Libby Local, The Finale: “The Bright Side of Life”

Since last October, the pseudonymous Libby Local has been keeping LDV readers up-to-date with her first-time attempt to win Demsbury Central in Libbyshire. We published the penultimate episode, “Election Day!” yesterday. Here’s the finale…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was moment’s silence after the pub band finished belting out “Wild Thing.” I leant on Mel and whispered in her ear. “Thank you. Thank you so much. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Twelve hours earlier, my stomach had been in a knot and I felt physically sick. I was standing with Melanie, @Demsburybess and a small clutch of supporters in front of the counting table in Libbytown. Maxwell Tarmac-Smyth and his team were huddled at the other end. The UKIP candidate had not bothered to turn up.

I could barely breath as my votes were bundled into twenty-fives and checked. We counted and made a mental note of my total. It was well over 500. I was in with a chance!

But hopes faded as Mad Max’s votes were counted. We had hoped for UKIP to have taken more votes from him, but it was clear within minutes that Max had topped 600.

I turned to look at Melissa. She said nothing but we both knew I had lost. I was a full four bundles and a clutch of votes short of winning. I could feel the tears welling but I wasn’t going to lose my composure in front of Mad Max.

The Presiding Officer called the candidates and agents forward. Mad Max had gained 613 votes, I had got 540. UKIP trailed well behind at 157.

Mad Max turned and shook my hand saying: “You ran a good clean campaign.”

I bit my tongue. What a cheek the man has saying that after the vile campaign he ran!

It was a couple of hours before I could set back for Demsbury. I stumbled up Crow Hill from the station, my feet still sore from weeks of non-stop canvassing. I dreaded having to tell people that I had lost by 73 votes.

“Hey Libby. How did you get on?” A man called from across the road. I told him the news and he shook my hand. “You deserved to win,” he said. “But a pig in a blue rosette would get in around here.”

A woman rushed out of her door to hug me. “I heard it on Radio Libbyshire,” she said. “You did so well. Next time you will win.”

That set the pattern for my journey home. People saying how incredibly well I had done. They said it was great that someone cared so passionately about Demsbury. It took me more than an hour to stroll through the narrow streets of the town to home.

As I slumped in the chair, tears overwhelmed me. Tears of relief that it was all over and I could at last get on with normal life. Tears of exhaustion having not slept well for weeks. Tears of gratitude for getting so much encouragement and support. And yes, tears for having lost a campaign we could have won if only I had turned out my voters on the day.

Soon I was asleep, dreaming chaotically of knocking on doors and watching votes being counted.

A few hours later Team Libby grouped in the Market Tavern. The warmth of the reception was amazing. I did not need encouragement to make a short speech. There was something I had to say beyond the normal thank you.

“I am sorry I lost. But I also feel we have won. I’ve got a mandate from the community of 540 votes. I am going to use that to help the people in this town. We may have to live with Mad Max for another four years, but I can speak up for the people he doesn’t represent. And in four years’ time we are going to win!”

“Right,” said @ Demsburybess, strolling to the bar as the cheers died down. “It’s time for a few buckets of Pinot Grigio.”

All talk of politics – of which we were anyway exhausted – ended when local covers band Demsbury DC began blasting us out. We glugged a couple of glasses of Grigio and got up on our feet to punch the air.

“Wild Thing” gave way to “Road to Nowhere”. Even our sore and blistered feet could not stop us leaping in the air as the band launched into “Burning for Love”.

A short while later the landlord called time, fearful of his licence if the noise was too great. But after a roar of protests, we got a final encore. It was the Python classic: “Always look on the bright side of life.”

That’s exactly right the right message to end this campaign. There is so much on the bright side of life that has come from working with a great Lib Dem team in a great team.

I’m Libby and I’m local – to Demsbury and Libbyshire at least. And I’ve found my local voice through the Lib Dems. I lost the vote but in so many ways I have won so much. It’s an experience I would not have missed for a moment.

Next time, I will win.

* Libby Local is based on real events. Details have been changed to protect the innocent and disguise the guilty. Libby’s passion and determination, along with her angst and frustration, are set to be a regular feature of Lib Dem Voice as the May 2013 elections approach. You can catch up with all Libby Local's episodes to date by clicking here.

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4 Comments

  • Steve Griffiths 13th May '13 - 11:16am

    Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and if you want to win in four years time, get your your ‘thank you’ Focus out pronto (I doubt if the other parties will bother). Then everytime Mad Max puts a foot wrong or says something vile, tell the electorate in the next Focus.

  • Tony Dawson 13th May '13 - 6:07pm

    “Libby’s passion and determination, along with her angst and frustration, are set to be a regular feature of Lib Dem Voice as the May 2013 elections approach.”

    Living in the past? Or now standing for election to Tardis District Council?

  • Commiserations on losing Libby. Thank you for your entertaining articles.

    Hopefully “Mad Max II” will have a different ending.

    🙂

  • ::Go Libby!::

    “It’s a two horse race and your within striking distance of winning…”

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