It’s the afternoon after and results are still coming through thick and fast, so – between now slightly drooping eyelids – how does it look for the Liberal Democrats so far?
Taking the four yardsticks I blogged about on Wednesday, the scorecard looks like this so far.
First – Scotland. It looks like our vote is up, but we won’t be gaining seats, and there is also a similar picture in Wales. Some individually excellent results, including the mammoth vote increase (+20%) for Tavish Scott in Shetland, are mixed in with the less good.
Second – the key Westminster marginals. This is the very good news for the Liberal Democrats today – with gains from the Conservatives in seats like Winchester, Eastleigh, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Cheadle and Eastbourne. If the Conservatives were set to make major gains from the Liberal Democrats at the next general election, they should have been romping home in seats like this – but they weren’t.
In some places there is clearly a very large difference between our results in key constituencies and the Liberal Democrat performance in other nearby areas. Where we have suffered badly, as in Bournemouth, it seems to have been on the back of particular local controversies, but as shown by the relatively good results in Bath – scene of numerous controversies over the spa baths – these can be turned around.
This high level of variation in results from area to area is not just good news for the Liberal Democrats but also in part reflects voters’ increasing interest in local circumstances and policies – which causes more variation in voting from area to area. That is bound to be good for democracy, regardless of whether we benefit or suffer from such variation.
Third – how well have the Tories done? They will still be a long way short of the level of local government strength that Labour had after 1996 or the Conservatives had after 1978. And the BBC estimate of their national share of the vote is only up 1% on last year.
Fourth – the Labour / Liberal Democrat contest in the popular vote.
Labour look to have just edged the Liberal Democrats (this time round).
I wrote before that, “the result I’ll be looking out for most closely [is] the one where I was involved in a last minute legal scramble to sort out problems with the nomination paperwork. Let’s hope that hassle was worth it!” It was – chalk up one Liberal Democrat gain.