Elections 2022: Magic pixies and an '80s pop star - five under-the-radar moments

By Joseph Lee
BBC News

  • Published
Glasgow election countImage source, PA Media

Hundreds of people crammed into a leisure centre until the early hours of the morning - election counts could hardly be more of a recipe for drama, tension and surprise. We've gathered together some of the more unexpected moments from contests all over the country.

Police keep peace in 'defamatory' vote row

In Southend, a row about a single ballot paper with "something defamatory about the leader of the opposition" led to the police being called over to keep the peace - and ended up deciding an election. One seat for Thorpe ward was a dead heat between the Conservatives and Independent Martin Terry, the council's deputy leader who was defending his seat. The controversial vote would decide it, but it was initially ruled out. Mr Terry told the BBC it had a single tick, along with the insulting message, and was clearly a vote for him. His challenge succeeded, but the Conservatives may yet appeal to the Electoral Commission.

Image caption,
Independent Martin Terry won his seat after an appeal over a single vote

A candidate who was nearly out for the count

Labour hadn't won a council seat in well-heeled Hampstead Town for 50 years and so high-flying lawyer Adrian Cohen might have expected that he was only making up the numbers. It was only natural for him to go home for an early night - until the votes started to roll in. Camden New Journal editor Richard Oseley, who was on the scene, said Mr Cohen had to be roused from bed to attend the count when it looked like he might be heading for election - in a seat where he hadn't even campaigned. He arrived to loud cheers, which only got louder when he secured the historic win.

Image source, Camden New Journal
Image caption,
Adrian Cohen, pictured with fellow ward candidate Alexandra Sufit, was woken in time to celebrate victory

Hull leader's magic pixies rant

After a decade of Labour rule at Hull Council, leader Darren Hale clearly found that defeat at the hands of the Liberal Democrats was a heavy blow. He told the BBC that the loss was "a great disappointment", adding: "You can't please all of the people all of the time." Sounding like a man who had received at least one too many letters of complaint from the public, he added: "I look forward to all the roadworks being completed in the middle of the night by magic pixies with no disruption to the public, but we'll see."

Image caption,
Hull's Labour group leader had a less than magical evening

Election decided by the luck of the draw

The first council to declare a result overnight was Halton Borough Council in Cheshire, which managed a speedy count despite the closest possible finish in its Daresbury, Moore and Sandymoor ward. Labour and the Conservatives finished in a dead heat with 398 votes each, meaning they had to decide the winner by drawing lots - or more precisely their names each went into separate sealed envelopes and Mr Ramsden's envelope was picked first. It gave the Conservatives their first win in the borough in decades, but it's not the first time Halton has seen a nail-biting finish. It settled an election in 2008 in the same way.

Media caption,
Here's what drawing lots for election looks like - this one's from Hambleton in 2019

Meanwhile, in Carmenthenshire they settled another draw with the toss of a coin. Two Labour candidates, David Darkin and Philip Warlow, were level on 596 votes each for the final council seat in a ward. Unlucky Mr Darkin missed out - but at least his mum was elected to one of the ward's other seats.

'80s pop star loses his seat

For all their importance, local elections aren't known for their star power. And Thurrock Council in Essex lost its bit of celebrity sparkle when Conservative councillor and former '80s singer David Van Day - half of pop duo Dollar - lost his seat to Labour by 20 votes. Still, it's not the first time he's bounced back. After the limelight moved on, Mr Van Day began to build a business career in the 2000s selling hamburgers, doughnuts and ice-creams in Brighton - earning him the nickname "Burger Van Day".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
No stranger to comebacks, David Van Day reunited with fellow Dollar singer Thereza Bazar in 2004