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Our General Election Night Guide

Between 3:30 – 5:00am

In many elections the result would be clear after about 200 declarations but that is unlikely this time and the results coming in from 3.30 am will only fill in more bits of the jigsaw.


A few more marginals declare. In ENFIELD NORTH the former Labour MP is fighting again and needs a 1.8% swing to win. If the polls are right she is in and the Ashcroft poll gave her a 19% lead.

DOVER has been a classic marginal for years but Labour needs a 5.4% swing and they may be affected by the immigration issue here so that last month’s Ashcroft poll had them 8% behind. Labour should also be close in Harlow which needs a 5.4% swing but again the Ashcroft poll had them well behind. Perhaps UKIP are taking more Labour votes in these two constituencies.

It was a surprise when Labour lost WEAVER VALE in industrial Cheshire though the constituency did lose part of Runcorn in the last boundary changes, while Northwich at the other end of the constituency is trending towards the Conservatives. Even so Labour they only need a 1.1% swing to get it back and the Ashcroft poll gives that and more.

LINCOLN is also a 1.1% swing. The Ashcroft poll gives Labour a 4% lead but that was last summer so this one may be tight but the absence of a Green candidate helps Labour.

LOUGHBOROUGH should be very close at a 3.5% swing but both the Ashcroft polls gave the Conservative a lead for Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, while there is no Green candidate to take the university vote, so it is difficult to know what to think.

BLACKPOOL NORTH AND CLEVELEYS needs only a 2.6% swing for Labour to win so it is surprising that both Ashcroft polls put the Conservatives ahead and so maybe the UKIP vote here is affecting Labour.

Portillo lost ENFIELD SOUTHGATE in 1997 and it is trending towards Labour but at 8.6% swing and an area such as Cockfosters that is still heavily Conservative this seat looks far too difficult for Labour this time.

In the Central Lancashire constituency of SOUTH RIBBLE, Labour needs a 5.4% swing and the Ashcroft poll shows the two parties neck and neck, a bit better for Labour than the national polls. The Tory MP is standing down after one term and the Greens are not standing.

Wins complicated by possible UKIP votes

Some highly marginal Labour held seats that the Conservatives would need to win to get a majority have been complicated by the rise of UKIP.

In WALSALL NORTH the Labour majority was 900 votes and in WALSALL SOUTH 1700 votes. However, an Ashcroft poll last May showed UKIP on 30% above the Conservatives and Labour on 37%. UKIP has faded nationally but there is a traditional working class Conservatism in the Black Country some of which may have gone to UKIP.

Walsall North is a more polarised seat with Conservative and Labour areas and an Asian vote in the centre which is likely to remain Labour. Walsall South is a more homogeneous seat that could swing to the Conservatives but not unless they are well ahead nationally.

Labour only won GREAT GRIMSBY by 900 votes and here also an Ashcroft poll showed UKIP second and only 1% behind Labour. This was in December though, just after the publicity given to their by-election wins and last month’s poll had Labour a long way ahead. Labour’s majority in BLACKPOOL SOUTH was 1800 and again UKIP may have an effect but to the detriment of Labour here.

Mixed fortunes for Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems won BURNLEY from Labour and Labour looks certain to win back these sorts of traditionally Labour constituencies, confirmed by the Ashcroft poll which gave them a 13% lead and over UKIP with the Lib Dems further behind. The Lib Dem held seat of CHELTENHAM is a different proposition. The Lib Dems have held it since 1992 and were competitive before that and they came ahead of the Conservatives in the local elections in 2013. The November Ashcroft poll put them 8% ahead.

Northern Ireland – All Seats Likely Declared

Almost all the Northern Ireland constituencies will be in now. SOUTH DOWN has been held by the SDLP for some 20 years. Sinn Fein have challenged and come close in Assembly elections but the SDLP remain firm favourites. NEWRY and ARMAGH and MID ULSTER are certain for Sinn Fein.

More news from Scotland

In Scotland, the new tows seat of LIVINGSTON is good territory for the SNP and in LINLITHGOW and FALKIRK EAST Labour is stronger at the Falkirk end than in Linlithgow. The SNP have had good results in MIDLOTHIAN as well in the past so they are likely to win all these three seats. Labour may be more in touch in WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE but were still 9% behind in the Ashcroft poll. The only Welsh seat due to declare is TORFAEN, which includes Cwmbran and Pontypool and is safe Labour.

4:00am – Largest number of declarations here

The largest number of seats comes in after 4am and there may also be the results of any early recounts by now.

CRAWLEY need a 6.2% swing to go Labour so it looks difficult for them though new towns such as this often swing more than the average. There has been less new private house building recently and some increase in the ethnic minority vote but Labour seem to be putting more resources into more winnable marginals.

GLOUCESTER is a 2.8% swing but Labour was just behind in both Ashcroft polls and the Conservatives have done well in recent local elections. The Lib Dem vote may be more Conservative inclined here.

You would think IPSWICH would be similar, a free standing town with a 2.2% swing needed , but the Ashcroft poll gave Labour a 7% lead. The Labour candidate is the leader of the council.

PLYMOUTH SUTTON AND DEVONPORT needs only a 1.3% swing for Labour to win. The Ashcroft poll gave Labour a 13% lead with UKIP on 21%. There was a sizeable Lib Dem vote in 2010 so it depends where this and the new UKIP vote goes if it gets squeezed. This is less of a naval town now with services accommodation becoming social or private rented housing and some of the working class areas stabilised with regeneration projects.

The swing needed for Labour in HARROW EAST at 3.5% is within what the London polls are predicting and this is an ethnically diverse seat that is trending towards Labour, though Jewish and middle class Hindu voters may be more Conservative. The expenses scandal affected the Labour candidate last time. The Ashcroft polls showed conflicting trends but the April one favoured Labour.

NORTH WARWICKSHIRE, where the Conservatives won by only 54 votes in 2010, should be Labour’s easiest gain and both Ashcroft polls give them a commanding lead. If Nuneaton has already gone Labour this seat next door will as well.

The Conservatives won BROXTOWE to the west of Nottingham by 300 votes in 2010 and both the Ashcroft polls last year give Labour a sizeable lead.

PENDLE, which is the old Nelson and Colne seat, needs a 4% swing. Nelson favours Labour and there is a sizeable Asian vote there but these Pennine towns have seen commuters move in and have become more difficult for Labour and both Ashcroft polls here put the Conservatives ahead.

CANNOCK CHASE in Staffordshire needs a 3.5% swing. It is the sort of seat in which there are big swings and both Ashcroft polls put Labour significantly ahead. UKIP had 30% in the first poll but this had faded to 21% in the second without any great effect on the Labour lead.

DUDLEY SOUTH needs a 5% swing for Labour to win, a bit higher than the national polls are showing, and the Ashcroft poll here gave the Conservatives a 4% lead.

Labour needs a 5.7% swing to unseat the Welsh Secretary in PRESELI PEMBROKESHIRE but based on the Welsh polls and the last Welsh Assembly result that does not look likely.

String of Labour-held marginals

If the Conservatives start to eat into these we will be talking about the size of their Parliamentary majority, not whether they will form a Government.

Labour won SOUTHAMPTON ITCHEN by only 192 votes and with John Denham retiring and a former leader of the Council standing as the Conservative it is bound to be a tough fight. Onw Ashcroft poll showed the two parties level but the other two polls gave Labour a significant lead so that one looks like a rogue poll and Labour should win.

In SOUTHAMPTON TEST the Labour majority was 2000. There is some new housing in Ocean Village which may bring in Conservative inclined people but also an increase in the ethnic minority vote but there is no reason why it should behave much differently from Itchen.

Labour did well to hold ELTHAM in South London by 1,600 votes in 2010. With favourable London polls, a popular MP and good local election results last year, Labour should not be in trouble here.

Labour held NOTTINGHAM SOUTH by 1700 votes in 2010. There is a big Lib Dem vote for Labour to squeeze and a large student population.

Labour won DUDLEY NORTH in 2010 by only 600 votes but any further progress for the Conservatives looks difficult. The Ashcroft poll in December at the peak of UKIP publicity had them only 3% behind Labour and the Conservatives well down.

Hold Hopes for the Liberal Democrats

Two seats from South West London that the Lib Dems hope to hold are declared. They seem to be doing better in these reasonably affluent suburban seats. Both Ashcroft polls for SUTTON AND CHEAM give the Lib Dems a big lead and, on this showing, Vince Cable should be winning in TWICKENHAM. WESTMORELAND AND LONSDALE is a very different sort of Lib Dem seat and Tim Farron got 60% of the vote last time so he has every hope of winning again.

The Lib Dems will hope to hold CREDIGION in West Wales but it is a complicated seat and Plaid won it with Green Support until 2005. The two parties are standing separately but it could be close between the Lib Dems, whose MP for this university constituency voted against the rise in tuition fees, and Plaid.

Labour won BRIDGEND by only 2000 votes from the Conservatives in 2010 but there was a big Lib Dem vote which could collapse and go to them. Despite the increase in Cardiff commuters in the CAERPHILLY constituency, it is still safe Labour.

A clear picture as more seats in Scotland declare

By now we should have an idea whether Labour can hold the line at all in Scotland and most of the remaining Scottish results are coming in now.

The Ashcroft poll gave the SNP a big lead in EDINBURGH NORTH AND LEITH. The Lib Dems nearly won here last time but their vote has collapsed with the SNP benefitting. The SNP are also likely to win EDINBURGH EAST and EDINBURGH SOUTH WEST. Labour has more chance in EDINBURGH SOUTH where they were only 3% behind in the Ashcroft poll and there is substantial Conservative support that may vote tactically. EDINBURGH WEST has been a safe Lib Dem seat but the SNP may win now unless the Lib Dems can persuade Labour and Conservative voters to support them.

AYR, CARRICK AND CUMNOCK is a Labour seat with a significant Conservative vote but the Ashcroft poll put the SNP 11% ahead. CENTRAL AYRSHIRE and NORTH AYRSHIRE AND ARRAN are similar so the SNP start favourites here as well, although in the latter Katy Clark is a left-wing and independent minded Labour MP who may be able to engage better with potential SNP voters.

BANFF AND BUCHAN in the north is a safe SNP held seat. CUMBERNAULD, KILSYTH and KIRKINTILLOCH EAST is a Labour held new town seat that the SNP should win easily.

The Lib Dems should hold ORKNEY AND SHETLAND which had the strongest No vote in the referendum and people here resent Edinburgh rule, with London being too far away to worry about. In contrast, the SNP look like winning the Lib Dem seat of WEST ABERDEENSHIRE AND KINCARDINE.

Two seats around Dumfries are more complicated. In DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY Labour won last time with a swing to them from the Conservatives in what had been a marginal. The Ashcroft poll sees all three parties in contention with the SNP a bit ahead. The advantage for the SNP is that pro-Union voters will not be clear as to whether to support Labour or the Conservatives.

DUMFRIESSHIRE, CLYDESDALE AND TWEEDALE is the one Conservative held seat in Scotland. The April Ashcroft poll gave the SNP a significant lead but the previous two made the SNP and Conservatives level pegging. The problem for the Conservatives is that anti-Conservative tactical voting has been strong in Scotland and anti-SNP tactical voting is a new thing.


The Pennine seat of COLNE VALLEY at 5.3% may be difficult for Labour, especially as the Lib Dems came just ahead of them in 2010, with demographic change in these sorts of areas, though the Ashcroft polls shows it to be very close.

Labour would have needed a swing of only 1.8% to win CORBY but have already won it in a by-election. These normally give a boost to the winning party in the next general election and Labour were 10% ahead in the Ashcroft poll.

CREWE AND NANTWICH demonstrated the by-election effect in 2010 but this does wear off over time, so although Labour needs a 5.9% swing it may be achievable. The Ashcroft poll puts Labour 3% ahead.

DEWSBURY just needs a 1.4% swing for Labour to win. The Ashcroft poll in August gave Labour a 10% lead.

At 4% the swing Labour needs to take ELMET AND ROTHWELL is about where the national opinion polls are. The Conservative were just ahead in the local elections and lead in the Ashcroft poll and with more commuters here the seat is trending towards them.

At a 5.7% swing ILFORD NORTH looks difficult for Labour, even with the favourable London polls. However Labour have a good candidate and won the local council last year.

A 1.7% swing is needed for Labour to take PUDSEY . Three Ashcroft polls show the parties on a knife edge which is not too good for Labour given the national polls.

The new town seat of STEVENAGE needs a 4% swing to go Labour and, with a candidate who has been leader of the council, the one Ashcroft poll gives Labour a 5% lead.

Although WOLVERHAMPTON SOUTH WEST has traditionally been a Conservative seat the swing for Labour to win is 0.8%.

Both the Ashcroft polls show Labour winning easily. NORWICH NORTH went to the Conservatives in a 2009 by-election after the popular Labour MP, who felt he had been hung out to dry by the party leadership over a relatively minor expenses issue, resigned. Labour might just have held the seat in 2010 otherwise and so the 4.6% swing needed here may be possible for them. Two Ashcroft polls give Labour a small lead.

A 5.9% in BRIGG and GOOLE may be more difficult for Labour in a seat which is attracting increasing numbers of commuters. Good local elections and a hardworking and independent minded MP will help the Conservatives and Labour may lose some votes to Labour in Goole.

Finding out if the Liberal Democrats will have the numbers to influence

A group of Lib Dem seats are declared and a picture of how many seats they will have in the next Parliament may emerge though each Lib Dem seat may behave in an unpredictable way. In BERWICKSHIRE, ROXBURGH AND SELKIRK, if the SNP gains votes at the expense of the Lib Dem MP then the Conservatives may just win. The Ashcroft poll had all three parties neck and neck. Alex Salmond is standing in GORDON and with the Lib Dem incumbent retiring looks certain to win. The suburban seats of CHEADLE and HAZEL GROVE south of Manchester may behave like those in South West London and be better for the Lib Dems. They are ahead in both the Ashcroft polls.

In contrast the Lib Dems are doing badly in the small town constituencies of the South West perhaps because they had a working class/lower middle class vote here which has gone to UKIP so CHIPPENHAM, NEWTON ABBOT and SOMERTON AND FROME all look like Conservative gains.

Labour lost REDCAR to the Lib Dems over industrial job losses here and looks certain to retake it as the Ashcroft poll confirms.

In single town constituencies like COLCHESTER the Lib Dem MPs seem to have become more entrenched and so Bob Russell may hold on here as the Ashcroft poll predicts.

The Lib Dems are strong in LEEDS NORTH WEST and may hold on against Labour but some of their vote may go to the Greens in this University constituency. The Conservative candidate was selected very late and this may persuade some Conservatives to vote tactically.

The Greens hope to leapfrog Labour and win NORWICH SOUTH from the Lib Dems. However, the Ashcroft poll here last year and a recent one in the similar seat of Bristol West has Labour significantly in front.

SHEFFIELD HALLAM was looking very close for Nick Clegg in several polls with Labour level but the latest ICM poll is showing Conservatives switching to him to keep Labour out but it looks close.

Keeping Clacton

CLACTON declares now and Douglas Carswell is so well entrenched after the by-election that UKIP will hold this one.

More results will follow although slowing down a bit now. Electoral registration Officers in these seats may be regretting that they didn’t ignore the central government pressure to declare overnight as counters, some of whom will have been on polling station duty since 7am on Thursday will begin to flag. This may delay the results even more.