My thoughts post-General Election
It’s taken me a while to write this short piece, partly because I was so disappointed with not being elected and I wanted to think about my next move, and partly because I’m back at Ballakermeen and the demands of the job, on one’s time, are considerable but enjoyable, but what an incredible journey it was running in a General Election, and to think that I was only 108 votes off being elected at my first attempt. Despite being gutted at the result, I must confess that I learned much about myself and the process and for that I am grateful.
I reacquainted myself with old friends and made many new friends. I thoroughly enjoyed researching my manifesto and I have realised that my network is more extensive that I had thought a year ago. During the process, I realised that I don’t just care about the Isle of Man and the people living here, I care deeply; I have a burning desire to root out the Island’s evils and to make life better for everyone that lives here.
Dealing with the media was an experience in itself, one I was more comfortable with than I thought I would be and I really enjoyed being interviewed live as it gave me a chance to test myself, my knowledge and my fortitude and it gave me the opportunity to say what many of us dare not.
I ran my campaign unaided. By that I mean that I didn’t have a campaign team or campaign manager unlike some of my rivals. I did parachute a friend in to help me go door to door for a few days whilst I was on crutches but aside from that, I did everything myself. I lost by 108 votes to a man who had a huge team of helpers and a campaign manager. I lost to two career politicians with designs on being Chief Minister. Frustratingly, the level of research and the quality of my manifesto and my interviews wasn’t enough this time, and I don’t think that a rival trying to intimidate a voter and interfere in my campaign (assuming a friend of mine was my manager and arranging to meet with him behind my back) helped, and I don’t think that being deliberately misquoted by a certain member of the press and being told that unless I come to him first I’m down the pecking order before being screamed at and hung up on helped (this when I asked why I wasn’t included in a press piece that about Messrs Watterson and Skelly announcing that they are to run again for MHK), or seeing puff pieces written for rivals excluding the names of their opposition, or being shackled in a debate programme (which was anything but a debate) helped either, although I did manage to scupper some of the fantasy claims of a couple of the candidates present.
I suppose I underestimated some things, including how much the public value seeing you in the flesh and how duplicitous and desperate presiding MHKs can be, and we can see now that both of the returning members for Rushen had designs on roles beyond being an MHK and post-election and surprise, surprise, we can see the negative press releases pertaining to their departments that have been released. We can see that with them, nothing changes. Indeed they have both voted for Howard Quayle to to be Chief Minister, a man in the mould of Allan Bell, the man that got us into this mess.
I wanted to be an MHK so that I could change things, so that I could question the ridiculous schemes that are bounced around Tynwald and signed off on without being cross examined or investigated, so that I could make a difference for our children and grandchildren, the elderly, the disadvantaged and for democracy. I wanted to help to dig us out of the hole that we are in and I know that if myself and couple of other candidates had of been successful, there would have been a strong enough opposition to the Mad Hatter antics of Tynwald. After congratulating them, I told Laurence and Juan that I would be watching them and that I would hold them to account if they didn’t do better this time around, something I also told the press officer at the election results announcement but he omitted it from my published comments.
Despite the underhand antics of some of my rivals and the tactics of some members of the media (not all), and the awful management of the General Election by the Cabinet Office from which every candidate suffered, I can only blame myself for not being elected. I didn’t get around every house, I didn’t arrange enough public meetings, I didn’t advertise myself enough and there are some finer points pertaining to my CV that I could work on. I can do better, and I will do better. You deserve the best and that is what I intend to be next time around.
I’m sure that I will run again, the support that I’ve received and the emails, texts and phone calls, even being stopped in the street, have all been truly overwhelming and have confirmed to me that I was right to run this time and that I should try again. I learnt a lot during my campaign and I know what I need to do next time to secure a victory. Indeed, I have a five-year plan and a back-up plan to that, from which I will have ‘ticked more boxes’ in the eyes of undecided voters and from which I will be better armed to field technical political questions among other things which I will reveal over the next five years.
Immediate projects are setting up an Isle of Man Youth Parliament and changing the careers provision at Ballakermeen High School and these are a preamble to trying to roll out a modern provision to other schools (DEC and Heads of Schools willing). I remain convinced that we can and should be doing more to prepare our students for the workplace. I haven’t forgotten about the 85% of students that aren’t returning to these shores from university and I will be doing what I can to chase this up. I also haven’t forgotten about students like Rachel Jarvis who wants to return to the IOM to be a vet but can’t complete her studies due to being classed as an International Student (prohibitive fees). The Youth Parliament and the careers provision are my immediate projects but I remain committed to everything stated in my manifesto and I will be working with various parties and individuals to make things happen and to, as ever, investigate matters pertaining to the spending of our taxes.
Thank you to the 1,104 people who voted for me, to Quine and Cubbon for my printing, to Kate Caine of Moveit Dance Studios for helping me when I was on crutches, to my family and friends who backed my decision to run and who helped to spread the word, to Signed and Sealed for sorting my envelopes, to Chips Chees e& Gravy Media for my media training, to Five Plus Designs for creating my website and stamps and to Ballakermeen for supporting my decision to run despite that I was expected back to teach after the summer. Thank you also to those who commented on blogs, on Facebook and in person, you helped to refine my efforts and you helped me stay on track and strive to be the outstanding candidate.
Manx Radio interviews and questionnaire
John moss interview
Stu Peters interview
Rushen Constituency ‘debate’ programme