3 Queens? I’ll pass on that thanks!

This weekend in Liverpool will see thousands of people line the iconic waterfront for the arrival of Cunard Line’s “3 Queens”. The cruise liners Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will visit the River Mersey to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Cunard. Apparently, this is a huge event. Liverpool will be jammed with people trying to get a glimpse of the 3 ships over the next few days in numbers akin to the visit of the “Giant Spectacular” last summer.

I however, won’t be one of them. Here’s why.

Firstly, I’m not a “spotter”. I’m not a plane spotter, a bus spotter, a train spotter and I’m not a boat spotter. That’s essentially what you’re doing by going down to watch this event isn’t it? Boat spotting? It’s 3 big boats slowly coming in, stopping for a bit and slowly going out again.

Secondly, as a staunch republican I can’t support any notion of reverence to the Royal Family. Maybe if they were renamed after Queen? The Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor perhaps would be more of a sight to see. Then again maybe other queens should be celebrated across the cultural spectrum? I’m thinking Queen Latifah, Queen of the South (to keep the Scots happy) and of course Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Let’s face it though, whatever their names it’s just 3 big boats slowly coming in, stopping for a bit and slowly going out again.

Maybe I’d go if there was some jeopardy to the whole thing. Couldn’t there be a Queens battle royal? They could have the 3 liners ramming into each other until there was only 1 left floating. Perhaps they could be hunted down by warships or submarines or try to negotiate a tough course of strategically placed mines? The whole thing could even be hosted by Grimmy or some such fella.

Finally, if you go down and stand on the coastline or quayside, you’ll be there standing, waiting for the big boats to slowly come in. It will probably be hours before you see anything dependent on the weather and the tides. When they do slowly come in and stop for a bit you might find yourself waving at the people on board. Nothing wrong with that you say except that those people on board, some of them maybe even waving back, are looking at you on the shoreline and thinking just one thing. “Look at them,” they say, “all those people waving at us as we slowly come in and stop for a bit. They’ll probably be still there waving when we slowly go out again. Take a good look at them waving at us, they’ll never be able to afford to stand here waving back!” That’s the big rub isn’t it really? Thousands upon thousands of people turning up to celebrate the super rich lording it over us all. Well not for me thanks. I can sit in the relative comfort of my own home, turn on the TV and watch the super rich lord it over me and when you truly stop to think about it…

It’s just 3 big boats, slowly coming in, stopping for a bit and slowly going out again.

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A Progressive Nightmare

So it’s 5 years of Tory government.

Unadulterated Tory government this time as they gained seats against what the polls had indicated throughout the campaign and the Liberal Democrats capitulated. Indeed, the Liberal Democrats lost so many deposits they could have been mistaken for an absent minded banker. It seems only the Liberal Democrats themselves didn’t see their apocalypse coming. When the exit polls predicted their lowly seat count once the voting had closed Paddy Ashdown immediately rubbished them and declared that if correct he would, “eat his hat”. R.I.P. Paddy Ashdown’s hat. It was very rarely seen in public much like the Liberal Democrats of today. Let’s not forget that in the run up to the 2010 election when everyone was clambering to “agree with Nick”, the Liberal Democrats, under Clegg, had gained popularity using the left-leaning base that Charles Kennedy had previously solidified before turning to drink. Clegg had campaigned not for austerity, but similarly to Gordon Brown’s Labour had criticised the Conservative thinking of cutting welfare and public services as opposed to public investment to stimulate growth. Here is why Nick Clegg’s gambit of entering a coalition with the Conservatives was always going to be their downfall. You can’t pick up votes and seats using a left-leaning set of values and then prop up a right-wing Tory government. In effect they conned their own support and have paid a heavy but highly predictable price.

What happened to Labour though? Let’s be frank. Five years ago they picked the wrong man. Ed Miliband never convinced as a leader, rarely looked comfortable (with or without a bacon sandwich) and just didn’t strike anybody as a plausible winner. If one of the best moments in your election campaign is the trending Twitter hashtag of a 17 year-old girl then that really speaks volumes. Moving forward it is now so important that Labour picks the right person to start their recovery. There is now a debate, driven largely by a right-wing media, as to whether or not Ed Miliband’s Labour positioned itself too far to the left of centre-ground politics. This is well worth looking at more closely. In Scotland there was a very clear left-wing anti-austerity choice with a convincing party leader leading the charge. The result for Labour was a Nicola Sturgeon led SNP destroying the former safe Labour heartlands North of the Border. In England, there was no such credible anti-austerity ticket. You could have austerity max, austerity, austerity light or mildly racist. Labour lost votes to UKIP because many of its traditional voters lost trust in them as a party of working people. Sadly those defectors were falling for the Nigel Farage “man of the people” routine and “blame everything on immigrants” lines. Others, to a lesser extent, voted Green in terms of it having the most left-leaning policies available to vote for. Would this have happened though with a well reasoned, firm and credible rejection of Conservative austerity akin to what the Scots clearly chose in their thousands?

Overall, it was a nightmare for progressive politics in the United Kingdom. A Conservative majority in the House of Commons, an annihilation of the Liberal Democrats, Labour almost 100 seats behind the Tories and a popular, progressive SNP sweeping Scotland but without enough progressive allies to keep the Conservatives at bay.

At least Nigel Farage didn’t con the electorate of South Thanet.

Bloody polls eh?!!

Watch Out! Democracy’s About!!!

So, it’s nearly time for the most exciting and unpredictable vote in years. Yes, the Eurovision Song Contest is almost upon us! As a nice little warm up though, there’s also the small matter of a General Election. When you think about it there’s actually quite a lot of similarities between the two. No really, bear with me here!

No-one really is totally keen on any of the choices available, the whole process goes on a bit too long and the voting system is just a bit suspect.

The similarities don’t stop there either. This campaign, even putting aside the personal attacks, right wing media hatchet jobs and social media trends has seen the emergence of a threat from a land far away. Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP has given everybody a bit of a scare. Likely to stamp across the Labour vote in their home territory and vilified as potentially bringing down democracy in Britain as we know it by those on the right, Sturgeon has been the breakout star of this campaign. Say it quietly but there are plenty of voters on the left and South of the Border who wish they could vote for her. Ssssshhhhhh!!! That was off message wasn’t it? The message is actually the democratic process in Scotland as a part of the United Kingdom (I know they stayed with us – No, they really did!) will spell CONSTITUTIONAL ARMAGEDDON!!! Democracy is clearly a dangerous thing.

This year’s Eurovision sees a special guest entrant, this time from the South, but also from a far away land. Australia.

Eurovision purists aren’t happy. Australia have always had a strong link and affection for the competition throughout its 60 year history. This year, to mark the 60th anniversary Australia have been given a one-off ticket to compete in the final. Hang on a minute though! They’ve actually entered a decent song which might actually win! Europeans everywhere might actually vote for it. Hardly fair that is it? Asked to enter a competition and actually trying to win it? Especially as Australia isn’t in Europe (who knew?) and what would happen if they do indeed win this year’s contest? Europe would be held to ransom by a non-European country. Not only would the Eurovision constitution descend into chaos, Australia, as winners would demand the winner’s right to defend their title in 2016. Europe might actually have to hold their own competition in Australia. What nonsense would that be? EUROVISIONAL ARMAGEDDON!!! Democracy once again proving itself unreliable and downright dangerous.

Sounding familiar?

UK General Election 2015 Liveblog

21:09  It’s almost time…

Join me from 10pm here on Election Night and bring some snacks for comment, speculation and coverage throughout the night into the wee small hours for what is set to be one of the closest elections ever. Who will win? You decide! (Probably)

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22:12  Exit Poll

Well that’s it then but it isn’t is it? No it’s just the start again. The polls are closed and now the votes are being counted. What have we done? Well, the exit polls are predicting a hung parliament with Conservatives having 316 seats, Labour 239 seats and the Lib Dems on 10. The SNP are predicte to have 58 out of 59 possible seats with UKIP on 2 and others on 25.

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22:19  Paddy Ashdown

Paddy Ashdown says he’ll “eat his hat” if the exit polls are correct and the Liberal Democrats are obliterated as predicted by them. As yet there is no official statement from Paddy Ashdown’s hat.

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22:23  Race for a Result

One of the usual set-pieces of the election is the race to have the first result in. Only Newcastle and Sunderland seem to take part in this demeaning “It’s a Knockout” style display. Let’s face it, it’s the only thing Newcastle or Sunderland ever look like winning.

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22:33  Portillo Moments

Will we get any Portillo moments this time around? Esther McVey in Wirral West will be one of the seats that will be closely watched. There could well be some high profile Labour casualties in Scotland and just how many Liberal Democrat big hitters could go?

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22:37  Snacks

Just to confirm the result of my trip to the shop for tonight’s snacks. I’ve got crisps, custard creams, Nice biscuits and Kit-Kats. Does that seem excessive? It’s a long night you know!!!

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22:43  Paul Nuttalls of the UKIPs

An early appearance of Paul Nuttalls of the UKIPs. On brighter news though he doesn’t believe the exit polls either. Although back on the downside again he’s confident of a win for Nigel Farage in South Thanet.

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22:47  Sunderland

Looks like Sunderland have stuffed up their fast count and have failed to beat the current record for announcing a result. Heads will roll. More bad news in the North East then.

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22:50  Prediction

Early prediction of George Galloway’s mood tonight: Smug.

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22:54  Result

Labour hold Sunderland South. A safe Labour seat and increasing their majority but interestingly UKIP have come second and the Liberal Democrats last with what might well be described as a deposit losing sympathy vote.

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22:57  My Prediction

My thoughts prior to the exit poll were Conservatives to be doing slightly worse than predicted, Labour to be doing slightly better and Liberal Democrats to do very badly. At least one bit of that seems to be holding up.

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23:00  Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy may well lose his seat in Parliament but has got a stool on standby at his local pub.

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23:02  Ed Balls

Rumours that Ed Balls could lose his seat!!! Shock Portillo moment on the cards?

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23:05  Eating

Alastair Campbell now says, “he’ll eat his kilt” if the exit poll is correct. There could be a lot of politicians with indigestion in the morning.

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23:10  Lead

Labour, dismissing the exit poll disappointment by proudly stating they have been in the lead in the actual election results so far for almost half an hour now.

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23:17  Result

Labour hold Sunderland Central. Liberal Democrats blushes spared by an independent candidate but still lose another deposit.

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23:21  Caution

Nicola Sturgeon, trying hard not to squeal with glee, also urges caution on the exit poll but as yet has not promised to eat any article of her clothing.

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23:24  Prediction

Nigel Farage and Al Murray predicted to challenge each other to a “yard of ale” challenge, whatever the result of the voting in South Thanet.

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23:28  Newcastle

Disappointment in Newcastle as they still haven’t declared any of their seats. John Carver denies any involvement in coaching the counters.

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23:31  Result

Labour now hold Sunderland West. 3-0-0-0-0-0-0!!!

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23:33  Farage

Farage rumoured to only have come third in South Thanet. Bloody polls!!!

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23:40  Queen Speech Fest?

A hung parliament could see a record number of Queen’s Speeches this year. Black Rod limbering up as we speak.

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23:53  Green Fact

Natalie Bennett is no relation to the late comic Lennie.

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23:54  Holding Up?

This election is dragging now isn’t it?

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23:58  Prediction

George Galloway now rumoured to be losing his seat in Bradford. Predicted mood adjusted to: Conspiratorial.

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00:04  Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander looks to be losing his seat to the SNP. He will be missed by no-one.

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00:07  The Man from the S*n

It’s OK. He’s gone. You can come out now.

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00:10  Peston

Is it just me or does Robert Peston look like he’s in the middle of a mid-life crisis?

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00:14  Snack update

First packet of crisps down and now I’m feeling a custard cream coming on. Well there’s nothing else going on and frankly I’m not resorting to pictures of dogs at polling stations!

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00:24  Exit Woes

Chester and Wirral West expected to stay Conservative if the exit polls are correct along with Southport becoming a Conservative gain from the Liberal Democrats. The whiskey bottle could be replacing the snacks.

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00:27  Suggestion

One of these elections they should replace Jeremy Vine with Tim.

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00:29  A Plea

Count faster people! I’m almost hoping to see Paul Nutalls of the UKIPs on the telly again. Almost.

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00:32  Latest

UKIP said to be “bouncy” in Canvey Island. Well who wouldn’t be, let’s be fair!

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00:35  What?

So Neil Kinnock’s son is likely to become an MP tonight in Wales and he’s married to the Norwegian PM? What sort of political Game of Thrones is this?

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00:39  Negatives All Round

The Dark Lord Mandelson is here. “All 3 parties have lost”, he says, “just some have lost more than others!” Chin up though. Remember what Nick Berry said. Every loser wins!!! Not sure how that might work though.

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00:43  Result

Swindon North is held by the Tories.

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00:46  Wirral West Update

According to the Liberal Democrat candidate Wirral West, currently held by Conservative minister Esther McVey is “very close” between Labour and the Tories.

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00:52  Theresa May

Theresa May standing by her SNP constitutional crisis line. Alan Johnson repeating the Dark Lord Mandelson’s “all 3 parties have lost line”. A whiff of central office there. Incidentally, the Liberal Democrats have lost their deposit in all 4 declared seats so far.

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01:02  Result

Conservatives hold Wandsworth. Not looking good for Nigel Farage in South Thanet. Crying into his beer perhaps?

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01:07  Dull

Good Grief! Just to prove how dull this election has been the dogs at polling stations twitter malarkey has made the BBC’s news bulletin. Scooby Doo currently unavailable for comment.

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01:09  Result

Another Labour hold in Newcastle. Looks like the least expensive result to date for the Liberal Democrats in terms of their deposit!

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01:14  Tooting

Toot toot!!! (Sorry, it’s late) Sadiq Khan holds his seat for Labour and race into a 5-2 lead.

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01:16  Neil Kinnock

“WELL ALL RIGHT!!! WELL ALL RIGHT!!!” – Oh hang on again!

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01:20  Selfish 

Neil Kinnock says that if the exit polls are right, a swing to the Conservatives is down to selfish, greedy, self-centred morons.

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01:24  Result

Battersea held by the Conservatives. MP wearing one of the most hideous green jackets I’ve ever seen.

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01:30  George Galloway Latest

“Would you like me to be the cat?”

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01:33  Early Results

Labour have held Wrexham but a 2.5% swing from Labour to Conservative, along with the exit poll doesn’t bode particularly well for Ed Milliband. Is it too early to barricade ourselves into our local hospitals?

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01:42  Correction

Mrs Kinnock is indeed the Danish PM and not the Norwegian one. I stand corrected, (Thanks Paula) although not too effected.

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01:46  Emigration

I lived in Dundee for a few years can I claim refuge in Scotland? What’s Denmark like these days too? Maybe the North can declare UDI?

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01:48  Lefties

BBC pundits wondering if Labour campaign might have been too left-leaning. Maybe it wasn’t left leaning enough though?

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01:54  Nuneaton

Conservatives hold seat and Liberal Democrats lose deposit again. Labour had hoped to gain this one but lose ground. Exit polls looking more accurate with every result so far.

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01:59  Nuneaton Curse

That Nuneaton result could actually spell the possibility of a Conservative outright win. Pollsters scratching their heads and searching for their book of excuses.

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02:04  Breaking News

David Milliband packing his bags and ready to return to Britain. Whatever might be left of it by the time he gets back. Sure it’ll be just to offer Ed some consolation.

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02:09  BBC

Kirsty Walk doing her best Norman Collier impression there. (Ask your parents)

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02:14  Results

Lib Dems off the mark with a hold in Wales and SNP gain Kilmarnock from Labour in what could well be a familiar story as the night goes on.

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02:19  Targets

Mixed messages coming out of some of Labour’s target seats. Both Labour and Conservatives think they may have Wirral West. Labour also think they may have taken Bury North from the Tories.

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02:26  Paisley Pattern?

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander’s face gave it away. In the biggest “Portillo moment” of the night so far he’s lost to a 20 year-old student. SNP gain.

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02:29  Battering

Dumbatonshire and Dundee West go SNP with massive swings from Labour 33% and 29% respectively.

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02:32  Another one bites the dust

Labour lose Falkirk and Ochil & South Perthshire to SNP. Oh and Glenrothes goes the same way too. A 35% swing there!!!

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02:40  SNP

Alex Salmond still hoping for a “progressive alliance” in the House of Commons. Looks less and less likely now but Salmond can hardly contain his delight at the scale of the SNP result in Scotland.

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02:52  Wirral West

Result due in around 25 minutes I believe. Will Esther be safe now?

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02:56  The Message

There was a clear anti-austerity message by the SNP in Scotland. No such choice in England. Interesting that Labour Chair Lucy Powell pretty much blaming the Scottish electorate for a possible Conservative Government.

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03:10  Emergency

The emergency kit-kats have come out and here comes the whiskey!!!

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03:20  Gone

Jim Murphy loses his seat in Scotland now. That’s the Scottish Labour Leader out now. Very likely that there’ll be no Labour MP’s in Scotland. Back in England Labour’s number 1 target seat in Warwickshire has seen the Conservatives extend their majority and in Wales they’ve lost Clwyd!

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03:21  Wirral West Update

Re-count rumoured. Looks like it’s close.

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03:27  Scotland

Sturgeon and Salmond have already got the builders in. Huge wall rumoured.

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03:32  Sad Times

Tessa Jowell looks depressed. No sign of Ed Miliband yet. Apparently he might not see this afternoon out according to the Guardian. I’m presuming they mean as Leader of the Labour Party.

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03:37  Huge Pockets

The Liberal Democrats are losing that many deposits they could be mistaken for an absent minded banker.

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03:49  No Energy Left

Ed Davey is now the former Energy Secretary as he loses his seat to the Conservatives in Kingston. Meanwhile, Labour’s safest seat in Scotland is lost to the SNP with a 39% swing. At this rate the BBC’s swingometer will be lapping itself.

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04:02  Left, Right, Left, Right

Still no political pundits giving any credence to the possibility that Labour might not have been left wing enough as opposed to too left wing! SNP clearly an anti-austerity party and look at their results. Look how well other anti-austerity parties have done in Europe too. There was no clear anti-austerity choice in England.

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04:12  Liberal Who?

Simon Hughes has lost his seat to Labour ending his 32 year career as MP for Bermondsey. Nick Clegg under threat in Sheffield. Another close one it seems.

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04:22  UKIPs

Douglas Carswell who defected from Conservative to UKIPs holds onto his seat in Clacton. Immediately calling for electoral reform!

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04:28  It’s Late

Surely it’s well past Menzies Campbell’s bed time?

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04:39  Cable Ties

Vince Cable loses his seat in Twickenham. Liberal Democrats learning that you can’t enter an election on the left and end up propping up a Government on the right.

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04:41  Hold

Lib Dems have managed to hold Southport though, which looked against the odds earlier on.

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04:45  Wirral West Update

As the re-count is underway, word has it that Labour think they have narrowly defeated Esther McVey.

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04:49  Ed Balls

Rumours persisting that Ed Balls may well have lost his seat.

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04:53  Clegg Watch

Nick Clegg has held his seat but he’s looking a lot lonelier.

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04:54  Wirral West Update

Result imminent…

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04:56  Clegg Watch

Looks like Nick Clegg has resigned himself to resign as Lib Dem leader.

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04:58  Irony

Tactical Conservative votes keeping Nick Clegg in his seat.

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05:00  Wirral West

Esther McVey looks like she’s out!!!

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05:02  She’s Gone

Esther McVey loses Wirral West to Labour by 417 votes. Every cloud…

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05:12  Balls Up

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls may well have lost his seat, in what would be a devastating blow for Labour and Ed Milliband.

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05:26  Ding Dong Do

Charles Kennedy has lost his seat in Dingwall. As leader of the Liberal Democrats he moved them to the left and gave them the base for Nick Clegg to build on successfully in 2010 only to throw it away by propping up a right-wing Tory party. Charles is another victim and is likely to be seen queuing outside Weatherspoons this morning.

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05:30  Significant Others

Thanet South result probably not due until 6am at least. Likely that we won’t see Ed Balls’ result for another hour or so either.

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05:37  McVey

Esther McVey talks about bitter, brutal campaign in Wirral West. Maybe some truth in that but her actions and demeanour in office didn’t do her any favours.

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05:50  Every Cloud?

Chester may turn red it seems although a Conservative victory looking increasingly more likely.

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06:03  Enough is enough

And on that bombshell…

I think that’s me done for the morning. It’s been emotional hasn’t it? Oh and a very depressed Danny Alexander has just lost his seat to the SNP now! (Every cloud again eh?). Well, another grim 5 years in prospect then. Night Night!!!

Large whiskey anyone?

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Speculating on the Speculation

The position of “Royal Correspondent” must be one of the most soul destroying things imaginable. Perhaps even worse than that of “Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager”. All those years at university studying journalism and for what? Hanging about outside somewhere or other, spending your days speculating.

Yesterday’s Royal Birth has been a classic case in point. The “Royal Correspondents” were all stood, for most of the day outside the “Lindo Wing” of St Mary’s Hospital. Waiting.

Waiting for anything to happen and filling in the gaps with speculation and speculating on the speculation with doses of the painfully obvious thrown in for good measure:

When the baby might be due (probably anytime now), what the Queen thinks (expected to be delighted), what the doctors and nurses are doing (likely to be attending to Her Royal Highness with great care and attention), when will the new arrival have her first poo (expected to be around 5 and rumoured to be potentially sloppy and on the whiffy side)…

I could go on and on and on. They did! ITV cancelled their local news coverage to speculate in this manner for a further 20 minute “special”. Look at the BBC’s poor old Nicholas Witchell. Prince Charles famously was overheard to say he “couldn’t bear” him. Nowadays, Witchell looks like he can’t bear himself. He looks dead behind the eyes. Too much speculation can do that to a guy. Too much of the blindingly obvious can eat away at someone.

I guess he goes home at the end of a hard day watching a bunch of priviledged burdens on the state, waiting for them to do something mildly interesting feeling depressed and remembering the days of anchoring the 6 o’clock news, breaking stories such as the Zebrugge disaster and sitting on lesbians.

Then again I’m just speculating.