LIVE: General election 2024

The Shetland Times is in Kirkwall for the 2024 UK general election, with live updates and news of the result for Orkney and Shetland in the early hours of Friday morning.

06:45 – Nine hours after I arrived at Kirkwall Grammar School, my work is done. Phew. I’m off to bed. Thanks to everyone who has followed the updates overnight. Time for a mince roll …

06:40 – I’ve updated my piece about Alistair Carmichael’s re-election with the voting totals, with SNP second, Greens third and Reform UK fourth. You can read it here.

06:30Alistair Carmichael has been re-elected. More to follow.

06:16 – There seems to be some movement …

05:52 – I’ve had to adjust the expected result time again as the wait for a result goes on. We’re now looking at one between 6 and 6.30am, hopefully.

05:25 – The votes are still being counted as the sun begins to stream in.

05:05 – No sign of a result here just yet. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s defeat has been greeted warmly by the Liberal Democrat supporters watching the TV here.

04:56 – Labour have won the UK general election, crossing the threshold of 326 seats. They are expected to eventually end up with over 400 seats. Sir Keir Starmer will now be elected Prime Minister.

04:21 – SNP leader John Swinney, Scotland’s First Minister, tells Sky News this has been a “damaging” result for his party across the UK. He says they will need to think “long and hard” about where they go from here.

04:16 – The turnout figure for Shetland and Orkney is 20,794 ballots – down from 23,160 in 2019. The turnout percentage is down from 67.7 per cent five years ago, to 60.74 per cent.

04:00 – The BBC has revised its forecast for the election results, with SNP now only expected to win six seats instead of 10. Reform are also now expected to get four only – not 13, as was previously predicted.

The Conservatives are also expected to do better than thought earlier, winning 154 seats. That would still be their worst ever election result.

03:56 – There are postal votes now being counted. The latest expectation is that the result will be nearer 5.30am.

03:45 – Alistair Carmichael won in 2019 with a majority of around 2,500, with a 44.8 per cent share of the vote. The SNP’s Robert Leslie was second, with a 34 per cent share.

With the SNP losing seats across the country, it will be interesting to see what the share of votes is today between the same two candidates.

03:37 – The Lib Dems’ Alistair Carmichael is the last of the expected candidates to arrive at the count, as we edge closer to a result. We’re still expecting that result within the next two hours – possibly as early as 5am.

03:32 – Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is elected as an independent candidate in Islington North, while Reform UK leader Nigel Farage wins in Clacton.

03:16 – The SNP’s Robert Leslie has arrived … hours after being discharged from Orkney’s Balfour hospital. He praised the “absolutely brilliant treatment” from the NHS, who’ve ensured he could make it this morning.

He said this had been a “largely positive” campaign, but that there had been strong feelings from some constituents about his party’s treatment of fishing and farming. Mr Leslie said he hopes whoever is elected ensures those issues are at the forefront of their thoughts.

03:14 – There’s good news and bad news here at the Kirkwall Grammar School. The bad news is that the catering has stopped, so sourcing a coffee has become an issue. The good news is … there are no more mince rolls.

02:56 – Loganair ensured the ballot boxes made it to Kirkwall safe and sound, and they’ve sent out a photo of the precious cargo before its journey. Not sure they used enough rope.

Photo: Loganair

02:47 – This is the culmination of the count really kicking in now, and the candidates are back in line to watch the results as they come in. The expectation is still that there will be a result at around 5-5:30am.

Just a reminder – Ipsos UK predicted earlier that there was a 99 per cent chance of Alistair Carmichael regaining his seat. Interestingly, they predicted Reform UK – and candidate Robert Smith – would finish second.

02:31 – The ballot boxes from Shetland have arrived at the Kirkwall Grammar School and are now about to be counted.

02:15 – Despite his party looking likely to run away with the election, Labour candidate Connor Savage is taking nothing for granted yet. He thanked everyone who has supported him and spoken to him during his campaign, but refused to comment on his party’s seemingly imminent victory.

01:47 – Yeah, not sure about that. Sorry Orkney.

We’re just waiting on the plane landing in Kirkwall with the ballot boxes from Shetland, which should be in the next 10 minutes or so. The boxes will then be transferred here for counting.

01:15 – A first for this reporter – the famed Orkney mince roll. Review to follow.

00:35 – We’re waiting on the plane leaving Shetland now, so there’s a bit of a lull in proceedings. Connor Savage (Labour), Shane Painter (Conservatives) and Alex Armitage (Greens) have all been watching the count.

No sign yet of SNP’s Robert Leslie or Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrats), while Reform’s Robert Smith is not expected to attend.

00:12 – Returning officer Oliver Reid says the verification of the Orkney votes has taken place, and we are now waiting for the Shetland ballots to arrive.

23:45 – This is the plane which is set to transport the ballot boxes from Shetland to Orkney in the next couple of hours, according to Loganair. Not sure that photo was taken today…

Photo: Loganair

23:40 – It also looks like potentially being a good night for the Liberal Democrats and Reform UK. The Lib Dems are expected to win as many as 61 seats – up from 11 in 2019 – while Reform look set to win 13.

23:27 – Another common theme – the first black coffee of the night. The result is only predicted here at around 5.30am, so it won’t be the last.

23:16 – The first result of what looks like being a landslide victory is in, with Houghton and Sunderland North declared for Labour. That could be a common theme over the next seven hours.

23:10 – According to election enthusiast Shetland Elects on X, we could be in for a fairly routine night. Ipsos UK is predicting there is a 99 per cent chance of Alistair Carmichael being re-elected to the Orkney and Shetland seat for a seventh time.

23:05 – As well as looking like it’s going to be a bad night for the Conservatives – possibly their worst election result since the Second World War – the SNP are being predicted to win only 10 seats.

That would be down from 48 in 2019, and would be a significant blow for the party.

22:47 – Here’s the moment that the first ballot box was tipped out for counting. Candidates and election agents are now eagerly watching the counting, clipboards in hand, as they try to get an insight into how their party is faring.

22:36 – And here it is being tipped out for counting as we get under way.

22:33 – The first ballot box has arrived at Kirkwall Grammar School and is ready to be counted.

22:13 – The exit polls are predicting a landslide Labour victory across the country, Sky News reports, with the party expected to win 410 seats to the Conservatives’ 131.

22:05 – And here we go … voting has now closed and Orkney returning officer Oliver Reid has just explained the process for the (long) night ahead, with counting of local ballot boxes to start shortly.


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