So, that was the election.
I absorbed the results with mixed emotions. The Greens did well. We’re well placed to take a seat in Bristol next time and Caroline Lucas cemented her standing in Brighton. She is a good thing and a growing number of people in the city seem to agree.
Here, in Bexhill and Battle, I received 2807 votes; 5.06% of the total and some 46 votes more than I needed to keep my deposit. Given that only six Greens achieved that feat in 2010 I felt quite satisfied, quietly elated even.
But above all the entire experience served to remind me how precious our democracy is. The taking part was a valuable experience. And as we husted together I sensed that all five of us standing for election actually listened to one another and found points of agreement.
I have to say I found the first hustings in Pevensey difficult. It was a small audience and UKIP had bussed in a phalanx of supporters who muttered and harrumphed through the answers of candidates with whom they disagreed. They particularly objected to my pointing out that far too many UKIP candidates have, in recent months and years, said things that were outright racist, homophobic or misogynistic.
One woman with a UKIP rosette stomped over while I was sitting down during the interval and, looming over me, berated me for being divisive and told me she had no interest in hearing what I had to say in my defence. My heart sank.
Thankfully that was the low point.
As the campaign progressed I came to realise how important the process is. Despite the disillusionment in politics engendered by the constant media attacks on almost anyone involved in politics, hundreds of people turned out in Ticehurst, Bexhill and Heathfield to ask questions and listen patiently to our answers.
But when we went out to meet people, on the streets of Bexhill and Battle, I sensed how wide the disengagement has spread. People don’t seem to think about politics and policy in the way they might have thirty or sixty years ago. It’s become a beauty contest. I heard quite a bit about what people thought about Natalie Bennett, but not a lot about what people thought about our ideas.
And that disengagement cannot be helped by a system that has translated 5,000,000 votes for UKIP and the Greens into precisely two seats. I don’t agree with vast swathes of UKIP stands for but I’m not afraid of the debate that’s to be had and the people who voted for them do deserve representation.
And in the end it all felt very civil. At the count I extended an invitation to lunch to Hum Merriman, our new Conservative MP, Labour’s Michelle Thew, the LibDems’ Rachel Sadler and UKIP’s Geoffrey Bastin. They all said yes. I actually hope we find a date when everyone can come. I’m guessing we’ll try and fail not to talk politics, but that’s fine. It’ll be a celebration of the fact that, for all its flaws, the democratic process is the best way we’ve yet found of parlaying our differences and I think the five of us did a pretty good job of that.