Election 2015

Election 2015: A Twitter Q&A with Jeremy Vine

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Image caption Jeremy Vine and producer Ben Watt sat down to face your questions about election night coverage

It was your chance to quiz BBC's Jeremy Vine about his election night graphics and other burning questions.

Jeremy's graphics will be a key part of the BBC One's television coverage from the moment polls close on 7 May and throughout 8 May. He's in rehearsal now, and you asked how he prepares, which seats to look out for, and what's happened to the technology since Peter Snow reintroduced the swingometer in 1992?

He will work on the night with producer Ben Watt, who also sat down to help answer your questions.

Jeremy tweeted so many of your questions and answers, and you responded in enough numbers to push #AskBBCVine, the hashtag used during the session, into the fourth-highest trending spot for the UK between 1430 and 1530 BST, on 1 April.

This is an edited version of the session:

Question from @hankandkath: Do you think there will be a time when we vote digitally? Via tweet or email? How would it affect outcome?

Jeremy answers: Not digital-only; some people need a polling booth. Digital-only voting might increase turnout amongst young.

Question from @Welshracer: What will you do if the computer breaks down? Hand back to David?

Jeremy answers: It doesn't jam as often as I expect it to! But yes - pause, stare at it, click it, then call Dimbleby in for help.

Question from @achinton: Please can we have less silly green screen tosh on election night this year?

Jeremy answers: Maybe one day we will move off green screen and go back to a wooden arrow on a nail. But not yet...

Question from Stephen Dobson (via email): I know you are a huge Joy Division fan! Would you ever contemplate using 'She's Lost Control'?

Jeremy answers: When the graphics misfire - "Walk away in silence."

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Jeremy answers: Despite boundary changes, Dartford, Basildon and Loughborough have reflected every result since 1974.

Question from Tony, Shenfield (via email): What time do we reckon the result will be known?

Jeremy answers: Depends how close result is. If tight (as we expect), possibly not until Friday afternoon, May 8th!

Question from @MichaelHogg77: Is there a way of showing the UK map with constituencies in equal size, not geographical area or simply as a dot?

Jeremy answers: We do use a one-dot-per-MP map; we also have a 'proportional map' - showing all seats the same size, yes.

Question from @philpursglove: Should voting be compulsory?

Jeremy answers: It's tricky. What if someone's personal convictions tell them they shouldn't vote? Would they be punished?

Question from Tony, Edinburgh (via email): What is your favourite statistic from this election?

Jeremy answers: I was looking at the Colne Valley seat and saw the MP had been thrown out for 'lunacy' in 1916, he was in shellshock.

And adds: But if that's not a statistic, I would simply say: 650 MPs in the House of Commons, 326 for an overall majority.

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Jeremy answers: They are more accurate and detailed than they used to be; they are interesting; we have nothing else!

Question from Euan, Solihull (via email): What has been the most exciting election you've covered?

Jeremy answers: I was a political correspondent in 1997 along with @BBCJonSopel and @bbcnickrobinson and was on the Blair Battlebus. Lively.

Question from @manatrue: Who will win and will they have a majority?

Jeremy answers: I have entered the office sweepstake with a very specific prediction but Ben Watt says I can't reveal it here.

Question from @MatthewHillman: Will Professor John Curtice be featuring? How difficult will your job be with the polls so close?

Jeremy answers: Yes, we love Professor John Curtice. His prediction in 2010 was correct almost to the seat. He is the boffin's boffin.

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Jeremy answers: Last time turnout was 65%. But 1992 (a close election) was 78%, so yes, close contest may equal turnout.

Question from @JamesFrost31: Which Egghead would you have next to you on the swingometer?

Jeremy answers: Probably CJ de Mooi because if it went wrong he could be speared.

Question from @GlennTodd: Will more focus be on marginals and Scotland this year given their importance?

Jeremy answers: Yes, hugely. Watch for Midlands marginals around Birmingham; and the whole of Scotland may now be marginal!

Question from @Haquers: How many ideas for graphics are discarded as unusable or over-complex?

Jeremy answers: "Many!" says Ben Watt. Great question. Balance is always between how powerful a graphic looks and how much it tells you.

Question from @ThisIsStanners: What is your favourite 'set'? The Commons, Downing St, or just the normal one with the graphs?

Jeremy answers: For sheer rendering, the shot inside the lobby of the Commons (which pans up to the ornate ceiling) is amazing.

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Jeremy answers: Ben, I thought I was a bit techie until I met the graphics crew and I realised they dream of lines of code.

Qusetion from @TopTablePlanner: Do you think a proportional representation system of voting would be better?

Jeremy answers: You would lose the clarity of 'first past the post', but you would lose some of the unfairness of 'first past the post', too.

Question from @AndyEdwardsR14C: Any plans to visit Northern Ireland as these people could hold sway in the general election?

Jeremy answers: We refer to it a lot. The dramatic surge of the SNP is more notable at this point. But yes, I recall 1996 and Mr Major...

Question from Rupert, Speen (via email): Will you use a uniform swing to calculate seat projections again? Or how will you do it this time?

Jeremy answers: Uniform swing is tricky now because the UK is such a patchwork on election day. However the swingometer lives!

Question @yrtheyalltaken: Why are elections always on a Thursday? Is it so governments can start on the Monday?

Jeremy answers: It's convenient for government business, yes. Thursday - long weekend - new government in on Monday.

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Jeremy answers: Lots of people do policies, but Ben Watt and I are obsessed with numbers. Seats, swings, margins. It's what we love.

Question from @EddieInburgh: Do you have specialist data journalists working on election graphics?

Jeremy answers: It's Ben Watt and Ed Brown and a technical team called Elect Systems Ltd. Big difference when a graphic moves with live data.

Question from @richardoyorks: Which constituency result are you most looking forward to seeing?

Jeremy answers: Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill. Tom Clarke (Labour) won with 27,700 to SNP's 7,000 in 2010. But a poll says @theSNP ahead!

Question from @garry_thomas: Is Peter Snow going to have a walk-on part with the swingometer?

Jeremy answers: He would totally upstage me! Peter is my broadcast hero so I would embarrass him I fear...

Question from @AliAlexander15: Isn't it a turnoff for viewers when you predict results immediately after voting closes, losing any element of surprise?

Jeremy answers: I think it's the opposite. Everyone wants to see our exit poll proved wrong (a la 1992), so there is what they call jeopardy.

Question from @dpphinn: How do you think the Fixed Term Parliaments Act has changed the campaign?

Jeremy answers: It has made it easier for us to prepare, and definitely removed the governing party advantage of going for a snap election.

And adds: The swingometer struggles with smaller parties. But we shouldn't overlook that Labour/Conservative is still the focus in many, many seats.

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Jeremy answers: I wish I had that power.

Question from @agwoolford: Will you be dressing up as a cowboy again?

Jeremy answers: If the circumstances demand it.

Question from Mark, Stamford (via email): What are the chances the Conservatives hold their solitary seat in Scotland?

Jeremy answers: Chances are better than some imagine because Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale now looks like a four-way marginal!

Question from @ml_davies: If no party has overall majority, can the largest party form minority government if others could form a majority?

Jeremy answers: The answer is yes, but it could be very unstable. Depends if the prime minister decides to try to carry on in those circumstances.

Question from @ThatTonySmith: Who's funnier, you or your brother?

Jeremy answers: I wish I had the guts to say me! Of course it is @realtimvine, followed closely by sister Sonya...

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Produced by Richard Irvine-Brown

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