No doubt BBC News and Sky News will be broadcasting live from a public building tonight and into tomorrow morning to give us the result, and subsequent comment, about the by-election in Glasgow North East.
I have been impressed by the level of media coverage in Scotland about the by-election, which many are saying might be the last before Gordon Brown eventually goes to the polls next year.
I have been involved in many elections, but one of the things that I have never been unsure of is how to describe the result when it came.
‘Speakers’ normally retire at General Elections, become ennobled, and then retire to the relative obscurity of the crossbenches in the House of Lords, but Michael Martin has joined the upper house midterm, as did his predecessor, Betty Boothroyd.
I was exasperated when Sky News announced, with all apparent seriousness, that ‘Labour have failed to win the Henley By-Election!’ as part of their coverage of that result, which to be fair was one thing that could be predicted at any point in the last hundred years.
So, why my concern about how to describe the result in Glasgow North East? Anyone who looks at the area will assess that it is working class and what might be considered a ‘Labour heartland’, but for the past nine years it has not been represented by a Labour MP, but by The Speaker.
Bearing in mind The Speaker is not standing at this election any result has to be described as ‘a gain from The Speaker,’ whether this is a Lib Dem gain, an SNP gain and, most importantly, a Labour gain.
If Labour win the by-election there will be one extra Labour MP in Parliament and their parliamentary majority will go up, therefore I will be watching out for this to be correctly described as a ‘Labour gain from The Speaker,’ rather than a ‘Labour hold,’ if they manage to clinch the result tonight or, more likely, tomorrow, as it was when Betty Boothroyd retired in 2000.