UK election bloodbath spills online
Clegg, Farage and Miliband resign after surprise Tory rout sees Cameron claim victory
Election enthusiasts and social media users had barely settled into their seats on Thursday night when the arrival of exit poll projections dashed any hopes that the composition of the next Westminster parliament would go down to the wire.
Instead, it turned into something of a bloodbath both online and off as the political future of three political party leaders increasingly came into focus.
Despite a very strong poll performance by his party, Ukip’s Nigel Farage was the first to go, falling on his own sword after promising to step down in the event he would not be elected in the much talked about Thanet South constituency.
Nick Clegg was next, announcing his resignation shortly after 11.30 on Friday and Ed Miliband followed at 12.14pm after the Labour Party fell far short of its expected return in England and Wales and was practically wiped out in Scotland.
With overall voter turnout expected to be in the region of 66 per cent, it was no surprise that social media interest in the vote remained high throughout polling day and well into the night.
As the results started to trickle through social media interest began to peak.
Twitter confirmed on Friday morning that some 3.8 million election tweets were sent throughout the day. And, as is often the case with social media, contributions ranged from the irreverent to the hearfelt and brutal.
“The politics of fear is the politics of control and we’ve given the reigns to the bogey men.” -@charlottechurch
Just before he announced his resignation, Miliband tweeted: “I am grateful to the people who worked on our campaign and for the campaign they ran. The responsibility for the result is mine alone” -@Ed_Miliband
Many posted tweets relaying support for the then Labour leader
“Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone tells me Ed Miliband should stay as Labour leader and move the party further to the left. #GE2015” - @KarinBBC
Others were not so sympathetic.
Footballer Joey Barton was probably the quickest high-profile Twitter user to react: “Miliband has to go. Labour need to get their act together. Did anybody seriously think he’d get elected. The guy is a dope.” - @joey7barton
Nick Clegg fared in much the same way. His resignation speech was praised on Twitter.
“I dont see why party leaders such as nick clegg are called to resign just bc the uk population are ignorant nationalists” -@linzerbicci
The irony is that Nick Clegg gives his best speech as he resigns as leader of the Lib Dems. Heigh Ho. - @NJStreitberger
“Liberalism has lost. But it is more precious than ever.” Nick Clegg is giving the speech of his career - as he resigns. - @juliamcfarlane
As in Ireland, strict rules apply to broadcasters on election day limiting any media discussion about the vote until the polls close at 10pm. While tweets were largely in keeping with the Office of Communications (Ofcom) enforced rules on political coverage there were said to be some exceptions.
Possibly the most contentious allegedly came by way of ex-Respect MP George Galloway who was reported to police for tweeting an exit poll result while balloting was still under way.
Of course, it went downhill from there for the Labour Party - but not just in England and Wales.
Nicola Sturgeon’s strong election campaign saw the SNP sweep the board in Scotland taking a remarkable 56 seats from 59 and despatching all but one of Labour’s MPs along the way.
A new era in Scottish politics was embodied with the election of 20 year-old politics student Mhaire Black who beat Labour Party heavyweight Douglas Alexander overturning a 16,000 majority to become Westminster’s youngest MP since 1667.
A tactical unionist pact between the DUP-Ulster Unionist saw Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew lose her seat to the UUP’s Tom Elliot in Fermanagh South Tyrone. Out of a total 138 candidates, the DUP came out on top with eight seats, Sinn Féin were down one with four, the SDLP won three, the UUP had two one independent was elected.