Dawn breaks on May 7, 2010. Photo:Getty
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What's worth staying up for on election night?

What are the parties saying about the key seats on election night, when will they declare, and what will they mean?

So, you're staying up for election night. What are the seats that are worth looking out for? And when do they declare?


Keep an eye out for the exit poll, but expect mistakes there - the Ukip and SNP factor means that pollsters are surveying places they've never done before, which makes measuring the change from 2010 difficult, to say the least. The expectation is that the Tory figure is likely to be correct but everyone else could do better or worse than the exit poll suggests. But we'll start getting results in from...


North Antrim (DUP) is due to declare at 1am. As with all of the DUP-held seats, the party suffered a swing against it in 2010. In Belfast East that resulted in the shock defeat of Peter Robinson, the party leader, by Naomi Long of the Alliance. You would expect to see some recovery in the DUP vote here if they are on course to retake Belfast East.

Also due to declare at 1am is Nuneaton (CON); Number 32 on Labour’s target list. The party is bullish about their chances of picking up the seat and Lord Ashcroft's polls put them ahead in March 2015. The Conservatives are pessimistic about their chances of holding on. If Labour don’t win here it will be an early warning sign both for their electoral performance and their ground game.


City of Durham (LAB) is one of the student-dominated seats where the Liberal Democrats fell short in 2010 and they now expect to be crushed. Other than the size of the Green vote, an uninteresting Labour victory.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar or the Western Isles (SNP) is the first seat in Scotland that is due to declare. One of the smallest seats in the United Kingdom and traditionally an SNP/Labour marginal. Expect a landslide for the SNP.

Lagan Valley (DUP), Upper Bann (DUP) and West Tyrone (SF)  will declare. Like North Antrim, keep an eye on how the DUP do. An increased majority means Naomi Long will have reason to worry in Belfast East (Alliance) that the DUP will claim her constituency. None of these seats are expected to change hands.


Battersea (CON) will declare. Outside of London this is the kind of seat where Labour would expect to lose in a landslide but the increasing browning of the electorate, plus a very hardworking local candidate mean that the party is in contention here. Conservatives are making bleak sounds about the quality of the VoterID and the local campaign machine. If the Conservatives lose here it will be the first sign that David Cameron is heading out of Downing Street.

Belfasts East, North, South and West will declare. Nothing much to see here except that DUP-Alliance tussle in Belfast East (Alliance). The DUP could go both ways in a hung parliament but it would very much be an overall Conservative gain if the party can take the seat.

Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (CON) and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Plaid Cymru) are the first Welsh seats to declare, with Labour hopeful about doing well in both. Labour had its worst election in Wales since 1918 last time around and the party is heavily investing in its target seats there. These are 62 and 66 on Labour’s target list.

Castle Point (CON), which briefly had a Ukip MP in the shape of the defector, Bob Spink, declares. Highly unlikely to go anything other than blue but depending on how good Ukip’s targeting strategy is it’s a possible win for the Purple People's Army.

Scotpocalypse! East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (LAB), Glenrothes (LAB), Rutherglen & Hamilton West (LAB) Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (LAB), Lanark and Hamilton East (LAB) and North East Fife (LD) all declare. Labour are working Glenrothes, Rutherglen and Kirkcaldy fairly hard and think if they can end up with more than a breeding pair of MPs, it will be here.  Tom Greatrex is a hard worker and his opponent is considered to be one the SNP’s weakest – if Labour lose his seat of Rutherglen & Hamilton West, as well as Glenrothes and Gordon Brown’s old seat of Kirkcaldy, the worst has happened.

Northampton North (CON) is notionally lower-hanging fruit for Labour than Battersea or Camarthen West but Labour is struggling in the East Midlands and campaigners report that their vote is being eaten into by Ukip. Would be brilliant news for Ed Miliband if Labour take it.

Tooting (LAB) summed up the Tories’ night when Sadiq Khan held on against the odds in 2010. In the long-term the same trends that make Ilford North (CON) an easier get for Labour will make this trickier terrain in years to come. But for now - no chance of a Tory gain. Expected the size of the majority will doubtless be talked about should Khan run for the London mayoralty.

Ynys Môn (LAB), or Anglesey if you are an English imperialist, has the possibility of going to Plaid Cymru if the Ukip surge continues to eat into the Labour vote here.


City of Chester (CON) is a Lab-Con marginal that both parties are working hard; albeit one where Ashcroft polling puts Labour in a commanding position. Tory strategists are briefing that their “vote Labour, get SNP” message does particularly well in the North-West – and several Labour MPs in the area say it has come up on the doorstep. So keep an eye on this one if it does stay blue. Cleethorpes (CON) is notionally a Labour target but it has been effectively cut loose. If Labour do win it, time to start making fun of Dan Hodges.

Dundee West (LAB) and Dundee East (SNP) due to declare. If Dundee West doesn’t go SNP then something has gone very wrong for the Nationalists.

Montgomeryshire (CON) is one of a handful of seats the Liberal Democrats might actually gain. They have held it near-continuously since William Gladstone were a lad and only lost in 1979 and 2010, when they had the mitigating factor of having Lembit Opik as their candidate. A real chance of a Liberal gain amongst the chaos here.

Westminster North (LAB) is an odd one in that Labour are a little nervous about it – “whenever we go out, the promise goes down” – but the Conservatives don’t think they have a hope in hell of taking it. My gut instinct is that the Tories are right but it’s worth having half an eye on. If Labour do lose unexpectedly then it will be because of seats like this.


Results of the hour come from Scotland: Paisley & Renfrewshire South (LAB) where Douglas Alexander faces a tough fight against 20-year-old SNP activst Mhairi Black. But eclipsing all of that is Jim Murphy's battle to hold East Renfrewshire - if he loses his seat, who knows where next for Scottish Labour?

Aberconwy (CON) and Arfon (Plaid Cymru) are both seats that Labour hope to win. Aberconwy is firmly in the “would be a safe Conservative seat in the south of England but...” category.

Amber Valley (CON) went badly for Labour in the Euros. If they can pull it off, good news for the party.

Bedford (CON) has a wafer-thin majority and the previous incumbent, Patrick Hall, is standing again. Local Labour campaigners regard it as sown up unless “we fuck it up on the day”.

Bermondsey and Old Southwark (LD) Simon Hughes is the great survivor. The Liberals are fighting it hard and Labour strategists regard this as their most difficult pick-up in the capital.

Bristol North West (CON) and Bristol West (LD) are both interesting. Bristol North West is a straight Labour-Tory fight in difficult territory for Labour while Bristol West is a three-way between Labour, the Liberals and the Greens.

Peterborough (CON) is a difficult ask for Labour but they’re working it hard.

Hornsey & Wood Green (LD) a close Lib-Lab fight according to both sides – and Labour is pouring resources in. Ashcroft puts Labour miles ahead. If there is a methodological weakness within Ashcroft’s polling, we will start to see it in seats like this one.

Hampstead & Kilburn (LAB) is another interesting one. Ashcroft says it is safely Labour. Both Labour and the Conservatives disagree.

Thurrock (CON), potentially the first Ukip gain of the night, to declare. A three-way between Tim Aker of Ukip, Jackie Doyle-Price of the Conservatives and Polly Billington, formerly of Team Miliband. It looks bad for Labour there - the promise is low, and the Conservatives there are "not of the type to vote tactically to keep Ukip out". That every poll shows Doyle-Price third will probably lead to tactical switching to Ukip's AKer.


It never rains but it pours. Results will begin to come quite quickly and Enfield North (CON), Harlow (CON), Lincoln (CON), Blackpool North and Cleveleys (CON), Broxtowe (CON) will give us an idea of who the winner is. For a very generous definition of “winner”.


Orkney and Shetland (LD) is worth watching. If the Liberals don’t survive here they are an ex-party. Southampton Itchen (LAB) is a tricky hold for Labour. The Edinburgh seats will declare, as will the Bristol constituencies

The nightmare scenario of Labour pessimists would begin to work itself out here. Labour-held seats like Hammersmith (LAB) and Eltham (LAB) would start to go blue. This would require a huge swing that would have escaped all the polls. If this happens, time to start drinking heavily, Labour types. Doncaster North (LAB) is due to declare so keep an eye out for Ed Miliband’s speech at the count.


Ilford North (CON), one of Labour’s toughest fights in London declares, as does Leeds North West (LD), another tricky prospect.

Norwich South (LD) an outside possibility for a Green gain but will almost certainly see the election of Clive Lewis, who is likely to become a significant player in Labour politics. Norwich North (CON) is a trickier prospect for Labour. Chloe Smith, the Tory incumbent, has been working the seat hard. If Jessica Asato can win it, she will be similarly influential. 

Witney (CON) declares and David Cameron will give his speech

And Alex Salmond will return to the House of Commons when he takes Gordon(LD)

But the main event at 4:30 is Sheffield Hallam (LD). Will Nick Clegg survive?


Were you up for Danny Alexander? He’s due to lose his seat in Inverness (LD) at five. If Clegg has gone we can basically rule out a second Lib-Con coalition.

Maidstone & The Weald (CON) is a seat worth keeping half an eye on. The Liberals have been working it diligently and quietly and may well knock Helen Grant off.

Seats like Hove (CON), Brighton Kemptown (CON), Wirral West (CON), Warrington South (CON) all declare. Vital to whoever forms the next government.

Finchley and Golders Green (CON) is interesting. Ashcroft had Labour ahead in a seat they have quietly written off.

Cambridge (LD) is worth looking out for. Julian Huppert is well-liked and many voters are genuinely torn about whether to back him or return a Labour MP.

Brighton Pavilion (GREEN) notionally  a Labour target but they’ve given up on it. Tune in for Caroline Lucas’ victory speech.


Morecambe & Lunesdale (CON), which Labour are backing heavily, to declare.

Thanet South (CON), a three-way marginal featuring Nigel Farage, to declare.

Oxford West and Abingdon (LD), another opportunity for a Liberal pick-up against the tide, to declare.

Reading West (CON) one of Labour’s trickiest seats in which they are genuinely competing, to declare.

Uxbridge and Ruislip South (CON) will declare. Depending on how bad the night has gone for the Conservatives we may see effectively the beginning of the Boris Johnson leadership campaign here.


Possible Liberal woe in Manchester Withington (LD) and Ross, Skye and Lochaber (LD), where Charles Kennedy could lose his seat. Argyll & Bute (LD) has a hard-fought Liberal campaign who might just survive against the SNP surge. 


Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.

Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.