With Jim and Alex still on frontline duties, Helen Warrell and Johanna Kassel, who have helped steer the FT’s online election coverage, will keep you up-to-date with the most recent results.
And on that note, we’ve heard from all three leaders and more pundits than we can shake a stick at. So 18 hours and thousands of words later, we are going to sign off from the live blogging. We will continue to update the blog as the final results come in and if there is any breaking news. But thanks for joining us and make sure to watch the Westminster blog and FT.com for all the latest news and developments over the weekend.
4.05 HW: Tory reactions on Cameron’s statement are surprisingly slow to emerge by Peter Hoskin on Spectator Coffee House is surprised that Cameron has gone so far in his advances towards the Lib Dems and is impressed by the Tory leader’s “clarity” in setting out the areas where he isn’t willing to compromise with Nick Clegg – namely Europe, cutting the deficit and immgration.
Meanwhile Guido Fawkes urges that now is the opportunity to “reform politics for the better” and heralds “an historic opportunity to realign politics along a liberal-conservative axis”.
However, Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, warns Cameron on twitter that the magazine will not promise the Tory leader’s proffered national inquiry in electoral reform.
3.38 JK: The Tories have gained the seat in Lancaster & Fleetwood from Labour with a 333 vote majority and a 4.8 per cent swing to the Conservatives. Two seats to go.
3.31 JK: Dudley North is held by Labour with a major of 649 votes, a swing of 4.7 per cent from Labour to Conservatives. We are waiting for the results of three more contests.
3.20 HW: The Conservatives are on a roll – their second successive Labour gain is Morecambe and Lunesdale, where long-standing Labour MP Geraldine Smith has been beaten to victory by the Tories’ David Morris. The swing was 6.9 per cent Labour to Conservative.
3.16 HW: Another result out now from key marginal seat Amber Valley – Conservative Nigel Mills gained the seat from labour on a majority of only 536 votes. The Labour to Conservative swing was 6.9 per cent.
3.10 HW: The Lib Dems’ Andrew George has held St Ives, though only just: the Conservatives benefitted from a swing of 10.4 per cent in their favour.
3.04: From Alex:
Coalition! Lib Dems activists will be going weak at the knees. Cameron didn’t quite say it, but it’s not hard to read between the lines of his “open and comprehensive offer”. Two quick thoughts on this.
If he is offering cabinet seats, he may find the Lib Dems will play hard to get. I expect all of Clegg’s predecessors would have jumped at the offer. But I Clegg is playing a longer game. The Lib Dems were badly burned in the 70s in the Lib-Lab pact, when they bought the illusion of power and found it wanting. Who would want to be the Lib Dem minister charged with cutting local government spending by 25 per
The “confidence and supply” arrangement gives Clegg more freedom to manoeuvre and more protection. But how far would this go? It can range from a loose agreement to a detailed framework for cooperation, without the ministerial limo. Consultation on policy, dispute resolution, rules over a divorce, that kind of thing. But the deeper the agreement, the longer it takes. Brace yourselves. The international average for such talks is 40 days.
2.59: Analysis from Robert Shrimsley:
David Cameron has steered clear of offering the Lib Dems the one thing they really want, which is electoral reform. Cameron must be banking on Clegg being so frightened of a deal with Labour that he will settle for anything.
2.47 JK: Bear with us for a moment, we will clean up Cameron’s quotes and get you some snap analysis.
Here are some of Cameron’s key quotes:
“The Conservatives want the best for Britain … the best thing for Britain now is a new government that works together in this national interest”
“We need a strong, stable government that lasts … that has the support of the public … to put this government on the right track for the future … it is important that we get this strong and stable government quickly”
“I want to make a big open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats… I want us to work together in tacking the countries’ big problems. Of course there are policy disagreements between us… I want to make it clear that I do not believe that any government should give more powers to the European Union … the countries defences must be kept strong”
“The new government must grip this deficit and take the action that needs to be taken … it’s important that we get that strong and stable government quickly”
“I think we have a strong basis for a strong government … negotiations will involve compromise … no government will be in the national interest unless it agrees on the common threat, which is the deficit”
“(On electoral reform) the Lib Dems have their ideas and we have our ideas … there is a role for an all-party committee of inquiry on political and electoral reform”
“We share a common commitment to civil liberties … we agree that reform of political system is urgently needed, including electoral reform”
“It is reasonable to expect that the bulk of the policies in our manifesto should be kept”
2.32 JK: Labour has held Hackney North.
2.26 JK: Just a reminder as we wait for David Cameron to make his statement at 2.30, we are still waiting for 11 races to be called.
2.18 HW: A fantastic result for the Lib Dems, who have held Westmorland and Lonsdale. Their majority is up by 11,000 votes and MP Tim Farron has won an 11.1 per cent swing away from the Conservatives.
2.03 HW: Lib Dem Martin Horwood holds Cheltenham with an increased majority – he’s won a 4.3 per cent swing away from the Tories.
1.57 HW: The speaker, Conservative John Bercow has held his seat in Buckinghamshire, trouncing UKIP’s Nigel Farrage who has come in third with 17.4 per cent of the vote.
1.29: Jim says:
“Lib Dem activists are gutted to have narrowly missed out in 10 seats where they were within 1 per cent or less of winning. Ashfield, for example. The Liberal Democrat Voice website has a handy list”
1.24: Jim says:
“Previous expectations were of the Tories forging a coalition with Ulster MPs, SNP and Plaid. But now that seems to be swinging more towards a Tory-Lib Dem partnership. My sources north of the border tell me that the SNP has been speaking to senior Labour figures and NOT the Tories.”
1.17 JK: We are expecting a statement from Gordon Brown any moment, which may be an attempt to lay out his plans before David Cameron gets his chance at 2.30. There are also reports that Cameron is holding a conference call with his shadow cabinet in the next 30 minutes.
1.02 HW: Round-up of seats won so far: Conservatives 295 (up 93), Labour 252 (down 87), Lib Dems 53 (down 5).
12.41 HW: The Conservatives’ Alan Haselhurst has held Saffron Walden, his majority boosted by a 3.4 per cent swing from Lib Dems to the Tories.
12.26 HW: Bethnal Green and Bow is the third Labour gain of the election – this time a swing of 14.1 per cent from Respect to Labour. Johanna says:
Bethnal Green, which was held by Respect in 2005 (its only seat in the House of Commons), was gained by Labour with a significant majority. There was a 20 per cent drop for Respect and a 14.1 per cent swing to Labour.
12.26 JK: Conservatives gain Warwick and Leamington from Labour with a 8.8 per cent swing with very high turnout, 84 per cent. In 2005, Labour hung on to the constituency with 256 votes. This time around Conservatives got 42.6 per cent, Labour with 35.4 per cent and Lib Dems with 18.3 per cent.