For about two hours on Friday, I thought there was a real possibility that I was going to be elected. And for about fifteen minutes, I thought I was definitely in. As I was driving to the regional count in Denbigh, I heard on the radio that Plaid Cymru were going to get two regional seats in North Wales and as I arrived, a few people that I know from other political parties congratulated me. Then I spoke to my fellow Plaid Cymru people, and heard the truth. We'd just missed out by a few hundred votes and that was the end of that. But at least Llyr was in, and I'm delighted for him as I know he'll be an excellent Assembly member.
It was a strange experience, driving back from Denbigh to Caernarfon. My phone was going mad, and people were still speculating on the radio that I was about to be elected. There was nothing for it but to stop the car, and put up on twitter that I definitely wasn't it. Within five minutes, that was being reported and the phone calls stopped. I plugged my ipod in, and the first song to play on shuffle was the following. I had to laugh at the irony!
It was always going to be a long shot for me to get in, so I'm not devestated but I am upset that other Plaid Cymru candidates didn't make it. The Assembly will be a poorer place without Nerys Evans, Helen Mary Jones, Chris Franks and Dai Lloyd. I truly hope we'll see them return in 2016. Wales needs them!
As for what went wrong for Plaid Cymru, I'm going to ponder for a few days before posting something a bit more subtantial here. Lessons need to be learnt without a doubt, and something dramatic needs to happen so that we transform our fortunes in time for the 2016 election.
By then, I hope to be standing as a candidate in a seat rather than a region. It's not an experience I'd like to go through again, because you're competing against your own team in order to have a chance of being elected. Even though I desperately wanted us to keep Aberconwy and I worked hard there alongside Iwan Huws, a small part of me knew that we had to lose the seat in order for me to possibly be elected. And that's wrong. Also, it's impossible to set definite goals as a list candidates. You end up doing a bit here and there in every constituency, and have no real control over the votes as your name doesn't appear on the ballot paper. Those you do convert to voting for you then struggle to understand how to cast that vote. At least in Montgomeryshire I could set a goal of coming third and be proud when we did achieve it.
I have to say that I was seriously impressed with our candidates across North Wales, who all worked incredibly hard and deserved better results. Mabon ap Gwynfor, Marc Jones, Carrie Harper and Shane Brennan are all names to watch out for in the future, and I very much hope to see Eifion Lloyd Jones and Iwan Huws run again as well. Seeing worse candidates being elected in some seats is depressing, but that's democracy unfortunately. We'll just have to keep up the good fight and hope for a breakthrough in the end, as happened for the SNP this time.
Thank you to all our activists - we couldn't have achieved anything without them! They're a fantastic group of people, and I've very much enjoyed campaigning with them and making new friends. Also, the Plaid Cymru staff who gave it their all - they are amazing. Mawr fydd eich gwobr yn y nefoedd!