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Hung Parliament argument rehearsals

Nick Robinson | 22:51 UK time, Thursday, 6 May 2010

Already senior Labour and Tory figures are rehearsing what could turn out to be the major argument of tonight and tomorrow over who has the right to govern if there is a hung Parliament.

Harriet Harman and Peter Mandelson have begun to try to persuade the country that what matters after tonight is the creation of "a strong and stable government".

Alan Johnson has said that "if the will of the people is that no party has an overall majority" he would have no problem with a coalition. All have started the not-very-subtle wooing of the Lib Dems.

The Conservatives' line coming from Michael Gove and Theresa May is that today's poll has been a "decisive rejection" of the Labour party and Gordon Brown, and, that on the basis of the exit poll, the Tories have benefited from the biggest swing to them in more than 80years. They too say that they will do "all they can to provide a stable and responsible government". What that means they don't say.

Meantime Ed Davey for the Liberal Democrats has confirmed Nick Clegg's pre-election night statement that the party with the most votes and seats has the right to try to form a government.


  • Comment number 1.

    No party has a mandate in the popular vote. Some humility is called for all round. A party which attempts to force controversial measures though without a consensus will face huge resistance.

  • Comment number 2.

    Comments this evening about the queues at polling stations at 10pm are surely misplaced. The stations have been open 15 hours and postal votes are available on demand.

    It seems to me that at whatever hour the polls closed there would be people who would leave it to the last minute and be too late.

    By the way, had the returning officer who reportedly left the stations open after 10pm the legal right to do so?

  • Comment number 3.

    If the result looks like a rejection of Labour isn't it equally a huge rejection of the Conservatives, who have had 13 years to get this right. Theresa May should be challenged on this point, and has just got away with it.

  • Comment number 4.

    How can it be an 8.4% swing from Labour to Conservatives in Houghton and Sunderland South? That completely ignores the increase of 7% to the independent candidate - on the basis of the swing calculation that would also equate to a 9.5% swing from Labour to the Independent.

  • Comment number 5.

    Voters being turned away at 10pm having queued from at least 9pm in Hackney + Police called because of crowds wanting to stay and vote

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick - the story about voters being refused the opportunity to vote will "run" all evening if the BBC coverage chooses to do so. Personally I think a 15 hour window is ample opportunity to use your vote.

  • Comment number 7.

    Our constituency polling station in Streatham could not cope with the capacity of people turning out to vote. I began queuing at 8.30 and made my vote at 9.30 after an hour of queueing. at 9.30 as i was leaving the queue wasx bigger still. i overheard staff at the polling station say that they would close the main gate at 10pm and only take votes from those left. there were a lot of people set to miss out. this would have been avoidable but there was only ONE table set up in the polling station

  • Comment number 8.

    It seems in addition to all the other shambles Labour have presided over in the last 12 years they have managed to turn this election into one as well if these reports of voters turned away is as significant as it appears to be turning into.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    When Ian Hislop asked Andrew Neill why there were no figures about share of the vote in the exit poll, he was told "it wouldn't be helpful".

    How arrogant! There seems to be a conspiracy to deny us this information about what the country wants.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm sure Labour will be saying they have no problem with a hung parliament, if it is they who can then form a government. I wonder if they will be so relaxed about it if it is the Conservatives who form a government together with the Lib Dems?

  • Comment number 12.

    Nick, are you aware that university students get two voting cards, one at their university and one at home address and they are trusted to do the right thing

  • Comment number 13.

    Nick, The vote in Sheffield Hallam at the Ranmoor Community centre was a shambles. It was also discriminating against the many students who were queueing seperating the queues into Students and "residents." The residents got a shorter queue and preferential treatment leaving the students as second class voters.

    There are many angry people:

  • Comment number 14.

    The Election Commission has training materials on it's website instructing Returning Officers to close polling at stations at 10pm and preparing them to turn people away. My friend called me from a 90 minute queue in Honor Oak asking me to check the law online because the polling clerk was calling the police insisting the door would be locked at 10. By the time I got back to my friend, the polling station had announced they were raging open til midnightand my friend voted at 11:10pm.

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh dear, what an Ed Balls up, thank God Nu Labour doesn’t run the breweries. Hopefully, I will wake up tomorrow to discover they don't run anything.

  • Comment number 16.

    We have a 17 year old daughter and decided to register her on line as advised in time for the next wave of local elections. As a result of registering she received a voting card and her name was on the voting register.

    If you refer to the government website the year has been input incorrectly as 1993 NOT 1992 entitling 17 year olds to vote. Is this legal?

    Our daughter did not vote but how many did, who are under the legal age?

  • Comment number 17.


    Noticing with interest some of the comments on the coverage tonight about the voting problems, and heard that in one constituency there were not enough ballot papers.

    I am wondering if our experience tonight could have had some bearing on this. My wife and I went to our polling station, and my wife being an EU national was there to vote for the council elections only. On hearing this, the staff at the station were unsure of the protocol in giving her a ballot paper for the council voting but not the general election, so to get around this, they took a general election paper and spoilt in on her behalf.

    Now surely there would not have been a paper allocated to her and should there have been a 100% turn out at our station then someone would not have had a ballot paper to vote with.

  • Comment number 18.

    Whilst I would agree with Harriet Harmon and Lord Mandelson that what the country needs is a 'strong and stable government', I chose not to vote for Labour because I don't believe that they would be able to provide such a government.

  • Comment number 19.

    A loss of Labour votes and MPs is clearly not an active endorsement of the Conservatives. If that is going to be their line on the advent of a hung parliament or of not hitting a majority, then it shows how poor their claim to power really is. To go from a projected large majority to a projected minority is an extraordinary demonstration of how the public is unconvinced by their policies.

    They cannot be allowed to stage a coup through the media.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick - you are not an idiot, but the rest of us are being treated as one - WHAT IS THE SHARE OF THE VOTE? WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON? WHY CAN'T WE BE TOLD? Get on with it or we will all start believing in conspiracy theories about manipulation of the reult.

  • Comment number 21.

    15 results in and it is clear the now that the subject of the blog is almost certainly redundant.

    I think my pre-election bet may be lost - I may have underestimated the Conservative majority.

  • Comment number 22.

    Why is it that at 01:08 ITV are showing 30 seats declared while the BBC are only showing 17. How is it the BBC can be so far behind the results?

  • Comment number 23.

    it is idiotic to blame problems people have had voting on the government, the electoral commission is independent.

  • Comment number 24.

    the large variation in voting between seats is a big argument against proportional representation, with the one possible exception of single transferable vote in each constituency..

  • Comment number 25.

    A better explanation for the contrast between Mr Clegg's support in the opinion polls and the LibDem vote in constituencies is that high-profile local LibDem presence is far less impressive. Many have now experienced LibDem local government, that, because local government is now so restricted, is little or no better than others. And have you seen their nationally-styled but childish local 'Focus' newsletters? That sort of background drags down the vote potential of all but the best of parliamentary candidates.

  • Comment number 26.

    Reading the news it sounds like a third world country, not enough ballots, some voters allowed to vote after 10:00 PM others not, police called, sit-ins, etc.

  • Comment number 27.

    Cameron says in his local acceptance speech that he sees the Conservative seat gains being higher than for 80 years? Is he referring to 1929, when "...In the subsequent election, the Daily Mail published the infamous Zinoviev letter, a forgery which alleged there were links between Russian communists and the British Labour Party. With an atmosphere of fervent anti-communism, Labour lost 40 seats and the Tories were returned to power"?

  • Comment number 28.

    I can imagine that there are going to be a few seats that would change hands had the voters been allowed to vote.... #countmyvote is important!!

  • Comment number 29.

    It doesn't seem to occur to your esteemed studio colleagues that the fact that this country can hold an election and negotiate whatever change of government required in an orderly manner is the most solid foundation upon which our economic, or "market" standing rests. Its not at all a matter of clear majorities or "strong" governments, as some seem to think. Indeed, such misinformed ideas lead to military coups, which "markets" don't actually tend to favour at all.

  • Comment number 30.

    In all the mix up and discussion no-one has yet commented on the crashing failure of the Conservatives ( and a towering indictment of Cameron in particular) to deal a decisive blow to the Labour party. After 13 years of government, an unpopular war and a recession it would not be unreasonable that they should have swept the board in the style of Thatcher and Blair.

  • Comment number 31.

    Watching the UK election from Australia, where we have preferential voting (or I think what you call "alternative vote"), I am just amazed at some of the discussion. With a preferential voting system it is very likely that Labour would have been returned on the preferences of the Lib-Dems and some other minor parties. The Tories would gain from some of the votes of the centre-right and right minor parties (of course, variations in individual constituencies would be important). But on this basis, I see nothing wrong with a Labour/Lib-Dem government because they do represent more than half of the total vote for centre-left parties.

  • Comment number 32.

    What on earth happened? How did Dave manage to screw this one up? He looked good for it before I went to bed.

    Guess he got what he wanted, an old fashioned two horse race and managed to frighten enough Labour voters out to stop him winning.

  • Comment number 33.


    You haven't mentioned on the TV analysis what a rotten night Cameron has had. He has been rejected by the majority of the electorate twice!

  • Comment number 34.

    " --- Peter Mandleson has begun to try to persuade the country --" Exactly what we do not want: an unelected twice disgraced individual who seems to have considerably more influence than should be warranted telling us what to do. Go. Please go.

  • Comment number 35.

    Whilst I'm sympathetic to the Lib Dems, and see the prospect of a hung parliament as having its advantages (In Australia, where I'm from the Democrats - read Lib Dem- held the balance of power and famously expressed their role as 'keeping the bastards honest'), can we stop all this ridiculous stuff about a hung parliament being the 'will of the British people'. It's not as if voters cast their vote stategically in a way as to avoid an absolute majority. Each person is only responsible for their own vote, in their own electorate.
    Please stop this nonsense.

  • Comment number 36.

    Isn't it time for an unelected Prine Minister, Gordon Brown, to recognise that the democratic majority have not elected him or his "tax & spend" party or given him an electoral mandate to govern?

    And it's time for Nick Clegg to demonstrate that he is genuinely interested in what's good for the country, ie reducing the horrendous scale of national debt and support the majority party in forming a government and solving the enormous economic problems inherited from old Labour!

  • Comment number 37.

    Last night the polling station in my area closed with over 200 people still waiting and wanting to vote, this created an unstable situation and it was deemed necessary to call in the Wombles,who were backed up by the Pineapple Ninjas and fought a terrific battle against the Rhubarb Alliance,who were valiantly aided by the Jelly Cavaliers,eventually the disturbance was quelled and they all sat down to tea.
    Sounds Ridiculous,Welcome to the British Political System,where common sense and the needs of the people are thrown out of the window with a bucketful of fairness.


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