on 09 May 2015.
I am writing this after two hours sleep, I’m back at the Racecourse for the West Berkshire Council count. Party activists are standing in groups in various degrees of euphoria or devastation, but all with minds numbed by fatigue.
I can’t really believe our result in the Newbury constituency. I was selected to fight the seat in the 1990s when there was a Liberal Democrat majority of over 22,000. Last night we secured a Conservative majority of over 26,000 and a total vote that is one of the highest in the country. I was looking over my Agent’s shoulder as he jotted down the numbers and I berated him for getting his maths wrong. I thought he had wrongly put a 2 in front of the other numbers. He let me gently know that I was magnificently in the wrong. A staggering result.
It was a bad night for various parties but also for pollsters and some in the media. Even as recently as Tuesday the BBC were running pieces on “Miliband, the man”. How he got from were he was to being on the threshold of power, somehow showing him as a shoe-in. In examining how they got things wrong they should also look at how they obsessed with the mediaisation of politics. An unhealthy concentration on leader debates, who looked good, what a leaders wife was wearing and other fripperies. Actually, the election was a triumph for the quiet sense of the British people. And the calm good judgement of the Prime Minister and his advisors.
For me the election was also about travelling around. I went to Oxford West and Abingdon, Eastleigh, Southampton Itchen, Bristol North West, Chippenham, Reading West, Wells and Somerton and Frome. Fascinating contests in each of them. I also took a West Berkshire team to campaign in the close fought seat of Thanet South where Nigel Farage was standing. There is a theme to what happened in all of the above but I cannot claim that my presence had anything to do with it!
I was left with one impression. We do politics in West Berkshire in a remarkably civil way. There is plenty of passion but by and large we play the ball not the man. And that is something to cherish.
Now I really need to go to bed.