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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK

What the results mean

We explain what the BBC's predictions for the general election results mean. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

Labour has cruised to another landslide, similar to that experienced at the polls in 1997, but with a substantial drop in turnout.

The BBC's prediction at 0600 BST is that the Conservatives' share of the vote will be 33%, Labour's 42% and the Liberal Democrats' share 19%. Other parties are projected to take around 6% of the vote.

Labour won an overall majority at 0258 BST - and are on course for a majority of approximately 165 seats with the Lib Dems making gains.

In 1997, Labour won 418 seats, the Conservatives 165 and the Lib Dems 46 - a Labour majority of 179.

But this time, the Conservatives have made even less of an advance than the 3% gain that Neil Kinnock secured in 1987 after Labour's disastrous campaign of 1983.

Results show a swing from Labour to the Conservatives of 1% - something that has barely damaged Labour's majority.

Two of the first marginals to return results, Birmingham Edgbaston and Torbay, pointed to serious problems for the Tories. early in the evening.

The first was held by Labour with a very slight swing in their favour.

But, the Lib Dems scored a massive victory in Torbay, the Conservatives' second target seat.

The Lib Dems held the seat with a swing of more than 7% against the Tories, turning a 1997 majority of just 12 into 6,708.

This suggests that Labour voters backed a Lib Dem to keep the Conservative out.

Although there has been no evidence of a national increase in tactical voting, the massive drop in Labour's vote in Kingston and Surbiton shows that its supporters were prepared to switch to bolster the Lib Dem candidate.

The Lib Dems also appeared to have gained both Cheadle and Guildford.

The party snatched both seats from the Tories with smaller majorities than the vote for UK Independence Party's candidates.

This suggests that anti-European Tories switched to UKIP - and in doing so ironically handed the seats to the most pro-European party in the election.

In Scotland, the Conservatives took back one seat - but saw their share of the vote leave them slumped in fourth place. The Conservatives remain without MPs in Wales, despite being the second largest party in terms of share of votes.

While the Conservatives may have had trouble picking up seats, there was also a swing in its favour where it was defending, proving enough to protect it from Labour attack.

Turnout predictions

But turnout has proved to be a significant factor in this morning's results.

The BBC forecast is for a turnout as low as 59%, just above the record low of 57% in 1918.

Click here for full details of the turnout

With approximately 43% of the electorate staying at home, Labour is returning to power with the backing of slightly less than one in four voters. Less than a fifth of the electorate backed the Conservatives.

So while Labour secured a second landslide in terms of seats, its performance in terms of votes has been far less impressive.

Labour's expected final share of the vote is less than that secured by every other government since 1979.

The only two post-1945 governments with a lower share of the vote were the two Labour governments formed after the 1974 general election.

The worst turnout of the night has been Liverpool River, where only 34.1% of the electorate bothered to vote.



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