Election campaign

Declaration times: a first look

The Press Association has published its list of estimated declaration times for the general election.

It’s only an approximate timetable, and in some cases the timings from 2010 have been used where councils haven’t been prepared to provide a forecast.

But there’s enough information here to whet the appetite, and to start to give us a better idea of the shape of election night.

It’s no surprise to see Houghton & Sunderland South at the top of the list with a declaration time of around 11pm. It’s followed by other seats in the north-east and the first few from Northern Ireland – again, roughly to be expected.

The first key seat to watch for will be Nuneaton. This is a Labour target and will give us the first clue of how the Tory-Labour battlegrounds are swinging.

Half a dozen seats from Scotland will also start declaring around 2am, and this will provide an early and striking snapshot of how the SNP is doing in some of Labour’s (former) heartlands.

Other early marginals to watch for will be Northampton North (2am), City of Chester (2.30am) and Kingswood (2.30am), all of which are seats Labour is hoping to take from the Conservatives.

From then on the seats will come in a mighty rush, with several hundred declaring between 3am and 6am.

But even when the results start slowing to a trickle on Friday morning, there will still be plenty of contests worth waiting for. The Tories are hoping to take Berwick-upon-Tweed from the Lib Dems (expected around 12pm), Labour could make a vital late gain from the Tories in Warwick & Leamington (1pm), and currently the very last seat expected to declare is the top Lib Dem-Tory battleground of St Ives (1pm).

I’ll do a more detailed look at declaration times nearer polling day, by which time the PA’s list is likely to have gone through a couple of revisions.

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