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  1. Newsnight Live is your one stop shop for elections analysis from the Newsnight team, updated throughout the day
  2. Analysis and insight from Newsnight's correspondents and producers on the final day of campaigning

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Miliband under the microscope

By Jenny Parks, Newsnight producer

Picture of Ed Miliband
Getty Images
Ed Miliband

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been lucky enough to work with film-making legend Michael Cockerell on a profile of Ed Miliband as part of Newsnight’s election coverage. This gig is a political junkie’s dream; it’s given me the opportunity to spend lots of time reading about the Labour leader (including Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s excellent biography) and also watching hours of footage to find the moments that tell the story.

Three weeks ago we were excited to discover that an ITV crew had filmed “Ted” Miliband as he was then known as an Oxford student. We were even more excited when an ITV archivist managed to dig out the footage. The catch was that, once we asked to use it, ITV aired the footage first. So the pictures you'll see of Ed Miliband during his student days are not quite unseen. But we managed to dig up lots of other great pictures, including some early images of Ed when he worked in the Treasury with Gordon Brown.

Access can be an issue when making profiles of big-name politicians. In this case Michael was able to arrange a very rare interview with Marc Stears, Ed Miliband’s old college friend who’s now his chief speechwriter. Oona King talks us through their schooldays together, while Phil Collins and Damian McBride look at Ed Miliband’s role in the Blair/Brown years, his tricky relationship with his big brother David. Alan Duncan makes a critical appraisal from the Opposition benches.

Twelve minutes is a relatively long slot to be given for any film on Newsnight, but it’s actually quite difficult to tell the story of Ed Miliband’s political life in this time – you can’t fit everything in, so you have to listen to what the interviewees and the pictures tell you, and fit the story around them. Tonight’s show will also profile David Cameron in a film made by Matthew D’Ancona with my colleague Vara Szajkowski. By the end of this month one of the two will be in Downing Street – hopefully the Newsnight profiles will show you a different side to both men.

Here's a taster of our Ed Miliband film.

It's getting wild outside No 10

Robin on fence outside No 10
A bird in the hand...

There’s one resident of Downing Street we know will be staying put Friday, and that’s Larry the civil servant cat. It’s hard to say the same about Freya, the tabby living at 11 Downing Street, as she belongs to George Osborne.

But now they both have a rival for most photogenic beast in Whitehall, and that’s this beautiful creature, who flew into Newsnight cameraman Jack Garland’s shot with picture perfect timing.

It is not yet known whether it has entered coalition talks with Freya, or what its red lines are.

EXCLUSIVE: David Dimbleby election night facts

A sneak peak at one of his 'cards'

Neil Breakwell

Newsnight Deputy Editor

BBC Election rehearsal
Rehearsals for BBC's 2015 Election night coverage

One overlooked paragraph in the now much-quoted Cabinet Manual is that no British general election can take place without a Dimbleby. And quite right too.

The model we've used since 1979 is known as "David". I had the privilege of being his producer in 2010 and so have some insight into how he manages to effortlessly recall facts, names and the topography of every constituency at four in the morning.

He relies on bananas, a very large brain and one or two carefully prepared A5 cards that fit into a Flip-File - which he has used since he first presented the General Election special in 1979.

David Dimbleby
David Dimbleby presenting the 2005 General Election

As an exclusive for you, dear reader, David’s producer for tomorrow night, the brilliant Peter Barnes, has quietly leaked me one of the great man’s cards. It’s entitled ‘General Elections Trivia’ and is reproduced for you below. If you hear one of these facts in the small hours of Friday morning, you read it here first.

David Dimbleby election card
One of David Dimbleby's cards for tomorrow night

Sweating for votes

The point of masochistic political bus tours

Ed Brown

Newsnight producer

David Cameron at table talking to voters
David Cameron discussing rural issues in Powys

David Cameron is, I believe, in the middle of a 36 hour sleepless tour of Britain - on three different battle buses, a helicopter and a chartered jet. Nick Clegg is on a road trip from Lands End to John O'Groats.

What is it, exactly, that they are trying to achieve with these vaguely masochistic tours?

Surely the actual contact with voters will be minimal, given that these will be (sometimes literally) flying visits - and broadcast guidelines mean it'll have little impact on the quantity of TV coverage they receive.

I wonder whether the answer might be found in a study done at a top tier US professional services firm of people's working habits.

The study found there were three types of people. The first set did 80 hour weeks to service their demanding clients - and tended to get promoted. The second set asked for shorter hours, were granted them - and tended not to get promoted. The third set quietly shortened their hours without telling anybody - and had performance reviews that were just as good as the 80 hour set.

The suggestion is that the people working 80 hour weeks weren't actually necessarily doing a better job for their clients as a result - it's just that doing an 80 hour week was seen as a signal of their dedication to the firm.

I wonder whether this is a lesson David Cameron has learned in the last couple of weeks.

David Cameron has been repeatedly criticised, even by his own side, for being a "chillaxing" prime minister - for almost looking TOO smooth and TOO comfortable in the job. Since then, he's told us he's "pumped up" and embarked on this marathon journey around the country.

I wonder whether he's realised that, rather like the clients of this professional services firm, we, the electorate, like to get our money's worth. Regardless of how much they're ACTUALLY getting done, we like to see our politicians sweat a bit in service of the country. And seeing Cameron exhaustedly stepping off a battlebus for the 9th time in the past 18 hours gives us just that.

The last Newsnight Index

We might be wrong, but hopefully not foolish

BBC Newsnight Index

Dr Chris Hanretty

Newsnight Index

Today the machinery behind the Newsnight Index swung into action for the last time.

Together with some scarily smart colleagues (Nick Vivyan from Durham, and Ben Lauderdale and Jack Blumenau at the LSE), I've been compiling this forecast for some months now.

What have we learnt?

First, it's great to have a forecasting model that's locked down well in advance of the election. By the time the Newsnight Index made its first appearance on the 5th January, we had already decided how to use the different sources of data available to us. Sure, we had to make minor adjustments along the way - we couldn't predict vote shares for the Greens in constituencies where they had no candidates - but in essence the model that generates tonight's forecast is the same model that generated that first forecast in January. We've stuck it out with some forecasts - like our forecasts for UKIP - that might have seemed "courageous" at the time.

Second, it's fine to be consistent. Our forecasts haven't really changed that much over time, and since March we've always shown the Conservatives as the largest party in a hung parliament. A forecast shouldn't react wildly to daily events. And hopefully that consistency has made it clear - to everyone except Labour and Conservative politicians - that a hung parliament is overwhelmingly the most likely outcome.

Third, it's really hard to convey uncertainty. We've shown the "headline figures" each night during the campaign. But those headline figures are just the most likely outcome from a range of plausible outcomes. Tonight's Index shows the Conservatives on 281 seats, and that's still our best guess as to what the result will be. But we're only really sure - or 90% confident - that the result will be somewhere between 252 and 310 seats.

For some parties we're more confident. We think the SNP are 90% likely to win between 43 and 56 seats - numbers that would have seemed incredible just ten months ago.

All this talk of "seat ranges" instead of precise numbers might strike you as a bait-and-switch manoeuvre. But it's right to talk about our forecasts in this way. We think we've produced the best possible forecast of tomorrow's outcome. But this is an uncertain election.The result will depend on the decisions of millions of voters, acting on all kinds of different motivations. Anyone who tells you that they know the exact result of this election is a fool - and any forecasting model which purports to do the same is a foolish model. We know we'll be wrong (and hopefully we'll be able to come back and tell you by how much we were wrong) but we hope to avoid being foolish.

The last day of rehearsals - at the election studio

Emily Maitlis

Newsnight Presenter

The BBC Election Studio

As we enter our last day of rehearsals at the BBC Elstree studios, home of Eastenders and Holby City (which has already made for some interesting wrong turns earlier this week) I thought I'd open the door onto how we actually try and prepare for what will happen tomorrow night.

As I write, the riggers are rigging, the floor manager is gaffering the wires to the floor, the extremely nice John, in sound, is trying to mend the earpiece I just trod on and snapped in half, and – above me – on the mezzanine level - a bank of psephologists is putting together a scenario for us to play with all afternoon and evening. In ten minutes time they will produce an exit poll - just like the one tomorrow night (but fake) – and we will then get a whispered huddle offering up the top line. It won’t surprise you to hear that each time we’ve rehearsed to date, the exit poll has produced a hung parliament. The most complicated ones start the night by telling us which party will be the least short and by how many seats – and change half way through the rehearsal as the real results come in.

The exit poll of 2010 was a thing of beauty – almost exactly spot on. This time, for all the obvious reasons I don’t need to go in to, it becomes much, much harder. But the stakes are also higher. To get the exit poll of a 1997 predicted landslide wrong by one per cent still results in a landslide. To be one per cent out on this sort of election could mean the difference of ten seats – in other words, one party governing instead of another. Therefore, one of the first things we stipulate is not just that it might be wrong – but also that it could be broadly right, but that our forecast could still shift throughout the night to show a wholly different outcome.

But back to the rehearsal. Once we have the overall picture of the scenario, my producer Pia and I will start putting together seats that become crucial to watch. David Dimbleby will then rehearse the opening of the show – and announce the (made up) exit poll. When that result is LIVE, the software on my computer – called ‘Election Client’ will fill up with the finest data and minutiae – allowing me to see its predictions for every single seat, according to the scenario that has been drawn up. Thus, before we get a single result in, I'll be able to see where, for example, Labour look to be making the best gains and the worst losses. Or how badly Lib Dems may be faring in constituencies with large student populations. I'll be able to bring up the key races between Labour and Conservatives and tell you which ones still look too close to call. And I'll also be able to tell you which ones are almost certain to change hands – that is, seem to have more than ten percentage points between the top two parties according to our forecast. I’ll even have forecasts of the actual share of the vote in every party in every seat. I’ll be using that button with extreme caution.

And then we’re off. Once we’re into the rehearsal I will be putting together comparisons, using the exit data, of how each parties look to be faring across the UK - and I'll provide previews of the early seats – the Sunderlands – to see how accurate our exit poll actually is.

Normally the first few hours of an election night can move quite slowly – before real results come in, all you can do is preview and speculate. This time – it’s going to be completely different. The forecasts - which tomorrow night will be built from an exit poll of 20 thousand people asked to ‘vote again’ in a ballot box held by our pollsters as they leave the polling station - make for endless and fascinating reading. And every time we get even one result, we can check it against the specific forecast for that seat.

I won't tell you what the scenario is we’re playing with today. All I will say is, it’s bloody complicated and I feel I don’t have enough toes.

But if we can get through this one, we can get through anything. And then all we have to think about is doing it all over again, tomorrow night, for real.

Still hard at work

The high-visibility chancellor keeps going

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

.@George_Osborne still can't resist the hi-viz.

.@George_Osborne still can't resist the hi-viz.

This election is about people like "George", doing multiple jobs without security, just to keep a roof over his head.
This election is about people like "George", doing multiple jobs without security, just to keep a roof over his head.
This election is about people like "George", doing multiple jobs without security, just to keep a roof over his head.
This election is about people like "George", doing multiple jobs without security, just to keep a roof over his head.

This election is about people like "George", doing multiple jobs without security, just to keep a roof over his head.

The most important day of the campaign?

Laura Kuenssberg

Newsnight Chief Correspondent

I know, I know, I know, it’s being going on for ages, and ages, and ages. But it could be that the most important day of this campaign is yet to come. Friday.

If the polls are right and the result is not just inconclusive, but the gap between the two biggest parties is around 20 or less, then Friday might matter more than anything in the last six weeks, and that’s what some in the Labour party fear the most. For as long as neither party is away and clear, both will be able to make the case to run the country. Tactical agility will count as well as the constitutional niceties, and the Conservatives have demonstrated it before.

Look at 2010, then David Cameron was first out of the traps to make his big offer to the Liberal Democrats to do a deal. The Conservatives had planned meticulously for the moment. They were ready with their strategy for a short ‘campaign’ of sorts to put themselves into office as part of a stable and lasting coalition. Whether you call it courage or audacity, David Cameron has form on acting like that in a swift way, grabbing the momentum by the scruff of the neck and refusing to let go.

The team around the Labour leadership knows this well – one senior source says they are not ‘just planning to put their feet up’ after the polls close and won’t stop campaigning in whatever way it takes to get Ed Miliband into Number 10. But will they have planned as comprehensively as the Conservatives for that moment? Does Ed Miliband have the same ability to make decisions fast? As we’ve discussed before on Newsnight, what is constitutionally appropriate will not be the only determining factor in who controls Number 10. One Labour candidate tells me, ‘this is what is going to happen on Friday. Cameron is going to stand on the doorstep of number 10 with the most important backdrop in British politics and say I’m the largest party and I’m going to stay here – anyone with political sense knows that it is not the case – but how can we make sure that the political process is actually what happens?.” Not everyone in the Labour party thinks its leadership may have the ability to make that happen.

By then, the public will have had their say, but the campaign will not be over.

On whether the weather will wither a party's chances

Marc Williams

Newsnight Election Producer

Umbrella in Westminster and Steptoe and Son
What umbrellas and Steptoe tell us about the election result

We're about to enter the journalistic dead zone where all the BBC can report on the election are banalities such as turnout and what the weather is like. It's not surprising, then, that a sort of folk myth has built up about whether the weather has a differential impact on whether the different party supporters vote.

As such, it's worth having a look at this great BBC magazine article from 2010 which reviews the academic literature and concludes that ideas like "If it rains, Labour voters don't turn out to vote" are probably a load of rubbish.

It also contains this gem from long-time political commentator Anthony Howard on what might be a more significant factor than weather, namely, what's on TV:

"In 1964, Harold Wilson went to enormous lengths to get [BBC director general] Hugh Green to move Steptoe and Son because that was going out at 9pm and he thought, probably wisely, that it would be devastating for Labour."

So, in the interests of covering all my bases, here is the Met Office forecast for tomorrow:

"Remaining cool and windy in the far north with further showers, wintry on the hills. Most other areas will have a dry day with gentle winds and pleasantly warm sunshine."

And here are the Radio Times listings for tomorrow. With due respect to the programmes on offer, it doesn't look to me that there is anything on tomorrow night which will distract too many would-be voters. Certainly not as much as Steptoe and Son, which regularly commanded around 28 million viewers.

Your election night cheat sheet

Ed Brown

Newsnight producer

Over the course of Thursday night and Friday morning, election results for 650 constituencies are going to be announced. Maybe you've memorised the political significance of them all. But if not, here's a little cheat sheet for each party.

1) The SNP

First on the list simply because this could be far and away the most dramatic result of the night. They are forecast on the Newsnight Index to achieve 50+ seats out of the 59 in Scotland. This would make it very difficult for Labour to achieve a majority. But how will you tell if the SNP surge is really happening? Here are a few seats to look out for in Scotland:

Big hitters: Jim Murphy (Renfrewshire East), Douglas Alexander (Paisley & Renfrewshire South), Danny Alexander (Inverness). Alex Salmond is standing in Gordon.

SNP surge is on: Watch for these turning SNP: Coatbridge, Inverclyde, anything with the word Glasgow in it. If they take Renfrewshire East and Paisley & Renfrewshire South, they'll be very pleased.

SNP surge is off: If these don't turn up as SNP, start wondering whether the Sturgeon surge is more of a damp squib: Ochil & South Perthshire, Falkirk, Dundee West, Gordon.

2) Labour

There are two scenarios for Labour – one, in which the SNP sweep all before them in Scotland and one in which they do not. Every seat they lose in Scotland is one they have to gain in England and Wales. So these seats will indicate Labour are on for a majority in each scenario. If they start losing seats to the Conservatives, it's been a bad night for them.

Labour majority with no SNP surge: They need about 70 more seats in this scenario. If North East Somerset, Harlow, Dudley South and Colne Valley start turning red, they've got a decent shot.

Labour majority with SNP surge: Labour will need 100+ gains in England and Wales. That means gaining seats like Tamworth, Redditch, North Swindon, South Dorset.

3) Conservatives

The Conservatives don't have to face the SNP – but they may lose votes, if not seats, to UKIP. They need to keep all their current seats and gain 20-30 more to get an outright majority.

No majority (defence): If they lose places like Waveney, Weaver Vale, Lincoln and Plymouth Sutton a majority is going to be hard to build – and the arithmetic of the current coalition with the Lib Dems begins to fall apart. Two big names to watch are Esther McVey in Wirral West and Nicky Morgan in Loughborough. If those go, it's been a bad night.

Majority (attack): They need to make inroads against their coalition partners – watch for gains in Norwich South, Eastbourne, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Taunton Deane. Against Labour, look out for Plymouth Moor View, Gedling, and Exeter turning blue as signs of a possible majority.

4) Lib Dems

This is a case of damage limitation for the Lib Dems – it's going to be pretty torrid for them. Lib Dems say they have big local votes, which makes it tougher to extrapolate from single seats. But here we go anyway:

Less torrid than expected (30+ seats): If they keep Cardiff Central, Hornsey & Wood Green, Cardiff Central, Birmingham Yardley, Sutton & Cheam, Somerton & Frome, then they could be putting up a decent fight.

Even more torrid than expected (less than 20 seats): If they start losing seats like Cheltenham, Sheffield Hallam, and Eastleigh then Lib Dems should start bracing themselves for a tough result.

Wildcard: Could there be a Lib Dem gain anywhere? Keep an eye on Watford.


Mark Reckless seemed to be telling Newsnight last night that 4-5 seats might be an okay result for them. In that case, I'd be looking at North and South Thanet, Clacton, Rochester & Strood, Castle Point, Boston & Skegness and Thurrock.

But the key thing for UKIP is to be picking up second and third places. By my count, they only came third in four constituencies in 2010 (Buckingham, Devon West & Torridge, North Cornwall and North Devon), and second or first in none. The more second places they can pick up, the bigger the launch pad they have for the next election.

6) Greens

Like UKIP, it's worth keeping an eye out on second as well as first place results. Watch out for Norwich South and Bristol West as possible gains – and, of course, they'll be looking to retain Caroline Lucas' seat in Brighton.

Reading the markets on Friday

The things to be careful about

Duncan Weldon

Economics correspondent

A screen showing falling stock prices

If the various election forecasters are right then it is possible that when the markets open on Friday it will be unclear who will be forming a government. That uncertainty could unsettle financial markets but when analyzing (and reporting on) any moves, here are a few things I will be keeping in mind.


The obvious place to look for financial wobbles is in the market for government debt. A rise in the yield on UK gilts (the interest rate paid on UK government debt) "could" signal that investors are becoming more nervous about the UK's fiscal discipline.

But it is worth remembering that developed country bond markets tend to move together. In the last few days the yield on UK gilts, US Treasuries and German bunds have all risen.

So any move in the yield on UK gilts should not be looked at in isolation.

The Pound

There's a tendency sometimes to focus on moves in the Sterling/dollar exchange rate and ignore the wider market. But that should generally be avoided, the thing about a currency pair (like £/$) is that any movement can be driven by events in either country.

That could be very important on Friday which sees the release of the crucial US jobs figures - an event with far more importance to global markets than the UK's election.

Rather than looking at just sterling/dollar it's better to look at the pound against a broad basket of other currencies.


Friday will be one of those days when we should all remember that the level of the FTSE 100 doesn't tell us a great deal about the state of the UK economy. The vast majority of the revenues earned by the companies that make up that index are earned overseas.

It will be better to look at the FTSE All Share index (i.e. not just the global giants that make up the 100) and to look at it in conjunction with what's happening in other global stock markets.

Finally - the golden rule will apply: never over-analyse one day's worth of market moves.

It's perfectly possible that a hung Parliament will be followed by a rough day for UK asset prices but it's also perfectly possible that any moves are not really election-related.

So in that spirit, here are three possible Friday evening headlines - all corrected to watch for the rules above:

"Sterling crashes (against the dollar but rises against other currencies)"

"UK government debt sells off (and so does US and German debt)"

"FTSE falls (as do other European indices)"

George Osborne's shop-floor tour

The chancellor loves dressing up

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

News outlets have some clever kit: for example, they can see photographs taken by lots of wire service snappers out on the road during this election campaign as they come in. If you watch the flow of photographs, one politician stands out.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, seems to be spending this campaign doing work experience at random companies. All of the captions are from how Reuters, the news agency, captioned them.

All of these are from this week.

"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne helps to load boxes into a delivery van..."
"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne helps to load boxes into a delivery van..."
"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne handles dough as he makes bread rolls..."
"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne handles dough as he makes bread rolls..."
"Britain"s Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne packages chocolate Easter bunnies..."
"Britain"s Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne packages chocolate Easter bunnies..."
"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne works on a component during a visit to a generator manufacturer..."
"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne works on a component during a visit to a generator manufacturer..."
"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne cooks a meal of gumbo..."
"Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne cooks a meal of gumbo..."