If that exit poll is right…
If the exit poll is right the Tories will have lost something like only 10 seats or so to Labour. And as the results come in we may find they may have pinched some off Labour.
If these figures are right a lot of things may follow.
The Ed Miliband experiment to tap into a more radical spirit in British voters has flopped. If it was there, he didn’t galvanise it. Many Blairites will be saying “I told you so” if they can scrape themselves off the floor to muster the energy.
One thing the Labour leadership could say is “I told you so” to the Scottish electorate. Scottish Labour warned its former voters that a vote for the SNP would let the Tories in. As they attempt to rebuild their party in Scotland (perhaps under a banner completely separate from the UK mothership party) it wouldn’t do them much good to kick off with a wagging of the finger to the deserting voters.
If Scotland has rejected unionist parties on such a scale as the exit poll suggests, it is hard to imagine there won’t be sizeable consequences. What does David Cameron do to reestablish what some see as his pretty battered unionist credentials? No Conservative PM has ever run the UK with zero representation in Scotland.
If, still a big if, the exit poll is right, you could imagine Labour will move to a leadership contest in pretty short order and you might expect all sorts of smothered rows in Labour that will burst into the open after a period of relative unity under Ed Miliband.
Trade union leaders who wondered if Labour was still a viable project might come forward with their own ideas bat how the Left should go forward.
The Lib Dems have suffered the sort of reverse that smaller coalition partners like the FDP in Germany warned of when the party came into government. They warned of the black widow spider mating habits and the way the bigger female partner would snap off part of the male’s anatomy and then eat the male altogether.
If the poll is right, this would mean a victory for air wars over ground wars. Labour had many more ground troops. Tories, some of whom said they thought the party was looking at being over 300 MPs, said they thought Labour’s efforts were enthusiastic but not focused.
If the poll is right, it would mean the Tories might be able to govern with DUP support without a coalition. But those numbers are pretty tight so he might want to look into a coalition with the Lib Dems. I struggle to see them getting off the floor and feeling they want to mate with the Tory spider again.
The Tories without a majority would struggle to get their EU referendum and a few other measures through if they couldn’t get over the line with DUP support.
What seems to have happened, if the exit poll is right, is that the Tories frightened voters off alternative with talk of “chaos” and with talk of Labour dependent on the SNP.
With only a couple of actual results in from Sunderland it looks like Ukip is making some serious advances. You’d expect on this basis to see them in second place in quite a few seats, well placed to advance perhaps next time around if, there’s that conditional again, their leader, Nigel Farage, can fight off the Tory’s advance in Thanet South.
If David Cameron got his referendum, and the result he wants, if he stood down after that, George Osborne would be in better shape as a leadership contender than you might have thought only a short while ago.
Things didn’t change quite the way it was expected if the exit poll is right. But a lot changed nonetheless.
Ed Balls has just told the BBC that if 10 seats go the other way, Ed Miliband might yet go into No. 10. But the exit poll has been supported by the three real results so far in. We wait and see.
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