Election Blog Week 13“The Election” up to Thursday 22nd September 2016

Monday 19th September
Into the final week of this election campaign, awake for 6.00am and I went through the usual routine of checking media sites, emails and messages.

I was meant to be off this week but my boss is ill, so I dropped Ellen off at work and went into the office myself for 8.15am. Not much to do, I just needed to get emails and authorise some payments.

I got back home 10.30am and took the opportunity to go through my speech for tomorrow night. I spent the afternoon having to complete and submit Polling Agent and Counting Agent application forms for Thursday.

The evening was taken up working on my speech and making several additional changes.

Called it a night at 22.00

Tuesday 20th September
The biggest of day of election so far – awake for 5am, so I took the opportunity to read the IOM Examiner online, along with checking the usual media sites.

The boss is still ill, so I had to call into the office for a quick hour.

Back home to practise my speech for tonight before getting changed and meeting some amazing sixth formers from both Ballakermeen and St Ninian’s schools. All potential House of Keys Candidates and former MHKs from Douglas East, Central, North, along with Garff and Onchan all made themselves available to the students, who asked some very difficult questions.

The event was fantastic for two reasons:

1) the Students weren’t afraid to ask difficult questions close to their hearts. The biggest discussion point was University Fees, and I certainly believe the next government can and should do more for students when leaving school.

2) I genuinely believe there are some excellent candidates standing in this House of Keys Election on Thursday, and again I have met some fantastic people during this election process.

Back home to continue to practise my speech for tonight’s House of Keys Requisition Meeting. I also managed to get a couple of hours of sleep in the afternoon, as I feel I am running on empty at the moment.

We arrived at the Elim Family Centre, Second Avenue at around 19.00, a nice crowd was already in the venue. After speaking to the other candidates, Peter Kelly, Captain of the Parish drew lots for the speech order, I pulled number 3 which I felt was a good number.

19.30 the meeting started with David, Tim, me, Julie and finally Anthony all delivering their speeches. I felt all speeches were delivered very well, I made a few small errors but nothing major.

After the meeting, the discussion moved to open questions, which is always very difficult because you can’t prepare for every question.

Finally got home for 22.35, a quick check of emails and I called it a night at 23.00.

Wednesday 21st September
Up and about for 7am this morning, I felt I gave a good performance last night and answered the questions openly and honestly. I thought Tim Craig won the night and Anthony Allen won the radio debate last Friday.

A busy morning, I dropped Ellen off and called into the office before going shopping. I then had a two and half hour meeting with two Constituents to discuss their concerns if I am elected tomorrow.

Then back into Douglas to meet up with Ellen and my mum as we needed to undertake a secrecy oath in front of the Returning Officer.

Once home, the rest of the day was spent preparing for tomorrow’s election.

My brother Peter and his wife Oraphin arrived on the island tonight.

Thursday 22nd September
ELECTION DAY – I actually slept well last night, there wasn’t anything left to do other than to see how the day unfolded.

Up and dressed for 7am and Ellen dropped me off at Onchan’s Community Centre polling station at around 7.40am. Unfortunately, Ellen still couldn’t get involved in the election process until 20.00 tonight because of her job.

The weather was dry but a little cold.

Tim Craig was already at the Centre and slowly the other three Candidates arrived. I was very fortunate to have polling agents at all three stations for the full 12 hours, which I felt was very important. I broke the 12 hours down into 4 hour shifts because I couldn’t ask family and friends to stand outside a door for 12 hours non-stop.

That said, Anthony Allen and I were the only two Candidates that did actually stand outside the Community Centre for almost the full 12 hours. To be fair Julie Edge was under the weather for most of day, which was terrible timing.

The 12 hours went by very quickly, with a steady stream of voters casting their votes throughout the day, along with numerous discussions and comments as people left the venue.

At 16.45 Ellen and I walked down the hill to cast our votes in the Garff election, which has still upset many Onchan ratepayers.

Ellen then went home and I continued to stand on the door until 19.05 at which time Ellen collected me again to get a quick shower and a change of clothes.

Unfortunately, I also caught the sun very badly, so I was looking very red in the face!

Anyway, I got back to the Community Centre for 19.40 as the last few votes were being cast. My polling agents, Keith, Martin, Peter, Alex, Pam, Oraphin, Alison, Bob and Miles were already at the Community Centre.

At 20.00 the doors were shut, there was a short delay as the Returning Officer prepared everything for the count. At 20.30 the count started and Alex, Peter, Alison and Ellen were allowed in the counting hall. Everyone else had to wait upstairs for the formal announcement to be made.

Manx Radio’s exit polls had me out in front and the second vote was too close to call. Alex, Alison and Peter were looking very confident that we had the victory, but I wasn’t so confident myself.

Finally the announcement was made, Rob Callister elected to the House of Keys as an Onchan candidate with 1,272 votes, Julie Edge – elected also (LibVan) 953, Tim Craig 841, David Quirk 822 & Anthony Allen 510.

The whole process of the count and the result was far more emotional than I could have ever imagined. For every winner there has to be a loser, and for Ellen and Me, despite having a winning feeling, celebrations were small and reduced as we genuinely felt the disappointment for the other Candidates and their partners.

I certainly didn’t take any personal pleasure in defeating an MHK with ten years experience, but I truly believe we need a different type of MHK over the next five years.

After a few interviews and thanking the Returning Officer and his staff, we slipped out and went home feeling very tired and with very mixed emotions but ready for the challenge ahead.

We stayed up to listen to the remaining results coming in before going to bed at 1.30 in the morning.

I also spent three hours responding to the many many thank you messages received throughout the day.