Election of Hope: Introduction

Matthew Tyler is struggling with depression and alcoholism following a bitter divorce, when a snap general election is called. As a candidate in a marginal constituency, he must fight his demons to try to secure victory for him and his party. Can he find peace and happiness in the middle of a stressful election campaign? And can he stay focused when a surprising love interest emerges?

Election of Hope is not my first short story (novella?), but it is the first I have decided to publish. It is written to be both topical, and as a way of exploring a few important social issues. That said, it is meant to be for entertainment only and is not an attempt to persuade anyone which way they should vote on 12 December. No, really. There is plenty of material elsewhere on the internet for that!

Whilst I emphasise that the main protagonists are entirely fictional and not based in any way on any real people, as I said the story is designed to be topical. Not quite up-to-the-minute, but not far from it. Much of the main plot is already written, but in such a way that real events and policies of the present election campaign can be reflected upon during the course of the story.

I have also not decided how the story will end, and I will not be the one to decide that. Matthew’s constituency of South West Carn is fictional, but I have picked a real constituency at random from which to take Matthew’s election result. As there will undoubtedly be a delay between the results being declared and the final part being published, I am not going to name which constituency it is so as to not spoil the ending before it is even written. However, it is genuinely a marginal constituency with a single-digit percentage majority in 2017, so it could go either way. All will be revealed after 12 December…

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I am enjoying writing it and, whilst it is published here for free, if you would like to show your appreciation for the work which has gone into it, you are more than welcome to do so here.

Contents

Part 1 – It Started With A Vote
Part 2 – The Campaign Launch
Part 3 – The Morning After
Part 4 – Door To Door
Part 5 – The Moonlit Horizon
Part 6 – Fake News
Part 7 – Pons Carn
Part 8 – The Hustings
Part 9 – The Declaration

Barring any unforeseen delays, parts 1 to 8 will be published every day between 4 and 11 December, and this post will be updated as soon as possible afterwards with a link to the new content. Part 9 will be published on 13 December.

Mental health awareness and resilience: a personal reflection

My blog has always been a place for personal reflection. This post is no exception, but comes with a very clear trigger warning: if you are struggling with your mental health at the moment, you might not want to read on.

This weekend I presented my first RAFAC mental health awareness and resilience course of 2020 to ten adult volunteers in Kent.

For me (and, yes, as an instructor I know I am biased) the course is one of the most important of all of those available within our organisation.

Young people are under an immense amount of pressure and face many different individual risk factors, and I believe that as volunteers working with young people it is important we understand those risks, the effects they can have and what we can do to help support our cadets.

But this article isn’t about the course, and I have no desire to betray either the contents of the course or the confidences of those who participate. Instead, this article is about me: my own personal reflection.

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Election of Hope: Part 9 – The Declaration

Election of Hope is a short story based around a Liberal Democrat candidate in a marginal constituency in the 2019 general election. All of the main protagonists are entirely fictional, although there is some reaction to developments during the real election campaign. Election of Hope is presented for entertainment purposes only and is not written in an attempt to influence anyone’s vote in the general election.

Matt stood stoically on the stage looking out across the sea of party activists eagerly awaiting the result of the election. He was sandwiched between Linda to his right and Hayley to his left, while Janice Butler, the chief executive of the local council, stood poised to read the results of the election.

Inclement weather had prevented ballot boxes from polling stations on the constituency’s remote islands from being collected overnight, and so the count had been delayed until Friday afternoon, once the national result was already known. They would either be adding another member of parliament to an already surprisingly large 78-seat majority for the Conservatives, or ensuring the Liberal Democrats would end the election without a net loss of seats.

The candidates and agents had already been given the result, as they are required to be given the opportunity to ask for a recount if the result was close, but in the event it was not necessary. As was expected of them, the three candidates stood expressionless behind Janice so as not to suggest which way the result was going before the declaration had been made.

“I, Janice Butler,” the chief executive began, causing the room to fall silent, “being the acting returning officer for the constituency of South West Carn, give notice that the number of votes given for each candidate was as follows.

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Forbidden

Inspired by the story of Matthew Tyler

Deep in my soul, a secret hid,
From view of those who would forbid,
By every method, old and new,
Expressing how I feel for you.

Each time we meet, you do not know,
The passion burning deep below.
Longingly I look, yet your gaze drifts past,
And falls upon another in the cast.

My body shakes, my soul fit to burst,
This lust for you cannot be reversed.
My self-control, my reserve is tested,
The beating of my heart, arrested.

Is there something in the way you jest,
That has my heart and soul possessed?
In the deepest depths of my despair,
I feel no pain when you are there.

Yet I’m still not sure of the appeal,
Can what I’m feeling really be real?
I fear, with shame, it isn’t right,
To think this way each day and night.

It’s you I long for, there’s no one more,
Your very being my heart adores.
Yet I march on, my feelings hidden,
For loving you is, it seems, forbidden.

Election of Hope: Part 8 – The Hustings

Election of Hope is a short story based around a Liberal Democrat candidate in a marginal constituency in the 2019 general election. All of the main protagonists are entirely fictional, although there is some reaction to developments during the real election campaign. Election of Hope is presented for entertainment purposes only and is not written in an attempt to influence anyone’s vote in the general election.

“Fuck!”

Matt jumped out of his seat and swung round towards Alex, whose sudden exclamation had startled him. He had only been out of hospital for one day, and the two of them were desperately trying to prepare for the hustings.

“What?” Matt responded irritably. Alex’s head was buried in his phone and he took a few seconds to remember Matt was in the room.

“YouGov have updated their MRP model,” he said eventually, still trying to hastily digest the new information.

Relieved that it was nothing serious, Matt allowed himself to relax. He sat back down on the sofa and placed his notes on the coffee table. “Go on,” he said eagerly.

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Election of Hope: Part 7 – Pons Carn

Election of Hope is a short story based around a Liberal Democrat candidate in a marginal constituency in the 2019 general election. All of the main protagonists are entirely fictional, although there is some reaction to developments during the real election campaign. Election of Hope is presented for entertainment purposes only and is not written in an attempt to influence anyone’s vote in the general election.

Spanning 250 metres over the River Massen, Pons Carn was a key route for rush-hour and commercial traffic in and out of the town. Constructed in the late 1870s from stone and iron, it had been widened shortly after the Second World War to allow for the construction of a dual carriageway across the water.

Alex raced to the bridge as fast as his SEAT Ibiza would allow him. Weaving perilously in and out of traffic and jumping the occasional red light when he considered it was safe to do so, he was determined to get the Matt before it was too late. As he neared the bridge, traffic had ground to a halt, so he ditched his car and made the rest of the journey on foot, running.

Upon arrival, he reported to the first police officer he found, who led him to PC Marston.

“Thank you for coming so quickly,” PC Marston said. “This bridge is a busy route, and the shortest diversion is almost 20 miles through country lanes. The sooner we can get Mr Tyler to safety and reopen the road, the better.”

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