It may have been a very difficult and disappointing night for Labour and a cruel and punishing one for the Lib Dems.
But around Britain 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”.
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’.”
Paddy 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.“we’ll do it for public display and public humiliation and we can sell tickets,” he said.
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 Hampstead and Kilburn in north London.
Mr Carroll, who was 80, contested the 1962 and 1963 Eurovision Song Contests, and he was listed on the statement of nominations as The Eurovisionary Carroll.
The independent was standing in the most marginal seat in England, won by Labour’s Tulip Siddiq with a majority of 1,138.
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