Wednesday 22 November 2017

Eaten hats and broken swingometers

David Cameron was joined on the stage for the declaration of the Witney constituency result by Elmo
David Cameron was joined on the stage for the declaration of the Witney constituency result by Elmo

It may have been a very difficult and disappointing night for Labour and a cruel and punishing one for the Lib Dems.

But around the country there were moments of levity as the long night revealed a new political landscape.

On the BBC, Jeremy Vine's swingometer "nearly broke" in the face of the swing in Scotland from Labour to the SNP.

David Cameron was joined on the stage for the declaration of the Witney constituency result by Elmo, the smiley red muppet from Sesame Street, who polled 37 votes - not quite enough to unseat the Prime Minister, who received 35,201 votes.

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown faces the possibility of a rather inedible meal after declaring that if the "exit polls are right, I'll publicly eat my hat", but former spin doctor Alistair Campbell has been saved from a similar fate, after declaring "I won't eat my hat, but I will eat my kilt if they (the SNP) get 58 seats".

Other parties have taken at least three seats in Scotland, preventing the SNP from hitting the 58 target the exit polls predicted.

Comedian Al Murray, who has stood against Nigel Farage in South Thanet in his Pub Landlord guise, extended the hand of friendship to his rival, saying he would be welcome for a drink in his pub.

" He (Nigel Farage) is welcome. Any man's welcome in the pub. That's the beauty of the pub - everyone's welcome. It's a public house, whether you're a prince or a pauper, you can come in the pub. If he's drowning his sorrows, I'll say 'Well, well, mate, better luck in 2020," he said.

In Great Yarmouth, there was excitement as the lights went off at the count for 10 seconds. The reason? A tweet from PA's Ben Kendall reveals that "t he lights out emergency earlier was due to Green candidate Harry Webb leaning on a light switch, sources close to the switch confirm".

And while there were long faces at many counts as the results were revealed, there were apparently cheers at the Leeds count with the announcement that "counters will get extra cash due to counting over-running".

Lord Ashdown dodged the chance to eat a hat presented to him live on air during a later BBC interview - but said he would do it in tandem with Mr Campbell.

"I will do you a little deal ... I will eat my hat, he can eat his kilt and we'll do it for public display and public humiliation and we can sell tickets," he said.

"That is the very last time I will question a BBC exit poll."

A candidate who died four weeks before the election received 113 votes.

Former Eurovision contestant Ronnie Carroll died on April 13, days after getting his name printed on ballot papers for the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency in north London.

Mr Carroll, who was 80, contested the 1962 and 1963 Eurovision Song Contests, making him the only Briton to compete two years running, and he was listed on the statement of nominations as The Eurovisionary Carroll.

The independent candidate was standing in the most marginal seat in England, won by Labour's Tulip Siddiq with a majority of 1,138.

Press Association

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