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Election first for Joe

Section:  Annan and Eskdale, Dumfries and West, Lockerbie and Lochmaben, Moffat  | Tags: , , , ,

LAST week’s General Election was a double first for cub reporter JOSEPH GARTLY, 19, as he cast his debut vote and then worked through the night at the count.
He explains what it was like to be in the thick of it.

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HAVING previously being too young to take part in an election, I have now been thrust feet first into the world of politics.

Just a few days ago I was not only voting, but also covering the outcome as a reporter . . . and there was a lot to learn in both cases.
Deciding who was I supposed to vote for was the first hurdle.
I was undecided for a long time and looked a lot at which party I prefer and/or whether tactical voting was better for me.
In fact, I was swaying right up until I got into the booth. Finally, I decided to just go with my natural instinct and I left feeling happy I had made the right decision.
That job done, it was time for the night shift at the count in Dumfries.
At 10.30 pm I set off, an energy drink and bon bons in hand for the hours ahead.
Arriving at 11 pm I was shocked to see the Easterbrook Hall’s extensive car park was already packed.
Once inside, I was faced with rows of counters sifting their way through the piles of ballot papers from all across the region.
An air of excitement was circulating, with local councillors and party supporters taking tallies and rushing around in a bid to see who had the upper hand in both constituencies.
I was tasked with locating, talking to and getting quotes from party representatives for our website and social media updates.
It was a chance to network and meet some of the local movers and shakers.
As the Dumfriesshire Clydesdale and Tweeddale announcement approached, I wondered how it would pan out. After all, two years ago Conservative David Mundell scraped back in with a majority of just a few hundreds with the SNP hot on his heels.
However, as the night progressed and the votes began pilling up, it became clear this year was not going to be as close.
By around 3 am on Friday morning Team Mundell appeared confident he would be keeping his parliamentary seat.
But there was a buzz in the Dumfries and Galloway seat as the Conservatives’ Alister Jack seemed to be racing ahead of sitting SNP MP Richard Arkless.
I was running from room to room trying to determine when the final winners would be declared.
Soon everyone went quiet and a nervous tension began rising as people became anxious to know the magnitude of the result.
I noticed the candidates began feeling the pressure: Mairi McAllan of the SNP was pacing in and out of the TV lounge, whilst Mr Arkless also appeared distracted.
At 5.30 am the victors were at last announced: David Mundell had won by what seemed like a landslide, with Alister Jack also getting in far more than comfortably — a double victory for the Conservatives in this region.
As I journeyed home and the sun came up, I realised that history was made that night.
The Conservatives broke back into Scotland; Labour was resurrected from the ashes; and there were losses for the SNP.
Despite the long night, I was happy to have been part of keeping the public up to date on the politics of our region and to have been part of one of the most historic elections in recent history.

election a 2017

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