I’VE JUST returned from my first overnight General Election count — in the Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries — with a bad case of ‘election fever.’
Flashback to the last UK poll in 2010 . . . I was a 15-year-old keen modern studies student sitting my standard grade exam (I obviously got top grades)!
Five years in to the future and I’ve been working as a reporter for more than three years, I speak to my local MP and local councillors on a weekly basis and even have an interview with Prime Minister David Cameron under my belt.
This General Election was my first as a voter (and a journalist) and the reporting was much easier than voting!
For weeks I’ve been keeping friends, colleagues and my family entertained (or bored stiff) with my quest to pick a party — I even tried an online test which tells you whose manifesto you mesh with best.
In the end I voted for the party and the candidate I felt was right for me and I don’t regret my vote — not that a professional journalist like myself would reveal who it was for.
This was no ordinary General Election — five years ago I was told by a teacher that in my constituency (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) SNP was a wasted vote but this year it was all to play for.
I arrived at the count at 11 pm and immediately picked up on the atmosphere.
After hours of mingling, tweeting and breaking news snippet by snippet, it was nearly time to see who the region’s new MPs were.
All the counting is done out in the open and stacks of voting slips are piled neatly in to a section for each candidate, making it easy at a glance to see who is likely to walk away victorious.
The fight for the DCT seat was too close to call. I stood feeling nervous for both the candidates as I eagerly watched to see who had pipped who to the post.
The final dregs of votes were still being counted and it was all to play for when I realised Tory DCT candidate David Mundell was standing behind me.
I was shaking with so much nervous energy (and sleep deprivation) just imagining how it must feel to be David or SNP candidate Emma Harper and locked in such a tight battle, so I don’t know how either of them were able to remain standing upright, knowing that their fate rested on such a small margin of votes.
Unable to truly empathise with the situation, and attempting to be a comfort to a clearly nervous Mr Mundell, I told him that he looked very lovely today — I hope he doesn’t expect compliments all the time now.
Not long after that and with my legs still shaking, the candidates were called over for a private briefing on the results as everyone else in the counting room looked on nervously.
After what felt like an age, it was clear who our winners were.
David Mundell was elected DCT MP for a third term in office but only by a two per cent lead with Emma Harper coming in a very close second and in neighbouring D and G, Labour’s Russell Brown was beaten by new kid on the block Richard Arkless.
While David wanted to see the blue area on the map of Scotland expand, he was clearly relieved at keeping his ‘only Tory in Scotland’ title and I couldn’t help but feel for Annan resident Russell, whose political career has spanned nearly 30 years.
Most of all I was full of admiration for all the candidates who didn’t win a seat and gave such brilliant speeches.
My heart particularly went out to Emma, who looked like she’d nearly clinched it and I spotted a few tears in her eyes later on.
After a night of high emotions I arrived home at 6.30 am and turned the TV on to see how the rest of the country was fairing.
It’s 12 noon now and I’ve still not slept — I’m still suffering from the nervous energy associated with election fever (and too much coffee) to think about sleep but I’m looking forward to see what happens in the next five years with Cameron’s Tories in charge and the influx of SNP MPs in Westminster.
If I thought last night was interesting then I think the next five years will give me plenty to write about …