As Big Ben strikes 4:00 a.m., we are getting a clearer picture of the electoral reality. We know that in all likelihood there will be a hung Parliament, a kind of political stalemate in which no one party has a majority in the House of Commons. We know that the Conservatives will have the most seats, followed by Labour in second place. We know that the media-blown bubble around the Liberal Democrats has burst: the standing of this perennial third party is no better nationally then at any time in the last twenty-five years, in spite of the hunger for change and the real excitement around its’ leader, Nick Clegg. We know that the Conservatives have not reached a majority because they have not been able to break through in the north of England and their near non-existence in Scotland continues.

The most likely scenario is that, in the end, the Conservatives will form a minority government, with David Cameron as Prime Minster. Yet anything could happen in the next few hours and even over the next couple of days, and when the picture is clearer, an update will post

One last note: Labour has held the seat in Rochdale where Gordon Brown made his infamous 'bigot gaffe' last week. Just one more surprise in an evening of them.