Blyth Valley! The Tories have taken Blyth Valley! Well bloody hell, apples and pears, slap me thigh, it’s only the bloody British election innit! And in the Little Britain of the Royal Mail Hotel West Melbourne election watchalong the mood is thunderous, gloomy, depressed, and so very very British.
The exit poll was out as soon as the big screen TV kicked into life, and it was a bastard, predicting the Tories with a stonking 368, Labour on 191, the SNP on 55, and the Lib Dems on a miserable 13.
That would give the Tories an 86 seat majority, protecting them not only from the blackmail of the Democratic Unionist Party but also from Tory Remainers who regained the whip. It’s looking pretty accurate if Blyth Valley, the second seat declared, is any guide (in Sunderland South, first called, Kevin Yuill, the Brexit Party candidate, may have cost the Tories a cheeky gain).
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As the polls neared their close, the official Conservatives account tweeted an image: “Get Berxit done”. The accompanying text read “Make no mistake”. It’s the kind of deliberate bad joke, the “people talking about it because it’s garbage are still talking about it” tactic that those “digital gurus” Sean Topham and Ben Guerin deployed so well in service of Scott Morrison earlier this year.
Seventy-one Labour MPs are expected to lose their seats, the worst Labour result since 1935. At time of writing, 26 seats have been actually called, with three Labour losses already (two to the Tories and one to the SNP). Every single seat called so far — even those the party is holding — reported big swings against them.
The Tories are reportedly confident of winning Bolsover (Labour since its creation in 1950, and held by the quick-witted leftie Dennis Skinner since 1970) and Sedgefield (Tony Blair’s old seat, and Labour since 1935). Newcastle North (which Labour had by a margin of 10,000 in 2010) is looking close. Elsewhere, Jo Swinson’s terrible night looks like getting worse, with the Lib Dems leader projected to lose her seat.
If the exit polls are correct, Johnson will get the biggest Tory win since Margaret Thatcher in 1987. Lawks-a-lordy!
Something pretty perverse is going to have to happen if this is to take a different direction. It won’t. Gloomy, thunderous and dark. Labour supporters can console themselves that the rout began with a bit of symbolism, when the Tories won Blyth Valley. Apples and pears! Lord luvaduck, it’s over!