From the shock Conservative win to the SNP landslide, here's your ultimate debrief on the vote
If you thought this election was boring, think again. After early polls claimed that the results were too close to call, British politics went full Jurassic Park and ate itself. After hopes of a late Labour swing, a Green surge or some kind of generalised left-wing miracle, the first exit poll tipped the Conservatives as the winners. Then the Liberal Democrats imploded; the Scottish National Party swept almost every constituency in Scotland, and now David Cameron is suddenly headed for Number 10. Again. We stayed up to watch everything to compile what you need to know.
THE EXIT POLL SEEMED SO WRONG (UNTIL IT WAS RIGHT)
The first indication that something weird was going on was the 10pm exit poll. Conducted by NOP/MORI for the BBC, ITV and Sky, it predicted that the Tories would get 316 MPs to Labour's 239. That went against basically EVERYTHING that previous polls had suggested, which put Ed Miliband and David Cameron neck and neck. There were rumours of some kind of massive administrative failure, but it became clear that the exit poll was right – and the earlier projections of a supremely close call were wrong. The sad truth is the Tories are headed back into office. This time, they probably won't need to go into a coalition to rule.
Fuck. I only bought enough booze to last until about 5am, not until 2020.— Kit Lovelace (@kitlovelace) May 7, 2015
FOR ONE BLISSFUL MOMENT, PARLIAMENT WAS 100 PER CENT FEMALE
The first few seats announced all went to female Labour politicians – a fact that wasn't lost on several people on Twitter. "Let's just stop here," many suggested. Maybe we should have?
THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT VOTE COLLAPSED
OK, it didn't so much collapse as self-implode. As seat after seat was declared, Lib Dem candidates stood around awkwardly on live TV listening to their share of the vote go down from thousands to literally hundreds. Even high-profile MPs like Danny Alexander and Charles Kennedy got ditched by voters. In fact, some Lib Dems got so little support that they didn't even reach the five per cent of the vote necessary for them to get back their £500 deposit. This meant that the Liberal Democrats lost thousands of pounds as the night went on – and there was even a Twitter account dedicated to tallying up how much money the Lib Dems lost.
£61,000— LibDem Deposits (@LibDemDeposits) May 8, 2015
Okay we've lost track now. Bollocks.— LibDem Deposits (@LibDemDeposits) May 8, 2015
We're back. £141,500.— LibDem Deposits (@LibDemDeposits) May 8, 2015
THE SNP SWEPT SCOTLAND – AND A 20-YEAR-OLD BECAME THE YOUNGEST MP IN CENTURIES
This was called the Scottish National Party tsunami, and for good reason. The number of SNP MPs went from six to over 50, taking vital Scottish seats off Labour. Jim Murphy, the head of Scottish Labour, lost his seat to the SNP. But the prize for most outrageous victory goes to 20-year-old SNP candidate and university student Mhairi Black, who defeated shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander. That makes her the youngest MP in hundreds of years – and she hasn't even sat her final year exams.
I'm scared to stand up incase SNP take my seat.— Mike McCarten (@MMcCarten) May 8, 2015
UKIP DID WORSE THAN EXPECTED (BUT DON'T GET TOO SMUG ABOUT IT)
Everyone's favourite borderline fascist group didn't do half as well as people feared. Ex-Tory MP Douglas Carswell held on to his seat, but Mark Reckless didn't get in. But one worrying trend was the party consistently gaining second place behind Labour wins. That sets UKIP up for future success, especially if the electoral system is reformed – and at the expense of left-wing opponents.
As of 7am, Nigel Farage's constituency South Thanet still hasn't declared the results. That means there's still a chance that Farage could lose the seat. He said that he would resign as UKIP leader if he failed to win the vote, so... prayer hands emoji?
UPDATE: Farage has lost South Thanet. No word yet on whether he'll resign.
NICK CLEGG HELD ONTO HIS SEAT
Turns out that the good constituents of Sheffield Hallam are a forgiving lot, because they've allowed Nick Clegg to cling onto power after his disastrous U-turn on tuition fees – albeit as leader of a severely diminished party. In his speech in Sheffield, Clegg described it as a "cruel and punishing night" with "profound implications" for the Liberal Democrats. That sounds like resigning talk to us, but only time will tell if Clegg decides to leave.
UPDATE: Nick Clegg has stepped down as Lib Dem leader. In his statement, he says that he takes responsibility for the Lib Dem collapse.
CAREERS WERE ENDED IN THE MOST GUTWRENCHING WAY
Around the time Vince Cable lost his seat and effectively ended his 18-year career as a Liberal Democrat, a friend texted me saying: "It's horrible watching people lose their jobs." It happened all over again with shadow chancellor Ed Balls getting out by a Tory candidate. Watching the results unfold live is a pretty hallucinogenic experience, especially once you hit the 4am mark – fancy swingometers, interactive graphs, David Dimbleby's choice of tie – but you're also effectively witnessing men and women get fired on live TV in front of an audience. And when it comes to long-time politicians like those men, that's an especially painful thing to see.
BORIS JOHNSON IS MAYOR OF LONDON AND AN MP NOW
BoJo used to be MP for Henley but gave that up after being elected mayor of London in 2008. But guess what, Boris is back in parliamentary business – he was elected for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and he hasn't given any indication that he'll step down as mayor to concentrate on his duties as MP. Is this the first real sign that Johnson has designs on running for leader of the Tories? But first, can anyone sort out his hair?
ED MILIBAND KEPT HIS SEAT – BUT LOST THE ELECTION
The Labour leader was re-elected in his constituency, but it was already clear by then that he had no hope of leading his party to victory in the wake of the SNP landslide. His speech in Doncaster North spelled out the bad news: "This has clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for Labour. We've seen a surge of nationalism overwhelm our party." So is he going to step down as leader? Nobody knows for sure, although speculation has already started.
UPDATE: Miliband has stepped down as Labour leader. In his resignation speech, he described the party as "an incredible force for progress" and said that he was truly sorry for not being able to lead it to victory. He added that "this party has come back before and will come back again".
The next government has a huge responsibility to bring our country together. What unites us is much, much more than what divides us.— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) May 8, 2015
SO YEAH, THE CONSERVATIVES ARE BACK IN POWER
They trolled us all.