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March, 2005

Tony Blair today called the general election for May 5 after visiting the Queen in Buckingham Palace to ask for the dissolution of parliament. Returning to Downing Street before hitting the campaign trail, the prime minister said the election would be "a big choice, a big decision". "The British people are the boss and they will make it," he added.

All three party leaders started campaigning across the country immediately.

The prime minister flew by helicopter to Labour's most marginal constituency in South Dorset, while Charles Kennedy appeared in Newcastle - where the Lib Dems last year took control of the council, and Michael Howard went to Birmingham. 

Earlier, as the media's helicopters hovered overhead, Mr Blair led Labour into the contest by telling reporters outside Number 10 he had a "big and positive vision for the future". He said: "From now until May 5, I and my colleagues will be out every day in every part of Britain talking to the people about our driving mission for a third term. A country where Britain's families get the modern healthcare, education, childcare services they need and on a fair and equal basis. A country where people who play by the rules get on and those who don't, don't. A country that protects itself against the terrorist threat that we face. But it is also going to be about a big and positive vision for the future of our country."

Labour goes into the fight for votes on the back of a quartet of unexpectedly close polls today. All four showed Labour's lead slipping, although it is still ahead by between two and five per cent. The Guardian/ICM poll shows Labour's lead down by three points, with the party backed by 37% of the electorate, the Tories on 34% and the Liberal Democrats on 21%. Downing Street confirmed parliament would be dissolved on Monday next week. The new parliament will meet on Wednesday May 11, when the first business will be the election of the Speaker and the swearing-in of members. The state opening will be on Tuesday May 17.

In his early launch speech, seemingly timed in an attempt to steal the PM's thunder, Mr Howard told the country: "Mr Blair's government has lost the plot." The Tory leader said: "The country has a choice: reward Mr Blair and vote for five more years of talk. Or vote for a party committed to action on the issues of hard-working Britain." He said the Conservatives offered an alternative to the "smirking politics of Mr Blair or the woolly thinking of Liberal Democrats" and accused Mr Blair of "already secretly grinning at the prospect of his third victory".

Mr Blair will be fighting his third general election as leader, Mr Kennedy his second, and Mr Howard his first.

Earlier today, Mr Kennedy unveiled a Labour defector in Manchester, Stephen Wilkinson, who had been the party's candidate to fight the Ribble Valley seat in Lancashire. Campaigning in Newcastle, where the Lib Dems last year took control of the council, he said Britain could now vote "for a real alternative" to Labour and the Tories. There will be a 48-hour hiatus in campaigning for the Pope's funeral on Friday, and the royal wedding on Saturday, however.

Mr Blair chose to make his first stump speech in the key marginal seat of South Dorset, currently held by Labour's Jim Knight with a majority of 153 over the Tories. He told an audience of party supporters at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy that he expected to see Mr Knight back in parliament when it returns on May 11. Speaking on a balcony overlooking Portland Harbour, Mr Blair told his supporters: "In every single part of our country today we can see the progress of the past eight years but we need to keep it going. That's why we say forward not back, forward with progress not back to the failed old days of the Conservative party." At the sailing academy, which will host the 2012 Olympic sailing event if London's host city bid is successful, Mr Blair also chatted to local Sea Cadets and mingled with supporters and their children.

Dozens of candidates and activists greeted Mr Howard on his arrival at Birmingham's International Convention Centre. Deirdre Alden, Tory candidate for the marginal constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston, hailed him as a leader who will "roll up his sleeves and act to sort out the country's problems". Sandy Varma, a candidate in Wolverhampton South West, also told activists that on polling day: "We are going to hold Mr Blair to account and wipe the smile from Mr Blair and put it back on everyone else."  Outlining his plan for the Tories' first 100 days in office, Mr Howard told supporters: "This is central to my whole approach. It's called accountability. When something goes wrong someone, somewhere should take responsibility. Just as when something goes well they should get the credit - they should get the credit not the politicians."

Arriving at Leeds Bradford airport, on a whistle-stop tour of the country, Mr Kennedy said he was optimistic about Liberal Democrat prospects in its target seats in Yorkshire. "Very marginal swings in our favour will deliver those seats into the Liberal Democrat column and I hope that my colleagues will be joining me within the next House of Commons as part of a much bigger regional representation from this part of the country, a much bigger and more powerful Liberal Democrat team of parliamentarians."

Today's election announcement, which Mr Blair delayed by 24 hours due to the pope's death, means the general election will take place on the same day as elections for 34 county councils across England, three unitary authorities, Northern Ireland council elections and mayoral contests in four English towns. In the next few days, there will be hectic horse-trading at Westminster as the government's business managers discuss with the opposition parties how much of their business they can get through the Commons before parliament is dissolved.

Controversial measures such as the ID cards bill and the clause of the bill to introduce a law of incitement to racial hatred may well be lost. However, it was always assumed some bills announced in last November's Queen's speech would be lost and if Labour is re-elected many are likely to be reintroduced. 

There are three-and-a-half weeks of gruelling nationwide touring ahead for Mr Blair, Mr Howard and Mr Kennedy. Labour wants to campaign on the economy, jobs, and public services. The chancellor, Gordon Brown, addressed financial leaders in the City this morning, arguing for a Labour third term. The Tories have stressed their plans to cut taxes and public spending waste while continuing to boost frontline public services such as the police, schools and hospitals. The Liberal Democrats have promised to scrap the council tax, replacing it with a local income tax, and increase the top rate of tax for the highest earners to meet other spending pledges.

Although several recent polls have shown evidence of a Tory recovery, none has yet put the Conservatives far enough ahead of Labour to overturn Mr Blair's 161-seat Commons majority. Today Coral was offering 14/1 on for a Labour win, with the Tories at 13/2 against and the Lib Dems 50/1. Ladbrokes put Labour at 16/1 on, with the Tories 7/1 against and the Lib Dems 100/1.

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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Labour Win Majority, Lose 80 Seats


The hustings and bustling is over, the election is over and the United Kingdom faces the dawn of a new era. While it may look very similar to the old era it is certainly true that the political landscape of the UK has changed over the last two months with Labour's supermajority gone, replaced by a much smaller majority. When all was said and done on the night Labour had crossed the line with 335 seats, down 77, while the Conservatives had 226 seats, up 60. It was a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats who failed to make any net gains in national seats, losing many to the Tories but gaining them back from Labour. In England there were mixed fortunes for the minor parties with Kidderminster Health Concern losing Wyre Forest in a washout but good news for lovers of funny hats as George Galloway swept to power in Poplar and Limehouse where he will lead a Respect Party delegation of 2 MPs, the other seat being Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath.

In Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland the nationalist parties surged with the SNP winning the seat of seat of the Western Isles from Labour and consolidating power in the Highlands and Dundee to win 7 seats up from 5 at the last election while Plaid Cymru gained an extra seat for a total of 5. In Northern Ireland the Nationalist Parties made a net gain of 1 seat with the SDLP winning Belfast South from the UUP but losing Newry and Armagh to Sinn Fein. The UUP were wiped out apart from North Down which was held by Sylvia Hermon, the party's sole remaining MP.

Speaking after the results were finalised Prime Minister Tony Blair, returned for a record breaking third term, said that Labour had "a lot to think about" going forward pledging to push forward with a radical agenda for the British people and continue the "transformative record we have built in Government". Conservative Leader Michael Howard called the results "a kick in the teeth for Mr Blair" stating that the next Conservative Leader would have "an excellent launch pad to build the Tories back up into a party of Government". Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy was unavailable for comment but a spokesman described the results as "encouraging" while emphasising that the result would have been much stronger for them if the Tories hadn't gone further and calling for Proportional Representation in Westminster elections.


General Election Result (Seats)

  • Labour - 335 (-77)
  • Conservatives - 226 (+60)
  • Lib Dems - 52 (-)
  • DUP - 9 (+4)
  • SNP - 7 (+2)
  • Plaid Cymru - 5 (+1)
  • Sinn Fein - 5 (+1)
  • SDLP - 3 (-)
  • Res - 2 (+2)
  • UUP - 1 (-5)

General Election Result (Votes)

  • Labour - 36.5
  • Conservatives - 36
  • Lib Dems - 17.5
  • Greens - 3.2
  • BNP - 2.4
  • SNP - 1.8
  • Plaid - 0.9
  • Respect - 0.7
  • UKIP - 0.2

General Election Result - England

  • Labour - 271
  • Conservatives - 217
  • Lib Dems - 39
  • Respect - 2

General Election Result - Scotland

  • Labour - 38
  • Lib Dems - 11
  • SNP - 7
  • Conservatives - 2
  • Speaker - 1

General Election Result - Wales

  • Labour - 26
  • Conservatives - 7
  • Plaid - 5
  • Lib Dems - 2


Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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David Cameron beats David Davis to Conservative Leadership in tight result 

Conservative MP David Cameron will be the next leader of the Conservative Party after narrowly defeating David Davis in the final ballot. 

Kenneth Clarke finished third in the contest, with Liam Fox finishing fourth, both were eliminated prior to the final ballot result.

David Cameron succeeds Michael Howard, who had ultimately decided to stand down following the General Election. Despite polls that showed Cameron leading Davis by 30%, the final results were a more respectable 55% to 45% win for the young modernizer, after Davis's campaign got a boost from the tacit support of Liam Fox.

Cameron has also named his first Shadow Cabinet the day after his election victory, with two of his three former opponents as members - Davis as Shadow Home Secretary and Fox at Shadow Defence Secretary. William Hague, a former party leader in his own right, is Shadow Foreign Secretary and "Senior Member of the Shadow Cabinet," Cameron's de facto deputy. Other MPs promoted include Peter Ainsworth, Hugo Swire, Cheryl Gillan, Theresa Villiers, David Mundell, and Graham Brady. Villiers and Mundell are the first Conservatives in the 2005 intake to join the frontbench.

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7th September 2006

Tony Blair Resigns

Tony Blair has confirmed that he will step down as Prime Minister as soon as a successor is in place. Mr Blair said the Labour conference in two weeks' time would be his last as Labour leader - but he did not name a precise date for his departure. He also apologised for Labour's conduct in recent days, admitting it "has not been our finest hour, to be frank". Allies have suggested Mr Blair will be replaced by Christmas.

Mr Blair and his supporters will be hoping his statement will end the civil war that has broken out in the past week among Labour MPs over his departure. International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said he wished "people would understand what is required" and get on with the business of governing.

In his brief statement, made during a visit to a London school, Mr Blair said: "I think what is important now is that we understand that it's the interests of the country that come first and we move on. "I would have preferred to do this in my own way but it has been pretty obvious from what many of my Cabinet colleagues have said earlier in the week. The next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader, the next TUC conference next week will be my last TUC - probably to the relief of both of us." He also had a message for warring Labour MPs, saying: "It's the public that comes first and it's the country that matters, and we can't treat the public as irrelevant bystanders in a subject as important as who is their prime minister."

Speaking earlier, Chancellor Gordon Brown said it was for Mr Blair to decide when he quit. "When I met the prime minister yesterday, I said to him - as I've said on many occasions and I repeat today - it is for him to make the decision," he told reporters during a visit to a Glasgow athletics track. Giving his reaction, EU trade commissioner and key Blair ally Peter Mandelson said: "I think that Labour has had its moment of madness this week and I hope it will now move on and that the plotting and the shenanigans will be put behind them once and for all. "They've got to concentrate on the needs of the country, not themselves." He said he always thought Mr Blair would step down after 10 years in office, as "it's a shame that he will fall just short of the mark".

Mr Brown - the man most likely to succeed Mr Blair - was also thought to be unhappy at the prospect of taking over at the end of a Parliamentary session. The two men were reported to have to have had an acrimonious meeting over the issue on Wednesday morning. It was followed by a day of open warfare between supporters of the chancellor and Mr Blair - and a string of government resignations - over when the prime minister should quit.

Mr Blair, who has been facing a mounting rebellion from his backbenchers and Government since his underwhelming victory in the 2005 General Election, leaves the Labour Party "in a far better position than he found it" said BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson. "Mr Blair ended 18yrs of Conservative dominance and put together three election wins in a row for Labour, the first Labour leader ever to achieve such a feat."

Thoughts turn now to the inevitable leadership election with all eyes on Gordon Brown to replace his long time political ally and move next door to Number 10. The BBC understands that Mr Brown is likely to win unopposed but this is not certain with the Socialist Campaign Group expected to put up a candidate to stand against Mr Brown. Mr Prescott, the Labour Deputy Leader, has said he will stay in post till after the next General Election, will not contest his seat, and will resign as Deputy Leader at that time rather than following Mr Blair out of the door now.

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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24th October 2006

Brown will enter No 10 unopposed

Gordon Brown has secured the backing of enough MPs to ensure he will not face a contest to become the next Labour leader and prime minister. Mr Brown has 293 nominations, prompting his only rival, left-winger John McDonnell, to concede. He was 16 nominations short of the required number.

Mr McDonnell said he was disappointed on behalf of Labour Party members and it was a "blow to democracy". Mr Brown should now take over unopposed after Tony Blair steps down on tomorrow. Nominations officially close on Thursday, but there are not enough remaining MPs to allow Mr McDonnell to run. He said: "With Gordon Brown having gained 293 nominations from Labour MPs, it is now mathematically impossible for me to reach the nominations I require to stand. There will not now be an election." He congratulated Mr Brown, but said it was a shame party members would be denied "an opportunity of participating in a democratic election for the leader of this party. I had hoped by standing I would have given them a voice in this crucial decision."

Mr Brown's campaign said they would await the formal voting figures announced by the party on Thursday before making any statement. But his campaign manager, Commons Leader Jack Straw, said that they were "delighted" the party was "uniting" behind the chancellor. Labour MP for Cannock Chase, Dr Tony Wright, earlier told the BBC he had nominated Mr Brown as leader, but it had not yet been added to the Labour Party website. This gives the chancellor more than the 287 nominations needed to avoid a contest. Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay's office has reportedly said he would be nominating Mr Brown, although this has yet to be confirmed by the BBC.

A Labour spokesman said the party would not be commenting further on the nominations until they closed at 1230 BST on Thursday. 

Of the other MPs yet to declare, the speaker cannot nominate and the deputy speaker, Sylvia Heal, has told the BBC she will not nominate anyone. That leaves 15, including former home secretary Charles Clarke and former welfare reform minister and long-standing opponent of Mr Brown, Frank Field. The BBC understands that Mr Brown will be invited to the Palace as soon as Mr Blair has formally resigned his post.

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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3rd January 2007

PSNI Release Statement Confirming Investigations into DUP Councillors Across Northern Ireland

  • The PSNI is investigating DUP Councillors across Northern Ireland
  • They have not publicly confirmed why they are doing so
  • DUP are "cooperating" with the investigation
  • Senior DUP public figure Jim Allister (MEP) has called the move "concerning"
  • No arrests at this time

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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22nd January 2007

Gordon Brown Confirms "No Referendum on Europe"

  • Gordon Brown confirms there will be no referendum on the European Constitution or any "Successor Treaty"
  • In a thirty minute speech he outlined his vision for Britain in Europe "no longer the awkward cousin but as a central and integral part of the family"
  • Move greeted by mixed reactions with broad Labour support (a few naysayers) but an attempt spearheaded by the Tories to pass a motion condemning the move is beaten back
  • David Cameron called the move "a betrayal of the Labour Manifesto", John McDonnell said he "struggled to see the rationale behind preventing millions from having their say", Nick Griffin called the Prime Minister "a liar who has cheated the nation"

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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13th February 2007

PSNI Make Arrests in DUP Investigations

  • 20 Councillors belonging to the DUP, and multiple officials working for various councils arrested for crimes that all fit under the loose heading "corruption" related to the funnelling of payments towards pro-Unionist causes they shouldn't have gone to
  • One particularly egregious case included siphoning funds from a hospital in West Belfast to pay for road maintenance in North Belfast
  • Widespread Condemnation across the Northern Irish political sector except from the DUP who accuse the police of conspiracy politics and the other political parties of conspiring to destroy them
  • Polls show that the issue has major cut through but differences across communities. Nationalists are obviously horrified and angry, Unionists are confused and seem to be draining away from the DUP but not all of them are ending up with the UUP, Independents (such that there are independents in Northern Ireland when it comes to UK vs Ireland) seem to be drifting towards nationalism
  • Northern Ireland Secretary confirms that he has ordered the correction of the issues that led to the arrests

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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7th March 2007

Northern Irish Assembly Elections Marred by Violence

  • Northern Ireland has an Assembly again with Nationalists winning 48% of the vote but the UUP having the most seats (31)
  • The Executive coming out of the election will be First Minister Reg Empey (UUP-Belfast East) and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan (SDLP-Foyle), the Nationalists were badly let down by vote splitting with the SDLP winning 25% of the vote and SF 23%
  • There was a lot more violence than anticipated but the PSNI were able to keep things broadly under control. The hotspots were Belfast (particularly the North and West) where there were multiple assaults and a bit of arson. There was pro-Unionist violence in the West of Northern Ireland in the middle of the afternoon suspected to be Unionists from the east of Northern Ireland off out on a mission to cause trouble as a response to the Belfast trouble
  • In total 96 people were arrested for crimes as varied as looting, assault, and one GBH
  • DUP were drastically down on the last election in 2003 barely gaining 20% of the vote, Jim Alister returned to Stormont as Assembly Member for North Antrim standing as an Independent, holds his European Parliament seat as an Independent as well.

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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3rd May 2007

Labour Win Devolved Elections

  • Labour have, by common wisdom, won the Devolved Elections in Scotland and Wales.
  • In Scotland Labour and the Lib Dems continue to retain a majority together with Labour up 2 (52) and the Liberal Democrats holding steady on 17. The SNP lost six seats (down to 21) while the Scottish Conservatives gained three seats, including Perth constituency (21 total)
  • In Wales Labour lost three seats (down to 27) and will have to choose to work with one of Plaid Cymru (15 seats), the Welsh Conservatives (11 seats), or the Welsh Liberal Democrats (6 seats)
  • In England Labour keep the losses moderate only losing 300 seats and a dozen councils, the Tories make sweeping gains but mostly at the expense of the Liberal Democrats. The BNP, UKIP, and Greens all make modest gains and Respect gain heavily in Birmingham but nowhere near enough to threaten gaining any real power
  • Election fever is in the air with many wondering if Gordon will try and boost his majority in a snap election - "the Sun won't shine forever" said Margaret Hodge in one interview

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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18th July 2007

Gordon Brown Calls Snap Election

  • After a couple of months of speculation Gordon Brown calls the election to provide a bigger majority for a stronger Government
  • David Cameron sets expectations measuredly saying that "Labour cannot control their backbenches, locking them out of power is our aim now"
  • Liberal Democrat Leader Menzies Campbell condemns the move as "naked politics" but vows that the Liberal Democrats will fight harder than ever before
  • In a flurry of election news prominent people declare their intentions to stand or not
    • Jon Prescott is stepping down
    • Nick Griffin (BNP) is running in Daggenham and Rainham against failed Labour Deputy Leadership candidate John Cruddas
    • George Galloway is sidestepping to Poplar and Limehouse away from Bethnal Green and Bow
    • Caroline Lucas is running again in Brighton Pavilion despite speculation she could lose the seat, some suggested she might try somewhere else or run for a different political body
  • The election is set for the 16th August

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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9th August 2007

Suicide Bombing in North Belfast

  • In the lead up to the election there is tension in Northern Ireland as polls suggest the Nationalists could win the popular vote again
  • The largest flare up comes on the 9th August where a "lone wolf" suicide bomber strikes in North Belfast on the street brought up as the site of the main corrupt deal regarding the hospital and road repairs
  • Suicide bomber hit a bus stop destroying the poor thing, showering the pavement with glass, killing 5 people and wounding 12 more. A smaller backpack he lobbed into the road also blew up creating loads of road damage
  • Sinn Fein did not condemn the attack instead saying "justice will be done" in reference to the PSNI's investigations, some more extreme individuals on both sides of the border suggest it's a false flag
  • The SDLP and SF had been running neck and neck in the polls, after this the SDLP pull ahead a bit but the Alliance also see a surge


In other Northern Irish news Jim Alister has been running as an independent under the slogan "Traditional Unionists Unite" openly saying if he is elected he will form a new party. He is in a tight three-way race with the DUP and UUP for North Antrim.

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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Campaign Roundup

  • The Conservatives launch their manifesto in Birmingham with David Cameron inviting the country to reject Labour and inviting the people to "join the Government of the United Kingdom". He speaks a lot about getting a proper referendum on Lisbon but also on tax cuts and the Big Society. Focus groups report that while they don't really like him he is respected
  • Labour launched their campaign in London with Gordon Brown acknowledging that Labour was under attack from all sides but saying their record is strong enough to withstand. Labour play up the New Labour record pointing to tax credits, investment in public services, and the economy being generally fine. Gordon Brown comes across as robotic and not overly charismatic
  • The minor parties come from all different political persuasions but almost all of them focus fire on Labour. The BNP tell anyone who will listen that Labour is betraying England, the Greens talk about how Labour isn't left enough on key issues like tax and call for more environmental action, Respect point to the situation in Iraq with the US surging troops calling it "Blair and Brown's folly". The Liberal Democrats try and play the middle field, attacking left and right but most concur that the move is ineffective and Ming Campbell is a poor campaigner
  • The entire election swings when the 2007 floods occur in late July (later than irl). David Cameron is really effective at utilising the PR of a man being there to help as he suspends campaigning, the country is littered with Tory candidates doing what they can to help. Gordon Brown is slow off the mark and while he also suspends campaigning a number of people think he should have moved sooner and the Tories portray him as slow and out of touch for the rest of the campaign.
  • Heading into election night everyone knows there will be a Tory PM unless the polls are 1992 wrong, the question on many people's minds is will Cameron lead a Tory majority government?

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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16th August 2007

Conservative Party Wins Majority



  • David Cameron is on his way to Buckingham Palace having won the 2007 General Election, 334 seats and 40.2% of the vote, up 108 seats. Labour came second on 251 (-84) and 31.5% of the vote. It was an awful night for the LDs who lost half their seats down to 27 on 12.7% of the vote.
  • The minor parties had a good night with the SNP holding onto all 7 of their seats, Plaid gaining Llaneli in Wales to reach an unprecedented six seats, Respect gaining Poplar and Limehouse to reach 3 seats, and the BNP gaining both Dagenham and Rainham and Barking for 2 seats.
  • In Scotland there is a big shift in seats mostly created by the LD drop, as LD voters went to the Tories they simply overcame a few Labour seats including the unfortunate end of Chancellor Alistair Darling as he lost Edinburgh South West and the Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy being unseated in East Renfrewshire
  • In Wales the Tories recovered strongly, again eating Lib Dems and taking advantage of the Labour vote splitting with Plaid more than usually
  • Northern Ireland was a complete fiasco for all involved as the DUP collapsed losing seats to the TUV, Alliance, and of course the UUP. They also lost Belfast North to the SDLP. Sinn Fein's seat tally survived with only the loss of Newry and Armargh to the SDLP but for the first time ever there are more nationalists than Unionists (9-8) with 1 unaligned. The SDLP also outpolled the UUP in terms of votes.

The full election result:


Her Majesty's Government
Conservatives - 334 (+108)

Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition
Labour - 251 (-84)

Other Opposition Parties
Lib Dems - 27 (-25)
SNP - 7 (-)
Plaid - 6 (+1)
SDLP - 5 (+2)
UUP - 5 (+4)
Respect - 3 (+1)
BNP - 2 (+2)
DUP - 2 (-7)
Grn - 1 (+1)
All - 1 (+1)
TUV - 1 (+1)

Not Attending
Sinn Fein - 4 (-1)

Vote Shares:

  • Con - 40.23
  • Lab - 31.49
  • Lib - 12.71
  • Grn - 3.52
  • UKIP - 3.41
  • BNP - 2.37
  • SNP - 2.1
  • Plaid - 1.23
  • Res - 0.53


Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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Cameron's 'beautiful boy' dies

David Cameron and his wife Samantha have passed on their thanks for the messages of support after the death of son Ivan, their "beautiful boy". William Hague, serving as Acting Prime Minister, said Ivan had brought "joy and love to those around him". Harriet Harman said everyone's thoughts and prayers were with the family.

Five-year-old Ivan, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, died at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. Mrs Harman, who suggested suspending the weekly Commons clash as a mark of respect, said every child was "precious and irreplaceable" and that the death of a child "was something that no parent should have to bear".

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose daughter Jennifer Jane died aged just 10 days in 2002, paid tribute to Ivan saying: "I know that in an all too brief life, he brought joy to all those around him and I know also that for all the days of his life, he was surrounded by his family's love."

Mr Hague told MPs he had spoken to Mr Cameron, who wanted to pass on the family's thanks for their messages of condolence and say how "hugely grateful" they were to the NHS staff who had helped Ivan throughout his life.

Mr Hague said: "Ivan's six years of life were not easy ones. His parents lived with the knowledge for a long time that he could die young, but this has made their loss no less heart-breaking ... Ivan suffered much in his short life, but he brought joy and love to those around him and, as David himself has said in the past, for him and Samantha he will always be their beautiful boy."

Deputy Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, who is serving as his party's Acting Leader after the resignation of Menzies Campbell, also expressed his party's condolences in a short statement, appealing for the family to be given space to "grieve and cope with this tragedy that they've experienced". Commons Speaker Michael Martin then suspended the sitting until 1230 GMT "as a mark of respect to Ivan".

MPs from across the political spectrum have expressed their condolences to Mr Cameron, who has been leader of the Conservatives since 2005, and Buckingham Palace said the Queen had sent a private message of sympathy. Chancellor George Osborne, a close family friend, said that although Ivan had often been hospitalised in the past, his death had been sudden, just 45 minutes after being admitted to hospital and had "caused a profound shock and, of course, huge grief". He told BBC Two's Daily Politics: "Even with his very severe problems, he was part of family life and they are obviously absolutely devastated by what's happened." But he added that the Camerons were a "strong" family and that "together they will come through this and treasure the memories they have of Ivan".

Mr Cameron, who has two other children Nancy, four, and Arthur, two, had been an MP for Witney, in Oxfordshire, for less than a year when Ivan was born in April 2002. He suffered from Ohtahara syndrome, a very rare form of epilepsy characterised by spasms which start in the first days of life. Some children can suffer as many as 100 seizures every day. Describing the moment when he learned of Ivan's disabilities, Mr Cameron told the Sunday Times in 2005: "The news hits you like a freight train. You are depressed for a while because you are grieving for the difference between your hopes and the reality. But then you get over that, because he's wonderful."

Friends have said the experience of caring for Ivan broadened Mr Cameron's political outlook and made him a passionate supporter of the NHS, which helped provide the round-the-clock care Ivan needed. "The problems that Ivan had in some way shaped that family and shaped David as a person," said George Osborne.

In a 2007 speech, Mr Cameron described how he cared for the "severely disabled" Ivan. "It's what I do at the start of each day. It's sharpened my focus on the world of care assessments, eligibility criteria, disability living allowance, respite breaks, OTs, SENCOs, and other sets of initials. But I would not dare to call myself a carer. The work that full-time carers or those with little extra help do is unbelievable." But he also spoke of how proud he was of Ivan, saying in another interview: "He is a magical child with a magical smile that can make me feel like the happiest father in the world. We adore him in ways that you will never love anybody else, because you feel so protective."

The Camerons have asked that, rather than sending flowers, people send donations to Mencap or the Friends of St Mary's Hospital. Foreign Secretary William Hague will stand in for Mr Cameron as Acting Prime Minister while he takes time off, it is understood. A Number 10 dinner later to mark the unveiling of a portrait of Baroness Thatcher which Mr Cameron had been scheduled to attend has also been cancelled.

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Campbell quits as Lib Dem leader

Sir Menzies Campbell has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats with immediate effect. In a letter to party president Simon Hughes he said questions about his leadership were "getting in the way of further progress by the party". Mr Hughes said the party owed Sir Menzies "a huge debt of gratitude". Deputy leader Vincent Cable will take over as acting leader until a new leader is elected - a decision is expected by 17 December.
The official announcement was made by Mr Cable and Mr Hughes, who said Sir Menzies had taken the decision in the "interests of the party and of Liberal Democracy".

In his letter, Sir Menzies said he had sought to restore stability and purpose, professionalism to the party's internal operations and to prepare it for a general election, when he took over as leader in March 2006. Party president Mr Hughes said Sir Menzies had brought "purpose and stability" to the party since he took over, after Charles Kennedy's resignation..

Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown said he was a "man of honesty [and] decency" who had proved to have "remarkable political judgement".

"That he has felt the need to resign after these results tells us more about the nature of modern politics than it does about Ming Campbell himself," he said.

Earlier on Monday Lib Dem peer Lord Taverne said Sir Menzies should step down within weeks, adding: "My general impression is quite clear, if there's not a change of leadership, the party goes down the drain."

But a spokeswoman for Sir Menzies said he had made the decision to stand down himself and had handed his resignation letter to the party's president on Monday afternoon. The announcement appears to have taken the party by surprise - his Parliamentary aide Tim Farron said he was not aware Sir Menzies was about to resign.

Mr Cable, who earlier on Monday had said he thought the leadership was "under discussion" but not under threat, added: "I'm very sad he felt he needed to step aside. I don't think he was pushed. There was a very open debate about this immediately that Gordon Brown made his decision to postpone the election which could now be two years hence. I think he took a fresh look at where he stood. He discussed this with his family and colleagues and decided the best thing he could do in the interests of the party was step aside."

The Prime Minister paid tribute to a "fine public servant" who had had a distinguished parliamentary career, and wished him well for the future, and Gordon Brown called him "man of great stature and integrity who has served his party and country with distinction".

Since he became leader Sir Menzies, 66, has repeatedly had to defend himself against accusations that he was too old to lead the party. Former Liberal leader Lord Steel told the BBC: "I'm afraid the media had it in for him from the start and he was never able to overcome that. Its been very cruel, very unkind and very unfair." Mr Hughes, who has twice stood for the leadership, has told the BBC he would not stand again - saying he had made that decision last year. "That's a categorical 'no'," he added.

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Gordon Brown Resigns as Labour Leader

  • Gordon Brown quits as Labour Leader, to stay on until a new leader is elected as there is also currently no Deputy
  • He thanks the party for standing by him
  • Jeremy Corbyn says that the election result "vindicates those of us who wanted an election for Leader", John McDonnell simply thanks Brown for his service but refuses to say if he'll run again
  • Labour Moderates frantically scramble for a candidate or two to oppose the left who are said to be feeling "chipper about their chances"

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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