General Election 2015. #GE2015. Whatever you want to call it, its come and gone under the guise of Russell Brand videos, selfies, Scots and PR machines. I had the privilege of working for the BBC Results Service – chiefly sending updates to the BBC Results Service about estimated declaration times and the final result cast at Northamptonshire South. Unfortunately, no one sent me the memo of a 7:15 AM declaration. BBC Northampton had no clue either – being a seasoned expert gives no guarantee of preparation!
An air of election fever quickly gave way to a more sombre mood. Even in a Conservative safe seat in the East Midlands, it was surprising to not see a more euphoric celebration from the Conservative candidate.
The surprise of the night was the rise of UKIP – perhaps not too surprising. In vote terms, they came third in the area but recorded thousands of votes. Travelling into the small village of Towcester could not have opened my eyes to the contrast of demographic and environment not just to London, but the nearest town of Northampton. UKIP posters were clearly visible on many houses – I even had the luck of driving past the UKIP candidate outside a makeshift polling station (which was the local pub). This visibility showed how the fractured elements of those not voting Tory would support. UKIP have not made gains from the Conservatives; in real terms, they have stolen Labour supporters who have swum to the Right.
Keeping abreast of developments across the country was a fascinating and exciting part of the night; but even more so, the stories of volunteers in the local area – young people staying up to be part of something bigger. A daughter of a miner and staunch Labour man, now a 50 year old Conservative. Shifts in the sand that will become move in rapid movements in our fractured society.
For now, beauty sleep cannot come soon enough. What’s next?