Live Blog: May 6/1125pm
MORE on the angry scenes at a polling station ‘lock out’ in Islington and let’s not forget that borough is on a knife-edge with one parliamentary seat at least and the make-up of the council estate. Green Party council candidate for Highbury West Caroline Russell tells me over Twitter just now: “Islington returning officer took hard line to fury of 40 people in Highbury. Queues all day. Really shocking.” This doesn’t sound good – and it sounds like the problems were felt elsewhere. Polling stations in Lewisham, by contrast, reportedly gave an extension to everybody who had clearly been queuing.
UPDATED: Sky now reporting that police have been called out to intervene.
Live Blog May 6/ 11.15PM
CROWDED around the television in the famous yellow sofa suite in Camden Road: TV stations have just updated their Exit Poll and it shows a slightly better picture for the Liberal Democrats, slighty. A last minute flurry of voting has helped them. But people will still, after everything that has happened in the last few weeks, be scratching their heads as to why the Lib Dems are apparently on course to end up with a lesser share of seats than before. There was talk before the polls closed of a surge that would take them beyond 100 seats, that they would leapfrog Labour nationally. That projected surge is what made people think Holborn and St Pancras Labour MP Frank Dobson was suddenly in real peril this week from Jo Shaw, his persistant Lib Dem opponent. He must be daring a slight sigh of relief, as it would be an odd set of results if Shaw goes on to win from here on a night when Exit Poll indicators – and it’s only an Exit Poll – puts the Lib Dems down as losing seats nationwide. Odd – but the key disclaimer is that this has been the most unpredicatble, fluid and, yup, odd election we have seen in years. Local results may just buck national trends.
Live Blog: May 6/ 10.50PM
SERIOUS news coming out of Islington right now. Islington Tribune reporter Roisin Gadelrab says that the queues were so long in the final hour of voting at some of the borough’s polling stations that they closed on some people before people had the chance to mark their cross. These weren’t people who breezed in at 9.59PM, but voters who had already been queuing for some time. There is already discussion, apparently among Green Party members expecting gains in the borough at these polls, about potential legal challenges. This one will be one to watch through the night, especially if the problem – presumably caused by a high turnout – was mirrored elsewhere.
Live Blog: May 6/10.20PM
OUR election newsdesk just watched the BBC/Sky exit poll announced on a large television screen in a pizzeria on Parkway, Camden Town. It declares the Conservatives could be 19 seats nationally of forming a majority. This makes you think: where does Chris Philp’s campaign to unseat Labour’s Glenda Jackson fit into the Conservative masterplan? Philp during the campaign has often said his seat is at a crucial tipping point on head office’s target list of potential gains to trigger an effective Tory majority. Does the fact that they appear to have not hit the magic number mean bad news for Chris tonight? He said over again that this was a seat that Cameron needed to claim an effective majority – if Cameron is caught short tonight, will Philp be disappointed too?
Live Blog: May 6/ 9.10pm
A SPOT of light reading as we wait at New Journal towers for an evening stroll down to the count at Haverstock School and we learn more about Times columnist David Aaronovitch’s wrestlewith himself over who to vote for. Remember, we saw him being canvassed by Conservative Chris Philp at Hampstead Tube Station earlier in the campaign. He clearly is no fan of Glenda Jackson but tells today how he will vote Labour in the hope that the party is not humiliated.
So everybody isn’t voting for Ed Fordham after all. In fact, Aaronovitch explains quite clearly why:
Yesterday I got a leaflet. Four colour pages, depicting the nice, gay, Lib Dem candidate, whom I would very much like to see as an MP. But the leaflet was a shocker. Sly references to the sitting MP not living in the constituency, three mentions of Iraq, a mendacious promise of a tax cut of “£700 for most people” … “paid for by closing loopholes”, £2.5 billion extra on schools, “green growth and jobs through investment” and then “honesty about the tough choices to cut the deficit”! And if you say that the leaflet shows them to be no different from the others, I say, “exactly”.
He later adds:
So on polling morning, as I walk down the hill to the school, I think the country needs Mr Cameron as PM. I think the country needs a Lib-Dem inspired reform of the electoral system. And I think the country needs a Labour Party that can still be the best hope for social justice at home and progress abroad. I don’t want to see that party, as seems possible, humiliated tonight. So I’ll be voting Labour.
Live Blog: May 6/ 8.16pm
BIT of confusion reported all day among voters coming out of Camden’s polling stations. Apparently, there was some uncertainty over the second ballot form given to people with a fair few number of participants not even realising the council elections were also taking place today. Once inside, some voters only used one of the three crosses available to them for the Town Hall ballot. That’s a real shame.
The single vote will still count but the local authority elections, usually such a big deal in Camden, have clearly been severely relegated in the eyes of the public by the most collossal General Election battle, played out over every television set, newspaper, blog and street corner in the country. Camden’s local newspapers do as much as they can, but the crush comes from the 24 hour media and the understandably excitable nationals. Maybe those papers could have done more to give this sub-story more publicity.
Yet, we are where we are and there is no getting away from the fact that the questions on the lips everybody who isn’t a candidate or canvasser in Camden is simple: Who will beat Glenda? Is Frank safe?
You can see eyes drifting away when you talk about the local council poll. Hey, you might not even have got this far. The only headlines that matter to the majority, rightly or wrongly, is the parliamentary polls.
And the lack of clarity of how to take part in the council elections could throw up some interesting results. Maybe we will see some more split wards as individuals gain from a single vote but teams of three candidates don’t receive the universal support that was perhaps meant for them. There is certainly potential for a splits in Belsize, Hampstead Town, Camden Town and Primrose Hill, Cantelowes, Kentish Town and Gospel Oak. Maybe Highgate and King’s Cross too.
Live Blog: May 6/ 6.58pm
TWO votes for the Conservatives! Chris Philp and wife Lizzie head into Keats Library polling station late this afternoon. The street outside, Keats Grove, sums up the tug of war between the Tories and the Lib Dems in areas like this with Lib Dem stake boards clashing with Tory boards. Nobody is prepared to give an inch.
Moments before Chris went in and voted for himself (we presume he voted for himself) Ricky Gervais was spotted popping into mark his cross. I wonder what the comedian would have made of Chris and Lizzie’s Dave-and-Samantha style stroll out of the polling station, admittedly slightly staged for our local press lenses.
Live Blog: May 6/ 5.15pm
* I’VE walked from Camden Town through Belsize and Hampstead Town this afternoon – and in terms of numbers on the streets with clipboards this afternoon, the Liberal Democrats win hands down. Of course, it’s not a scientific indication of how things may be panning out. It might be completely different in other areas. It might have just been coincendence that I bumped into yellow rosettes on England’s Lane and then outside Belsize Park tube station and in South End Green. But I’m just saying, that’s what I saw. And in these difficult territories for Labour, the signs in windows are yellow and blue.
At the 168 bus stop, I ran into Linda Chung, a Lib Dem councillor in Hampstead for another 24 hours at least. A little flustered, she wouldn’t guarantee a Lib Dem tide would sweep through the neighbourhood.
Hampstead Town is a tense spot in the Camden battle today. It’s a split ward – two Tories and one Lib Dem. The Conservatives are full of bravado about the patch. The Lib Dems in contrast won’t say confidently, like they do elsewhere in the borough, that they will return three councilors at the local election count on Friday afternoon.
* Confidence is running high among the Lib Dems on the streets this afternoon, all of them convinced that Ed Fordham will take the parliamentary seat of Hampstead and Kilburn, some spinners saying “by a good margin”. There is clearly more concern about Belsize neighbourhood where canvassers have been ordered to go back and knock on more doors. Again and again.
Live Blog: May 6/ 4.12pm
TO Swiss Cottage ward – and check out the not so subliminal advertising for the blue team that anybody who votes this way will face today. The building next door has, pinned to its front page, a copy of the Daily Express‘s front page, which reads: ‘Only Cameron Can Save Britain’ and a heap of big Conservative boards. And, this, in a neighbourhood where the cheekiest Lib Dems say they can decapitate the Tory party by ousting leader Councillor Marshall.
Live Blog: May 6/ 3.10pm
* IN Camden Town, where they are voting for Jo Shaw because she is strong on fly-tipping.
The actual line from the Lib Dems down south is that they have mobilised the student vote, drawing them away from Cash In The Attic for enough time to get registered and down to the polling stations. That’s potentially a hefty old army and one of the reasons the party thinks the King’s Cross council ward could be a surprise Labour faller. Spinny spinny spin-chins say Labour.
* Weather watch: Does a sunshine day like today really help Labour – as the red rosettes are keen to tell us right now? Can it really it be a good thing if your party’s supporters only come out in force when it’s not raining?