Mayday, mayday

By Paul Flower on May 7, 10 04:31 PM

It's Friday 7th May, the morning after the night before. I was surprised to find that this is the seventh election I have been eligible to vote in, and the first in which it is becoming more interesting as the hours click by. As a result it seems appropriate to record my thoughts over the period of the day. I had been doing this via Twitter but 140 characters don't really cut it.

06.20 Awake to a hung parliament and no great surprises, Conservatives about 50 seats ahead of Labour.

08.40 The BBC is on Nick Clegg's train from Sheffield to London. Clegg isn't saying much and I'm annoyed with him as this seems to me to be the perfect opportunity for him to claim the result as a clear mandate for proportional representation. The total votes the Lib Dems polled is a million short of Labour but in terms of share their seats in the House are so many less. Perhaps he's biding his time.

The footage reminds me of a story I heard this week regarding Cameron & Brown's recent train journeys. I was reliably informed that Cameron travelled first class but when being filmed/photographed he removed the white 'seat-protectors' which say 'first class' on them so it would appear that he was travelling standard. Those of us 'in the know' would be aware that the seats are a different colour, so this was a failure. Brown, meanwhile, did travel in the standard carriage but it was blocked out for him and his staff who may have received a first class service from the crew.

08.45 BBC reveals that Scotland's voting patterns are exactly the same as 2005 but in Wales the Conservatives have gained 5 seats. I'm very surprised by this as I'd always considered Wales to lean to the left. When I was there a few weeks back it seemed that the LibDems had the most flags/signs out. The BBC point out that the Scotland pattern may give Cameron some great constitutional problems in governing the country with only one Conservative representative up there.

09.05 I'm disgusted to find that the BNP have polled so many votes in West Bromwich West & East - 5599 overall. I tweet that those responsible should hang their heads in shame, or preferably hang themselves. It's an angry reaction to an appalling result, I should probably be more concerned that the parties and politicians didn't engage these disaffected voters in a clearer and more hopeful manner, they just allowed them to vote with hate.

10.05 Absolute Radio is playing The Jam's Eton Rifles; it seems very appropriate.

10.30 I look around the Midlands with some horror. Wherever the BNP have fought a seat they've polled an average of 2,000 votes, or 3%. In most cases this puts them as the fourth most popular party in each constituency. I am deeply saddened by this.

10.45 Armando Iannucci points out on Twitter that the BBC is showing Buckingham Palace on one half of the screen and Nick Clegg's car on the other. He says that people just waking up will think that something extraordinary has happened.

11.01 Can it be true that the LibDems have added only one percent to their vote from 2005?

11.02 Trying to work but keep getting distracted by election related thoughts. Clegg has a loose hold on the keys to power and will probably have to work with the strongest other party - does this mean that the Conservatives will be reined back a little? We can only hope.

11.18 Absolute Radio playing The Stones 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'. Starting to wonder if the head of music, James Curran (a Scot), is having a bit of light amusement with the presenter, Russ Williams, whose politics are slightly to the right (of Atilla The Hun). .

12.30 Amused to find photo of my wife on page 2 of the Coventry Evening Telegraph. It's a deliberately blurred shot of her walking past the polling station sign.

13.15 I am directed to look at Halesowen & Rowley Regis which has fallen to the Tories. They chipped away at Labour's majority over the past 3 elections and finally overtook them. Feel slightly saddened as these areas were close to where I grew up. At least Labour held Warley which was my old Black Country constituency.

13.40 Interesting that we may go for the whole day without any form of Government. I look out of the window but cannot see anarchy descending just yet.

13.57 Go downstairs to see John Bercow hold his seat, he is one of the few MPs I've ever met (not that this is of much interest to anyone else). Also see the Cheltenham Spa result and amazed (if not surprised) to note how few votes Labour get - it's less than the BNP polled in West Bromwich West.

14.20 Hear that Gordo has offered the LibDems a referendum on proportional representation. I suspect that Nick Clegg will remember than the Labour party are good at offering referenda but not so great at seeing it through. Feels a bit like last grasp.

14.31 A referendum is all well and good (and costly?) but will the political parties take the time to explain it clearly to the voters? Given that they spectacularly failed to elucidate the issues currently facing us I fear not. It seems unlikely that Labour & LibDem combined will be enough to stop the Tory juggernaut anyway.

15.45 Briefly listen to BBC 5 Live. Sounds like a lot of whiney people arguing. Turn off after about five minutes.

16.20 Read the funniest tweet so far: 'Poor Nick Clegg, it's like choosing between shit on toast or a piss milkshake'.

16.30 This is beautifully self-explanatory and goes some way to explaining what I couldn't do in 500 words last week. It comes courtesy of these clever people.

Now I guess the politics begin; the machinations of power. Whatever happens from here in it may well be noted that today, Friday 7th May, was a very unusual day - possibly the most interesting post-electoral 24 hours for a very long time. Though I've always found it hard to get motivated by politics, today has almost made the process exciting and for that we should be thankful. It'll never last.

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