Britain is heading to a hung parliament, after the most dramatic and surprising general election in a generation.
By Ian Dunt
Britain is heading to a hung parliament, after the most dramatic and surprising general election in a generation. The final result is still unclear, but all parties will be disappointed with a night that saw expectations thwarted at every turn.
David Cameron has almost certainly failed to secure a majority, although his party came first in the popular vote and in the number of seats. Gordon Brown saw Labour categorically defeated by the Conservatives, although many seats which had been expected to fall to the Tories, such as Hammersmith, fought off the Tory threat.
The promised Liberal Democrat surge failed to materialise. Pollsters will be asking serious questions about the data received from members of the public in the run-up to the election, which pointed to a much stronger result from the Lib Dems. As things stand, it appears the party has actually lost seats.
Several high profile scalps were claimed. Peter Robinson, the leader of the DUP and first minister of Northern Ireland, lost his Westminster seat. Two former home secretaries – Charles Clarke and Jacque Smith – lost their seats.
For the Liberal Democrats, high-profile personality Lembit Opik and Dr Evan Harris, the party’s outspoken science spokesman, both lost their seats. The BNP completely failed to take Barking from Labour MP Margaret Hodge, and fears of a far-right surge did not transpire. Esther Rantzen’s campaign as an independent also failed.
But one small party did well: the Greens saw their first ever MP elected, in the form of Caroline Lucas, party leader, in Brighton Pavilion. Ed Balls, the children’s secretary who Tories had hoped would suffer his own ‘Portillo moment’, survived the night.