This time a fortnight ago, the country was trying to get to grips with just how the Conservatives had managed to put together an overall majority government. We had been told time and time again by commentators in the build-up, that a coalition or minority government was inevitable. Apparently it was certain that no single party could win a majority. How wrong everyone was …
And while most people (sane people too) had decided to go to sleep and wake up to the results in the morning, I stayed up through the whole night to watch the local and national story unfold.
As a young journalist interested in politics, I was delighted to accept an invitation to report on a General Election count in the Sherwood constituency. I went there with my politics lecturer who was working for the BBC that night along with a fellow student.
Rather than simply standing by and making cups of tea, we were really involved in the process of reporting. I was interviewing the prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs), taking photos and keeping the BBC Network up to date with what was going on. You can see our work here: BBC Sherwood Constituency 2015.
I was also broadcasting live on Siren FM (East Midlands’ Community Radio Station of the year) and on LSJ News’ Election Special programme via Skype. I was providing updates and analysis of what was happening at the count. It was so enthralling to fulfill an ambition of mine at such a young age. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.
One thing I couldn’t do was broadcast how the count was actually going – it’s against election law. For example, we had a pretty good idea from early on that the Conservatives were going to hold the seat
We were in place at the count by 10pm when the national exit polls had come out. It showed us that the Conservatives would have just 10 seats short of a majority. This shocked us all in the room. There was a large intake of breath and then silence.
While we absorbed that information, ballot boxes were coming in from around Sherwood ready to be counted and recorded.
As the boxes slowly came in, I took pictures of what was happening as well as of the candidates who had got to the count early. UKIP and the Green Party candidates were there for the long-haul while the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and Class War were making us journalists play the waiting game.
Back to the national story and the results that were coming in were gradually proving that the exit poll had actually underestimated the Conservative performance. The Tories were heading for a majority.
So when Mark Spencer, the Conservative candidate, did turn up you would have understood it if he had had an air of confidence about him. The reality was that this man defied all the Tory stereotypes. He was modest and clearly a man who was in politics to stand up for ‘working people’.
He was defending a 214 vote majority which he had won in 2010. Little did he expect to increase that majority from just 214 (the most marginal Conservative seat in the East Midlands) to 4,647. This turned out to sum up the national picture.
I know I’m not supposed to part from impartiality as a journalist but I want to say if anyone deserved that win, he did. The Labour candidate turned up many hours into the night as she had left her hard-working activists and campaigners to go it alone, while the Lib Dems and Class War were nowhere to be seen at all.
We finally left the count at around 6.30am on Friday morning. We were tired out, as you’d expect but I certainly could’ve gone on a lot longer thanks to the adrenaline and my disturbing experience of doing ‘all-nighters’.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank my lecturer for the wonderful opportunity and company along with my fellow student.