Join Emily Maitlis as she hosts an election night get-together between frontline bloggers from various political persuasions. She will chart the twists and turns of election night on this page as the bloggers add their contributions. You can add comments on the guests' individual blog posts, or e-mail Emily here by using the form on the right of this page.
...well, bar the rest of the counting, the mayoral result and some fascinating political times.
Before I hurry off into the night, I'd like to say a warm "thank you!" to our wonderful bloggers, and an apology to those of you leaving comments.
Dear Emily, please come and be my MP. I will vote for you whichever party you represent! John, Guildford
The traditional election night gremlins chose viewer emails to attack this time, but rest assured - it won't happen again and we're enjoying reading them now, albeit too late.
I know that I've enjoyed this experiment - please let us know if you have. Or if you haven't.
Time to set the alarm - for a few hours from now.
FRIDAY 0321: ALIX MORTIMER WRITES...
Just managed to catch a clip of Ringmeister Jeremy Vine and his tragic animation. Now, I'm all for fun and frolics on political programmes. Well, actually, I'm not. But for the love of dear god. With the best will in the world - 25%, four points up on our poll position, we've overtaken Labour, we're the second party in the country¿ and it's a POOR PERFORMANCE? Much as I predicted earlier today. Ridiculous.
Ahh, I am finally back in the centre of the universe - ie, the blogzone.
An extraordinary chat with Portillo and Polly Toynbee. I noticed we were all talking about Ken Livingstone now - not just Ken - and wonder whether that is the first sign we are seeing him in the past tense. Of course, we may all be eating our words tomorrow evening when he's back in...
Why do MPs love the word "fundamental" so much? You should keep a scorechart. They love it - I have heard it said 55 times in 3 hours by the MPs on the show. Samantha, Portsmouth
But then again, that's the joy of 3am interviews - you can sort of say what you want... like the drink just before the slow dance - no-one really means everything they say.
Talking of which, the "living room" at City Hall is still buzzing with young students from the School of Journalism. In fact, during my last hit with David Dimbleby, I failed to notice two of them were actually snogging behind me. Funny, I have never thought of local elections being that much of a turn-on, but it's comforting to know, in this age of political apathy, that some do.
I thought Stanley was going to have your eye out with that glass. Excitable chap, isn't he? Get ready to duck! Stuart Aylett, Dartmouth
The students i have talked to tonight are incredibly keen, smart and encouragingly argumentative. They are making me try to justify if a breaking news channel should break news that could be wrong. my answer: how do you ever know when something will definitely be right? It's a great subject and it has engaged my brain even though my brain, right now, should really be thinking about the result in Catton Grove ward in Norwich.
THURSDAY 0257: IAIN DALE WRITES...
Am basking in the warm afterglow of slagging off Portillo live on national TV.
What an unbelievable performance from him tonight.
He should bloody well remember he wouldn't be where he is without the Tory Party.
Thing is, can the Tories be this populist at a national election? As what suits someone in Southampton might not suit someone living in Arbroath, or Taunton, or Hackney. Yorker
All he's done this evening is read a book called LOST BOYS.
He hasn't talked to a single person at this event apart from Fraser Nelson and Polly Toynbee. Unbelievable.
Unlike the BBC, I am not particularly hung up about projected national vote share. I don't know anyone in active politics who is - it's not a real measurement - what is real is losing or gaining council seats or control of councils.
I think we probably got the results at a national level we deserved tonight - voters have rightly punished us for the 10p tax rate abolition which was indefensible and a complete self-inflicted wound.
Sadly, the people paying the price tonight are good Labour councillors losing their seats who had nothing to do with creating this policy.
We managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, just as with Charles Clarke and the prisons issue in the run up to May 2006 - which is a great shame for Labour groups locally in areas where they had expected gains right up until a few weeks ago.
Given the national context great credit needs to go to the local campaigns that have won through, and have proved that there are still no "no-go regions" for Labour:
St Helens +2
Here's me talking to Jon Culshaw, doing his impression of Boris's dad doing his impression of Boris.
Wait a minute. The coffee has addled my brain. It is in fact me talking to the real-life Stanley Johnson, father of mayoral candidate Boris.
Boris Johnson's dad Stanley praises his 'well run' campaign
FRIDAY 0156: MIXED FORTUNES
With nearly 600 key wards declared, the BBC is estimating the Projected National Share for the parties as follows:
Conservative: 44% Labour: 24% Lib Dem: 25%
Oh, I see. Suddenly, the Labour Party wants to LISTEN to the electorate (after over 10 years of treating us like idiots!) Blaqueen
The Conservatives have achieved their best performance in local elections since 1992. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has recorded its worst local election results since the late 1960s.
These figures could still change either later tonight or tomorrow. But when our Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem bloggers were told these projections, their responses were, respectively...
...well, I'm sure you can work it out. :)
FRIDAY 0153: ALIX MORTIMER WRITES...
The spring rolls are congealed, the lip gloss has all but worn off, but give me more!
Curiouser and curiouser. We've lost three seats to Labour in Bolton... but made them up against the Tories in Stratford. Has the country up-ended itself? The canard about Tory resurgence in the south is now well and truly a dead duck.
My information here at City Hall (very useful having a whole press team hanging around nearby chatting) is that we'll finish AHEAD of Labour. The figure 27% is being bandied about...
Snapshot: Iain is quoting yet another lascivious Tory commenter from his blog slurping at Emily and/or Clemency. Luke's blog meanwhile is hosting an argument about George Galloway and the Iraq war. Kind of appropriate in both cases really.
At this point, I am cautiously extremely happy. The official Beeb position is we're net one councillor up after eighteen declarations (i.e., about an hour ago), and I haven't heard anything from my little channels which varies that picture wildly. Given that we would be happy to lose anything under a hundred seats on the back of a great performance in 2004, it's All Going According to Plan.
It is 1am and I have only just returned to my post (my blog posting post?) after another on-air chat with our bloggers.
Polly Toynbee is sipping beer; Michael Portillo is studiously reading a novel in the corner (not grumpy we hope?) and Jon Culshaw is chatting up the stunning Clemency Burton-Hill. Tony Travers is getting excited about 80% turnout in Chingford, and Stanley, Boris's dad, told me he had a lot of children doing a lot of things but thought this was a jolly good cause to support, so he came.
He has neat combed hair, but is a doppelgänger in every other way. Can you have a genetic doppelgänger?
NB: We began taking pictures of this next stage of the party, but as the image below will show you, the modish lighting plays havoc with a cheap digital compact camera. Were we right to stop? You'd be a fool to say "no".
FRIDAY 0033: WATCH US MOVE
The way I picture you, dear reader, is sitting reading this blog in your lap, with at least one television on in the background, text messages arriving from friends, emails flying back and forth and possibly the odd telex or two.
If, however, you're getting the pure Emily's Election experience on its own, you'll have missed me chatting to my blogging guests on BBC ONE earlier. What a shame! Happily, our new BBC embedded video doodad wotsit means we can relive the experience here (or catch the live show by clicking the link in the banner at the top):
Emily Maitlis meets the bloggers
FRIDAY 0029: TWEET TWEET TWEET
Further to my twittering about Twitter with Iain earlier, I've now seen that various candidates have been using this service to share short forms of their thoughts; of those campaigning for office here in City Hall, I've found Tweets purporting to be from Boris Johnson and Brian Paddick, but nothing I can see so far for Ken. Other election-related tweets include:
The Guardian: "Labour braced for heavy election losses: Big losses forecast in local elections across the country
mattwardman: "@AlixMortimer is puffing her "Boris staying on for a year as MP if elected" story. Bah humbug. Ken stayed for 14 months..."
iPhelim: "OM*G, OM*G, BORIS HAS TWITTER, THIS IS DEVASTATING"
Listening to all the conversation about the election is a giddy feeling. It's a bit like... well, it's a bit like being here in this room, except with the conversation taking place in 140 character bursts.
For the record, Alix is twittering here and Iain here. Luke, like Ken, eschews this gimgaw.
THURSDAY 2351: MEANWHILE IN WESTMINSTER...
For those of you wondering whether this particular election day matters - and if you don't, then why are you reading this?! - my colleague Nick Robinson has written a handy Brief Guide To Election Night over on his blog.
Like me, he's asking you for tidbits - so between the pair of us and Have Your Say, there's no shortage of outlets!
THURSDAY 2329: LUKE AKEHURST WRITES...
Turnout in my part of the world seems to be in the mid-to-high-40s - which, in a low turnout borough like Hackney, is very near to General Election levels and has to be good news for Ken.
Colleagues in Camden reckon the turnout in Highgate, where there was a simultaneous council by-election closely fought between Labour, the Greens and the Tories, has topped 80%!
Outside London I'm picking up that the Labour vote, whilst not switching, hasn't turned out to the extent we would want.
In the preparation for tonight we were all three asked, amongst other things, for our earliest political memory, and I chose Mrs Thatcher taking away my free school milk. Iain wondered how this could be. The original decision to stop school milk was made in the 1970s when Maggie was Ed Secretary. But we did have free school milk at my primary school (c1983-1987) and it was taken away somewhere in the middle years. It tickles me to recall in this context that I lived in what was then the fifth safest Tory seat in the country (Epsom and Ewell). Did we healthy ruddy Tory children get extra calcium for the greater good?
Can anyone shed any light on this perplexing lactic mystery?
My Newsnight colleagues David and Thea have just done their hit for the programme and gone home.
Funny, before now, I used to think Newsnight was a serious programme for people who stayed up really really late. But now, faced with an evening that will go on until the early hours - and hasn't even begun for us properly here - I realise we are in it for the long haul and they are mere lightweights.
Our top floor at City Hall has a multicoloured bar that looks like an aquarium and could have come straight from Abigail's Party. The room is slowly filling up with our party people who, curiously, sound as if they are genuinely enjoying themselves. And all on a cup of tea and a custard cream. They must be true professionals. Or maybe they are discussing the London Assembly makeup and simply can't get enough.
Here are our three bloggers hard at work:
Here's our lovely view (as it looked before it got dark):
And here are the partygoers I mentioned:
THURSDAY 2225: SETTLING IN
Iain has just arrived and he's teaching me to Twitter. From what I can see, it generally sharing really dull tidbits, like "Iain has just nudged the table so hard the whole thing almost collapsed." There. My first Tweet. (When I first asked him what Twitter was, he looked at me as if I had just asked him to explain a weird contortionist act. But I now realise that's the secret look bloggers use to make you think they're doing something incredibly subversive.)
THURSDAY 2100: THE POLLS ARE STILL OPEN
Our bloggers should be with us in about an hour. Before they arrive, I'll introduce them to you with some of the answers they gave in reply to our questionnaire.
Political heroes: Mrs Thatcher; Richard Nixon Ambition: To replace David Dimbleby First political memory: Telling my grandmother (who was ill in bed) that Mrs T had become the first female party leader - she cried Political bogeymen: Gordon Brown Pets: Gio, a Jack Russell Political TV: The West Wing Political confession: Was once a member of the Liberal Party
Political Heroes: Herbert Morrison; Neil Kinnock Ambition: To be chief whip in an eighth term Labour government First political memory: Finding my father upset after the 1979 General Election result Political bogeymen: Margaret Thatcher Political TV: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Political confession: Argued against Ken Livingstone's readmission to the Labour party
Political Heroes: "Normal people don't have political heroes" Ambition: To convince the world that everyone has a little bit of politics in them First political memory: Mrs Thatcher taking my free school milk Political bogeymen: Rupert Murdoch Pets: I live in rented accommodation... Political TV: The Thick Of It Political confession: I wasn't remotely interested in politics as a student
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