Al Jazeera Blogs


UK election as it happened

Follow the latest news from the UK election with live updates from Al Jazeera's team of journalists.  

Last modified: 5 May 2010 16:13
Photo by AFP

Britain has held what appears to be the tightest election race in a generation.

The Conservative party took the lead but failed to gain a clear parliamentary majority, leaving the UK with a hung parliament. Eyes are now on the Liberal Democrats, as the two main parties attempt to woo them into forming an alliance.

You can follow the the latest news from Al Jazeera's UK election team right here.  

1636 GMT It's not just Nick Clegg that David Cameron is going to have to convince of the merits of a coalition. As this story from the Financial Times shows, he faces a battle persuading his own party.  

1615 GMT  Looks like we won't have any more significant election news today- it's confirmed that the next Conservative-Lib Dem talks will be tomorrow morning at 1000 GMT.   

1456 GMT Nick Clegg has accepted a petition from electoral reform activists who gathered outside the venue of the Lib-Dem party meeting. It's said to have 20,000 signatures.

1451 GMT  Those calling for Gordon Brown to leave Downing Street can relax for a moment.  No, he hasn't resigned, but the prime minister is heading for his home in Scotland for the weekend.

1313 GMT   There are reports that the next negotiation meeting between the Conservatives and Lib Dems will be at 1000 GMT tomorrow.

1306 GMT  Electoral reform activists have rallied outside venue of the Lib-Dem talks urging Nick Clegg to "be brave" in negotiations and demand a referendum on proportional representation as his price for supporting either of the parties.

SATURDAY 1228 GMT  After some much needed sleep, we're back. Senior Lib Dems are meeting today- no prizes for guessing what they are going to be discussing. Meanwhile, Downing Street and the Lib-Dems have denied claims that Gordon Brown had what the BBC called "an angry exchange" with Nick Clegg last night.

1840 GMT Here's another tool to help while away the hours from British newspaper the Guardian. Click on the squares to see which parties could join forces to form a majority in government.

1815 GMT And while we wait for a decision to be made, let's take a look at the bookies latest bets on who's most likely to take the position of prime minister. Pic courtesy AFP:


1805 GMT Interesting election fact from our correspondent Nazanine Moshiri - The number of black and ethnic minority MP's has increased from 14 to 27, with  16 of them Labour and 11 Conservative.

1740 GMT  According to the AFP news agency the White House is "fascinated" by the political developments in the UK. Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman, has said the "special relationship" between the US and Britain will remain intact whoever emerges as prime minister. "We are fascinated and watching," he said, adding: "We look forward to working with whoever is the prime minister".

1631 GMT Reports are coming in that William Hague, the Conservative's foreign affairs spokesman, has said his party could offer Lib Dem politicians ministerial posts in a possible coalition. "David Cameron hasn't excluded that possibility," he told Sky News.

1615 GMT Final election results are in, but talk of the next vote has already begun. According to an analysis piece in The Times, the "only certainty is another general election". Peter Riddell writes that any government formed in the coming days will not be able to command a stable majority, and gives the new parliament a year at most to survive.

1605 GMT More Lib Dem reaction to Cameron's offer of a deal between the two parties - this time with a more positive angle. Olly Grender, former communications chief for the Liberal Democrats told Al Jazeera that David Cameron's offer was "extremely encouraging".

I think there's some small print that needs to be seeing. But this is definitely a critical moment. I've just talked to some of my friends in Ireland who are well versed in coalition government and they say this is a very serious and real offer. And I agree with them," she said.

1534 GMT With only two constituencies left to declare their results, it's looking like last night's exit polls were fairly accurate. Currently the Conservatives are holding 305 seats, Labour 258 and the Liberal Democrats 57. Last night's 21:00G poll predicted 306, 255 and 61.

1515 GMT Al Jazeera's Tim Friend has described the situation as a "tricky moment" for the Liberal Democrats. "They meet this weekend to discuss possible options. I guess it's possible they could open discussions simultaneously with both parties to see how far they go," he said. In the meantime, John Major, a former Conservative prime minister, has suggested the Tories offer Lib Dems cabinet seats to tempt them into an alliance.

1503 GMT Trending topics on Twitter now include Lib Dems, Labour and Clegg - though admittedly sitting behind important issues like "IronMan2" and "Howtomakememad". Still encouraging to see British politics engaging so many people.

1446 GMT Speculation is high over what happens now. With no official reaction yet from the Liberal Democrats on Cameron or Brown's statement's we're left with a few tweets to get an idea for what they're thinking. According to this website, a number of Lib Dems have already tweeted against Cameron's proposal, with comments such as :  “Completely against. Electoral reform is a must for any lib dem support.”

1406 GMT Cameron has offered the Liberal Democrats the chance to find some common ground, but will his offer be enough? Despite the offer of some concessions, he said the Tories will stick to their position on refusing to further transfer powers from London to the European Union, and a commitment to maintaining Britain's nuclear deterrent - two policies the Lib Dems have previously contested.


1330 GMT As we anxiously await a statement from David Cameron, leader of the Conservatives, let's go back and take a look at Brown's comments from earlier. (Courtesy of the Press Association)

I understand and completely respect the position of Mr Clegg in stating that he wishes first to make contact with the leader of the Conservative Party.
"Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg should clearly be entitled to take as much time as they feel necessary.

For my part, I should make clear that I would be willing to see any of the party leaders.

"Clearly if the discussions between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg come to nothing, then I would of course be prepared to discuss with Mr Clegg the areas where there may be some measure of agreement between our two parties."

1300 GMT Speaking outside Downing Street, Gordon Brown said he understood the position of Nick Clegg, Lib Dem leader, in wishing to first hold talks with the Conservatives about a power-sharing government. But he offered to hold discussions with Clegg, should his talks with Cameron "come to nothing".


1208 GMT Al Jazeera's Tim Friend, reporting from Conservative HQ, where the atmosphere is muted. "There's a certain amount of frustration and anger that they had this golden opportunity, and in some people's words, they blew it," he says.  

1149 GMT The Guardian's Seumas Milne has decided in this article that Clegg's failure to seize the chance of a Labour coalition was a mistake.

For a Lib Dem leader hoping to play kingmaker, an apparent endorsement of a minority Tory government is a sorry result.

1131 GMT  Anthony Howard, a political analyst, has been sharing his thoughts on what Cameron might do. "I think he's going to say, carefully, that he is waiting and if asked to form a government, he is willing to do so." He points out that Cameron can only become PM if Brown resigns- and he's showing no signs of doing that yet.

1123 GMT After all the excitement of this morning, things seem to be slowing down in London as the country waits for Cameron's 1330 GMT statement. Rest assured that behind the scenes, all three party headquarters are buzzing with activity.

1102 GMT   There are mutterings of discontent coming from the Tory camp about the way that their campaign was run. Remember, at times during Brown's premiership, the Conservatives enjoyed a 20-point lead. The BBC is reporting anger amongst the Tory ranks that Cameron has failed to deliver a majority. Will internal pressure make him more open to a deal with the Lib-Dems?

1053 GMT   The Lib Dems want reform of the UK's election system, which favours the other parties. It's likely to be the price they put on their support for other parties. If Cameron says no, Labour look set to offer it. The idea of Labour Liberal alliance is on hold, but it's not dead yet.  

1010 GMT  The Liberal Democrats have put the ball firmly in the Tory court with that statement. The onus is now firmly on the Conservative party to reach out to the Liberal Democrats. But will they do it? Or will they proceed as if they have won a majority? Cameron due to make a statement 1330 GMT.  

0945 GMT Nick Clegg has effectively endorsed the Conservatives' right to attempt to form a government. He said that the national interest was more important than narrow party interest. In doing so, he has boosted the Tories and undermined Labour's attempts to keep power. 


0935 GMT   Full text of the statement from Downing Street:

On 2 February, I announced that I had asked the Cabinet Secretary to prepare a Cabinet Manual, bringing together the existing conventions that determine the formation of governments including where no party has an overall majority.
On 24 February, a draft chapter of this manual, relating specifically to elections and government formation was published and was welcomed by the cross-party Justice Select Committee.
The election results are likely to show there is no clear majority for any single party. As I said last night, it is my duty as Prime Minister to take all steps to ensure Britain has a strong, stable and principled government. This is, of course, chiefly a task for politicians and - in time - for Parliament.

But to facilitate this process and consistent with the conventions set out in the draft Cabinet Manual, I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to arrange for the civil service to provide support on request to parties engaged in discussions on the formation of government.


0930 GMT  Nick Clegg about to make a statement at Lib Dem headquarters. More on that Downing Street statement (issued on headed prime ministerial paper, just to underline the point). It effectively confirms that Brown won't concede defeat and will seek to form a "strong, stable government".  Clegg's impending statement is now even more important as this political drama unfolds. 


0846 GMT   So there you have it. The 2010 general election has officially resulted in a hung parliament. With 615 seats declared, the Tories now cannot reach the magic number of 326 seats in parliament that would give them a majority.  But the results still matter; every extra seat they win strengthens their contested claim to power. 


0833 GMT   There are 37 seats left to call, and it's going to come down to a handful to decide who has the political momentum as the horse-trading starts. The press is likely to side with David Cameron; Tory tabloid The Daily Mail is currently leading with the following headline:

"Cameron's challenge to Brown after Tories fail to win clear majority: You've lost the right to govern, now give me the keys to Number 10."

0825 GMT   It's now almost inconceivable that the Conservatives will win a majority. But all bets are off on what will happen next. It could be hours, even days, before we know who Britain's next prime minister will be. Time for another coffee... 

0806 GMT   Reports coming in that David Cameron will make a statement  0930GMT. 

0735 GMT    Just to sum up, figures so far:

Conservative: 37%  Labour: 29% Lib Dem: 23%

Under the UK's electoral system, that has translated into the following seats.

Conservative: 288  Labour: 241  Lib Dem: 51

There are 44 seats left to call and its still not clear what is going to happen. Lots of talk about possible coalitions, but we're not quite into horse-trading territory yet.

0632 GMT   Lib Dem Lord Ashdown sums it up: "The nation has spoken, but we don't know what they have said."  

0609 GMT   A senior Labour figure has told the BBC that the Prime Minister will get some rest before starting any coalition talks. But Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, reporting from outside Downing Street says that could be a bad idea: "There's no telling what sort of maelstrom might be created by any delay," he says, warning the pressure from the media and the markets could speed up the process.  

0600 GMT  This is still too close to call.  It seems the two scenarios that could emerge are a Conservative minority government, or a Labour-Lib Dem coalition. Labour are wheeling out senior figures to emphasise how much they have in common with the Lib Dems, but Nick Clegg has said in the past that the party with the biggest mandate has the moral right to govern. Will he change his mind?

0500 GMT Margaret Hodge, the sitting Labour MP, massively increased her majority in Barking, taking 24,628 votes. Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, trailed in third with 6,620.

0450 GMT
A historic moment as Caroline Lucas, standing in Brighton Pavillion, wins the Green party's first ever seat in the British parliament.

0355 GMT
Not a good night for former interior ministers, now Charles Clarke, a consistent critic of the Brown government, has lost his Norwich South seat.

0345 GMT Jacqui Smith, the former interior minister who resigned after her husband made a claim for pornographic movies on her expenses, loses her Redditch seat.

0256 GMT
Army bomb disposal experts have destroyed a "viable device" left in a car outside an election count centre in Northern Ireland.

0155 GMT 
David Cameron holds his Witney constituency in Oxfordshire with 33,973 votes and says Labour has lost its mandate to govern in Britain.

0125 GMT Lembit Opik, the Liberal Democrat MP famous for having dated one of the Cheeky Girls, has lost his seat in Montgomeryshire with a swing of 13.2 per cent to the Conservatives.

0131 GMT Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland's most senior politician loses his seat in Belfast East following a scandal involving his wife and her teenage lover. The defeat ends a 31-year career as a member of parliament the leader of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party, and casts a shadow over his political future as leader of the province's devolved government.

0102 GMT Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, has suggested he could attempt to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, in an attempt to keep his ruling Labour party in power. It will be interesting to see how his comments are received by the other parties.

0040 GMT Time for a results update - seats are due to come in fast from now. So far we have Labour with 25 seats, Conservatives with 10, the Liberal Democrats on 4 and other parties with 13.

0012 GMT Our full story on voters being turned away is now up here. Viewers who were unable to vote because of long queues (or booths running out of ballot papers, as is being reported by some) can email their stories, pictures and video to

2305 GMT Al Jazeera's producer Elizabeth Dunningham sent in this picture of long queues at her polling station in London's Stoke Newington, where reportedly scores of people were turned away.


2255 GMT This video on Youtube is now doing the rounds, apparently showing an estimated 200 people being turned away from a polling station in Manchester.

2242 GMT More news coming in about people being turned away from polling stations across the country. According to Tweetminster those places included Islington south, Hackney, Newcastle east, Manchester Withington, Lewisham and Sheffield. There are reports of clashes at some polling stations, with one tweeter saying that voters are refusing to let the ballot box out of the building. This is a story we'll be watching.

2232 GMT Washington and Sunderland West has become the second constituency of the night to declare a result. Labour took the seat with 52.5 per cent of the vote while the Conservatives came in a distant second with nearly 22 per cent.

2222 GMT Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee is reporting from Barking, an east London constituency that could see a showdown between Labour and the far-right British National Party. They are hoping to win on the notion that British jobs are going to foreign workers. A result there is expected shortly.

2215 GMT Huge numbers of voters appear to have meant some people were turned away from polling stations as the 2100 GMT deadline hit. But others have reported returning officers keeping booths open as late as 2130.

2207 GMT Exit poll predictions have been revised, giving the Conservatives 305 seats, two down from the initial forecast, Labour still on 255 and the Liberal Democrats up two on 61.

2155 GMT Sunderland, a constituency in Britain's northeast, has become the first to declare a result, with a large win for Labour. But what this tells us about the wider election remains to be seen.

2150 GMT Reports coming in that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, has called David Cameron, leader of the Conservatives, to congratulate him. Perhaps he knows something we don't?

2135 GMT
An insight into Al Jazeera's newsroom as the election team swings into action. Stephen Cole is presenting here in our London studio, before handing over to Sir David Frost:

2120 GMT
The general reaction to the exit poll so far appears to be surprise at the number of Liberal Democrat seats. Securing 59 seats, as the poll predicts, would leave them three short of the 62 they won five years ago. Daniel Hamilton from polling consultancy Comres, told Al Jazeera that the party had been "widely thought to have fought an excellent campaign".

2105 GMT
Exit polls are out predicting a Conservative win but without a clear majority, suggesting there would be a hung parliament. But Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri says there may still be a long night ahead, with official results not due to come in for hours.

2048 GMT Just a few minutes until polling stations close and exit poll forecasts are due. Al Jazeera is gearing up for its special broadcast which begins at 2100 GMT.

2013 GMT Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, reporting from outside Downing Street has reminded viewers that under Britain's voting system, power may not necessarily fall to the party with the overall majority. That's because of the UK's first-past-the-post system, explained in more detail here.

1951 GMT With just over an hour until the polls close Al Jazeera is gearing up for its special election programme. Tune in at 2100 GMT, for rolling news and analysis from London, with reporters at all the main party headquarters as the results come in. You can also keep across the latest developments on our special UK election homepage. And this blog will continue to be updated until we know who is getting the keys to Downing Street. And probably even after then.

1921 GMT Reports still coming in of long queues at polling stations. One Al Jazeera producer just tweeted from her local constituency, where massive lines are still being seen. Officials say they've never seen the like. According to the Guardian, bookmakers Ladbrokes say their biggest market move is on a voter turnout of 70 per cent. Turnout at the last election was just over 60 per cent.

1900 GMT While millions of people in Britain head to the polls today, hundreds of people in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana have been texting in their votes for the UK election since Friday. How and why? Find out here.

1848 GMT In an attempt to get a feel for voter turnout, Tweetminster, The Guardian, Channel 4 News and the New Statesman have joined forces to produce this map. Apparently 26,000 people have tweeted their location so far. And one million people have declared their vote using Facebook.

1840 GMT With only a couple of hours of voting left, many people will be looking towards the exit polls for an early sign of what's to come. But, as this piece from the Financial Times warns, exit polls may not be the best results indicator for this year's close election.

1813 GMT Electoral fraud is being discussed on Al Jazeera. Britain, often called the "mother of all democracies" has surprisingly few checks on voters at the polling station. Jean-Pierre Kingsley from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, who is monitoring the elections, said it was partly down to the system being "steeped in tradition".  "The system was initially based on trust and this has been perpetuated until this day. [But] there are checks and balances that are quite subtle," he said.

1710 GMT Following on from our earlier picture of an "instruction" to voters at a polling booth, here's another unusual sign. This would-be booth in Northern Ireland was hit by a car bomb blast last month, forcing voters to use the nearby high school. Picture courtesy of AFP.

1650 GMT Another interesting website that could motivate or deter voters, depending on where they live. Based on the idea that those in marginal seats have greater voting power than others, this website claims to show how much a vote is worth in a each constituency.

1635 GMT Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader injured in a plane crash earlier today, has spoken from his hospital bed, saying he is "lucky to be alive". The politician, who was pulled from the wreckage after an election banner became tangled with the aircraft, has suffered broken ribs and a small chip to his spine, his spokesman said.

1618 GMT With less than five hours until polling stations close reports are indicating that voter turnout could be better than usual. Queues of voters have been seen in London, a fairly unusual sight, Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher says. And in Scotland and Wales bad weather is not deterring people from having their say.

1518 GMT  Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher explains when we will get the first official results from the election. "The polls close in just under six hours. There's normally a competition to see who will be first to declare between two small constituencies- Torbay and Sunderland." Counting there usually takes about an hour, so we can expect the earliest results at about 2200 GMT.  

1450 GMT After Nigel Farage's plane crash, we're getting news of another unfortunate election mishap that has befallen a candidate. Joe Benton, the Labour candidate for Bootle in Merseyside, has had his finger bitten off by a dog while pushing a leaflet through a letterbox.

1444 GMT  Right, we're more than half way through voting in the UK. Now seems a good time to remind you how to follow the election on Al Jazeera.  At 2100 GMT, Al Jazeera's special election programme begins. We'll have rolling news and analysis from London, with reporters at all the main party headquarters as the results come in. You can also keep across the latest developments on our special UK election homepage. And this blog will continue to be updated until we know who is getting the keys to Downing Street. 

1411 GMT This picture is doing the rounds on Twitter. The sign seems to be telling voters to make up their minds before turning up to vote.

1319 GMT  Ruth Fox, director of the Hansard Society's parliament and government programme, tells Al Jazeera that th election is very difficult to call. "The reality is for all polls we have seen, we just don't know what is going to happen tonight," she says. "We haven't seen anything like this since 1997."

1259 GMT  Worrying reports appearing on Twitter from Barking, where a candidate from the far-right British National Party was filmed punching and kicking an Asian youth yesterday.

@PeterWatt123: Reports of voters being intimidated at polling stations in Barking by BNP skinheads.

1241 GMT  Not all of the UK's 50,000 polling stations can be described as hi-tech, as this picture from AFP shows.

1233 GMT Interesting article by Rosemary Hollis, director of the Olive Tree Programme at City University,  about how the potential results of the election might impact the Middle East. 

In recent days Israeli newspapers have run stories warning about the potentially negative prospects for Israel of a British government that accords a prominent position to the Lib Dems. They regard Nick Clegg and his party as positively pro-Palestinian.

1204 GMT Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from Downing Steet, is talking about the last time the UK faced a hung parliament, in 1974. That result forced a second election, but Alan says that this time, whatever the result, there is little appetite in the UK to go to the polls again. 

1151 GMT Some voters see elections in the UK as an opportunity to bet on the outcome. With millions of dollars at stake, bookmakers are increasingly seen as astute judges of the result of the election.

1126 GMT Predictions of high turnout look to be supported by tweets like this one:

@thomasdolby: Just went to cast my vote. First time I've voted in a UK  general election since Blair won it in 1997.

1997 saw a turnout of 71% - much higher than the elections in 2001 and 2005.

1115 GMT  This is really interesting. Apparently a 15-month-old baby has been sent a polling card. A polling card is all you need to vote in Britain; no ID is required. International observers have said this could leave the UK vulnerable to electoral fraud. Wonder how many other ineligible voters have received polling cards?  

1105 GMT  Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from Downing Street, says that after a close campaign the British people are going to the polls in large numbers. "We are hearing from constituencies across the country that turnout is higher than expected."

1053 GMT   The far-right British National Party is on the defensive again after one of its parliamentary candidates was filmed yesterday punching and kicking an Asian youth who challenged him in the street. Police were called to the scene.

1035 GMT   Boris Johnson, the flamboyant Conservative mayor of London, has warned of  "endless deal making and jiggery-pokery between politicians" if no party wins a majority of seats in parliament. Most opinion polls have suggested that this scenario, known as a "hung parliament", is the most likely outcome. 

1025 GMT   Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has cast his vote in his constituency of Sheffield. The leaders of all the main parties have now voted- there is nothing more they can do to influence the outcome.

1019 GMT  More news on Nigel Farage, the UKIP MEP, who was involved in a plane crash this morning. A party official says he is "coming in and out of consciousness." The pilot's injuries are said to be more serious.   

1012 GMT  Gordon Brown, the leader of the Labour party and current Prime Minister, casts his vote at the North Queensferry Community Centre in his Scottish constituency. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher says the prime minister will now go home and try to relax with his family before flying to London. "Quite how you do that, when the country is about to pass judgement on you, I don't know," he says.  

0944 GMT   Who said the British were obsessed with the weather? The Guardian's editorial has an interesting theory about the influence the weather might play in the result:

On the seven election days since 1945 where the people threw the government out, five took place in fair or good weather. To put it another way, of nine elections in the same period where the weather was fair or good across most of the country, six saw the incumbents ousted.

For those of you wondering, it's actually grey and overcast in the UK today.

0938 GMT   David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader, has cast his vote in the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney. No prizes for guessing which way his vote went.

0922 GMT    Whatever result the election throws up, parliament will welcome a record number of new MPs. The Guardian has an interesting story about the logistics of settling them in.

0916 GMT    Al Jazeera's Hamish MacDonald is in Ealing in West London, which is seen as a bell-weather constituency. "Based on previous election results, this seat could go any way between the three main parties," he says. Three-way marginal seats are uncommon in the UK, so this one will be watched very carefully.  

0853 GMT   Farage's plane went down in Northamptonshire a little after 0700GMT. It was towing a banner that read: "Vote for your country- Vote UKIP."  He's been taken to hospital, but a UKIP spokeswoman says he is "fine." The pilot is also in hospital.

0848 GMT   Nigel Farage, a prominent member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), has been involved in a plane crash. It seems his plane got tangled up in a banner it was towing and had to crash-land. More soon.

0824 GMT   Wondering what the outcome of the election will be? Join the club. British newspaper The Independent has produced this handy guide to eight possible scenarios today's vote could produce. 

0816 GMT   Queues are beginning to form outside some polling stations. Few were predicting a high turnout before the campaign, says Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from Downing Steet. "Politicians and politics had become discredited because of the expenses scandal," he says. "But over the past four weeks, we have seen the campaign energised by the TV debates."

0736 GMT   Al Jazeera's Hamish Macdonald, reporting from West London, says that turnout is expected to be high. "There is huge anticipation. There has been a rush of new voter registrations in the weeks leading up to this election." That said, an hour and half into the vote, the polling station behind him looks pretty quiet.

0652 GMT  Britain's newspapers traditionally endorse either the Conservatives,  Labour or the Liberal Democrats. Their election day front pages can be seen on the PoliticsHome blog.

0600 GMT    Polls are open in the UK and voting is under way. The campaign has been full of twists and turns, from the impact of the televised debates to Gordon Brown's fateful encounter with a pensioner in Rochdale. Now the moment of truth has arrived..

Live updates by Andrew Wander, Jacqueline Head and Christopher True