Bloggers come good

There's an election going on, don't you know?

To my knowledge the May 3 elections was the first time bloggers provided the public with up-to-the-minute updates as the votes were counted across England, Wales and Scotland. But in Scotland it was an election marred by controversy, something the blogosphere will not let go unheard.

18 Doughty Street provided a live internet broadcast as polls closed, whilst Iain Dale blogged through the night as votes were counted.

He was troubled however, by the apparent knowledge of the Labour Party in Scotland who were telling people the results of postal votes before the main voting had even begun. Electoral law prevents the release of information on postal votes before polling has closed.

The political correspondents across the mainstream news networks were also blogging away keeping the voters on top of the latest developments.

Nick Robinson, political editor of the BBC, alerted us to the problem of spoiled ballot papers in Scotland – this will keep bubbling throughout the week no doubt. It appears voters were confused by how to fill in the different parts of the paper. Scottish voters had two votes for the parliament and a separate vote for the local elections.

The Blamerbell Briefs blog kept us on top of development in the Welsh Assembly Government elections. For someone who said he: “returned home to have a bash at being a journalist and as an almost accidental consequence, a Welsh political blogger,” he should be commended.

And finally, do you remember that candidate in Bristol who used Photoshop on an election leaflet to make it look like he was somewhere when he simply wasn’t. Well he got beaten by the Lib Dems. So I guess he is the one with the egg on his face.

As the remaining votes are counted these elections look set to generate more movement in the blogosphere. Tune in next week for the update.

Adam Haigh studies on the postgraduate journalism diploma at Cardiff University. Last year he lived in Honduras and worked freelance for the newspaper, Honduras This Week.
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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.