At 4 a.m., this strange, bizarre, close-to-unprecedented British election looks as though only one thing may be clear: Each of the parties can be disappointed with what has happened.
For David Cameron, there is at least the consolation that the Conservatives should end up as the largest party and the winners of the popular vote to boot. But though early results made it seem as though he might win an overall majority, as the night has gone on and as the results have come in, that prospect seems to have receded.
For Gordon Brown, there is confirmation that he has led Labour to a terrible defeat and that he will be just the third prime minister since the Second World War who never won a general election.
If this has been a tough night for Labour, it’s been agonizing for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.
But if this has been a tough night for Labour, it's been agonizing for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. Much of the election campaign was dominated by the idea of a Lib Dem surge, but as the votes have been counted, it seems as though the electorate's flirtation with the Liberals was little more than a summer romance—fun but not serious, and certainly not for keeps.
• More Daily Beast writers weigh in on the U.K. electionThe Lib Dems have been squeezed in an election that has defied predictions. In some parts of the country voters have swung heavily against Labour, in others Labour's vote has held up surprisingly well. Everywhere, however, voters seem to have retreated to the certainties offered by what Clegg calls "the two old parties."
Nevertheless, despite everything, it seems as though, with half the results to come, the Conservatives will be in a position to form, at worst, a minority administration.
The electorate has sent a message and that message is simple: We Don't Know.
Alex Massie is a former Washington correspondent for The Scotsman and The Daily Telegraph. He writes for The Spectator and blogs at www.spectator.co.uk/alexmassie.