Monday 19 February 2018

The night when everything changed forever. . .


Winner takes all: The Twitter feed of David Cameron and his wife Samantha after learning of his victory early yesterday.
Winner takes all: The Twitter feed of David Cameron and his wife Samantha after learning of his victory early yesterday.

Michael Deacon in London

LOOK. I'm really sorry. I know this is going to seem like an unusual question. After all, this is a newspaper. We're the ones who are supposed to tell you the news, not the other way round.

But, seriously, because I need to know: did any of that actually happen?

Really. I mean it. The UK general election. Did it happen? Is it true? I mean, I watched it happen, but I'm just not convinced. The Conservatives winning a majority - that can't have happened. Ed Miliband, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg resigning - that can't have happened. Ed Balls losing his seat - that can't have happened. It just can't. It's not plausible. We had opinion polls every day for months telling us that it wasn't going to go like this.

They can't all have been wrong. Not all of them. Look, there's no other way to work this out. I'm going to go back to the beginning. I'll tell you everything I can remember. You can tell me which bits are wrong.

So: I was in my living room, watching television. It was 10pm. David Dimbleby was reading out this exit poll. The exit poll, he was saying, suggested the Tories had an unexpectedly big lead over Labour. I remember being a bit surprised. And then there were lots of politicians being interviewed, basically saying, "No, of course the exit poll isn't right, that's mental, pull the other one, just you wait till the morning."

Then suddenly - and this is where I must have started hallucinating - all these really important politicians started losing their jobs.

Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary. He was voted out. Jim Murphy, the leader of Scottish Labour. He was voted out. Douglas Alexander, Labour's campaign strategist. He was voted out. In fact, according to my notes, he lost his seat to someone only just old enough to vote. Well, at least I know that bit can't be true. A 20-year-old student! Defeating a man who was on the brink of becoming foreign secretary! No, that's just silly.

Can't have happened. .

For some reason, I have this notion that throughout the night lots of broadcasters were interviewing Ed Balls about the exit poll, and he was telling them it was bound to be wrong. Hmm. Hang on. Ed Balls. Ed Balls.


I'm sure I have some other memory of Ed Balls. Something else happened involving Ed Balls, I just can't think what it...

Oh my God I've just remembered Ed Balls lost his seat! He was supposed to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer and he lost his seat! His actual seat!

He's not even an MP any more! He's no more an MP than the cat next door! Ed Balls! Ed actual Balls!

Sorry, do forgive me. I'll calm down. For a moment there I got this crazy idea in my head that Ed Balls lost his seat at the general election.

Completely ridiculous. Ed Balls can't have lost his seat. He's the Member of Parliament for Morley&Outwood. Apologies for any confusion I may have caused. And then there was David Cameron, giving a victory speech outside No 10, and looking almost as surprised as I was.

Prime minister: all I can say is, I know how you feel. It's completely mad.

No more Miliband, Balls, Clegg, Cable, Farage. The most extraordinary parliamentary bloodbath in living memory. And, at the end of it, a Tory majority government.

Any moment now, a load of people are going to jump out from behind a door, yell "SURPRISE!", and tell me it was all just a big wind-up. And I'll laugh.

Because of course none of it actually happened. It didn't, did it? (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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