by Stephen Tall on May 6, 2010
The BBC has – belatedly – recognised the story that’s been staring them in the face … thousands of voters disenfranchised:
Hundreds of voters across the country have been turned away from polling stations as long queues formed ahead of the 2200 BST voting deadline.
Turnout was predicted to be higher than recent elections, including 2005.
There were three-hour queues in Sheffield, voters were turned away in Manchester and police said one London polling station was open at 2230 BST.
The law says polling station doors must close at 2200 and no-one can be issued with a ballot paper after that time.
Here’s Martin Kettle’s take on the results if they pan out approximately as per the exit poll:
These dynamics hugely favour the Conservatives, who seem to have had the proverbial good night, with Labour having a bad one and the Liberal Democrats more or less static. Then you have to factor in the expectations element — the Tories have done slightly less well than they might have hoped, Labour slightly better than they feared and the Lib Dems significantly worse, after expectations had been raised by the campaign.
Put all that together and it is difficult, though not impossible, for Labour and the Lib Dems to try to form a government under Gordon Brown. Constitutional it may be, but a badly defeated party plus a seriously disappointed party, plus some unspecified other parties is not a great coalition dynamic. The Tories and their supporters will do the best they can to blast that possibility out of the water. At the end of the day this is a good exit poll result for the Tories above all.
Hard to disagree.
Potentially good Lib Dem news in Scotland?
acmcphee: Edin South – great news, early indications that the Lib Dems have taken the ultra marginal Edinburgh South.
Sunderland Central result – Labour hold, with 4.8% swing from Labour to Tories, Lib Dems no change. That’s in line with the exit poll, isn’t it? All very confusing.
Have the Greens won their first ever seat? The Guardian reports:
The chair of the local Greens, Matt Follett, tells me they’re “quietly confident” of making Caroline Lucas the party’s first-ever MP. He claims their on-the-ground organisation today was actually bigger and better than the main parties’. I guess that’s what you can do by concentrating so much on a small number of seats.
SkyNewsBreak Sky sources: polling stations in Newcastle upon Tyne and Wallsend allowed to stay open until everyone has voted
I know we Lib Dems are in favour of local decision-making, but it seems crazy that returning officers have operated different rules about whether polls can stay open to allow citizens to cast their vote.
Washington & Sunderland West declaring. Lib Dems were in second place last time – we’ve been leap-frogged by the Tories. Huge 11.6% swing from Labour to Tory, the Lib Dems staying static. Hate to say it but those exit polls are starting to look accurate – seems the Lib Dem share of the vote is not going to get near the high 20%s the polls were predicting. In fact, it looks like we’re seeing 1997 in reverse. Jeepers.
Caution: has been pointed out that this is a new seat. Also in Sunderland worth pointing out that independent candidate got 6.5%. I’ll calm down and wait for a few more results in marginals.
Mark Thompson tweets:
Police were called in Islington South at a polling station because people were not able to vote. That’s where @BridgetFox is trying to win.
An interesting suggestion from LDV’s founding editor Rob Fenwick:
rfenwick View from Suffolk South is that once elected, Clegg should resign and restand in a by-election to re-enfranchise those voters in Sheffield
Nick Robinson has just revealed that Nick Clegg has personally gone out to meet Sheffield voters to apologise that they’ve been disenfranchised.
Ian Hislop a not-in-the-closet Lib Dem? Apparently this exchange just took place on the BBC:
stephmog Aw Ian Hislop..”I’m hoping that exit poll’s wrong!” “are you a closet Lib Dem?” “I’m barely in the closet!”
Reason I missed it: turned over to avoid the BBC’s pathetic and banale river cruise celeb-fest with Andrew Neil. Grrr.
Revised exit poll figures – not much dfference: Lib Dems move up 2, Tories move down 2:
Lib Dems: 61
Sheffield City Council has just issued the following statement:
John Mothersole, Returning Officer for Sheffield, apologised to residents who were unable to vote in Sheffield today.
He said: “We got this wrong and I would like to apologise.
“We were faced with a difficult situation with the numbers of people, and a large amount of students turning up to vote without polling cards. This made the administration process of ensuring the correct person was given a ballot paper much longer.
“The only remedy, which we could not take, was to extend the voting times.”
Nick Robinson reporting that Lewisham has kept polls open an extra 30 minutes to process voters. If they could, why didn’t others?
One thing’s for sure: either the exit poll is disastrously wrong … or all the nine final polls were disastrously wrong.
Interesting, the BBC exit poll has just revised the Lib Dem seat prediction to 61 before a single result declared.
Sunderland – first result:
Labour win (of course). Turnout 55%. Huge 8.4% swing from Labour to Tories, Lib Dems down 1%, compared to 2005. Hard to read much into one result in a safe Labour seat, but (fair’s fair) it doesn’t suggest the exit poll is a million miles out.
A last the BBC is catching up with major breaking news under its own eyes:
r4today BREAKING – Police called to some polling stations to move on people who wanted to vote but couldn’t because still queuing outside at 10pm.
Here’s an encouraging bit of tweet hearsay:
artesea BBC say Saddleworth News say Labour say that Oldham East and Saddleworth has gone LibDem!
Bye bye Phil Woollas?
Very odd BBC TV coverage. There’s a major breaking news story of voters being turned away from polling stations up and down the country, and the Corporation ignores that in favour of pre-prepared packages. BBC fail.
Jeremy Vine reporting a small swing of 2% from Lib Dem to Tory, accounting for the Lib Dems’ loss of 3 seats. One of those appeared to be Eastleigh, which I’ll eat my hat if Chris Huhne loses. They didn’t indicate any swing from Labour to Lib Dem which also seems unbelievable. Either I’ve been living in a parallel universe for the last four weeks, or something weird is happening.
The Guardian live-blog posts reaction from the Lib Dem camp:
… on seeing the exit polls, a senior Lib Dem suggested they were waiting to see the share of the vote, which they said might better reflect what they believe will eventually show to have been variation in national swing, which they said would show that they were closer.
“We had been talking in advance – this exit poll was set up for a two-party-race basis and of course it isn’t really. In close elections exit polls tend to be wrong anyway, and now we are clear that this wasn’t set up for an election of this kind. We’ve been talking for a few hours how it was going to be wrong. They select which seats they go to and if they go to Lab-Con seats then of course it’s not going to reflect our surge.”
Another source said that the postal votes – which traditionally show a larger proportion having voted Lib Dem – and it has only three Lab-Lib Dem marginals.
Lots of reports coming in of huge problems with polling stations being competely unprepared for the large turnout, with hundreds of voters being turned away. Eg,
markpack Numerous stories of people being denied vote as polling stations couldn’t deal with them. Incl Sheffield, Birmingham, London
AlisonW People being stopped from voting in many places despite queuing for ages. THIS IS NOT ON!
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