The polls have closed and the exit poll has just been released, the results are as follows:
Liberal Democrats: 14
This result means the Conservatives are predicted to lose 17 seats, making them just short of a majority, whilst it predicts Labour will gain 34 seats.
If the exit poll is right, then we are heading for a hung parliament.
National exit polls have been used to predict the results of British general elections for over forty years, with mixed results.
As we have seen, the opinion polls started with approximately a twenty-point Tory lead ahead of Labour, but narrowed down to narrow Tory lead as the campaigns drew to a close.
However, it should be remembered that the opinion polls varied across organisations. Likewise, opinion polls tend to use small sample sizes.
Conversely, exit polls are generally considered very accurate, as they are conducted by asking people coming out of the polling stations who they voted for, thereby including the 'silent majority' who were unlikely to have taken part in opinion polls. The pollsters approach one voter out of a 'given number', such as six or eight, based on an estimated national turnout agreed in advance between the polling companies and the broadcasters. The exit poll also uses a bigger sample size than most opinion polls.
The exit poll does not necessarily measure the number of votes per party, but rather the change in votes, or in other words, whether there is a swing from one major party to the other - hence why it is a good indicator of the results to come.
Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether the exit poll has got it right. The first results will come in at around 11pm. Follow us on Twitter for live updates on the results throughout the night.