They were queuing around the block all over the country in order to vote. In some places, people waited for more than an hour to give their verdict on the political class; in others voters were locked out without having cast their ballots, as polling stations closed.

There was no apathy on display yesterday. This general election has instead been characterised by antipathy. In Tennyson’s words: “The old order changeth, yielding place to new.”

David Cameron may have secured the largest number of seats in the House of Commons but this morning he will not be standing on the steps of No 10 declaring — as Tony Blair did in 1997, the last time power changed hands — that a “new dawn has broken, has it not?” The voters have turned their backs on Gordon Brown but they have not rushed into the arms of the Tories, in the way they did with new Labour 13 years ago. Instead they have slunk rather late in the day up to the Conservatives, like sullen teenagers who are embarrassed by having to stand next to their parents.

Even the optimistic Tory leader would find it hard to repeat his mantra “let sunshine win the day” after such a half-hearted endorsement. This is not a mandate that will make it easy to force through the unpopular spending cuts and tax rises that are needed to deal with the deficit. After a nail-biting night for all the parties, it’s less “the King is dead; long live the King” than “let the King hang”. Labour has lost, but have the Tories really won? Read full article in The Times...