Different Scripts Required: Election Night

  • Philip Cowley
  • Dennis Kavanagh


Election night was to be a battle for legitimacy. Before being despatched to the TV and radio studios, politicians from both Labour and the Conservatives were briefed by their parties on the key constitutional precedents in the event of a hung parliament: what had happened in 2010, but also what had happened in the elections of 1924 or 1974, when no party had won a majority, as well as the wording of the Cabinet Manual (‘A guide to laws, conventions and rules on the operation of government’), and in particular paragraph 2.12, on what happened in the event of a hung parliament. Labour’s 13-page briefing document for its studio guests, replete with quotes from assorted constitutional experts, included historical examples back to 1892.


Party Leader Large Party Exit Poll Conservative Majority British Politics 
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  1. Jonathan Tonge and Jocelyn Evans, ‘Another Communal Headcount: The Election in Northern Ireland’ in Britain Votes 2015. Oxford University Press, 2015, Chapter 8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Cowley
    • 1
  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolUK

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