It has been a fascinating, and in many respects depressing, general election. Labour lost it, the Conservatives didn’t quite win it, and the Liberal Democrats failed to live up to initial expectations. And who forms the government has yet to be determined.
It has been a hectic day. I was up all night and went straight from watching the results on screen to doing media interviews from 8.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. with little respite. I actually remained awake and alert. In my case, it wouldn’t have mattered much if my concentration had wandered. With the party leaders – with presumably no sleep for at least twenty-four hours – it does matter. In the circumstances, they have all performed well in making statements, but given the need now for intense discussions it may be a cause for concern.
I will doubtless do more posts as events unfold. I thought I would just comment on the other remarkable feature of the campaign – the problems with electors being unable to vote because they were still queuing when the polls closed (as required by law) at 10.00 p.m. I have never known this to happen before and I’m unclear as to why it should happen now. There was an increase in turnout – about 4% to 6% up on 2005 – and, while I appreciate it was much higher in certain constituencies it does not seem a plausible reason for, in some cases, hundreds of voters being turned away at the polling stations. They were understandably angry and there may be some legal challenges. What were returning officers doing this time that they were not doing in earlier elections, or not doing that they were doing in earlier elections?