Well I am home. Sorry to those tweeting me at the count who I did not reply to. I am new to the whole Twitter thing and it was actually a rather hot place to be and I was scrutinising votes.
The count itself was amusing. The Tories were extremely pleasant, polite, and most unlike those who I used to have to deal with in North Norfolk. One of their national agents doubled up on verifying votes from polling district by watching two counters, I watched another two, and then we pooled our data, which was helpful whilst Labour seemed initially very down in the dumps fearing they may have come third.
After the initial bundles from parts of Broadland where the Lib Dems do better, the Lib Dems seemed to be pulling clear from Labour, but in those city wards that may not have had an active Lib Dem campaign in years, Labour were some way clear.
What did make me chuckle was the massive oer optimism of the Greens who do not seem able to sample votes accurately. Their sample from one ward in Thorpe Hamlet, so they were saying, had them well ahead. Interestingly out take (and that of the Tories) was rather different.
The candidates started arriving in dribs and drabs. I had a long chat with Glenn Tingle, the UKIP candidate, particularly about issues and immigration, and I have to offer an apology for even linking any hint of race with their campaign. His utterly charming wife is not what the BNP would call British, so he naturally holds no truck with any racist views. Indeed, the whole UKIP crown were a pleasure to speak to.
As it became clear Chloe Smith had won, the game was to work out who was second and how big the Tory majority would be. Sky News early on seemed to have fallen under the Greens spell and were reporting a good result for them. The Tories thought they had won by about 5000, and I thought about 4000, so the final results was, in my opinion, a great result for them and I would expect the Tories to hold the seat at the general election, even on redrawn boundaries.
As for the minor parties, some pleasant people in the Murray camp, some not so. The Looney leader was polite, but overall, I have to say the Lib Dems were genuinely not that disappointed.
I was told some months ago (when Gibson resigned) that the press were already briefing that the Lib Dems would come 4th, whilst internal party sources had real concerns about how the campaign would pan out for us. As it was we held our ground.
The clearest thing to come from the election was the Greens inability to campaign across a whole constituency, they collapse in their vote from just 7 weeks ago (in the local and Euro elections) and the way that they clearly are not seen as a means of change in general elections, despite the massive coverage they were given.
Whilst UKIP were excluded from the TV debate and did not have the money of the major parties, their campaign won over more voters than the Greens. Yes, the Greens will argue that they only got 3% in 2005, so their vote trebled. But in a poll a few weeks ago they were on 14% and in the local elections they were on 16%, so where did that vote go.
For me the Greens performance was summed up in their candidates speech which went on (and on) for pages. He talked about clean politics, not telling lies and honesty, yet his speech attacked, lambasted and lectured whilst he ignored his claims that the Greens could come second because as a result, it turned out to be a lie. It seems that the Greens are the only people who still think they are telling the truth when they tell lies. Second to fifth is a big lie.
Yes, the Lib Dems didn't come second,we were wrong by one place, but as a Labour official said "We (Labour) did the right thing calling this early because in another week you'd have been past us !"
Oh for one more week.
Anyway, must eat now.