309... That's what I think looking at the 40 or so constituencies that haven't returned yet as of 9 am over there.
That means, if the DUP, SNP, and PC all go with the Conservatives (which would be likely in that event, even given the rather radical philosophical differences); they will have a majority coalition, and will be able to form a government... Though how long, how stable, and how effective a government...
And of course, the Conservatives could form a coalition with the LibDems, but that's looking more unlikely as the night/day wears on.
On the extreme side of things, Labour are talking openly about not giving up the government... which would be an unmitigated disaster, and I think Nick Clegg is smarter than that. I'm honestly not sure if Gordon Brown is though.
The LibDems took an absolute whipping yesterday, and if they helped shore up what is probably the most unpopular labour government... well possibly ever (Labour may have been SLIGHTLY less popular in 1924 when MacDonalds minority coalition government with the liberals collapsed because of the Campbell affair... or in 1931 when MacDonald was returned to power, but formed a coalition with the conservatives and was then expelled from the Labour party - VERY interesting man Ramsey MacDonald - But even then they didn't see a 90 seat swing); they know they'd get crushed in any marginal by elections, and that the government would never make it to the next term for general election. There would be a vote of no confidence within months most likely.
If things aren't radically changed in the UK, they're going to get MUCH much worse, very quickly; and no labour government is going to suddenly reverse themselves and say "hey, everything we've done since 1997 is wrong"... though it pretty much is.
Frankly, the smartest thing the LibDems could do right now, is act as an "outsider" party; and wait for the inevitable failure of both Conservative, and Labour to do anything adequate to save the country; picking up the electoral gains from both on the next election.
On the other hand, if the Conservatives get their 309, the smart thing to do for the Irish Unionists and the nationalists (that's what the SNP, and CP are; for Scotland, and Wales respectively, the Scottish National Party, and Plaid Cymru or "the party of Wales". The DUP would consider themselves nationalists as well... but they're northern Irish, and are BRITISH nationlists vs. Irish nationalists. Calling the DUP nationalists might raise the hackles of say Sinn Fein - Irish nationalists - and the Scots and Welsh nationalists for that matter) is to bargain hard for coalition with the conservatives.
In this case, the fact that they are so small a block, is actually an advantage for them; because even one defection means failure. This lets them wield disproportionate power to their actual representation...
Perhaps not the best situation for a democratic republic; but thats the nature of the parliamentary system.
If the conservatives come up short of their 309, then they won't have enough nationalists to make 326, and then the entire damned country is in trouble. The pound is already down 2% on the prospect of a hung parliament and a weak government.
If Brown and Labour actually gave a damn about their country, they'd announce now they were dissolving their government.
It makes sense politically as well. Clinging to power now would just guarantee even further losses after the inevitable no confidence vote. If they step down now, they can turn it to their advantage later. Not only would this be best for the country as a whole, it would make them look classy; and they could then concentrate on blocking the conservatives from actually doing anything effective to stop the decline, and positioning themselves to take electoral advantage of that fact.
Oh and a subsidiary prediction; if Labour hasn't conceded the government by opening bell in New York, we're going to see another 300 or more point drop today. If they do, and no other bad news pops up, we'll see a 250 or less point drop.
And finally, a question... Why are there so many damn MPs in the house of commons?
The UK is a nation one 40th the geographical size of the US, with one fifth the population, and one seventh the GDP... and they have 20% more legislators than we do... (not including the 25,000 elected officers of local government - which means something very different there than it does here - , and discounting the house of lords because they are for all intents and purposes irrelevant, they've got 650 and we have 535 - house and senate - . If you include the lords, they've got almost 1400 legislators ).
When you have so many legislators, it's no wonder you have so many laws, and so much government control over life.
In the U.S. there is one federal legislator for every 560,000 or so people. In the U.K. it's more like one for every 95,000 (or with the lords, twice that). That's basically giving every midsized city their own congressman AND senator (PLUS local government, and with the lords it's like giving them all four congresscritters). Just seems like a bad idea to me...