Okay, it’s 1am and I’m still here (just). Not sure how long it will be before I fall asleep over my keyboard, but anyway …
1.03am: The Tories win their first seat, gaining Kingswood from Labour with a 9.4% swing. Now that’s interesting, because it suggests that the prospect of a Conservative majority government remains very much alive. Way too early to tell one way or the other, of course. I suspect the word of the hour will be “bellwether”, which is what Kingswood is.
1.08am: “Downing Street source – Brown to seek coalition if hung parliament.” No surprise. So Gordon will not be going gentle into that good night, then. Is that the sound of scraping fingernails I hear? And Neil Kinnock has just used “bellwether” too.
1.14am: The Tories hold Putney with a significantly enhanced majority over Labour in this marginal – 10,053 versus 1,766 in 2005, a swing of 9.9%. I suspect the mood in Conservative Central Office is currently considerably brighter than it is with their Labour counterparts.
1.20am: If you’re a geek like me who’s into the nuts and bolts of an election, Wikipedia is a wonderful source of information. I’ve got Wikipedia and BBC tabs permanently open on my browser to dive into the detail of each constituency as each result is announced
1.21am: Alastair Campbell really being made to squirm by Andrew Neil. Pretty sure I can see Neil’s teeth marks in his neck. It’s not been a good week for Tony Blair’s former king of spin, what with Burnley being relegated from the Premier League too.
1.26am: As has just been noted on the BBC coverage, every Labour talking head is saying lovely, fluffy things about the Lib Dems and gently hinting (in ten foot high pink neon lights) that they will be more than happy to offer a coalition deal to keep Brown in Number 10. I now have two horrible images in my head: (1) Noel Edmonds putting down the phone and saying to Gordon, “Deal? Or no deal?” and (2) Brown pulling down his trousers and bending over. Not good.
1.27am: Oh dear, I think Dimbleby must be getting tired, as he’s just misread the swingometer twice in a row (declaring swings from A to B when it’s actually B to A).
1.32am: City of Durham is, we’re being told, the Lib Dems’ top target against Labour. Get on with it, will you? Instead we switch over to Kirkcaldy, where Gordon Brown at least has the satisfaction of holding on to his own seat. Has any reigning PM ever been unseated at a general election? I don’t know. After some frantic bashing of the F5 key, Wikipedia is telling me that Labour has held Durham with an almost identical majority to 2005. That’s got to be bad news for the Lib Dems; Durham was, I believe, Nick Clegg’s last campaign stop.
1.36am: It’s all happening now as results start to come in from some of the tightest battleground seats. Battersea turns from red to blue, with a Labour majority of 163 becoming a Tory one of 5,977.
1.41am: Actually, I take back what I said earlier about bad news for the Lib Dems. As it stands, it looks like Nick Clegg has a fair chance of being in the position of king-maker later today, and if he ends up being courted by both Cameron and Brown he will be in a very strong position, even if the Lib Dems end up with fewer seats than 2005. Oh, the oddities of the British electoral system.
1.45am: Sadiq Khan holds on to Tooting, despite a 3.6% swing to the Tories.No joy for Wolfie Smith and the Tooting Popular front, either. (If you’re under 40, that’s a reference to the old BBC comedy Citizen Smith.)
1.52am: Times columnist Caitlin Moran on Twitter (@caitlinmoran) has just come up with the most succinct and accurate election analysis so far: “My professional view: absolutely fucking no-one has a titting clue what the pissing screw is going on.”
1.57am: Oh my God. I was predicting the Conservatives’ Richard Benyon would increase his 3,460 majority in my home constituency of Newbury, but over 12,000? I’m with Caitlin Moran on this one. Despite all the pseudo-statistical prognostications by the ‘experts’, it’s very clear that the only thing predictable about individual results is that they are totally unpredictable. So there.
1.59am: I’m a bit disappointed that the early “bellwether” flurry didn’t develop into anything more. Oh well. Four hours down, 90% of seats still to declare. Another coffee? Or admit defeat and go to bed? Decisions, decisions … maybe 20 minutes more …