A Labour landslide was predicted and Swindon provided the first real proof.

All media eyes were on the count in Steam Museum - the council’s chief executive and Returning Officer Sam Mowbray had promised a rapid count. 

But unlike perennial quick declarers like Sunderland South, a safe Labour seat, bellwether Swindon would show whether Labour really would sweep the board, as the polls had suggested they might.

And in Swindon South, the party did.

The sitting Conservative MP Sir Robert Buckland, twice a cabinet member lost to the Labour candidate Heidi Alexander.

Ms Alexander overturned a previous majority for the Conservatives of 6,625, to win the seat by 9,606 votes.

Before the count had started Labour party activists and candidates had been told to make no comment to the media before a declaration. But after an exit poll which suggested a Labour landslide they couldn’t resist giving Ms Alexander and her husband Martin Ballantyne an ovation as they arrived for the count.

Mr Ballantyne said: “I’ve never been clapped into a museum before” while the candidate kept her counsel and said she’d speak after a declaration.

After learning she was now the MP and with a really solid majority, Ms Alexander said: “Tonight we get our future back. After 14 long years of Conservative government, this is the moment we press the reset button for Great Britain.

“I’m on a mission to restore pride and opportunity for my hometown. Together, we are going to put Swindon back on the map.”

She thanked Robert Buckland for his service and a good campaign and he returned the compliment, and the pair seemed to share genuine respect.

Away from the fight between labour and the Conservatives, the story in South Swindon was the growth of other parties, especially Reform UK, previously the Brexit Party.

The party’s candidate Catherine Kosidowski took 6,194 votes, fully 13 per cent of the vote. Although the combination of her vote and Mr Buckland’s would not have overturned MS Alexander’s majority, it would have made things a lot closer.

Over on the left, it was also a good performance for the Green party. Before the declaration candidate Rod Hebden: “I’d like to increase the Greens’ vote share, and I’d love to  get my deposit back.” After the declaration, Mr Hebden was very happy with a vote share of 5.67 per cent, the party’s record vote share in the constituency meaning the £500 deposit was returned to the party.

The full result was:

Labour                Heidi Alexander              21,676   48.4 per cent

Conservative     Robert Buckland             12,070   26.9 per cent

Reform UK         Catherine Kosidowski    6,194     13.8 per cent

Green                  Rod Hebden                    2,539     5.7 per cent

Lib Dems            Matt McCabe                   1,843     4.1 per cent

Independent     Martin Costello                   472     1.1 per cent

Majority             9,606

Turnout              61.7