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12:00 PM ET -- Cleggmania postmortem. The Lib Dems surge never materialized, which begs the question of what, in the end, went wrong. The Times of London lays the blame on the charismatic party leader himself.
There were two blunders here. Mr Clegg appeared to break the cardinal rule, which he cited himself on many occasions, not to take the electorate's decision for granted. Labour, as we know in the cold light of the morning after polling day, did not come third.
But perhaps more importantly, this flurry of speculation meant that television clips of the Lib Dem leader were dominated by him talking about process, about horse-trading, about politics. For three or four days, voters saw him no longer articulating vision or speaking about policy, but talking like any other politician.
11:50 AM ET -- What is Cameron's next move. Here's how Alex Massie of the Spectator sees it:
Cameron is putting the ball in Clegg's court. Electoral reform is not, no matter what people may claim, a pressing issue. If Cameron offers Clegg a real deal can the Lib Dems really refuse it? The purity of opposition is all well and good but if you're given the chance of power can a serious party really refuse it, even if it demands a number of compromises, some of them unpalatable?
The Guardian's Tom Clark offers what he sees as the 4 choices facing Cameron. With regards to Clegg:
If he decides the mood of the moment calls for more than a political game of chicken, then it is time to get down to serious business in those conversations with Clegg.
At a minimum, this would involve granting the Liberals (or failing that the unionists) explicit concessions. For example, he could pledge Clegg cash for his xpupil premium scheme in return for a Liberal pledge to provide the minimal support the government needs to survive that is acquiesced in Commons motions which are about confidence and supply.
11:30 AM ET -- What was Brown up to in his speech. The Guardian's Anne Perkins parses out his strategy:
His principal objective is to find a way of making his offer to Nick Clegg look irresistible to Lib Dems, and reasonable to the rest of us (see stability and continuity, above). He suggested there was all the time in the world for David Cameron and the Lib Dem leader to see where they had common ground and if there was scope for a minority or even a coalition government.
9:55 AM ET -- Cameron's offer to Lib Dems. The Conservative leader just made a "big, open and comprehensive" public offer to the Liberal Dems to form a coalition, though he hedged on a full embrace of election reform, which is central to the Lib Dems' demands. Guardian breaks down the major points of his speech.
9:40 AM ET -- Brown defiant. Speaking at 10 Downing Street this morning, Brown defied calls to step aside, saying that the Conservatives had the right to make a deal with the Lib Dems first, but that if that failed to materialize, he was ready to talk coalition. Brown signaled his willingness to woo the Lib Dems by promising ""far-reaching political reform." while also acknowledging that he understand Clegg's support for the Conservatives taking the first crack at forming a government.
The question for all the political parties now is whether a parliamentary majority can be established that reflects what you, the electorate, have told us," Brown said.
UPDATE: Here's the video:
05.07 -- 8:30 AM ET -- The latest numbers and news. Good morning UK election readers. So, it ended in a hung parliament. To get up to speed, David Cameron will attempt to form a Tory government, having received tentative backing from Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, who called on the Conservative leader to do so. Needless to say, such support, however provisional, does not bode well for Gordon Brown. Both Brown and Cameron are expected to speaking within the next few hours. According to Sky News, Brown will not be resigning when he speaks on TV shortly.
As for the current results, with 633 out of 650 seats accounted for, the Conservatives have 299 seats to Labour's 253.
11:40 PM ET -- The two key headlines of the night so far. Beyond the results of the exit polls, the two big headlines to night have been Brown suggesting that he may attempt to form a coalition government , and Cameron's declaration that, with his party headed for a big gain in seats, "the Labour government has lost its mandate to govern our country."
That's all for tonight on this blog, but we'll be back early tomorrow to catch up on the latest developments. If you want to keep reading through the night, the Guardian, Times of London or the BBC are all great options. You can watch live video of the election coverage courtesy of the BBC on HuffPost here.
Thanks for reading.
11:30 PM ET -- Where they stand currently. As of now, with 376 of 650 seats declared, Conservatives have 182 seats, Labour 143, and the Lib Dems 28, according to the BBC.
11:20 PM ET -- A quick recap of the day's events.. AP has a video report for those looking to catch up on what's happened.
11:15 PM ET -- What happened to Cleggmania. The Guardian's Allegra Stratton reports that the party has acknowledged their failure to capitalize on the surge in popularity of their leader Nick Clegg.
10:15 PM ET -- Video of Brown's speech. Here are some of his remarks after he managed to retain his seat.
9:10 PM ET -- Voter frustration revealed. As mentioned earlier, there have been a number of reports of voters furious about being turned away from the polls. The anger over this has become one of the key story lines of the election night coverage. This video from the Guardian, shot by reporter Aidan Jones, shows police being called to voting station in East London after as many as 150 people were unable to vote.
8:45 PM ET -- Shock: Brown retains his seat. The Prime Minister has retained his seat for Labour, but the celebration was muted according to the Journal's Iain Martin, who is live blogging about election night. "Brown seemed incredibly downbeat and looked like a beaten man," Marin wrote in reference to his acceptance speech.
7:35 PM ET -- Chaos at the polls. Sky News reports that the British electoral commission has said it will investigate reports that voters were turned away at polling stations. As Robert Mackey over at the New York Times' election live blog notes, one of the possible explanations for this is that parts of the country were struck by a surge in voting. "If there has been a rise in turnout, it is easy to see why that might have been a surprise to some officials," Mackey writes.
7:25 PM ET -- Tory talking points. The Guardian's Andrew Sparrow, who is manning the live blog over there, has received what he describes as "the Tory 'line to take' for the evening," which he cautions is "pure spin." Here it is:
- if exit poll figs are correct, this is an utter rejection of Labour; Labour have lost this election;
- let's be clear: this is an excellent result for the Conservatives;
- it's a historic result - the most seats gained by Conservatives in any election since 1931 - more than Mrs Thatcher in 1979;
- it's the biggest swing to Conservatives since 1931;
- as David Cameron has said, we will do what we can to provide stable government;
- if this poll is correct, it would provide a basis to govern.
- Labour can't possibly expect to continue in government after this humiliating rejection.
- Having lost 100 seats, they are insulting the voters to suggest otherwise.
7:15 PM ET -- FiveThirtyEight.com on the results. Everyone's favorite polling analysis site is live blogging the election results. Not surprisingly, they're skeptical of what's been reported so far.
7:00 PM ET -- Labour secretary Alan Johnson on Brown. "Let's see how it pans out, Gordon will know whether he should stay on or not. "I think Gordon deserves the dignity to look at these things and make up his own mind."
6:50 PM ET -- Campbell defends Brown. Famous Blair spin master Alastair Campbell has defended the beleaguered Prime Minister's efforts in the campaign in spite of the exit poll results. Via ITV:
6:45 PM ET -- What a hung parliament means for the market? The Telegraph's Jeremy Warner explains why the market may not take the exit poll outcome well, assuming the result holds.
Governing as a minority is notoriously difficult. Tough, decisive action becomes harder, compromise and horsetrading the order of the day. In such circumstances, there is bound to be scepticism about the new Government's ability to implement the necessary degree of deficit reduction.
6:30 PM ET -- Trust the exit polls? Alex Barker of the FT says we should be wary of them. He gives 7 reasons. Here are two of them:
The experts have to work around duff information There's no data on voting at individual polling stations. The census is nine years out of date. Local election ward returns are a flawed guide to voting patterns for a general election.
6:25 PM ET -- Schwarzenegger sends his congrats. As the governor explained on Twitter: "Just called @davidcameron to congratulate him on victory. We know the Conservatives had a great day."
6:10 PM ET -- Exit poll revised. Nothing major, but a slight adjustment to the numbers, the BBC reports. It's now 305 for the Conservatives, and 61 for the Lib Dems.
5:50 PM ET -- Cameron reacts to exit poll. Sky News just tweeted the following quote from the Tory leader: 'This is a decisive rejection of Labour. We can govern with this result.'
5:30 PM ET - Exit poll is in. The exit poll for the 2010 General Election in Great Britain is pointing toward a hung parliament, with Conservatives as the largest party. The exit poll was conducted for the BBC, Sky News and ITV. Polls closed at 10 p.m. in the UK.
Here is the exit poll:
Conservatives: 307 seats
Liberal Democrats: 59
Some more context on these figures, from the AP:
Two scenarios could arise - Brown could resign if he feels the results have signaled he has lost his mandate to rule, or he could try to stay on as leader and seek a deal in which smaller parties would support him.
Even combined, Labour and the Liberal Democrats would not have the 326 seats needed to form a majority in a coalition - which had been a widely discussed possibility.
The results may yet change. Projecting elections based on exit polls is inherently risky - particularly in an exceptionally close election like this one. Polls are based on samples - in this case 18,000 respondents - and always have some margin of error.
Thousands have also already cast postal ballots but those results don't factor into the exit polls. About 12 percent cast postal ballots in 2005.