5:19: Lab 181, Con 236, LD 36
Report from the Union: Max Lewis of OCA standing on a table and claiming it was OCA campaigning that won Oxford West for the Tories. I’m off to bed.
4:54: Lab 162, Con 220, LD 35
Some success for the Lib Dems at last, as they succeed in unseating Charles Clarke. That’s two former Labour Home Secretaries gone in one night.
4:51: Lab 157, Con 313, LD 33
But Ed Balls survives. Just.
4:39: Lab 149, Con 198, LD 25
Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has been defeated in Redditch by Tory Karen Lumley by a huge majority: 5821 votes. So Evan Harris can take comfort from the fact that he didn’t do as badly has her. But then Harris’s partner didn’t claim porn films on Parliamentary expenses.
4:35: Lab 145, Con 188, LD 28
We now have the figures for Oxford West. Lib Dem Incumbent Evan Harris lost to Tory Nicola Blackwood by fewer than 200 votes: 23 730 to 23 906, on a 6.9% swing. A few hours ago I thought the Lib Dems might end up controlling both Oxford constituencies. Now they have neither. Not a good night for them at all.
4:23: Lab 138, Con 179, LD 28 – Oxford West falls to Tories
No figures yet, but Evan Harris of the Lib Dems has been defeated by the Conservatives in Oxford West.
4:16: Lab 133, Con 168, LD 26
Now just two of us left in the JCR. And the other one is asleep.
4:14 Lab 130 Con 166, LD 26
‘Let’s speak now to two stars of the apprentice.’ God, the BBC are getting desperate.
4:08: Lab 122, Con 155, LD 23
We’ve reached the halfway point, with 330 seats now declared. 4:10 is an exceptionally late time to reach the halfway point. Vernon Bogdanor again, claiming to know how David Cameron is feeling: ‘I knew David Cameron extremely well as an undergraduate.’ Dimbleby is giving the impression more and more that Bogdanor is there not so much to explain hung Parliaments as to explain Cameron.
3:49: Lab 114, Con 133, LD 22
There’s going to be a recount of the Tory and Lib Dem vote in Oxford West and Abingdon, so we can’t expect a result for a while.
3:31: Lab 112, Con 104, LD 15 – Oxford East Held by Labour
More bad news for the Lib Dems – Andrew Smith has managed to hold on in Oxford East, defeating Steve Goddard of the Lib Dems by 21,938 to 17,357. And we thought Cherwell’s endorsement would ensure victory for him…
Oxford Town Hall exploded when the result was called. The sizeable, and severely sleep-deprived, OULC contingent were clearly delighted that it had gone their way.
Smith thanked the students who had been involved in the campaign. He felt that their support in the previous “months and years had been really key to our victory here.”
He also commented that “in the student wards I think there were far more votes for me and the Labour Party than people, including the student newspapers, were expecting.”
3:30: Con 103, Lab 100, LD 14
As an illustration of how disappointing tonight is for the Lib Dems, Lembit Opic, he of the asteroids and the Cheeky Girls, has lost his seat. Come to think of it, some Lib Dems might not consider Opik’s loss so disappointing after all. Nick Robinson: ‘there’s no doubt he [Cameron] will be very disappointed.’
3:23: Lab 98, Con 92, LD 14
Paxman’s citing reports that the Labour party is already talking to the Lib Dems about coalition or co-operation. They, by the way, are having a torrid night, and are already one seat down among those which have declared. Lib Dem dreams of 100+ MPs, or of coming second in the popular vote, are rapidly disappearing.
3:20: Lab 89, Con 87, LD 13
Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at Brasenose, has just been interviewed on the BBC for the third or fourth time tonight. Bogdanor’s a big dog in the political world, but is particularly in demand tonight, both because he tutored David Cameron while he was at Oxford and because he is the world’s leading expert on the British constitution, and so one of the best people to explain what might happen in the event of a hung parliament. He says Cameron was one of the best students he’s taught, and also that he’s cool and calm under pressure, which, he says, is essential in a politician. Paxman then goes on to bully a poor Tory candidate into talking about coalitions, which he resolutely refuses to do.
3:09: Lab 87, Con 79, LD 10
The Union is thinning out as people go back to their colleges, but the Cherwell team is still at work, the editors finalising tomorrow’s edition in the offices and reporters waiting at Oxford Town Hall for the results announcement, which should come some time in the next hour. A press officer told us earlier in the evening that they were expecting to be able to announce by about 2:30, but the turnout has been so great that the count is taking much longer than originally anticipated. A dozen or so people are still watching in my JCR, fighting off sleep. We’ll see how many make it to the morning.
1:58: Lab 31, Con 15, LD 4
Results coming thick and fast now. Fierce booing in the Macmillan room as Gordon Brown was re-elected, and plenty of shouts of ‘down with Brown.’ The Goodman library downstairs is much more subdued, apart from the people climbing in through the windows to avoid the £4 charge. It’s not looking like quite the night the Lib Dems were hoping for.
1:07: Lab 5, Con 2, LD 1
The first Tory gain of the night comes in Kingswood, and the OUCA boys immediately launch into a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen, as a certain ex-president standing on a table necks champagne from the bottle. You have to see it to believe it.
00:25: Lab 3, Con 0, LD 0
Overheard in the Macmillan Room as Sunderland Central declared for Labour: ‘fucking socialists.’
A press officer at Oxford Town Hall tells me that the Oxford East results should come through some time after 2am. Turnout has been much higher than normal, but there were none of the fights or queues that happened in other constituencies. There’s a small gaggle of Labour Club people hanging around outside the counting room, but nothing like as large as the huge OCA crowd at the Union. Lib Dems nowhere to be seen, apart from Henry Curr.
23:35: Lab 2, Con 0, LD 0
The Union has been nominally divided into three areas for supporters of the three political partie
s, but, while the Tory room is heaving, the Labour room is full of non-Labour supporters silently watching the results on TV, and the Lib Dem room is deserted. Apparently all the Labour supporters are at the town hall. Frequent cheering can be heard from the Tories in the Macmillan room. They’re all wearing ‘vote for change’ stickers with the modern squiggly tree Conservative logo (looks like it was drawn by a 3 year old, said Ben Woolgar in the debate), but not many of them are modern Tories: lots of double-breasted suits, ties and Bryllcreemed hair. Standing in the Macmillan, surrounded by scores of OCA members, it feels like you’re in a particularly unreconstructed minor public school, circa 1955.
10:55: First seat declared: Sunderland South for Labour
Newcomer Bridget Philipson, aged only 26, is elected to Parliament with almost 20 000 votes, in this safe Labour seat. The first exit poll of the night is also out, and it predicts 307 seats for the Tories, 255 for Labour and 59 for the Lib Dems, which is actually fewer seats than they won in 2005. This would imply a hung Parliament, but one in which the Tories could potentially govern without the formal support of the other two parties, relying on Independents and the minor parties to prop them up.
10:40: The polls are now closed and the votes are being counted, and the Union debate on whether the Tories are ready to take power has also just finished. Three
ex-OUCA presidents did the typical OUCA thing, standing up in dinner jackets to denounce socialists and liberals, backed up by a braying crowd of lesser examples of the OUCA species, braying, waving Conservative placards and doing their best to drown out opposition speakers. They sense victory, and it just makes the braying even louder than normal.. At one point Ben Jasper, an opposition speaker, had the temerity to refer to the OUCA rac
ism scandal of this time last year, which resulted in them being stripped of their ‘U.’ Oliver Harvey, one of the ex-OUCA Presidents, stood up and, shouting and foaming at the mouth, threatened to sue him for libel. Actually, Olly, libel is written defamation (we at the Cherwell are all-too familiar with the defamation laws), and you really meant slander, but everyone understood the point. As Harvey made his threats the Tories behind him brayed particularly loudly and raucously in their attempt to look offended, sounding for all the world like a pack of wild animals. They really are repulsive. This was a shame, because some of their main speakers were really quite good, particularly Corey Dixon, who performed a superbly eloquent demolition job on the Labour government’s record. Corey used to be left-wing, but has gone right-wing in his old age. Ben Woolgar, who used to be right wing, gave a similarly brilliant speech for the opposition. Henry Curr was the token Lib Dem, but gave perhaps the angriest and most entertaining speech on the night. Woolgar joked that, although he was sitting on the opposition benches with the Labour members, they had tried to buy him a fence to sit on, but budgetary constraints prevented it.
8:25: The Times is reporting that Kenya and Sierra Leone, to which Britain traditionally sends observers to ensure free and fair elections, have sent their own observers to keep an eye on ours. They might well be very interested to read tomorrow’s big Cherwell splash…
8:20: The final polls are pointing to a r
esult that will leave the Tories as comfortably the largest party, but just short of an overall majority. Turnout has been high, which is probably a good sign for them.
7:10: Welcome to the Cherwell election night live blog. We’ll be updating this throughout the night with our thoughts on the
results, and observations of reactions in JCRs and at the Union’s election night party.