Election 2012 as-it-happened

18:04 – And that seems a pretty good point to bring it to a close. It's been a surprisingly dramatic, eyebrow-raising day given the drab beginings and patent public disinterest. What we have seen is a resolute rejection of mainstream political parties. Yes, Labour won in Corby, but the Ukip showing, the election of independents and the low turnout – including the defeat of Prescott – offers a clear message. That's fairly typical for a mid-term poll, but it is a inescapable message nonetheless. Terrible day for Cameron. A better one for Miliband but with significant dark clouds to go with the silver lining. Cheers for sticking around. See you next week.

18:01 – "The people have spoken and the mantle of the people's voice at this election goes over to you Mr commissioner."

18:00 – "The voter turnout has been disappointing. I don't think that is an easy thing to live with." He's not being a very good loser, our Prescott. "I hope at the next election more people will turn out. I wish you well. You know it will be a difficult job. It has ben there, some of the criticisms. Enough about that. You have been elected. I wish you well. All credit sir."

17:58 – Prescott starts his speech. "The supplementary voting system we've had here… I'm surprised to be defeated by someone who voted against the proportional representation system."

17:57 – "Lord Prescott I have found to be an utter gentleman and a very worthy opponent. I've enjoyed his comp any and it's with slight sadness that I had to beat him. But it had to be done."

17:55 – "The national press has done a particular job of talking this down and has helped reduce the turnout." Good start, mocking the press.

17:54 – The Conservative has just been announced in Humberside. Prescott gives a small smile but he can't hide his anger. The Tory, Grove, gives his speech first. He says he would never have believed he would be offering this speech to the "world's press". That's somewhat optimistic.

17:47 – For those political anoraks among you. Suffolk appears to be the only PCC result where the supplementary vote made a diference (and let the Tories in). More a mmunition for those who say it needlessly complicates elections.

17:45 – That is a major humiliation for the former deputy prime minister. It really takes the shine off Labour's Corby victory and partially vindicates Cameron's comment about the opposition's performance. Admittedly, how much we can conclude from these strange elections is another matter.

17:44 – Prescott has lost against Tory Matthew Grove in Humberside. 

17:28 – More on that Ukip performance. Fourteen per cent is their highest showing in any byelection. The previous record was Bromley, when they got eight per cent. The Tories need to thik about how they are going to address the demand for a more eurosceptic policy agenda. But, importantly, the Ukip and Tory vote combined would still not have won Corby. If that wasn't the case the questions for Cameron would be even more serious.

17:13 – Things are getting seriously tight for John Prescott. At the moment he's only slightly ahead of Tory Matthew Grove on 2nd preferences – 1,939 to Grove's 1,662. Worruyingly for Labour, that;s in the stronghold of Hull. The loss of such a high profile candidate would really take the shine off Miliband's Corby victory.

17:08 – You can read our main story on today's results, our report on the Corby result and our report on the Bristol report. And don't forget our results page which is here.

16:54 – We've got more independents.Bill Longmore in West Mercia, Martin Surl in Gloucestershire, Ron Ball in Warwickshire and Simon Hayes in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

16:48 – Ed Miliband has commented on the Corby victory. "You have knocked on thousands of doors in this constituency and you have listened to what people want to hear and what they want from a local member of parliament," he said. "This constituency is at the heart of our country and this constituency has sent a very clear message today. Now Mr Cameron has said today that he wants to listen and he is right. He should listen to the people of this constituency and he has got a lot to listen to. He should listen to those people who say ‘you told us before the election you would protect local health services. Why are you undermining them?’"

16:33 –  Staffordshire is our newest low turnout. Tory Matthew Ellis won with just 11.63% of people turning out to vote.

16:19 – The prime minister has commented on the Corby result to ITV news: "It’s a classic midterm result and obviously made difficult by the fact the MP left the seat in question. Obviously with mid-term results you listen to what the people are saying, but I look across the country and see Labour haven’t won in Bristol, cant win in Wales. It’s a mixed picture."

15:35 – George Ferguson has been confirmed as Bristol mayor.

15:32 – It's a 12.8% swing to Labour. It's also a great result for Ukip, who came in third. Apparently they're trying to help cover the Lib Dem's lost deposit. Cheeky.

15:30 – It's a significant victory. He won by nearly 8,000 votes. That will raise questions at Tory HQ. Miliband will be happy with that.

15:26 – Andy Sawford, Labour's victorious candidate, is giving his speech. He sounds like an MP already, banging out lines about 'one nation' Labour and hard-working families. "The road to Downing Streett runs through Corby," he says. "There is much work to do for the Labour party before the next election. this result shows Ed Miliband is changing the Labour party and we are again earning the trust of people who  didn't vote for us in 2010. Holding this seat today was crucial to David Cameron;s creidbility, that;s why the COnservatives threw everything at it. This result is a damning verdict on David Cameron's betrayel of the British people. Three months ago on a bright summer's day Ed Miliband came to launch our campaign. We worked every day from morning until night. People told me they want an Mp to work hard, attract more jobs, battle cuts to policing, campaign to stop recruitment agencies hiring only from overseas. They told me they wanted an MP who would stand up to protect our vital local services. I'm humble today thos people put their trust in me."

15:25 – For the first time in 15 years, Labour has won a seat off the Tories in a by-election.

15:21 – OK, here are the Corby results: Labour – 17,267. Tories – 9,476. Ukip – 5,108. Lib Dems – 1,770.

15:20 – Here's a great Tumbler page of people's spoilt ballot papers.

15:17 – We're getting confirmation Hartlepool has voted to scrap its mayor system. That's a shame. Their current mayor is a man dressed as a monkey.

15:14 – A Lib Dem councillor in Bristol seems to have accepted independent candidate Ferguson has won the mayoralty. Tim Kent tweeted: "Looking as if it is congratulations to @GeorgeFergusonx for becoming our first elected mayor. We must all work together now."

14:57 – Apparently in Coventry there were more spoiled ballot papers than Lib Dem votes.

14:43 – Corby is having a partial recount – reportedly because the Lib Dems are just a few votes short of their deposit. They're currently on 7,834 votes (14.44%).

14:41 – We've got our second lowest turnout so far from Essex, where the Tory candidate was elected on a turnout of just 12.81%. Only Merseyside tops it, with 12.4%.

14:38 – And a third independent – Ian Johnston in Gwent. He's also the third former policeman elected so far.

14:33 – We've got our first wavering Tory. Conservative MP Conor Burns tweeted: "I suspect we will live to regret creating these Police Commissioners. I regret voting for the Bill."

14:27 – We've got another independent. In Dorset, Martyn Underhill has won. In Leicestershire, Clive Loader, a Tory, took the commissioner post.

14:22 – However, there is a wrinkly of complexity to that Roddick story. He was backed by the Lib Dems. The Welsh party leader has this to say on her website: "The Welsh Liberal Democrats are not putting candidates up for these elections as we don't believe in the politicisation of the police force. However, I am backing Winston Roddick because, as an independent candidate, he is free from party political pressure."

14:12 – Ron Hogg, Labour, wins in Durham, with 51.6% of vote. But north Wales has gone independent. That's our first confirmed independent. His name's Winston Roddick. Well done that man.

14:10 – Julia Mulligan, Conservative, has been elected as the new police & crime commissioner for North Yorkshire. And Shawn Wright has won for Labour in South Yorkshire.

14:06 – A Labour councillor in Sheffield says the Liberal Democrats have come below the fascist EDL. Jack Scott ‏tweeted: "BREAKING NEWS:: Liberal Democrats coming last in #Sheffield -obehind Tories,UKIP + hateful EDL.Doesn't bode well for Clegg! #pcc"

13:56 – ANd here's Cameron, talking to the BBC, trying to sound upbeat. "Yes they [commissioners] have a mandate but remember these commissioners are replacing organisations that weren't directly elected at all. For the first time people will have a local law and order candidate. It takes time to explain a new post. Now those people in post will be able to prove their worth. My prediction is turnout will be much higher next time round." On maroyal and byelection results, he said: "I'm expecting basic mid-term results. If Labour can't win in Bristol and Hull there's no enthusiasm for the alternative."

13:53 – No-one has been as absurd as Grant Schapps, however. The Tory chairman has been trying to spin the Corby result in quite bonkers direction, suggesting Labour's win means Miliband is "in trouble". Check this out, again from Radio 4: "I can tell you that, in over 30 byelections at local level yesterday, Labour only achieved a one per cent swing to Labour. That means, for a mid-term opposition, Ed Miliband is in trouble." He says Miliband would need an 11,000 swing to be doing well. You've got to give him credit for trying, but not necessarily for logic.

13:48 – Labour and the Tories are manoeuvring ahead of the Corby result. Mensch's tweets are commendable. "Election result will not be a verdict on either Christine, or the Conservatives, but only on the decision I took to step down mid-term," she wrote. "Though I had to resign to unite our family, there was large & entirely understandable local anger. I wish I had been able to see out my term. Christine and her team did an incredible job in the most difficult possible circumstances. I know she will one day make a wonderful MP." Labour's Michael Dugher said she was trying to "take one for the team". He told Radio 4: "I knocked on a lot of doors in Corby and most people had never heard of Louise Mensch. They had definitely heard of David Cameron. And it was the issues that came up on the doorstep. Why is the government giving a tax cut to millionaires at the same time as asking millions to pay more?"

13:47 – Merseyside also goes Labour, with Jane Kennedy, who used to work with Gordon Brown, winning 56.2% of the vote.

13:38 – The trade unions have seen the political advantages for them in the turnout debacle. Tory MPs are used to slamming their own strike votes by highlighting the pitiful turnout. So guess what point Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has to make? That's right. "While these low turnouts will be debated and analysed, one thing is clear: they should sound the death knell for the ludicrously shrill cries from some quarters of the Tory party and their supporters for greater restrictions on trade union ballots," he wrote in the Huffington Post. "You can't expect to be taken seriously if on the one hand you say unions have no mandate to strike – which will only ever have a short-term effect on the public – while on the other, you champion the democratic right of police commissioners to reshape policing in our communities for years to come."

13:36 – I'm hearing Vera Baird has been elected as Labour's first commissioner in Northumbria.

13:34 – This just in from Electoral Reform Society chief executive Katie Ghose: "We cannot let the government pin this on a 'difficult first election'.  Not content with repeating past mistakes they decided to throw in a few new ones for good measure. No amount of spin can conceal the historical proportions of this failure. Through both inaction and incompetence the Home Office has helped redefine low turnout. Even in wartime governments have managed to get more people to the polls with half the population under arms or overseas. This is not a reflection of voter apathy. The public have been given no reason to vote, and no information on either the role or the candidates. This election has been a comedy of errors from start to finish, and those responsible must be held to account."

13:31 – The police commissioner elections are using the Supplementary Vote system, which is a bit like AV. A political science expert I just spoke to suggested it is commonly distrusted by professionals. Under the system, you put your first preference vote in column one and your second preference vote in column two. If neither of the two leading candidates get over 50% of the vote, their two second preference votes are totted up until there is a winner. The advantages of the system are that it doesn't encourage extremists, like AV. Secondly, candidates have to campaign for second preference votes, so it is typically more conciliatory. Finally, it is broader-based than first-past-the-post elections. Its disadvantages are that it's unclear to voters, as has historically been shown over and over again. It also forces voters to guess which candidates are going to come in the top two, which is especially difficult when you're looking at police commissioner candidates you've barely thought about.

13:24 – The BBC are at a polling station in the in the Bettws ward of Newporth received literally no votes for the police commissioner for Gwent.

13:12 – There are reasons to be optimistic about the successes of independents.  We've got Winston Roddick in north Wales beating Labour's Tal Michael by 33.07% to 29.67% and Martyn Underhill beating the Tories' Nick King by 45.16% to 32.41%.

13:03 – The horror stories keep coming in. One ballot box in Newcastle reportedly has three votes in it. Many have taken to Twitter to direct their abuse at the Home Office. Here's a sample: "@ukhomeoffice What a farce! Same old faces on the gravy train. 15% turn out, pathetic. How many would have voted on extraditing Abu Qatada??" "@Number10gov @ukhomeoffice how can anyone be elected with such a low turnout maybe the public have spoken!!!!!! Politics and policing hmmm!" "@ukhomeoffice once again you have dropped a cobbler. What next?" "@ukhomeoffice No 1 wanted this, purely a Tory plan 2 get their own people in, who will tow party line & privatise police staff" "@ukhomeoffice No 1 wanted this, purely a Tory plan 2 get their own people in, who will tow party line & privatise police staff" "@ukhomeoffice well at least the votes won't take long to count"  "@ukhomeoffice waste of time. Low turn outs because because it was not made clear what the benefits were of voting for A over B" You get the idea.

12:54 – The first round of voting in Bristol for the mayoral election is over and George Ferguson, the independent candidate, is in first place, with 35.13% of the votes, beating Labour's Marvin Rees who has 29.05% of the vote. That's interesting. If Ukip perform well, one of the main stories today could be the victory of non-mainstream parties.

12:47 – That's a bit of a setback for Labour, who will expect to win the rest of Wales. Still, it stings for the Tories to beat them in the country, where they are almost extinct.

12:45 – Christopher Salmon, Conservative, has won in Dyfed Powys. "To those who didn’t vote for me, to those who didn't vote for anyone, to those who still harbour doubts – I am listening," he said.

12:40 – Downing Street has tried to blame the "London media" for the low turnout – suggesting the metropolitan set didn't report it because there were not votes taking place in the capital. That right there is pretty desperate stuff.

12:23 – Labour sources are suggesting the party is cruising to a 4,000 majority in Corby. That's a healthy swing of 7.4% since the general election in 2010. It's broadly in line with opinion polls – perhaps a little under – and would easily give Ed Miliband a majority if it was replicated across the board in 2015. But, big significant but: Corby is unique. It's MP, Louise Mensch, was a very high profile MP. She was colourful in office and her decision to step down to live with her family in New York, divided voters and the press. As she herself said overnight, the result probably says more about her than it does about the Tories and Labour. On the other hand: Corby has voted for the winner in a British election since 1983. It's the Ohio of British politics.

12:00 – Ukip MEP John Bufton has called on home secretary Theresa May to resign over the election. Interestingly, he appears to have adopted a conspiracy theory approach to the debacle. Can we call it a debacle yet? I think we can. "I have grave concerns about the legitimacy of the results and the democratic validity of your post and call upon you to resign your portfolio with immediate effect," he wrote in an open letter. "I believe you and your department at best may be charged with utterly and hopelessly failing the general public over these elections, and at worst may stand accused of gerrymandering. I fear the Home Office anticipated, if not engineered, the appallingly low turnout and wilfully permitted the elections to continue in full knowledge that the majority of the general public were not engaged with."

11:56 – Here are a few more turnout statistics, although they all paint a very similar picture. Northumbria saw 16.8% of people vote. Thames Valley saw 13.3%. Lancashire saw 15.5%. Leicester and Rutland saw 16.36%. The highest so far was in Northamptonshire with just under 20% turnout, and the lowest was in the West Midlands with 12%.

11:55 – Right we're back. Properly back, that is. Results for Gloucestershire and Merseyside should be coming in in a few minutes, with Essex following at 12:30pm.

11:20 – Sorry for that short unannounced break, but in the meantime we go lots of good content for you. The most important of which is the results page which we'll update in real time as they come in. Here's our news story on the low turnout in the police commissioners election and how Labour is heading for victory in Corby . Finally, here's comment piece on the wisdom of the British public in staying away from the polls. It's distressingly similar in its views to that of my colleague Alex Stevenson from earlier in the week. Politics.co.uk staff have an honourable tradition of not agreeing on anything, so we're sorry to break with our heritage.

10:20 – Damian Green, policing minister, has been putting his best face on the turnout. "The measure of success of the policy, won't be the turnout at the elections, it will be what the police and crime commissioners achieve over the next few years," he told the BBC. "For the first time people will have an individual who’s been elected who they can go to with their complaints, who will write the policing plan, set the local taxation for the police, so these will be very powerful figures in communities." It's abject nonsense, of course, but what else can he say?

10:04 – Unlock Democracy just wrote to their supporters: "The numbers aren't in yet, but it is clear that this will go down in history as one of the lowest turnouts in a UK election in history.  We've been struck by the level of outrage from our supporters about how poorly run these elections have been, and about the posts of police and crime commissioners themselves.  Many of you are quite clearly furious at the situation."

09:55 – We're going to get a glut of results around lunchtime and then on a (usually) hourly basis up to 7pm. Here's the full timetable from the Press Association.

09:44 – Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called the elections "a complete shambles". The Electoral Reform Society said the government's handling of the elections was a "comedy of errors." Labour's in a difficult position. It opposed the legislation, but then had to take part (fair enough). So now their message is in pieces, complicit but critical. It's hard to see how else they could have acted, but it's necessarily blunted their message.

09:38 – We've also got our first police commissioner. Control yourself. Don't let the excitement overtake you. Angus MacPherson, the Conservative candidate in Wiltshire, is the lucky man. The former magistrate won on a turnout of 15.8%. Is that a mandate? It's like getting one sock for Christmas. Technically it's a present, but no-one would take it seriously. He won 35,319 votes, well above Labour's Clare Moody, who got 21,157 votes.

09:28 – So we've got some results in already. Cardiff South and Penarth and Manchester Central both went to Labour, as expected. They are solid Labour seats and behaved accordingly. Before we complain too much about police commissioner turnouts we should note that they weren't much better. Stephen Doughty kept Cardiff South for Labour on a 25.65% turnout. Encouragingly for the opposition, by the way, there was a swing from the Conservatives to Labour of 8.41%.  Lucy Powell kept Manchester Central for Labour on a 18.16% turnout – the lowest in a byelection since World War Two. The swing away from the Liberal Democrats was 16.77% and the Tory candidate actually lost his deposit with just 754 votes (actually pretty funny).

09:15 – Good morning and welcome to one of the drabbest, least inspiring, sleep-inducing elections in living memory. Today, we will test the concept of democratic accountability to its very limit ladies and gentlemen. The notion of a mandate will be redefined in whichever way is most appropriate to the person speaking at the time. Yep, it's the police commissioner elections, in which all four of you who voted marked a historic moment in British democracy. There are also by-elections in Corby, Cardiff South and Penarth and Manchester Central, only the first of which will be interesting. We should have everything by 7pm, but if turnout is as low as we expect it'll probably all be done and dusted by 11am. Usual disclaimer: There will be typos aplenty and I will struggle to keep my deep disinterest in the topic at bay. I'll bring you the current results in a second.