Friday, May 07, 2010

Never mind the ballots: it's election night

"You know," Richard said at around 5am this morning. "For the most exciting election of our lifetimes, this is incredibly dull."

He had a point. No high-profile MPs lost their jobs - Richard left after Ed Balls kept his seat muttering something about being thrilled that he could tell his grandchildren that he had stayed up for Lembit Opik, although Jacqui Smith and Charles Clarke went within five minutes of him going - and very little churlishness by the beaten as we had from David Mellor and others in 1997.

Joanne Cash was horrid, blaming her defeat on the media for focusing on her friendship with "Dave", and Balls was pretty pathetic to have a rant at Michael Ashcroft after he had suffered a 9 per cent swing against him, but I didn't expect anything better from him. To Balls's credit, he did praise his Tory opponent graciously.

The BBC's coverage was quite poor, too. Jeremy Vine has done a couple of these now and he really is no Peter Snow. The Swingometer was meaningless and used badly this year and we ended up turning over to ITV in the end because they were better at trying to extrapolate what Parliament might become once a decent sample of votes arrived. ITV also, for some reason, tended to be about 40 declared seats ahead of the BBC.

One last BBC rant: how much of the licence fee was spent on that ship of fools moored by the London Eye? Who really thought that the first talking heads we wanted to hear from after the exit polls were Bruce Forsyth and Ben Kingsley? Did Joan Collins say anything coherent (and why is she so loved as a writer by the right-wing press)?

Other thoughts on election night:
  • You actually can order too much curry. I never thought that possible.
  • As I get older, I have less enthusiasm for drinking heavily.
  • Miriam Clegg (sorry, Gonzalez Durantez) really is quite sexy
  • That's about all the good news for the Lib Dems who had a shocking night
  • All the fuss about people not being able to vote filled the opening hours quite well, but I did find myself wondering why they hadn't managed to visit their polling station in the previous 14 hours
  • Why did the Prime Minister fly back to London on what looked like a budget airline? Surely no one would begrudge him a Hercules.
  • It is perfectly justifiable to ask for a recount in a close seat. It is bordering on ridiculous to ask for five recounts when your opponent has been 1,000 votes ahead in each one, as the Tories did in Edgbaston
  • David Dimbleby is still good, but he is showing his age. He started to look - and act - really tired halfway through the broadcast
  • Emily Maitlis is very good and underused.
  • A few friends and former colleagues from my days in Westminster are now MPs. Many congratulations to Steve Brine, Penny Mordaunt, Paul Maynard, Kwasi Kwarteng, Damian Hinds, Gavin Barwell, Karl McCartney, Priti Patel and Rebecca Harris and bad luck to Chris Philp for pushing Glenda Jackson so close. I feel very envious and slightly inadequate just to be a mere hack. 

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