It was a bad election for Labour, no question.
For those of you who have a life and haven't been following UK politics, Labour were of course going to have a rough night and a bad election. They have been in power since Tony Blair led the New Labour tide almost exactly thirteen years ago and they were tired and saddled with a poor economy, two deeply unpopular wars and the baggage of over a decade of consecutive governance and three consecutive Labour victories. Tony Blair might be Britain's President Clinton - smart, loved and reviled, a huge personality who overshadowed his successor. But instead of Al Gore running during a time of peace and prosperity, imagine him running after the economy crashed and the nation was enquagmired in two wars.
What's shocking is not that Labour is having a bad night, it's that David Cameron, the Tory leader (Tory = Conservative), hasn't managed to close the deal with the British people. Tonight should be an absolute shellacking, and it's not. The Tories might yet win an absolute majority (in the UK parliament, the party with 326 seats) - but the fact that it's in doubt has to be disappointing to the Tories.
After a debt crisis in Greece has people are talking - irresponsibly and hyperbolically, in my opinion - about the unravelling of the Euro, and the Tories, long the party of Euro- scepticism, aren't way in front?
After Labour holding power for 13 years and governing over the worst economic crisis since the War, and the Tories aren't walking all over them?
After souring public opinion about the wars and how Blair lied their nation into them, and the Tories aren't tonight taking a bow and forming a government?
After even their friends tired of Labour, as shown by the reliably red Guardian endorsing the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservatives didn't have this sewn up weeks ago?
What's shocking tonight is not that Labour are losing seats, possibly up to the triple digits. What's shocking is that, even with every possible advantage in an election cycle, the Conservative party wasn't able to capitalize. Might that be because Cameron, the Conservative leader, wasn't able to convince Britons that he was to be trusted with governance?
It's at least a part.
More on the results in the morning, but don't believe the hype of what you'll see in the headlines of the American newspapers. By all projections it will STILL be the case that the two left of center parties in UK life, the Liberal Democrats and Labour, will win over 50% of the vote. Cameron, whatever else Tories may make of him, is not the answer to their long drouth of leadership.
And Britain remains a center left nation.