Almost 40 minutes ago, the polls closed, and the joint broadcasters’ exit poll was released 60 seconds later:
Conservatives 316, Labour 239, SNP 58, LibDem 10, Plaid Cymru 4, UKIP 2, Greens 2…..to her credit, Nicola tweets swiftly to say within minutes that although she expects a good night, she thinks that 58 is FAR too optimistic for the SNP.
And here we enter the dreamtime – spiritual wandering, when the last ballot boxes have been sealed, but three and a half hours of speculation ensue before even the first actual seats start to be announced, and the truth of those ballot box contents begins to emerge into the light. To pad out time, pundits argue backwards and forwards – inevitably doing little more than retreading the autopilot rhetoric of the past 5 weeks….although the Scottish Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson seems relaxed and happy. Perhaps because she used to work as a runner in this BBC Scotland studio, before her political career began.
Immediate reactions? The Conservatives/Labour differential has fallen away from ‘almost neck and neck’ to a huge void, the Conservatives within touching distance of a majority. The SNP are still unbelievably projected to claim almost every seat – but interestingly the Labour collapse is SO bad, that even if they had had all 59 seats from Scotland, they would still be far behind the Conservatives total. The LibDems, on 10, with an even more dismal forecast than any of the polls had thus far predicted…less than even the 11 seats that they currently hold in Scotland alone.
On the basis of this fiction, the Conservatives appear to have stolen the last days of the campaign, perhaps with their anti-Scottish rhetoric provoking fear in the home counties of The Empire, Miliband having failed to convince with his statements of an outright refusal to do deals with the rising power of the progressives.
But – of course – these are only exit polls…so have some patience, and let us see how they might translate as the hands of the clock turn slowly through the night…
“I’d treat the exit poll with HUGE caution. I’m hoping for a good night but I think 58 seats is unlikely!” (Nicola Sturgeon, tweeting after exit poll announced)