I was a mere spectator of the kerfuffle in Ealing Southall, what with having had far too much to do in my own patch, plus a hectic time with the day job, plus a strained Achilles tendon, plus a belief that winning Haverstock Ward, Camden (where inspired Lib Dem environmental policies are going down extremely well with local people) mattered more in the long run than not winning in Southall.
Was the blizzard of paper whizzing through those Ealing letterboxes really a good idea? I got reports that electors were fed up with the quantity of it, and obviously they were not enthused by it, because the turnout was low. And I empathised with them: I was not enthused, either, by the large number of texts and emails I received, urging various reasons why I should go and help. I fear it is counterproductive. And was it really a good idea for our MPs to cancel masses of other engagements for the duration? They have so much important work to do.
Not much media time was spent on what the issues in the contest were. And now it's all over, the abrupt halt to the effort leaving the population of Southall to their own devices again is bound to encourage them to feel cynical.
The failure of the Tory campaign in Southall seems untypical to me, because Southall itself seems untypical - at any rate, it seems that politicians changed parties for odd reasons there - at the drop of a hat, even. Maybe I'm old-fashioned but I think it is the done thing, when leaving one political party and joining another, to give some sensible reason of principle or policy for it. If that happened in Southall, the publicity has not reached me. I can't keep up with the game of musical chairs that was being played there. But I don't think it teaches us much about the bigger picture.
Even if we had won the seat, its effect on the distribution of power in the House of Commons would have been insignificant.
So I don't think the huge amounts of resources expended by us - paper delivered, shoe leather worn out and so on - on the streets of Southall were worthwhile. It was wasteful, and it was not environmentally friendly.
The satisfaction of coming second is temporary. A week is not a long time in politics: it is a short time, very short. I don't think we will get anywhere by short-term positioning. And in the long run this level of effort cannot be maintained even by the two main parties, and especially by us. In the long run, the two main parties are uncertain about their direction for big reasons: big changes in the country and the world. Maybe those changes mean our values and beliefs are due for a breakthrough, but we will not make it happen this way. It just won't, until big reasons exist for people to look to our party and when they do they see in it the statesmanship to lead.