Ed Balls has been the biggest casualty of the election so far - and that is saying something given the number of high-profile scalps that this historic election has produced.
Initially expected to be declared around 04:30 in the morning, doubts were raised in the Labour camp about the Morley and Outwood constituency. Ultimately, the result was so close that Labour called for a recount. This is the result in full:
Andrea Jenkyns (Con) - 38.9%
Ed Balls (Lab) - 38.0%
David Dews (UKIP) - 16.5%
Rebecca Taylor (Lib Dem) - 3.0%
Martin Hemingway (Greens) - 2.6%
Ed Balls' share of the vote actually increased by 0.4%, but it was the ‘UKIP factor’ which proved to be the Shadow Chancellor’s downfall – confirming that UKIP has cost the Labour party dear in the north of England.
Yet, never in the Conservatives’ wildest dreams could they have hoped for the ejection from Parliament of the man who they ‘love to hate’. Indeed, it is not for nothing that David Cameron once described Balls as ‘the most annoying person in modern politics’.
Balls’ unceremonious defeat also sways the seemingly inevitable Labour leadership contest. After standing for the leadership in 2010, Balls would have surely run again if he had been re-elected. However, it seems his role will now be confined to that of possible campaign manager to his wife, Yvette Cooper – who may well run for the leadership herself.
All in all, Balls’ defeat is symptomatic of a sorry night for the Labour Party. Hopes of returning to government after five years in opposition have been extinguished in dramatic fashion. The result also reinforces one of the golden rules of British politics: namely that a party which leads on both economic competence and leadership usually comes out on top.