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The Miller’s Tale: BBC Generation 2015 and Election Night

Category: Blogger's Corner, Opportunity, election, experience, benefit

The Miller’s Tale: BBC Generation 2015 and Election Night

Jonathan was featured on the BBC election night broadcast as a ‘miller’ and was able to experience the results.

As a member of BBC Generation 2015, I had plenty of experiences. I filmed a video for the BBC’s Twitter platform ‘In My Shoes’ for World Autism Awareness Day; I was invited onto Victoria Derbyshire to discuss welfare and benefits; and I was given the opportunity to contribute to further projects like BBC Raw.

But the best experience for me had to be election night. I was on set as a ‘miller’; positioned around an enormous map of Britain out the front of Broadcasting House, we were there to create excitement as the results came in. It turned out not to be spectacularly difficult – it took no effort at all to be surprised by the result of the exit poll. I remember letting out – and hearing others let out – several expletives in sheer shock at what was happening and how badly the projections matched with previous polls, most predicting Ed Miliband would become Prime Minister.

Instead ,we were looking at a projection for a hung parliament in which the Conservatives would have a de facto majority – though it later turned out to have underestimated their gains, it was still shocking in the face of all that had come before it. I remember having numerous debates over those hours on whether they should trust the BBC exit poll – most didn’t want to, but I knew it would be largely right (pardon the pun) from researching the last two elections. SNP supporters, in particular, really didn’t believe they’d win almost every Scottish seat, and proved the hardest to convince – the joy on their faces when the results came through was beautiful to see.

As a humble miller, I thought no one would notice me – after all, I was just standing at the edge of a map while Ipsos Mori’s Ben Page and Sophie Raworth chatted it out – but I was getting endless texts and Facebook messages from friends telling me they’d seen me standing at the side, looking serious and in a variety of poses, including my head in my hands and raising and lowering my bag at random intervals. I can’t remember doing half the stuff myself but it’s there on tape so I can hardly argue!

It was a funny night. Conservatives and Scottish Nationalists came together to share in jubilation, while Labourites and Ukippers consoled each other, soon joined by the Greens once it became clear they weren’t going to win another seat after all; the traditional divides of left and right were replaced with those of winners and losers. And though I should have been incredibly tired – I’d been up for 36 hours finishing off my dissertation just a night before, and was now on night shift at the BBC – the excitement of the night meant that really wasn’t an issue.

As results were declared and the landscape of Britain was upturned, the scope of the changes – the first Conservative majority government since I was two years old, the first government to win seats after a full term since 1983, the first to win more votes after a full term since 1900 and an overwhelming Scottish landslide – kept my adrenaline pumping, my mind switched on and my eyes firmly open. I met some great and lovely people that night – politics teachers with a passion, Scottish separatists setting foot in London for the first time, and young people from all political parties who shattered the old, stale stereotypes.

The ‘milling’ ended at 9am, but I was still up for another six hours, watching the fascinating events unfold back home before finally falling asleep – and when I woke up I half-thought it had all been some wild dream. I’d never expected I’d be waking up to an all-Conservative government. And I’d expected to spend the night at home or with friends, as nothing more than a spectator; I’d never expected to spend the night at the BBC, or as a part of the broadcast. It truly was a wonderful experience that’s boosted my confidence in the media and political sphere; I owe it to BBC Generation 2015, in particular the great Dave Howard, for being able to get involved. If there are any similar initiatives for the 2020 election I wholly encourage everyone who can to get involved.

VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email info@vercida.com for more information.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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