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    Hung parliament forecast


    by ODN


    The three main Westminster party leaders have all retained their seats in the General Election following a record turnout.

    Gordon Brown has pledged to play his part in Britain "having a strong, stable and principled government".

    After winning his Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat, Mr Brown said he wanted the government to be able to lead Britain into "sustained recovery".

    However, Tory leader David Cameron has said the Labour Government had lost its "mandate" to govern the country.

    After winning his Witney seat with an increased majority, Mr Cameron said it was clear from the results announced that the country wanted change.

    Nick Clegg admitted that it had been a "disappointing night" for the Liberal Democrats.

    Making a subdued speech after retaining his seat at Sheffield Hallam, Mr Clegg added: "We simply haven't achieved what we had hoped."

    Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was among the biggest scalps claimed by the Conservatives, losing her Redditch seat.

    Ms Smith, who was forced to apologise last year for an expenses claim which included adult films watched by her husband Richard Timney, remained straight-faced as she became one of the most high profile casualties of the General Election.

    The former "Blair Babe" received 13,317 votes, which meant losing her Redditch constituency to Tory Karen Lumley who won 19,138 votes.

    The Liberal Democrats ousted another former home secretary when Charles Clarke lost his Norwich South seat.

    Mr Clarke, who has repeatedly criticised Gordon Brown's leadership, lost his Norwich South seat to the Liberal Democrats' Simon Wright who secured a narrow majority of 310 votes.

    The Tories were denied their "Portillo moment" however, as Labour Schools Secretary Ed Balls narrowly took the new Morley and Outwood constituency.

    The Tories had been hoping to decapitate Mr Balls, but he won with a majority of 1,101.

    There was a shock result in Northern Ireland where First Minister Peter Robinson lost his seat in east Belfast.

    The MP, whose wife Iris quit in disgrace as MP for Strangford after admitting to an affair, was beaten by the Alliance Party's Naomi Long, the lord mayor of Belfast, to leave Democratic Unionist Party supporters gasping in disbelief.

    Elsewhere, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas made electoral history after becoming the party's first MP.

    Ms Lucas gained the Brighton Pavilion constituency from Labour where the Greens had run a targeted campaign.

    With every seat now possibly crucial to the arithmetic of a hung parliament, the Labour and Tory leaders were closeted with their inner circles watching results come in and discussing the way ahead.

    Mr Brown went straight to his suite at Labour HQ, accompanied by his wife Sarah and Lord Mandelson.

    Transport Secretary Lord Adonis - a former Lib Dem councillor, who has been tipped to play a key part in coalition talks - denied negotiations had already begun.

    Mr Cameron also retreated into talks with close colleagues and aides and was not expected to emerge from party HQ again before noon at the earliest.