Selections and rejections

Oh, what a night

Election night may not have ended with a conclusive result, but there were still highlights to enjoy. Topping the list was the election in Brighton of the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas. Other treats included the rejection of the BNP and the humbling of Respect's George Galloway, who could only manage third place in Poplar and Limehouse.

The low points included the defeat of the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, a formidable defender of secularism and free speech; the loss of Labour's independent-minded Charles Clarke; and the chaos in several cities that prevented hundreds of people from exercising their right to vote.

That's life

Following the expenses scandal, many commentators predicted that a raft of independent MPs would be elected on polling day. In fact, the new parliament will contain fewer independents than the previous one did. In Wales, Labour won back its old stronghold of Blaenau Gwent from Dai Davies. In Wyre Forest, Richard Taylor, who won the seat in 2001 after campaigning to keep Kidderminster Hospital open, was defeated by the Tory MP Mark Garnier. In Luton, Esther Rantzen lost her deposit after getting just 4.4 per cent of the vote. The only successful independent was Sylvia Hermon, the former Ulster Unionist, who resigned in protest at the party's alliance with the Tories and regained her seat in North Down.

Scotched plans

It was less "the country" that voted for David Cameron, and more just England and Wales.

In Scotland, the Tories only managed to hold their solitary seat; the party's vote share rose, but by just 0.9 per cent. Support for Labour rose by 2.5 per cent and it regained two seats, taking its total to 41. Without Scotland, the Tories would have won the election with a majority of four. Scottish independence must look very attractive to Cameron.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 17 May 2010 issue of the New Statesman, On a tightrope