Here’s where I pretend to have something insightful to say about a subject I know next to nothing about. (Yeah, yeah: “Par for the course.”) Quite honestly, I’m not sure why we should care terribly much who wins apart from the novelty of seeing Labour’s stranglehold on government broken. The far-left Lib Dems have faded a bit since the burst of enthusiasm after the first debate; they’re still poised to do well and could end up in the government, but they won’t control things. Which means it’s status quo on Afghanistan and Iran sanctions. (In fairness to the Clegg crew, they likely would have gone along with those two policies anyway.)
Early exit polls show a hung parliament led by the conservatives:
[B]ecause of the quirks of Britain’s electoral system, it was difficult at the time the polls closed for exit polls to project the final balance of power in the House of Commons among the Conservatives, Labor and the Liberal Democrats. That left open the possibility of a hung Parliament and intense negotiations beginning Friday to form a government.
The television exit poll, which was released minutes after the polls closed at 10 p.m. British time, included one anomaly, a projection that the Liberal Democrats might actually end up with fewer seats in the new Parliament than they now have, a surprising development given the surge in support they saw earlier in the campaign.
You can follow the returns live at PoliticsHome or the BBC. The Tories need 326 seats for an outright majority; exit polls show them with 307, although Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com pegs them at a cool 341. If you’re thinking a conservative parliament means a return to Thatcherism, think again. Today’s Tories, from my understanding, are at roughly the same spot on the political spectrum as Bill Clinton; Peter Hitchens, a conservative, used his Daily Mail column a few days ago to make the case for voting against them on grounds that they’re simply too squishy to be encouraged. Then again, a hung parliament probably means Gordon Brown trudging onward as prime minister to clean up the Grecian mess that Labour’s made of Britain’s economy. Sound like a good idea? Or should that thankless job be dumped on the Tories instead?
Stand by for updates; as I understand it, final results should be in at around 10 p.m. ET. While we wait, here’s a video homage to my penetrating understanding of British politics.
Update: Oh — in case you’re wondering how long it’ll take Obama to insult David Cameron, no worries. Allegedly, he’s already done it.