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WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS (AND SOME OF THE BLOGS) SAY TODAY

FINANCIAL TIMES

ELECTION ENDS IN HUNG PARLIAMENT
David Cameron was facing the prospect of a constitutional stand-off with Gordon Brown on Friday morning over who would get the keys to Number 10 as a hung parliament in the UK appeared inevitable.

The Conservative party leader insisted that Labour had “lost its mandate to govern” as the Tories made big gains in the general election and comfortably overtook Labour as the largest party in the House of Commons.

But Cameron faced an agonising wait before learning whether he would need to rely on other parties to support a Conservative administration.

Amid expectations that the election would produce no clear result, Brown was engaged in frantic talks on whether he could stitch together a coalition of his Labour party with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats in order to keep the Tories out of power.

Lord Mandelson, Labour’s chief election strategist, raised the prospect that someone other than Mr Brown could lead a Lib-Lab government, telling the BBC that there “were a number of permutations”.

Daily Mail

THE NIGHTMARE'S BACK IN DOWNING STREET... AND HE'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE
Britain is today in its first hung parliament in almost 30 years, with Gordon Brown back in Downing Street and apparently determined to cling to power despite being overwhelmingly rejected at the polls.

In the most tumultuous election for more than 30 years, the Tories trounced Mr Brown in the popular vote with their greatest surge at the polls since 1931.

But with less than 40 seats yet to declare, the Tories are adrift of securing an overall Commons majority which would have automatically handed Mr Cameron the keys to Number Ten.

They won 36 per cent of the vote, Labour were on 29 per cent and the Lib Dems on 23 after the much-hyped ‘Clegg-mania’ totally failed to materialise.

Based on projections of the final seat count, Labour could form a coalition with the Lib Dems, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the one Alliance MP and have a majority of 320.

THE TIMES

BRITAIN WAKES UP TO A HUNG PARLIAMENT
Gordon Brown was back in Downing Street today as Britain woke to the uncertainties of its first hung Parliament for 36 years.

As counting wrapped up in the few dozen seats yet to declare, David Cameron’s Tories were on course to become the largest party in the Commons but about 20 seats short of the 326 needed for a majority.

Mr Brown made clear that he had no intention of giving up power easily – his passage through Britain’s most famous front door at 7am was a symbolic reminder that he remains Prime Minister and has the constitutional right to form a government.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, admitted that his party had had a disappointing night, losing seats to both the Tories and Labour despite the excitement it had generated during the campaign.

He may yet emerge as a kingmaker, however, from a wildly unpredictable night in which the biggest dramas were in seats held against the odds rather than trophy scalps. Labour was the big winner in those seats and the Lib Dems the big losers.

The Daily Telegraph

HUNG PARLIAMENT IS A CERTAINTY AS FINAL RESULTS TRICKLE IN
It could be days before the final make-up of government is decided. Nick Clegg has offered few hints as to whether he would participate in a Labour or Conservative alliance. David Cameron is “happy to talk” with other parties, including the Liberal Democrat leader, according to Michael Gove the shadow education secretary. He said: “It is certainly the case that David Cameron is happy to talk to people in other parties in order to ensure that we can have a strong, stable, Conservative-led government to provide the country with the change it needs.”

He added: “I stress it is for David Cameron to decide with whom we should work. We do not yet know the basis on which the new Parliament will be constructed entirely, we don’t know the precise arithmetic.”

Asked if Labour would do a deal to stay in power, Lord Mandelson said: “The constitutional conventions are very clear. The rules are that if it’s a hung parliament, it’s not the party with the largest number of seats that has first go - it’s the sitting government.”

theguardian

GORDON BROWN RETURNS TO NO 10 AMID TALK OF LABOUR-LIB DEM COALITION
Gordon Brown returned to Downing Street this morning in a symbolic gesture that he is still Prime Minister, as all three of the main party leaders awaited the final results that will determine where the power lies in what is certain to be a hung parliament.

Brown and David Cameron are locked in a constitutional standoff, as the Tory leader claimed Labour had lost the right to govern – but the Prime Minister, confident that the Tories had not secured an overall majority, said he would look to see if he could form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats.

All three leaders are regrouping to plan their next move. Brown has the constitution on his side and will have the first chance to form a government.

But the Tories are claiming he does not retain the “moral authority” to govern, given the scale of the defeat, and the Lib Dems are wary of a coalition that does not have popular support, given their disappointing performance at the polls.

SPECATOR

FRASER NELSON
EDITOR,
THE SPECATOR

There may be Tory trouble ahead
Will the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs elect an emergency chairman today? If so, the mission would be to warn Cameron off doing any deal with the Lib Dems. Most Conservatives will wake up today judging the Cameron campaign to have failed. In the view of many, he will have failed to honour his "change to win" promise: they all changed, as he asked, but he didn't win. There will be a price to pay, and perhaps one of the heads around Cameron will have to roll to assuage the discontent.

Any Lib-Con deal over voting reform will be anathema to many recently-elected as well as existing Tory MPs. A new chairman of the 1922 Committee will want to make this point to Cameron before any damage is done. A deal with Northern Irish MPs would probably be as much as the party would wear. So be prepared for a small dose of Tory wars today.

Iain Dale's Diary

IAIN‚ÄąDALE

A Few Thoughts
An astonishing night. As predicted there was no such thing as a national swing. Seats the Tories should have won, they didn't and others no one predicted they would win, they did. What no one predicted was the disastrous night the Lib Dems have experienced. Not only will they end up with fewer seats but their vote share may even be less than in 2005.

As a Conservative, there are many good things to take out of tonight. They gained more seats than at any election since 1931. But there were many more they should have taken and didn’t. What on earth happened in Edgbaston, for instance?

The Lib Dem performance was all over the place. They lost many more seats to the Conservatives than anyone thought, but still managed to gain several seats too – Wells, Eastbourne and Solihull being three. They also won several Labour seats like Redcar and Norwich South.

LABOUR LIST

ALEX SMITH
LABOUR LIST

The story of election night
It’s an extraordinary outcome to an extraordinary election. No party has secured a majority. No party has a mandate to govern. When the last results are in, even a Lib-Lab pact would not make the 326 seat mark needed to govern. And our electoral system, delivery and constitution may each have been shown to be inadequate for our time.

Labour may have performed better in this election than many expected – and there have been a handful of very positive results for the party. After thirteen years in office, and a hateful media, that is testament to the very hard work of many thousands of people across the country.

There will be many issues to address for Gordon Brown and the rest of the party leadership. None can be taken quickly. Some distance from the intense campaign, and a much fuller understanding of where the parties lie and the make up of parliament will be required.

conservativehome

MELANCHTHON
CONSERVATIVE HOME

Immediate post-match analysis
I'm really going to need some sleep soon, but for what its worth, here is my immediate post-match analysis. Polls - Exit poll vindicated again, as in 2005. Opinion polls seriously flawed. Even the night before the almost universal message was Conservatives 36/7, Labour 27/8, Lib Dems 27/8. As I write the vote share is Conservatives 36, Labour 29, Lib Dems 23. That error of five per cent or so on the Lib Dems is huge, and will surely lead to methodology changes.

Models of Polls into Seats - Uniform swing models claiming the Conservatives needed a 10 per cent advantage for a majority broadly failed. Differential swing models claiming that a seven per cent lead and 37 per cent vote were the magic requirements for achieving an overall majority were basically vindicated. The last four weeks of the campaign - Labour polled below 30 per cent.