Early
signs are good in the north.  One gain in Roy Keane’s Sunderland –
Washington South ward (Sunderland) for the first time ever.  Up three
in Tamworth.  Five gains in South Ribble.  Chester back in Tory hands for first time in 21 years.

11.51pm: I’m
hearing that the LibDems are in trouble in Malvern Hills against Tories
but may have won in Mr Prescott’s backyard of Hull.  Could this be an
early story of the night?
LibDem to Tory swing in south but Lab to LD in north?

11.49pm: Early reports of gains across the country for the BNP.  Let’s hope they are wrong.

11.43pm: First result just texted to me from Robert Halfon in Harlow.  The ward ConservativeHome leafletted in earlier has been won from the LibDems. The yellow peril had held it for 20 years!

11.37pm: Contact
in Bournemouth is reporting strong likely swing from LibDems to
Tories.  If this is true and repeated across the country we can be very
hopeful…

11.31pm: The
Guardian’s Will Woodward has been leaked Labour’s internal briefing
document.  Labour are clearly expecting the worst.  The briefing says:
"This was always a very tough set of midterm elections for Labour.
However we fully respect the message the British people is sending us
this evening."  The document urges Labour spokesmen to focus on
progress in the north as the key test for the Tories.  The leaked paper
continues: "Rebranding will only work for so long if you actually
change and start making the tough choices that means. The British
people will not be fooled by PR alone."

11.29pm: Now
moved to BBC1’s Westminster pub studio where I’m based for the evening.
Updates will be more regular again now!  Watch out for a couple of TV
appearances…

10.57pm: Great quote from Esler to Nicol Stephen, LibDem Scottish leader: "Whatever way people vote you end up in power." The joy of PR.

10.53pm: Gavin
Esler is teasing Alex Salmond about smiling too much.  Salmond responds
by saying that the prospect of Labour losing its dominance in Scotland
for the first time in fifty years is a bigger deal.  Can’t disagree
with that.  The charismatic Salmond also rightly attacks Gordon Brown’s
recent arrogant statement that he would be reluctant to work with an
SNP Parliament.

10.48pm: On
Newsnight Jeremy Vine is doing his second (?) year as Peter Snow.
Averaging recent polls he’s suggesting 45 seats for the SNP in
Scotland; 41 for Labour; 18 for the LibDems; and 17 for us.

10.43pm: ITV News
has sent Daisy McAndrew to Woking to watch a LibDem versus Tory contest
and where Labour might be wiped out.  "[Cameron] needs to get into the
mid-40s if he’s to be Britain’s next Prime Minister," she told
viewers.  Tom Bradby focuses on weakness of Labour’s activist base in
his report.

10.40pm: William Hague is representing the blues on Question Time.

10.32pm: Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman asks: "Has David Cameron cured the Tories of leprosy?"

10.25pm: Listening
to BBC Radio 4.  A vox pop by Robin Lustig in Glasgow concludes that
Iraq is hurting Labour in Scotland.  Wow!  Turning off radio now –
let’s see what Newsnight is doing.  Will someone keep an eye on
Question Time for us all?  18DoughtyStreet is also focused on the elections if you want TV that’s more interactive.

10.10pm: Your prediction of tonight’s council results…

437

10.03pm: BBC
Ten’o’clock does not lead on elections – but a story of a paedophile
vicar that I remember leading the Today programme 48 hours ago.

First thoughts at 9.45pm: Tonight is
mainly about Scotland.  We know that Tony Blair will do badly across
England but will Gordon Brown’s active campaigning over recent weeks
protect his backyard?  If he can’t hold Scotland can he expect to
rescue Labour south of the border?  Recent polls have suggested that
the SNP’s lead is being cut back.  Much of the Scottish campaign has
had quite a Tory and retro feel.  Scottish Labour have been attacking
the SNP as a threat to the union and as high tax.  We certainly know
that Labour’s idea that devolution would kill the desire for
independence hasn’t worked although many of tonight’s voters for Alex
Salmond’s party want to kick Labour rather than want an end of the
Union.

Pickles_eric
Eric Pickles is expecting something above 39% for the Tories tonight.
This is what he said to the Evening Standard: "It is harder for us to
get a vote share up in the 40s than it was 20 years ago because the
share for other, smaller parties has increased to about 12%.  But we
got 39% last year and I am confident we will see an improvement."

It won’t be often that we say this but it was good to see traffic
subdued on ConservativeHome for much of the day.  Many regular users
were clearly out leafletting and getting out the vote.

246 comments for: LIVE elections blog

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