LIVEBLOG: The General Election

Sam Rhodes 7 May 2015

Live from Cam FM HQ, the Cambridge Union Society, the election count itself, and wherever else anyone is doing anything interesting, Sam Rhodes will have the definitive take on the General Election in Cambridge.


06:02 And that means time for the TCS Election Liveblog! It's been a hell of a ride, thanks very much for reading (if anyone's still here. Perhaps people are back!). Lots of speeches are going on, Huppert is very graceful in defeat while Zeichner is equally so in victory. Rupert and Patrick O'Flynn call for electoral reform, and we missed Fernando's speech. Blimey, I'm tired. 

06:00 Zeichner wins!

05:36 We're being summoned downstairs! 5-10 minutes, keep an eye on the twitter!

05:35 There's still quite a lot in the way of moving sheets of paper around. The stage is starting to be cleared, but there's still quite a lot of votes in piles. Ooh, the agents have been summoned!

05:30 Attempts to begin a motivational chorus of "Why are we waiting" going have not gone down well.

05:25 Sorry, impulses towards poetry will henceforth be resisted. No politics to talk about though really, nothing much occurring beyond the gentle hum of journalists bitching about people taking ages to count.

05:20 It's properly day time now. Blue dawn.

05:15 Apparently the man, the myth, the beard, Julian Huppert himself, is in the building but will only be summoned once the result is known. 

05:12 Sorry, lost an update there to Cambridge wifi. Apparently (info overheard from a man in a big yellow rosette that I'm 99% sure wasn't Julian Huppert, but then again I am very tired) the issue is that there's a discrepancy between the number of ballot papers given out and got back; some were taken out of polling stations. This means a double check, and it's pretty bloody close anyway.

05:03 It's starting to get light. If there is anyone following this, they're probably aware, but even so it feels worth mentioning.

05:00 So Clegg's going to resign as leader but still might be 20% of the Lib-Dem MPs in parliament, and Ed Balls has gone.

04:56 Other sources are suggesting between 5 and 6am. Can you tell this is exercising my attention?

04:52 Grizzled cameraman #1 (whose first rodeo it does not appear to be) reckons we're in for a recount. 

04:47 We're hearing rumours (stolen from Varsity lol) that Ed Balls might be going. Good lord.

04:45 Senior Lib-Dems are suggesting we might be down to a mere 5 or so MPs. Could Huppert be one of them? Could he be leader? The possibilities are endless.

04:42 Ooh, further scuttlebut (from a different and entirely unverified source) points towards no recount.

04:40 At this rate, we're going to be declaring after South Thanet.

04:38 Vince 'Electric' Cable has gone. The man who predicted the economic crisis and became a Guardian media darling suffers the same fate as Lib-Dems everywhere else. 

04:36 RUPERT READ IS HERE! Phew, I was getting worried for him/democracy.

04:34 Lord Ashcroft appears to be getting his excuses in early; it seems that there was barely a single accurate picture between all of the pollsters. 

04:31 A deeply evil cackle just drifted up from the count. What consequences this has for the count are unknown, but are certainly dire.

04:28 Zeichner is looking rather chipper, don't know how much to read into that.

04:24 Mutterings of a recount are beginning to spread. Dear god, I simply can't. 

04:19 Phew, I've made it back. Zeichner was saying that there's really not much in it, and refused to dob in Ed Miliband. Very boring.

04:14 We're getting very faint whisperings of a surprise Labour win, after all that back-and-forthing we've been doing all evening. Zeicher seems chipper, but there's no way for him to know what's going on. Results to be announced soon.

04:13 Sam has been temporarily held hostage by the fact that Daniel Zeichner is giving an interview with ITV News directly in his path back to the laptop. Jack, former Ed-in-Chief, has taken over temporarily. 

04:05 I've thus far resisted becoming hysterical, but I believe I am now predmoninantly writing for posterity as all our readers are too sensible/left wing and have gone to bed. As such, I would like the record to show that I have 1/5th of my degree due in in about five hours, and am not allowed to sleep through it. 

04:03 Chuka Umunna has defied the national swing to gain 11,000 votes. Leader in waiting?

04:02 I feel that it might be better if all Lib-Dem related measurements came henceforth in units of student loan. Ie, Nick Clegg was Deputy PM for 1/6th of a student loan (given they take 30 years to go away).

04:00 The hilarious Lib-Dem Deposit game is starting to become a bit sad. Over 100 deposits have been lost, totalling to more than £50k, or pretty much the entirety of a student loan. 

03:58 Not that I know much about these things, we're really in a blind leading the blind situation here. Wishful thinking might also be playing a part.

03:55 There are increasing numbers of people downstairs just sitting around… clearly things are starting to finish up. 

03:51 Closest thing we're getting to excitement here is the cameraman next door changing the battery…

03:46 Scuttlebut in the media gallery suggests that J-Hups is not here yet. I choose to assume he's going to make a WWE style entrance with lots of smoke and glam rock, ideally wearing only pants and a cape #independentandradical

03:42 No sign below of any of the candidates so far, although we're stuck on a balcony. You know what, I tell a lie, the Tories representative Fernando is looking slightly miffed in the corner. 

03:38 We're currently surrounded by cameramen and real journalists and all this kind of business. It's terribly exciting.

03:35 AND WE'RE BACK! Not only are we back, we're live from the count, with the result only a few minutes away. Get hype.

03:04 CULC are now conceding defeat in Cambridge; they're behind the key Student demographic in the Market Ward. 

03:00 We enter the fifth hour of the Liveblog. I believe this places us in entirely uncharted Liveblog territory. Things might start to get weird.

02:56 Jeremy Vine is now inside a giant swingometer/Big Ben hybrid. Bizarre. 

02:52 The TCS Liveblog will be moving over to the Cambridge Count soon, so expect a slightly more local flavour in the next hour or so. 

02:47 We're hearing exclusively from within student political circles that Huppert may well have clung on in Cambridge, in spite of the BBC predicting a Zeichner victory. 

02:44 Mary Beard, aspirant Labour mayor, is now on. Says she cannot reconcile doorstep reaction to the results coming in; is that an implication of foul play?

02:39 Lib-Dem lost deposits reach £10,500; Nick Clegg can now pay for one year of the tuition fees he implemented.

02:36 Turnout across Scotland is up by 9%, and the Lib-Dems have just polled 80 is Castle Point in Essex…

02:32 Carnage across Scotland with Labour MPs dropping like flies. 

02:27 Douglas Alexander just lost his seat by a solid 6,000 votes… to a 20 year old university student. This is basically the waking nightmare for Labour.

02:25 Lib-Dem lost deposits now total £6,000. Had Labour won the election, that would cover one year of tuition fees.

02:23 Ladbrokes have just updated their prediction to a Conservative majority, now their odds-on post election government.

02:15 The rout of Labour in Scotland everyone's been predicting has began to emerge; Labour have been destroyed in Kilmarnock.

02:10 The #CambridgeSpinRoom is half hysterical, half miserable. Apparently fairly buoyant Tories in the majority in the Union Society Building.

02:04 We thought the next few days would be full of negotiating over governments; it looks far more likely that it's going to be spent in a post-mortem of everything labour have done for the last decade.

01:59 Now hearing that the possibility of an overall majority for the Tories is quite real.

01:55 Colm Murphy, CULC member, has the following to say: "I am heartened by the student response to this election, and Cambridge might buck the trend – which is fantastic for CULC in particular and a testament to a hard fought campaign. Nationally, I cannot pretend this is looking anything other than grim so far."

01:51 Nuneaton is one of the worst places in the world, and has resulted in a Tory hold. Who knows if these facts are linked. Another deposit down for the Lib-Dems though.

01:50 Lib-Dems have now lost several thousand pounds worth of deposit, and Jeremy Vine is prancing around an incredibly badly animated house of Lib-Dem cards. Kevin Spacey would have his head in his hands.

01:47 Current conversation in the #CambridgeSpinZone is over when to move through to the election count proper. 

01:44 Fun fact courtesy of Cam FM: all of the seats declared so far have been held by the incumbent MPs. 

01:39 Here in the #CambridgeSpinRoom, we're learning a great deal about each other. Jack May just admitted to dreaming about Zeichner winning in Cambridge. Dark.

01:37 Apparently we may have spoken too soon re: George Galloway. How many more times will that mean leave public life in disgrace and then return. 

01:33 The Lib-Dems absolutely shedding votes all over the place, but the Tories seem to be cleaning up tonnes of those Lib-Dem defectors.

01:28 Vince Cable is under threat in Twickenham, despite a lead of 12,000. 

01:25 Battersea was a real target for Labour, and actually had a swing against them. Truly awful result.

01:17 The swing in Tooting from the Tories to Labour was less than 0.3%. Oh dear.

01:13 Tooting now declared, Sadiq Khan keeps his seat with a very slightly increased majority. With a swing like that though, Labour won't be getting much in the way of marginals.

01:09 Another northern seat called for Labour. We're being threatened with results coming in 'thick and fast' by Dimbleby, so hopefully my intense desire for sleep will start to abate. Failing that, I'm being threatened with industrial quantities of coffee.

01:02 Those first three Labour holds had turnouts of only 53%, 57%, and 55%. This probably suggests something for society at large. 

00:57 The story in Putney is one of collapse for the Lib-Dems, spread evenly amongst the other parties. Labour needed a 12% swing, so not really on the cards there.

00:55 They're coming thick and fast. The declaration in Putney is for the Tories, making it a Conservative hold. 

00:54 Nate Silver is calling it for the Tories… by a single seat. 

00:52 Swindon North was 100th or so on the Labour target list, but the swing was very much towards the Tories.

00:48 Alan Johnson appears to be as drunk as a lord. Can't blame him.

00:46 Theresa May is suggesting that we're going to have a particularly high turnout this election. Be interesting how 2015 compares to 2010.

00:41 Ooh more democracy is happening! Unfortunately it's happening with a microphone predominantly made out of cheese, so it's hard to know what's going on. Swindon North seems to have gone to the Tories, and that's a seat that Labour were targetting. 

00:39 Labour have been squeezed out of Scotland, and the Conservatives have looted Lib-Dem seats all over the country- all assuming the exit poll was right, of course…

00:36 Peter Mandelson with the line of the evening so far, "all of the major parties have lost this election."

00:34 The Dimbleby-getting-reporters-names-wrong-o-meter continues to climb vertiginously.

00:29 Ok, enough rubbish. Apparently 70% of Cam FM exit poll respondents want electoral reform, though why didn't the bloody vote for it during the referendum. 

00:25 Labour really struggling to make serious gains, apparently. Perhaps they are not getting enough protein, fnah fnah.

00:21 As is traditional during any lull in the action, the TCS Liveblog will be reflecting on the latest cricket scores from time to time. Bangladesh really seem to be struggling against Pakistan, in a result almost as predictable as the exit poll was a surprise. Yeah that's right, politics and cricket united together, isn't it marvellous. 

00:18 Yvette Cooper is doing well to spin the exit poll as a loss of any coalition majority. Lots of talk suddenly about Cameron working with the DUP, which could result in quite an exciting few years…

00:15 Fear not though, several members of the TCS team have been ordered to assassinate me if we ever descend to that kind of level.

00:13 So, we are entering the long, dark teatime of the soul portion of the results coverage. The BBC are recapping the last hour, where, to be quite frank, nothing whatsoever has actually happened. Almost enough to make you switch to ITV. 

00:11 I predict the election will either go really marvellously for the country, or really terribly. I am only willing to rule out mediocrity. Utter tosh. 

00:09 BBC Cambridgeshire appear to have already cracked, claiming either victory for Labour by 500 votes, or a loss by 2000. Dear me, if you're spouting rubbish like that by midnight you've got no chance. 

00:06 Never shall the TCS Liveblog be accused of a lack of forensic headline.

00:05 Just had the first bathroom break of the night. 

00:02 Cam FM are claiming a bigger sample size for their exit poll than Cambridge News, and are calling the seat for Labour by a mere 2%. Oh god, the recount thing is going to happen isn't it. 

00:00 In a fantastic example of the pathetic fallacy, we are occassionally being plunged into darkness by the motion-sensitive light because we're not moving enough. Just have a meditate on that.

23:59 Poor old Nick Robinson sounds rough as a badger's arse. Going to be a long night for him.

23:56 Other points being made by David Blunkett, suggesting that Labour's failure to 'nail the lie' regarding their role in the global economic meltdown is at the heart of any potential failure.

23:54 Labour are starting to cast around for explanations; late Green surge in lots of marginals could easily account. 

23:51 Jack May is positing the horrifying spectre of a Cambridge recount, meaning that I basically never get to sleep again. Ever. Dear lord.

23:49 Nick 'Untrustworthy Bastard' Clegg seems to be on course to hold his seat due to some tactical voting. The amount of student glee nationally has halved.

23:47 Jeremy Vine's Stupid Graphic of the Election(tm) is a rather literal take on 'Downing Street'. Probably costs more than a whole degree at Cambridge. Just makes you wonder. 

23:44 Call it class warfare, we don't care. This time a close up, courtesy of Tim Squirrel.

23:42 We have photo evidence of the awful cigar people! Hooray/oh no!

23:39 Intrepid reporter-on-the-scene Amelia Oakley has some reaction from the people in the Union who aren't wankers. Abigail Smith says "Fuck everything. The next five years is gona be led by people who dont know what they're doing." 

23:38 We're hearing that the Union Society is full of Tories in black tie with celebratory cigars. For a change.

23:36 Ed Balls is going on about all the gains he's making. It's like being in the Churchill College gym.

23:35 Nicking some info from Sky, apparently the Lib-Dems didn't lose a single deposit in 2010, they're already down ten. #BoltonIsMyStatsman

23:32 Ed Balls is being obnoxious on television, for a change. Upbraiding Dimbleby for not covering the results properly when there's only been three of the bloody things so far. 

23:30 Outstanding, a man on stage in another Sunderland constituency just took a selfie. And the tory is called Bob Dylan. It literally doesn't get any better than this. And now the Lib-Dems are down 1,505, with another win for Labour.

23:27 Most of the coverage at this stage is a load of bobbins about Northern constituencies racing each other to declare first. Would surprise me if it's a massive media conspiracy to give them something to talk about until results start kicking off properly. 

23:24 Ooh, the TCS Liveblog should point out that we welcome all comments/tweets/recommendations/critique/abuse/music suggestions/cricket commentary etc etc. Comment below, or drop me a tweet @leadtonowhere.

23:21 I continue to chortle at the fact that the Lib-Dems have just lost another deposit. They're down a grand on the night, plus another fiver for Paddy Ashdown's replacement hat.

23:20 First implicit commentary on Cambridge Constituency! Conservative Home journalist Peter Franklin does not include Huppert on his list of probable surviving Lib-Dem MPs. Presumably that would land the city of spires and books safely in Labour's lap.

23:17 Sunderland Central now, another safe hold for Labour. UKIP candidate looks like a frog, and getting booed so a bad night for him all round. Labour now winning 2-nil-nil-nil-nil-nil. 

23:14 So after that flurry of excitement, things start to slow down. There's probably not much new information coming out for the next few hours, so I'm going to try and get on the radio. 

23:11 Continuing our expose of the secret life of student journos, here is the rest of the war room at Cam FM. Jack May, formerly of this parish, munching on free biscuits. Corruption at the highest levels, I wouldn't be surprised.

23:09 National media scandalously missing out on covering by far the most important race today, however. No-one's even mentioned Julian Huppert, never mind the guy who thinks we need to increase funding for UFO hunting. 

23:07 If it does come down to the court of public opinion of course, Milifandom might not be quite enough.

23:05 Of course, the biggest question of the night is can Labour form a legitimate government with fewer seats than Cameron? The problem is that the answer is constitutionally yes, but Murdoch and his various dark wizards of doom have been trying mightily to warp reality and change the way the country works. 

23:02 Tories are giving chat about taking out Ed Balls. Would anyone mind too much? I mean obviously yes in the general sense, but really specifically?

22:59 Don't worry, we haven't thrown all commitment to objective reporting to the wind. All political parties shall be mocked, especially if they deserve it. The next seven hours are going to take some filling. 

22:57 General national amusement compounded by the fact that the Lib-Dems lost their deposit. Of course this cheer doesn't include the Lib-Dems, but by the looks of things there aren't very many left.

22:54 And Sunderland have, unsurprisingly declared for Labour. Biggest surprise is a massive swing to UKIP, Labour extend their majority by 2k, but UKIP have beated the conservatives into second. The Greens have spanked the Lib-Dems, to general national amusement.

22:53 Of course what tonight is really about is a peek behind the curtain of the glamour of student journalism. Here is yours truly in a not-at-all-staged-promise photo of the phyiscal act of Liveblog creation.

22:46 Rupert Read isn't too sure the exit poll means much either. No word yet from J-Hups.

22:45 THAT exit poll, as it is sure to be known as for at least the next six hours, is going to dominate conversation. Unfortunately we're not going have any idea how accurate it was for bloody ages. Sunderland is coming up soon, but it's going to be a Labour lock.

22:41 Nate Silver has something to say about exit polls, however. He's not a big fan, and as far as I'm concerned that man knows everything there is to know about elections. And baseball. 

20:38 Regardless of the final result, this exit poll is going to leave egg on someone's face. Pollsters are scrambling to explain what on earth is going on, and either YouGov should never be listened to again, or exit polls are a load of rubbish.

20:33 Well, the early news isn't looking good for Labour. Broadcaster's exit poll gives the Tories a massive boost with 316 seats, Labour languishing on 239, and the Lib Dems decimated on 10. Presumably that could well include Julian Huppert… Lots of scepticism on this shock info though.

20:25 Hello, and welcome to internationally renowned TCS Liveblog! I'm Sam Rhodes, Editor-in-Chief, and I will be with anyone who cares to click refresh for the next ten long, long hours to showcase the closest election in decades.  

The TCS Liveblog is, of course, home to the biggest of big questions, and will soon play host to even more morbidly obese answers. Will Julian 'I went to Trinity' Huppert keep hold of the title belt, or will challenger Daniel 'Labour Apparatchik' Zeichner be our new chamption? Perhaps the late surge from UKIP's Patrick O'Flynn that absolutely none of the experts have predicted will materialise, and then make everyone sad? Is someone keeping an eye on Rupert Read's twitter? Will we all have gone to sleep by 2am? There's only one way to find out…

We're just setting up at Cam FM (keep an ear out here for some ill-informed ramblings from yours truly at some stage if I can trick them into thinking I have something worth saying), so please have a look at some of our stellar election coverage while we wait.  First up is our summary of the campaign so far, or check out Chris Lynch's take on tokenism in Cambridge politics, and finally have a look at our case for listening to the internationals for a change.