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Nick

Eyes north

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 04:09 PM

I'm on my way up to Edinburgh to witness the dramatic conclusion of an election whose outcome still hangs in the balance.

Who would have guessed it? Who would have dared? A single seat in Scotland - Labour's historic heartland - the home of its next leader - could separate disappointment from disaster. Tonight Gordon Brown can only wait and watch to discover whether that result will deal him a bitter blow just weeks before he fulfils his dream of moving homes in Downing Street.

If the Nationalists do secure a historic first victory and if they can go on to form a governing coalition a Salmond-led Scotland could haunt a Brown-led Britain. A political civil war in Scotland will hardly help Mr Brown's efforts to reach out to Middle England.

If, on the other hand, Labour just holds on to power, the gasp of relief from Edinburgh will be felt hundreds of miles away in Westminster.

General elections are, of course, won and lost not North of the border but in England. Here, Labour's performance was poor - but it was marginally better than the results which preceded Tony Blair's election for a third term. The party is comforting itself that David Cameron's Tories - though clearly on a roll - are only just beginning to gain victories beyond their traditional heartlands.

And yet, they will know that winning a fourth term, led by Gordon Brown and not Tony Blair, up against David Cameron as against Michael Howard is a very very different proposition.

For the first time time in a decade the political future is unpredictable. Tonight it's game on.

Recent entries

Nick

At last... off air

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 06:20 AM

I can't give a final verdict as the result in Scotland and Wales is still unclear and the local elections are only half counted.

So far, though, my view is:

• A bad night for Labour but they'll be relieved it's not been worse UNLESS they go on and lose in Scotland later.
• A good night for the Tories but they'll be disappointed they didn't do better in key northern targets such as Bury and Crewe, and didn't come second in Wales.
• A disappointing night for the Lib Dems, but some council gains in key battlegrounds will lessen their gloom.

The worst night was for democracy. Different voting systems and confusing ballot papers robbed tens of thousands of people of their chance to vote.

Betsan Powys

Signing off

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 06:18 AM

When the counters are sent home, I think it may be time to sign off.

Two big stories to come in the Vale of Glamorgan and in Bridgend... but always good to leave your audience wanting more!

Nos/Bore da!

Betsan Powys

A warm welcome

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 06:04 AM

The Welsh Assembly has its first AM from an ethnic minority. Welcome to Mohammed Asghar AM.

But something else to chew on: the BNP came within 2580 votes of winning a seat on the North Wales regional list.

Nick

"Clear red water"

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 05:48 AM

The BBC's boffins are now predicting that the Labour Party will fall well short of the 30 seats needed for it to be able to control the Assembly on its own. Indeed, we are forecasting it will win no more than 26 seats, two less than it secured in the debacle of 1999.

Plaid Cymru are predicted to retain second place, though with 14 seats the party will still be below the 17 that it won in 1999. Nevertheless, the Tories will be disappointed at having failed to oust the nationalists from third place. At 22%, their vote is up just a couple of points on 2003.

The Lib Dems is expected to emerge with one more seat than it has at the moment and is likely to be called upon by Labour to help it form a majority coalition.

It's been a bad night for Rhodri Morgan and not the predicted vindication for his strategy of keeping "clear red water" between himself and Tony Blair.

Brian Taylor

Tommy Sheridan out

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 05:44 AM

And Tommy Sheridan is out!

He has failed to win on the list in Glasgow - as did Rosie Kane, his former colleague.

Four seats on the list in Glasgow for the SNP - including Scotland's first MSP from a Scots-Asian background, Bashir Ahmad.

Betsan Powys

A quiz for you

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 05:36 AM

What do 5,500 jobs in St Athan get you, if you're the Labour AM in the Vale of Glamorgan?

Answer: a third recount.

Betsan Powys

Looking ahead

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 05:32 AM

After all the sound and fury...

BBC WALES FORECAST @ 0515

Labour: 26
Plaid: 14
Conservative: 12
Lib Dems: 7
Independent: 1

Betsan Powys

Coalition talk

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 05:28 AM

You've hated it throughout the campaign, though you'll have heard plenty of it. Now that we DO have facts - not all the facts, granted but some facts - I'm surely allowed to whisper the word at least.

IF the Vale of Glamorgan goes Conservative and Carmarthen West, then Labour will be shoved a step nearer Mike German's door. Who might he take with him to a Labour-led cabinet? Jenny Randerson, or Kirsty Williams: both scored huge victories tonight. Mind you there's the deputy presiding officer job up for grabs...

Brian Taylor

Sheridan may be out

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 04:59 AM

More on the minors.

Gossip - and it is just that - is that Tommy Sheridan may not be elected in Glasgow.

At the very least, it's marginal at the moment.

Nick

David Dimbleby

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 04:56 AM

If you're watching the TV programme in England and saw David Dimbleby mock me for repeating what he'd just said, you might be interested to know that one of my first jobs was as the researcher who whispers facts into his earpiece. Later I was the editor of programmes he made, and he advised me to bcome a reporter.

I took his advice. Now, it's my turn to give him some!

Nick

Rhodri's future

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 04:53 AM

So Labour have now gained a seat in the Welsh assembly having lost three (one each to the Tories, Plaid and the Independents). It's still unclear whether they'll be above the 25 seat mark considered crucial for Rhodri Morgan if he wishes to stay as first minister...

Brian Taylor

Vote supension 'disgrace'

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 04:44 AM

And so in Bishopbriggs they've suspended the count in Strathkelvin and Bearsden.

That is because the computer system cannot validate the votes that have been counted so far.

That adds to problems elsewhere.

This is, frankly, a disgrace.

Betsan Powys

Patterns emerging?

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 04:37 AM

I'm back to rumours but might John Marek's hold on Wrexham have been loosened by Labour?

Independents have been doing well all night - in fact all campaign - but Labour's blogger, Lesley Griffiths is looking pretty relaxed.

Could we really be down to just the one indy in Cardiff Bay? It'll be a lonely old place for Trish Law... and Cardiff Bay's tea room really wouldn't be the same place without Mr Marek holding court.

Patterns emerging?

Labour's lost significantly on percentages but just swung it in more seats than they might have thought four hours ago. You get the feeling Rhodri Morgan will still be around after next week if he wants to be. Yma o hyd Rhodri, outlasting Tony Blair.

The Lib Dems must be glad they booked that room in Llandrindod for a pow-wow on Sunday.

Plaid? Still not getting anywhere near breaking out of their heartlands.

And the Tories? Best is yet to come for them perhaps.

Hang on in there. Well you've stayed up this late!

Brian Taylor

Struggle for socialists

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 04:19 AM

Looks like the wee parties are getting squeezed out on the list.

John Swinburne of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party reckons it's looking tough for him at least.

But he says "hope springs eternal".

If he loses, he's off to his caravan.

Re the others, the two Socialist parties (SSP and Solidarity) seem to be struggling.

The Greens could slip back from their present seven seats.

More to come, though.

Nick

Another poor performance

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 04:06 AM

The failure to win Paisley South is another poor performance by the SNP in a vital west of Scotland marginal. If the SNP fail to come first tonight it will be because they could not crack Labour's west of Scotland heartland.

Brian Taylor

Rejected papers 'disastrous'

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 04:03 AM

More on the voting system.

Robin Harper of the Greens - whose party look to be struggling - has called the figures on rejected ballot papers "disastrous".

One of my readers has told me that they were given advice to fold their ballot paper - despite the guidance, nationally, that they shouldn't.

This is a serious guddle.

Nick

Helping the SNP

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 04:02 AM

So Alex's deputy is elected as well... Nicola Sturgeon was a very prominent face in the SNP's campaign - Alex Salmond didn't want to present himself alone. They appeared together at the manifesto launches, etc etc. She was a member of the Scottish Parliament before, but only via the proportional representation side of things - the list, as we call it - not directly elected.

What's helping the SNP achieve such success is the absence of the Scottish Socialists. They used to stand in both the constituency section and the list section. They took a decision to stand only on the latter this time. Many of the SSP's supporters are to the left of the Labour party, disaffected with them for one reason or another. And a very high proportion of those people are obviously giving their votes to the SNP.

If the SNP can carry on winning constituency seats, AND do well on the list, then this will get very interesting...

It's patchy though. Her good result is matched by a disappointing one in Galloway.

Brian Taylor

Lib Dems 'do it again'

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 04:00 AM

And so they've done it again.

The Lib Dems have taken Dunfermline West from Labour - just as they did in the Westminster by-election last year.

Betsan Powys

Language matters

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 04:00 AM

I used to teach Welsh to adults in Risca. From listening to the returning officer in Newport, I should have started an extra class there too.

Come on Newport! This is insulting. Huw Edwards is threatening to turn down the sound in the studio. Don't tell me you couldn't have found a decent learner or a native speaker SOMEWHERE?

Brian Taylor

Sturgeon wins Govan seat

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 03:48 AM

And so Alex's deputy is back too!

Nicola Sturgeon has won Glasgow Govan - that seat of historic memories.

She took the seat from Gordon Jackson.

Betsan Powys

As predicted

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 03:47 AM

So as predicted, the rumble for the Tumble was won by Plaid and a far more stateswomanlike win than in 1999.

And Roger Scully? You must be a very good tutor. Your students were BANG on! 51% and 35% it was.

And talking about good news for Plaid Aberconwy looking good for them... and will they push Alun Pugh into third in Clwyd West? Less good for them? Bye bye any chances Dafydd Wigley ever had of making it to Cardiff.

And Carmarthen West is tight but might the Tories edge it? Another woman heading to Cardiff Bay if so.

Right - better start composing.

So farewell then Alun Pugh.
Your Christmas card cost you dearly.

More to come... bad jokes about bikes etc...

But another Alun, Alun Davies must now be on his way to Cardiff as Labour's list man in Mid and West. That vineyard will just have to wait a bit Alun.

Nick

Was it good enough?

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 03:44 AM

Earlier I pointed out the councils which the Tories failed to gain. It's only fair to point out that they've recorded a number of quite spectacular gains eg North West Leicestershire; South Ribble; Chester; and North Somerset.

If they do gain 600 new councillors, 41% of the national vote and these gains David Cameron will be able to say it was a good night, but his failure to win in Bury and Crewe will mean others will say - was it good enough?

Nick

Electoral arrangements

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 03:26 AM

Interesting that Alex Salmond began his victory speech (watch it by clicking here) not by talking about the SNP but by attacking the electoral arrangements. As I just said on air... if the election is close - as close as it appears to be - these spoiled ballot papers will be vital. Politicians will feel that they've been robbed of getting the proper sense of whether people did want a Labour or SNP victory.

And that, really, is not good for any of us.

Betsan Powys

Time to gossip

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 03:22 AM

Is there really a chance that Labour could lose their deposit in Ceredigion?

Mind you if the Lib Dems have time to gossip, must mean they've given up on winning the seat from Plaid...

Brian Taylor

'Wind of change'

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 03:13 AM

A wind of change blowing through Scottish politics.

Alex Salmond's description of the night's results.

A deliberate echo of Harold Macmillan's famous speech about Africa?

I think so - I think the SNP leader was reflecting that Labour has led in Scotland for 50 years.

Since Macmillan was Prime Minister.

Nick

A stunning victory

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 03:11 AM

Wow! The Lib Dems were wrong. They have not stopped Salmond. The SNP leader has just had a stunning victory in Gordon.

Brian Taylor

Salmond returns as MSP

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 03:10 AM

He's back!

Alex Salmond has won Gordon, coming from third place.

The rest of the night will determine whether he returns, leading the largest party.

Mr Salmond condemned the confusion which has resulted in thousands of votes being rejected.

Nick

Projected national share

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 03:08 AM

Hey presto! The boffins have toiled long and hard and come up with the numbers that tell us how the parties have done nationally.

This, you might think is absurd since people are voting on local issues at least as much as national ones. Maybe, but these figures shape the way in which these elections are interpreted by the media and the politicians themselves.

Projected national share - Great Britain (based on English locals)
% vote
Con: 41 - that's up a point on last year
Lab: 27 - also up a point on last year
LD : 26 - down a point
Other: 6

Jeremy Vine: "This would probably be met with quiet disappointment" at Tory HQ.

They've emailed to say that, actually, a massive cheer went up in the office!

Betsan Powys

Quick change

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 03:06 AM

Vale of Clwyd goes something like this...

Labour ahead by 50... oh no,
Tories ahead by 11... oh no,
Labour hold by 92.

That's what I call marginal.

Betsan Powys

Time to move

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 03:03 AM

Remember I told you yesterday about that press officer who was worried what his boss would find when he came back to Cardiff Bay (yes when, not if - he's loyal)... because his ministerial office had been stripped bare?

Well he's back. Andrew Davies has taken Swansea West. Lib Dems a very good second, again.

Get that furniture back in boys...

Betsan Powys

The London papers

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 02:46 AM

Why does Peter Hain think Labour may be facing "a difficult night" in Wales?

His view: "Ninety per cent of morning papers in Wales are produced in London rather than in Wales. It's been very difficult for us to get our message across against a difficult national background, and that has obviously affected us in a number of key seats, and we'll have to see how they turn out."

Phew. Not complaining about us... yet!

Brian Taylor

Tory candidate setback

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 02:44 AM

That result in Dumfries - where Labour won - is a huge personal setback for the Tory candidate, Murray Tosh.

He's been an MSP since 1999 but is now almost certainly out of Parliament because he's lowly ranked on the tory list in the south of Scotland.

Mr Tosh was the deputy presiding officer in the last Parliament.

Betsan Powys

Fairer, greener Wales

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 02:37 AM

A week is a long time in politics... a couple of hours is enough to make me think that the LDs won't quite get Newport East but that if they don't, that means instead of NO Mr German, it COULD mean Mr AND Mrs German in Cardiff Bay.

Would they get to sit next to each other? It'd save on the petrol anyway... fairer, greener Wales and all that.

Brian Taylor

Craigie beats the odds

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 02:36 AM

Cathie Craigie has held Cumbernauld against all the odds.

It was the top SNP target - at least among Labour seats.

So big swings across Scotland to the SNP - but this a disappointment for the SNP.

Brian Taylor

Salmond set to win seat

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 02:28 AM

Tip from the north-east is that Alex Salmond has managed to take Gordon - from third place behind the Tories and the incumbent LibDems.

Betsan Powys

Who's behind?

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 02:23 AM

50 votes in it in the Vale of Clwyd so it's recount time.

But who ASKED for a recount? In other words who's behind by 50 votes.

The Tories I hear.

Brian Taylor

No advert for democracy

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 02:04 AM

The majority for Labour in Airdrie was 1446.

The number of rejected ballot papers was 1536.

Nobody is suggesting that all of those rejected papers were for Labour's rival, the SNP.

But it is scarcely a good advert for democracy.

Nick

Spoiled votes

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 02:02 AM

In one Scottish seat just announced - Glasgow Anniesland - there were 1,736 rejected ballots - that's a massive 7.2% of those who voted. The level of spoilt votes in the first three Scottish declarations has been running at 3% to 5%, well above the norm.

The huge number of wasted votes is presumably because people simply don't know how to fill in the ballot paper. Scots voters are not just having two votes for the Scottish parliament - there's an utterly separate system for the Scottish local elections, and of course, there's a third system for the Westminster elections. A potential problem with the electoral process.

Betsan Powys

Hey - a result!!

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 02:01 AM

Sorry to mention Newport East again - never thought it would take over my blog - but Lib Dems think they may just have missed out. Mr German will be... well what? Disappointed or ever so slightly relieved?

Hey. A result!!

Betsan Powys

Academic exercise

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 01:57 AM

I think I can now reveal what a group of students - studying Welsh and UK Politics at Aberystwyth and doing a course on polls - came up with when they had a bit of a practice in Llanelli a few weeks ago. (Just 300 people and just practising, remember.)

We took one look and thought they might scrape a 2:2.

They were:

Plaid 51%
Labour 35%
Tories 9%
Lib Dems 5%

No result yet but keep this to hand when it comes in.

They may yet deserve a first. Hear that Mr Scully?

Nick

No Alex and Gordon show?

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 01:55 AM

Phew. That's likely to be the sentiment in Labour supporting homes up and down the land tonight.

The result in Scotland is still too close to call but they may well hang on to power. That's vital both symbolically and actually, since an SNP victory would mean that Gordon Brown's first days as prime minister would be dominated by a clash of two Scots - the Alex and Gordon show.

General elections are won and lost in England though and Labour will be relieved by the fact that the BBC's estimate that their vote share is up just a little.

Brian Taylor

SNP falling short?

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 01:53 AM

For now, of course, we're only getting constituencies.

And it looks - maybe, perhaps - as if the SNP may fall short of their ambition of taking 20 new seats.

However, gossip - and it is just that at this stage - suggests that the SNP may be performing well on the top-up regional list by contrast with 2003 where they slumped badly in this section.

Long way to go.

Betsan Powys

Flooding in

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 01:43 AM

Heck!

The very next email that came in after I mentioned things flooding in was an offer of cut-price Viagra.

Wonderfully well-timed spam there! Spooky.

Betsan Powys

Near and far

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 01:40 AM

Sheffield... Australia... your comments are flooding in from near and far.

At least something's flooding in. Come on - a result! Please!

Nick

Anxious progress

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 01:29 AM

"Maybe we won't be making an advance as fast as we may want". Iain Duncan Smith has just exposed the anxiety that tonight's results will provoke for the Tories even though they're sure to be the overall winners.

The north west is a key target for them. They've made progress tonight - in Chester, for example - but not as much as they would have hoped - in Bury and Crewe and Nantwich, for example.

Update - you can now watch the Iain Duncan Smith interview by clicking here.

Betsan Powys

Coalition talk already?

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 01:22 AM

Rumours coming in from Bridgend. The man with the quietest blog in Wales - Carwyn Jones - might be getting nervous. The Tories say they're pushing him close.

Now what did Rhodri Morgan mean when he said that Labour will do 'the right thing' for Wales? Coalition talk already... before any results are in?

Betsan Powys

The best stories

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 01:15 AM

Nia G did indeed do better... much better. Hats off to her for such honesty. The people ganged up on us and gave us a kicking.

Just read that the SNP have narrowly missed winning a target seat. Any chance we in Wales - and not Scotland - will do it again and confound everyone by coming up with some of the best stories of the night?

All depends on those list seats and whether they keep the Labour fat out of the fire... keep counting.

Brian Taylor

First SNP gain

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 01:14 AM

First SNP gain of the night as they take Dundee West.

Brian Taylor

Over 1,000 papers rejected

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 01:10 AM

1195 rejected ballot papers in Glasgow Kelvin - won by Pauline McNeill for Labour.

This is becoming a story of the night.

Not the story, but A story.

Betsan Powys

A scoop

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 01:08 AM

Just stopped talking about Radio Cymru's scoop and can get typing again.

Nia Griffith MP has thrown in the Llanelli towel.

Nice one Radio Cymru.

Now she's telling our viewers they've lost Llanelli because the Lib Dems chose a candidate from Cardiff (son of the man making headway in Newport East by the way... yes, I've done my homework).

Come on Nia... you can come up with something better than that.

Nick

Reid for Brown?

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 01:02 AM

John Reid has just delivered a paean of praise for Gordon Brown. So I asked him to declare his support for him as prime minister and agree that he wouldn't run against him. I even offered to eat my hat on air if next week he announced his candidacy. Oddly, he didn't take up my challenge.

Brian Taylor

Question over first minister

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 01:00 AM

"The leader of the largest party will be in poll position to become first minister" - Jack McConnell.

But he declined to speculate on what might happen.

Brian Taylor

Caution urged over swing

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 12:55 AM

Jack McConnell says we should be cautious not to read too much into the 7% swing in the SNP's favour in his constituency.

However, repeating that swing across Scotland would bring several Labour seats into the SNP camp.

Early gossip from Paisley, though, is that the SNP may fall short in taking Paisley South.

Brian Taylor

Increase in spoilt papers

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 12:47 AM

Big number of spoilt papers in Motherwell and Wishaw under the new counting system.

Some 970 invalid papers, that's 3.7% of the system.

Much more than usual in the past.

Douglas Alexander, the Scottish Secretary, says he has already requested an inquiry into apparent problems getting postal ballots out to voters.

Maybe a wider inquiry will now be needed.

Nick

Hanging on late results?

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 12:47 AM

First signs from Scotland in the First Minister Jack McConnell's seat. The increase in the SNP vote at eight points is a little below that anticipated by the final polls, though the six point drop in the Labour vote is a little higher than expected. Altogether, if this result is typical, we are looking at a very tight race between Labour and the SNP.

The news from Scotland may take a long time coming in though. We're hearing that he boat from Arran has broken down in the Clyde. Another boat has been sent out to collect the ballot boxes, and possibly those on board.

And a helicopter problem (as mentioned by Brian below) means that the news is that the Western Isles will not count until Friday. Western Isles is a Labour-SNP marginal and if Labour lose it a list seat may in turn be in the balance between Labour and SNP. Everything might hang on this late result.

Betsan Powys

Schadenfreude anyone?

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 12:37 AM

To those of you watching us and not listening to Garry and co on Radio Cymru, we've all missed him telling listeners that he think Labour will do worse than when he was Labour leader in Wales.

Schadenfreude anyone? And not a parachute in sight.

Brian Taylor

McConnell holds seat

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 12:32 AM

Jack McConnell has held Motherwell and Wishaw with a reduced share of the vote.

SNP second, seven per cent swing to them.

Nick

Tories in the north

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 12:31 AM

Some early signs of how the Tories are doing in the north. The party says that they are on course to become the largest party in Bury and to make gains in Crewe and Nantwich. The official results are not yet in. Sounds good - at first.

These areas used to have Tory MPs and these are councils they really need to take control of. So, the verdict will be likely to be good, but not good enough

Betsan Powys

Welsh-speaking Tories

  • Betsan Powys
  • 4 May 07, 12:26 AM

Ceredigion is tight... Caerphilly is tight... rumour is that Preseli Pembrokeshire is not. Might we gain another Welsh-speaking Tory before the night is out? Radio Cymru producers would be cockahoop!

So. How low will Labour go? Is Ken Skates starting to think that 27 was a bit generous? All depends on whether they've got their vote out and can regain on the roundabouts what they look like they may lose on the swings.

Does 25 count as good or bad? Remember that Rhodri Morgan said he would 'know' what a bad night was and would go. The suggestion made to me tonight was that 25 now counted as good enough.

What do you think?

Nick

Early signs

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 12:11 AM

Our boffins behind the scenes are analysing in detail the results in a few key wards. They tell me that the the early signs suggest this may not be as bad a night for Labour in England as had been anticipated. It may instead be the Lib Dems whose support is down on last year.

Brian Taylor

Bets are on

  • Brian Taylor
  • 4 May 07, 12:00 AM

Put your money where your mouth is.

Patrick Harvie of the Greens has £50 riding on a bet that his party will get more seats than the seven they achieved last time.

Nick

A good start

  • Nick Robinson
  • 4 May 07, 12:00 AM

A good start for the Lib Dems. They've taken Pressa's council in Hull. That'll be a huge relief for them since they need to gain councils as they are unlikely to gain many councillors nationwide.

Brian Taylor

Left vote split

  • Brian Taylor
  • 3 May 07, 11:56 PM

Tommy Sheridan has forecast that the Left vote will split between his Solidarity and his former party, the Scottish Socialists.

He says there may not be room for both, given a turnout of around 60%.

Mr sheridan says he had hoped for a higher turnout.

In Glasgow, Tommy Sheridan and his former colleague Rosie Kane are head to head on the list.

Brian Taylor

Beating the forecasts?

  • Brian Taylor
  • 3 May 07, 11:51 PM

The chat in advance was that the authorities were being deliberately pessimistic about declaration times under the new counting system.

Gossip now is that they could beat those forecasts by around an hour.

Motherwell and Wishaw expected very shortly.

Nick

We're on air

  • Nick Robinson
  • 3 May 07, 11:47 PM

The first editions of the papers are in and the Telegraph is predicting that Tony Bair is set to become a roving Ambassador to Africa and the Middle East after he leaves office. This - on the same day - that Downing Street tried, but didn't altogether succeed, in squashing stories that Mr Blair would leave Parliament and perhaps provoke a byelection soon after he leaves Number Ten.

Brian Taylor

First declaration?

  • Brian Taylor
  • 3 May 07, 11:46 PM

Looks like Motherwell and Wishaw may be the first to declare.

That is the seat currently held by one McConnell, J.

Wonder if he'll also be first in the race to govern Scotland?

Betsan Powys

New horizons

  • Betsan Powys
  • 3 May 07, 11:40 PM

Let's just say that I may have to start mugging up on the Lib Dem candidate in Newport East as well as the Conservative in Newport West. Just in case... We don't want a Brian Hancock moment a la Islwyn in 1999, after all.

News is the turnout is low. And if that's true in both first and second votes, could Mr M German be starting to feel nervous?

And if the Labour turnout is truly, truly low in both Newport constituencies, could Labour really lose its Mr Nice Guy + captain of the Assembly Football team and the Chair of Culture in the last Assembly?

Alyn and Deeside might be so fed up of holding the title of "lowest turnout in Assembly elections" (24%) that it looks like 38% of voters have turned out.

Brian Taylor

Lamenting insider insight

  • Brian Taylor
  • 3 May 07, 11:39 PM

Just spotted a face in the crowd at the Aberdeen count.

Derek Barrie of the Scottish LibDems.

Derek may not be familiar to all of you - but he's an astute analyst of electoral politics.

In fact, I've relied on him - and others like him in other parties - for insider intelligence on what's happening at counts.

He and the others will struggle now, given that it's machines rather than people counting the papers.

It's hard to peep over a machine's shoulder!

Pity. I'll miss that insight.

Brian Taylor

Salmond 'confident' of isles vote

  • Brian Taylor
  • 3 May 07, 11:21 PM

We won't know until tomorrow - but Alex Salmond is saying he is "extremely confident" of winning the Western Isles from Labour.

Mr Salmond deployed a helicopter to fly round key marginal seats. But helicopter problems have delayed the count in the Western Isles until tomorrow.

Brian Taylor

Turnout up - helicopter down

  • Brian Taylor
  • 3 May 07, 11:09 PM

The polls have closed - and amid the miasma of uncertainty, one fact.

A helicopter has had problems collecting ballot boxes from Barra, meaning that the count in the Western Isles will be delayed.

That is of course a key contest between Labour and the SNP - plus its contribution to the regional list count.

Other gossip? Turnout looks to be up - perhaps well up - on 2003.

Bright sunshine and a fascinating contest seem to have drawn the voters out. There was talk of queues in urban seats.

Turnout could be around 60 per cent, perhaps even higher.

Early talk? Labour strategists insist their core vote in working class areas and among pensioners is pretty solid. But they’re fretting a bit more about "aspirational" areas.

Nick

A long night ahead

  • Nick Robinson
  • 3 May 07, 10:46 PM

The word from Scotland is that turnout is high - i.e. in the mid 50s, compared with under 50% at the last election. Labour believes that many of its traditional working class supporters have been "coming home" in the last couple of days prompted, in part, by the vigorous support of Scotland's two biggest tabloids - the Record and the Sun. However, no-one I'm speaking to - in any of the parties - dares call the outcome and all predict a long night ahead.

Many are pondering the distinct possibility that the SNP could become the biggest party but their leader may fail to get elected.

Alex Salmond launched his bid to lead Scotland in a different seat to the one he represents at Westminster and one that requires a big swing from the Lib Dems. The theory was that if he failed to win it he could still get into Holyrood under the "top up" system of proportional representation. Ironically, though, if his party does well enough to win other constituencies in that region the SNP would not get a "top up" and Salmond could be a leader unable to lead.

Intriguing. Please send me any intelligence you have about voting where you live.

Betsan Powys

A rumour

  • Betsan Powys
  • 3 May 07, 10:41 PM

News - no, a rumour - from Ynys Mon. Turnout isn't as high as Plaid Cymru had hoped. If true, not good news for Plaid, or should I say, for their leader. Our poll for tonight's programme has come up with a figure of 58% for turnout. Scarcely believe...

The title music has struck up. I'd better concentrate on the job in hand.

Nick

On your marks

  • Nick Robinson
  • 3 May 07, 10:35 PM

Standing by to enter the BBC's Studio 7 for what feels like the rest of my life. I will emerge at 6am having consumed gallons of caffeine and many bunches of bananas. I spent the day mugging up on Bolton, Blaenau, Bournemouth and the rest.

Let's hope I can remember some of it come the early hours.

Betsan Powys

Writing on the wall

  • Betsan Powys
  • 3 May 07, 10:29 PM

Just popped up to the Radio Wales studio and scribbled on a piece of paper was this:

24
14
13
7
2

Conservative candidate Glyn Davies' prediction. Ah, but which way round are the 14/13 Glyn?

In the name of party morale I said one thing (he whispered) but I think it'll be the other way round (he whispered v v quietly).

Betsan Powys

And we're off

  • Betsan Powys
  • 3 May 07, 10:04 PM

Let's kick off with rumours doing the rounds that no-one has checked out. What other night of the year do we get to do that?

The Tories are looking good, very good in Newport West. So good we're all checking out Matthew Evans' profile rather more carefully than we had until now. He used to run a catering business... well there you go. May come in handy later.

Plaid are confident in Carmarthen West, more so there than in Llanelli, though that's not looking bad for them. Aberconwy? Is it me or are they sounding less confident than they were? Tory march?

Nothing from the Lib Dems yet. They've probably just given up leafletting...

And Labour? Rhodri Morgan last seen standing outside Tesco in Whitchurch I hear, doing everything he can to push his people to the polls.

Has he done it? Early, early rumours suggest turnout in Labour wards in the Gower, in the Vale of Glamorgan are very low. Even the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, is starting to sound a bit nervous (when no-one's listening) - or so I'm told.

Stick with us.

Nick

Changing landscapes

  • Nick Robinson
  • 3 May 07, 08:39 AM

For a decade the landscape of British politics has barely altered. Tony Blair has dominated from Downing Street and his party has held power comfortably not just in Westminster but in Edinburgh and Cardiff too.

This landscape is about to change. Today 39 million people will have the chance to cast a vote in the biggest electoral test since the last general election. A week from today the Prime Minister looks set to announce his resignation.

For the first time in 50 years Scotland go to the polls with Labour running second. If Alex Salmond's Nationalists win it will send shock waves through the political system and could trigger years of tension between a Salmond led Scotland and a Brown led Britain.

If Labour polls badly in Wales they might struggle to form a government even with the support of another party.

The English local elections are first and foremost about choosing who runs our town and city halls BUT they too will be studied to see how far David Cameron has climbed his electoral everest.

If Labour sees off the challenges in Scotland, Wales and the electoral battlegrounds of England they and most importantly Gordon Brown may start to contemplate the possibility of another decade in power.

The old cliche has it that a week is a long time in politics. The next week won't just be long. It will help define the new shape of politics for years to come.

PS - I'll be liveblogging here, and on this special election blog (link), throughout the evening - along the lines of what we did during last year's election. First post will be sometime after 2200.

Brian Taylor

No comment

  • Brian Taylor
  • 3 May 07, 06:21 AM

And he’s back. But only for now. It’s election day – and I’m in purdah. (Small seaside town in the East Neuk of Fife, rather nice actually.)

Means I can’t blog for real. No comment, no analysis, not even any cheap gags.

However, I will be up all night – and all of the day. (Wasn’t that a hit song – or am I losing it? Answer on one side of the paper only.)

During that overnight vigil, I’ll be blogging constantly. Watch out for that.

Betsan Powys

Over to you

  • Betsan Powys
  • 2 May 07, 09:42 PM

Will the last person to leave the Senedd tonight switch off the lights?

Well, ok, the BBC office in the Senedd. And that'll be my job.

Downstairs the Neuadd is still jam packed full of technicians, unravelling cables, putting up their lights and rostra. Tomorrow night the Wales 60 party will be in full swing and the polls will be about to close.

Wandering about the Senedd this afternoon I bumped into a government press officer, musing over what his boss will find when he makes it back to Cardiff Bay (when, not if - loyalty you see). The offices have been stripped, paperwork gone, walls bare - ready for the next lot. A bit of a shock, he said, seeing it like that - concentrates the mind.

Names have been removed from doors, (probably stuck in a drawer somewhere), waiting for the announcement of the next cabinet. And that's where you come in of course.

So, off to do one more stint tonight and then - it's over to you.

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