For months, in the lead up to the general election, hung parliaments were discussed and potential coalitions were ruled out and then contemplated again, however, it none of that has come to pass. On an election night heralded by a shock exit poll that turnout to be on the money, it was The Conservative Party who won 331 seats to hand David Cameron the keys back into Downing Street.
In Britain, the polls showed Labour and The Conservatives to be neck and neck, with a final Ipsos MORI poll giving The Conservatives a measly 1 point lead. This, and another YouGov poll which suggested a similar result was a huge contrast with the BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll which gave the Conservatives a strong lead, meaning many were quick to disregard its importance.
However these proved to be totally out, with Labour’s disastrous performance in Scotland compounded by a poor performance in many marginals across England and Wales. This left Ed Miliband, still clutching his safe seat in Doncaster, wondering where it all went wrong with any hopes of being Prime Minister dashed. With the result so devastating, Miliband made the decision to resign as Labour leader earlier this morning, while former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls lost his seat altogether.
The other party to make headlines was the SNP, who won all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats, taking major scalps including Labour’s Jim Murphy and the Lib Dems’ Danny Alexander. Labour’s only Scottish seat came in Edinburgh South, where Ian Murray was re-elected as MP, while the Liberal Democrats held onto their seat in Orkney and Shetland with The Conservatives also winning one Scottish MP.
Blamed for the failings of the coalition by many the electorate, it was a disastrous night for the Liberal Democrats who lost key figures including Danny Alexander and Vince Cable, winning only 8 seats. Although Nick Clegg held onto his seat after a close fight from Labour’s Oliver Coppard, he made the tough but expected decision to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats, almost breaking down in tears during the speech.
It was not a great night for the other small parties, however, with Douglas Carswell taking UKIP’s only seat with Nigel Farage being defeated, meaning he became the third leader to resign this morning. The Greens, meanwhile, keep their solitary seat thanks to Caroline Lucas winning in Brighton.
After visiting the Queen this lunchtime, David Cameron now has 12 days before the first meeting of the new parliament to appoint cabinet ministers – who could include newly elected Boris Johnson – and embark on another five years in government likely to include a referendum on the EU.
Image: © www.flickr.com/herry