Election night: I stayed up so you didn’t have to

And so it all comes down to this. All the drama, the games, manoeuvring, out-manoeuvring, and political ploys that have unravelled over the past month or so. When you clicked on the link to this article, dear reader, the results of the UK general election will already be published in many headlines. But for me, as I begin writing on Thursday 12th December, the polling stations have just shut and the verdict is hotly-anticipated. Deciding who to vote for in this election has, for many, become – on an unprecedented scale – a question not of who you agree with the most, but, sadly, who you disagree with the least.

22:00: The exit poll

The BBC’s main political correspondents are all on standby to report, analyse and discuss the events of the night as the exit poll – co-ordinated by John Curtice – comes in, preceded by a countdown from 10. The poll predicts a gain of 50 seats for the Tories, with the Midlands and north of England being some of the regions in which Labour is expected to suffer. A second domination the poll implies is that of the SNP in Scotland – a wave of nationalism, with the potential to heighten demands for Scottish secession. The poll has also immediately impacted economic affairs: the pound has shot up in value as Boris Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done” by the 31stJanuary has become an ever-closer reality.

23:25: The first results

The race to finish the count has been won by Newcastle upon Tyne Central, 41 minutes behind the record. The seat has been held by Labour, with a 12,278 majority. A close second is Sunderland Central: another Labour hold. The breakdown, however, indicates relative Tory gain. Thus far, the exit polls have been correct. As the third lot of results come in – those of from Blyth Valley – it becomes apparent that the first big moment of the night is occurring. Predictions suggest the seat to be neck and neck between red and blue – potentially due to Labour’s loss of the support of working-class Leave voters. Following a request for a bundle recount, the outcome is that the seat has switched hands switched hands from Susan Dungworth, the Labour candidate, to Ian Levy of the Tories, with a majority of 712 and turnout of 63%. In his victory speech, Levy has reflected upon the historicism of his achievement – as the seat has been Labour since the 1950s – as well as referencing the Boris Johnson’s leadership.

 

The small hours: blue domination, red and orange defeat

Developments early this morning suggest that the Labour red wall will, as predicted, fall to the Tories. As seat after seat turns blue, Corbyn has reflected upon the incoming results, describing them as “very disappointing”, and blaming the outcome upon Brexit, as opposed to his personal flaws. He has also stated that he will not lead Labour in any future campaigns. Further evidence of the demise of the red wall has been seen in the outcome of the much-discussed ‘Workington-man’ vote, which has switched hands for the first time since the 1970s. Furthermore, Jo Swinson has faced humiliating results in her own constituency, but nevertheless responded credibly and humbly. She has attributed the loss of Dunbartonshire East to “a wave of nationalism”, as the SNP won the seat with a narrow 149 majority. It may, at this stage, seem to be a tragic night for Labour leftism, but arguably equally as tragic is the death of centrism in British politics that the current results appear to indicate.

 

05:06: Clarity

With 598 seats’ results in, and 328 having gone to the Tories, Boris Johnson’s party wins a majority in Parliament (326 being the threshold). This, as more results are confirmed, will go on to be the biggest Tory majority since Margaret Thatcher in 1987. For many, Friday 13th will thus far be living up to its unlucky superstition. The turnout has been confirmed at 67.2%, down 1.5% from 2017. By this point, Labour has lost all but one of their seats in Scotland – Edinburgh South – with the SNP dominating at their expense. IndyRef2 and further polarisation within Scotland may, if Johnson can be persuaded, be on the cards in the near future, as Nichola Sturgeon’s party was successful in 48/59 seats.

 

So… what?

A “historic victory” for Johnson, whose political status has been transformed, according to the ever-committed, never-tiring Laura Kuenssberg. The election he riskily called mere weeks ago has had the exact outcome he desired: his political legitimacy has been bolstered, and Corbyn’s image demolished. What’s more, President Trump has already contributed his opinion: in a tweet he has congratulated Boris on securing 5 years in Downing Street, and exhibited excitement at the prospect of negotiating a significant UK-USA trade deal. The exit poll’s projection, like in the 2017 election, proved to be very accurate. Moreover, with a Tory government, it is likely that Parliament will meet the Saturday before Christmas, and the House of Lords will convene between Christmas and New Year – unprecedented measures, which will need to be undertaken in attempt to meet Boris’ ambitious 31st January Brexit promise, which is undoubtedly largely accountable for his victory.

UK Vote Share. Source: BBC

More analysis will undoubtedly unfold throughout the day, with the BBC and The Guardian providing useful links and information concerning the breakdown of the election. I urge the electorate to follow up on their vote and broader outcomes, as a full and absolute recount of election night, – in all its nuance and drama –  is, by nature, outwith the parameters of this article. What can be deduced from this divisive episode, however, it that young people have become unprecedentedly politicised, and that the dichotomous nature of British politics is, unfortunately, unlikely to change for the better in the near future.

 

Featured image by Matt Brown, Available flickr under Creative Commons Licence 2.0 Generic

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