>Four simple words from Willie Rennie, but quite painful to read. He tweeted this just minutes after the declaration which saw his Dunfermline Dream come to an end – for the moment at least.
I was watching the messages of support flood in on his Facebook page as I sat up on my sofa watching the results come in. I will admit to having shed a tear or several and looking at them again now and the new ones which appear makes me fill up all over again. It means so much to have these and he should be able to look back on these with huge pride at what he’s achieved. The 17000 plus people who voted for him had a real affection for him.
And so they should – he’s a complete whirlwind of cheery charm and engaging energy. The effort he put into his local campaigns to make the area better and in helping individuals with their private problems was incredible. He’s barely stopped for since he was elected. People knew who he was and he could barely walk down a street without being recognised. What I thought was fantastic was the way that local young people not only knew who he was but felt comfortable about going up and having a chat with him.
On a day when a panicked Scotland, fearful of the Tories, grabbed onto Labour like a security blanket (not that Labour did much to protect them in the 80s), Willie’s result was a fairly miraculous 8% swing from Labour. He was pretty much 9000 votes up on the 2005 – perhaps a symmetry with the 9000 people he’s helped since he was elected. It just wasn’t enough – and he couldn’t have done any more.
One of the things you know when you start to work for an MP is that your job only lasts as long as they are in office. I’m really going to miss the local people we’ve dealt with over the years. I’ve learned never to take the word of Government departments and always to keep pushing as far as I possibly can when you know an injustice has been done. It’s been the best job I’ve ever had and I will always remember the Team Rennie years, working with marvellous people like Cheryl, Elspeth and John Foster with happiness.
For the future, who knows, but I’m going to enjoy spending more time with my family and this blog. Anna’s coming up to her last year in Primary School so maybe I’ll take this year to do some stuff with her.
Although I was on my own at home last night, I really appreciated the texts, e-mails, tweets and phone calls I had from friends all over the place. I was particularly grateful for an offer to send chocolate and a phone call from a dear friend who had more than enough anxieties of her own advising me to have a glass of wine at 2.40 am after I asked the advice of Twitter as to whether this would be a bad thing.
Willie’s result was not the only awful one for us. Some of my very favourite people didn’t make it – Paul Holmes in Chesterfield, whose shock loss will be a huge blow to the left in the parliamentary party. What in the name of goodness the 7000+ people who voted Tory there thought they were doing, I have no idea. Chesterfield has lost a very, very good man, one I’d trust with my life. If we’d stayed in England, Paul and his wife Rae would have been guardians to Anna – that’s how much I think of them. In Edinburgh, it was heartbreaking to see Kevin Lang, who gave up his job to devote himself to the campaign, and Fred Mackintosh so narrowly miss out in Edinburgh North and Leith and South. At some point, Labour voters will realise that voting Labour actually doesn’t help them and I’m sure these seats will go gold then. I was also devastated that Ed Fordham, Bridget Fox and Sal Brinton all missed out narrowly too.
We now have a parliamentary party with very few women in it – by my reckoning (with Twitter’s help), only Jo Swinson, Lynne Featherstone and Lorely Burt remain with Tessa Munt gaining Wells. As I write, it looks like Sarah Teather has been returned as well. Phew. It didn’t look like that was going to happen a couple of hours ago. It was horrible to see Sandra Gidley go, and Susan Kramer lose to millionaire Zac Goldsmith, heartbreaking to see Julia Goldsworthy, our fantastic local government spokesperson lose by just 66 votes, for Bridget Fox and Sal Brinton to lose out in Islington and Watford, Claire Kelley in Harrogate and Sarah Carr in Herefordshire. We have some shiny new MPs in really unexpected places, but they’re all men.
The result which really took the wind out of my sails was the loss of Evan Harris on Oxford West and Abingdon. How did that happen? And how vile was Nadine Dorries about it when she tweeted:
“Do my eyes and ears deceive me? Has Dr Death really lost his seat?”
I know the woman is incapable of assessing evidence rationally, but that was well out of order.
There was some good news though – for a long time the best thing for liberals to celebrate was the defeat of Peter Robinson in Belfast East by the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long.
Then we beat the odious Charles Clarke in Norwich South.
The wonderful and wise David Heath is back in Somerton and Frome
And we won Burnley and Redcar with mahooooosive swings.
As Daddy Alex pointed out in this tweet:
Vote shares: Labour’s worst since 1918; Tories’ fourth-worst for 200 years; #LibDems’ third best since 1928. Tory “victory,” eh?
Mostly, though, I’m in bits today. We had our best campaign ever. I still absolutely believe in Nick Clegg. Heaven knows how we would have done without his stellar performance. We had huge numbers of people vote for us – more so than 5 years ago, but our stupid, unfair electoral system ensured that this isn’t reflected. We should have around 160 seats, not 60.
A small thought on hung parliaments, though – in the places around the world, including Scotland, where hung parliaments are commonplace, there is usually some proportional system in place so that the relative power of the parties in the Parliament reflects what people want. This is not the case – the people have not been given the Parliament they asked for. We should all be outraged about that.