A number of friends and family asked me why I bother staying up and watching the election results roll in, noting, “Why waste valuable sleeping hours?” For some elections I think their comments might be justified, but for last week’s general election, they were wrong.
The evening was dramatic from the get go and it was great to be in the heart of Westminster at the Ketchum and Ellwood Afield Party.
With the prospect of a hung parliament and a plethora of coalition concoctions mooted, the crowd was astonished as Andrew Hawkins, Chief Executive of Pollster ComRes, gave an overview of the exit poll.
As the night wore on and headline seats were declared there were gasps, and at times tears, as significant names from both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats were unseated. While it was never going to be a comfortable night for the Liberal Democrats, nobody believed veteran MPs like Simon Hughes and Vince Cable (with a combined 52 years in parliament) would lose their seats. The sight of former Business Secretary Vince Cable graciously accepting the result, his eyes welling up with tears, brought most of the room to a standstill.
Those of us who were still awake at 8.30am were witness to 2015’s ultimate ‘Portillo Moment’, the defeat of Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor. A coup long sought after by the Conservatives and missed by 1,101 in 2010.
For me, the biggest takeaway from the night was not the Conservative victory, the scalping of Ed Balls or even UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s failure to win South Thanet, but the loss of some excellent politicians. Regardless of party affiliation, losing good constituency MPs because nationally, their party did not resonate with the electorate is the downside of every election.