It's an oft repeated phrase that a week is a long time in politics, but I had never fully understood it until the last few days. After weeks of door to door canvassing, several hustings (some real and some virtual) and seemingly endless media surveys, the election finally happened on 23rd September.
Election night itself was highly stressful. The returning office marshalled around 30 staff to ensure all the ballots were accounted for and everything tallied. Rushen has 5884 registered voters and with a turnout of 59%, there were a lot of votes to count. The result came around 22:45 and BOOM I'd received 1386 votes (22.9%) and been elected alongside Juan Watterson (2384 votes, 39.5%). Part way through the count I'd been convinced that I hadn't polled well enough, so to receive the final tally capped a huge rollercoaster of emotions. I sat up with family and close friends listening to the rest of the results come through to see who my new colleagues might be. I'm so proud to be one of the most gender balanced House of Keys ever, with 10 women out of the 24 members.
What followed has been a bit of a rapid introduction. On Friday I went into the office to collect a whole raft of paperwork relating to my induction. On Monday I had my photo taken, got a security pass and found my desk and by the next day I was being sworn in as an MHK (and Steve even put on a suit to come and watch me!). By Wednesday I was attending the swearing in of the new Lieutenant Governor at Castle Rushen (he had rather more to say than we did!) and by Thursday I was in my first Tynwald Court sitting. Friday involved more induction training.
To be honest, I still feel very much like the new kid on the block. The Legislative Buildings feels a little like a maze where I often find myself in dark stairwells, not entirely sure where I will come out. I've been practising holistic navigation (all credit to Dirk Gently/Douglas Adams) and following other members who look like they know where they are going, with the knowledge that wherever I end up is where the universe intended me to be. I haven't gone too far wrong so far, apart from managing to inadvertently park in the wrong space in the carpark.
The coming week is filled with more induction training and a chance to get to know my new colleagues a bit more. Some of the returning members have been coming to these sessions and their insights are really helpful.