Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives have defied pre-vote predictions to all but win the UK election.
The shock result has already claimed the leadership scalps of Labour’s Ed Miliband, the Lib-Dems’ Nick Clegg, and UKIP’s Nigel Farage (although he may re-contest the position).
As final vote counting continued on Friday, BBC analysts predict the Tories will win a slim majority in the House of Commons with as many as 331 of the 650 seats. Labour is likely to finish with 232.
This is in stark contrast to pre-election polling which suggested Tories would be level with Labour, forcing them to battle it out to form a minority government with the support of other parties.
Instead, Labour was wiped out in Scotland with almost all seats north of the border going to the Scottish National Party in what is an astonishing achievement for them. The Tories’ (now presumably former) coalition partners the Lib-Dems were decimated; their 57 seats likely to be reduced to a mere eight.
The truth was in the exit polls
The first signs that the pre-election pollsters had got it so wrong came immediately after 10pm on Thursday night (local time) when the exit polls were made public. Their prediction that the Tories would come close to a majority in their own right and the SNP would romp across Scotland led Lib-Dem elder statesman Paddy Ashdown to declare on live television: “I can tell you – that is wrong. If these exit polls are right, I’ll publicly eat my hat”.
The declared results soon confirmed what the exit polls suggested.
Speaking from his own seat where he was declared the victor, Ed Miliband described it as “a difficult and disappointing” night for Labour whose losses included the seats of Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy.
Keeping the UK united: easier said than done
David Cameron said he would strive to govern for all the UK and work to keep it united.
“I want my party, and I hope the government I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost, the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom. That is how I will govern if I’m fortunate enough to form a government in the coming days.” he said.
However, with the SNP‘s remarkable result in Scotland, claiming 56 of 60 seats there, that will be a battle. According to former Scottish First Minister and now SNP commons MP Alex Salmond, the new government will have “no legitimacy whatsoever in Scotland”.
TOP IMAGE: The photo posted on David Cameron’s Twitter account as the UK election results came in.