Time to Stop the Speculators
The seemingly unstoppable suburbanisation of the Isle of Man appears to be gathering pace again, after a lull of a few years. Recent reports in the press have suggested that the Island may be on the verge of another boom, albeit on a smaller scale than that of the late 1980s. There is, apparently, a big increase in the volume of planning applications being dealt with by the Department of Local Government and comments from Ministers have spoken of an "economic upturn".
Whilst we can always expect politicians to "talk-up" the economy when it suits them, the Manx people have every reason to fear another period of uncontrolled growth, similar to ones we have had before this time fuelled by renegade "Brits" from South Africa and Hong Kong.
We must support wholeheartedly the present campaign by the "Save our Scarlett" committee and, from the wide range of other groups opposing the Dandara plan, it seems that this might he more than just a "not in my back-yard" protest. There is a feeling, perhaps, that this time the developers have gone a field (or more) too far. However, we also have to ask whether the residents of Castletown supported the people of Laxey in their unsuccessful fight against a large development there; a development which Mr Tony Brown has permitted against the wishes of the villagers of Laxey and their representatives.
Soon, perhaps, there will be a realisation that the Manx Government's laisser faire attitude to growth and the associated artificial population increase must be challenged. Until that day comes, however, speculative housing developments must be opposed everywhere by all legal means and primarily through the planning process and regardless of whether they are on land zoned for residential use or not, until politicians realise that Manx people have had enough of the despoliation being carried out all over the Island.
It will not he easy - developers, estate agents and all their hangers-on form a powerful lobby who have the ear of Government. Planning decisions have been and will be made according to a political agenda of growth at all costs, requiring a continuous flow of new residents to support further growth.
All over the U.K. at present,
protesters are fighting massive road-building schemes. An unlikely
is being formed between middle class "nimbys" and youthful idealists,
supporters of Earth First, F.O.E. and New-Age travellers. They are
together to protest and oppose the destruction of the landscape and
by all means within the law. The time may be coming when we too will
to consider peaceful, legal but high-profile protest.
Mec Vannin to set up fighting fund
Mec Vannin is to enter the fray in the battle to stop the speculators raping the green fields of Mannin.
A fighting fund will be launched
Day and the money raised will be used to defray the campaign expenses
Feelings are currently running
Mec Vannin on this issue, with some members being prepared for all
of (legal) direct action to obstruct the building of housing
that congest local communities and services and profit no-one but the
developer and hangers on.
S.O.S. - Save Our Scarlett Organisation
Dandara Places have submitted a
application for a development at Scarlett on land including the ancient
Knock Rushen site. This estate will comprise of 177 house. The largest
estate in the South. If you are not in the Castletown constituency,
object to your M.H.K.. Due to the ministerial position of Castletown's
M.H.K. and his inability to represent us in these matters, the Save our
Scarlett Organisation has been formed.
M.H.K. or not M.H.K.? That is the question.
The citizens of Castletown find themselves in a rather tricky position. At the last election, nobody from Castletown stood against Tony Brown (Castletown's M.H.K.). The trouble is, "Hovis" seems to think that as he wasn't actually voted in at the last election, he doesn't need to listen to his constituents. Tony wasn't elected as Minister with Responsibility for Planning either, however he seems to think that his duty to that job is greater than his duty to the people of Castletown.
A Message From The Chairman
It is an unfortunate fact that
see Mec Vannin as the last ray of hope for the Manx Nation. Thousands
Manx people have gone to their graves in a country which, despite being
their birthplace and home, is strange to them. All this sentimentality
aside, however, Manx governments over the past 30 years have virtually
destroyed any hopes of genuine sustainable independence in favour
"get rich quick" schemes that are a time bomb waiting to destroy future
This may make Mec Vannin seem ineffective, but let me assure you that without our stance as a rallying point for opposition, things would have been considerably worse.
Mec Vannin has, throughout its entire 30 year history made positive contribution to the government of this Island through expression of views, alternatives, elected representation and ideas. Those ideas that have been taken up have invariably been successful.
The continued existence of Mec
crucial to any who believe in a concept of the independent Manx Nation.
As such, my term as Caairliagh (Chairman) is not a duty that I take
and I only hope that I can do justice to the long list of "Manx
who have preceded me.
Finance Sector Fundamental Opposition Continues
A special committee of Mec Vannin set up by the 1993 A.G.M. has come out firmly in favour of maintaining the organisation's anti-finance sector stance.
Its report, in two parts, was received by the 1994 A.G.M. and adopted as Mec Vannin policy at the June general meeting.
In part one of the report, the committee reviews the current policy of fundamental opposition to the presence and growth of the offshore financial services industry in Mann. The committee argues that there are three main reasons to justify continued hostility to the finance sector.
Firstly, they contend that the tax avoidance / evasion industry is inherently unethical in its motivation and methods and that, moreover, the institutional secrecy surrounding its activities provides the perfect cover and mechanisms for the money laundering of the profits of serious crime.
Secondly they argue that, if it is economic folly for a government to base its economic development around one type of industry, then it is political madness as well if that industry is also foreign owned i.e. the combination of our deepening dependence on an international finance, industry loyal only to profit and their ability to move on if we fail to fulfil their expectations, makes them, rather than Tynwald, more and more the real "behind the scenes" power in the land.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the point is made in the report that, at its heart, opposition to the finance sector is opposition to the underlying values and assumptions of the Manx (for the most part) decision makers who brought it into being:- the tacit assumption for instance, that the Manx people are economically backward and resourceless and that, therefore, all new economic resources have to be shipped in.
In other words, any wavering or back-pedalling by Mec Vannin on the finance sector issue would, in effect, signal an acceptance of the very values that are reshaping the Isle of Man in the image of the finance sector and destroying any real remaining Manx identity.
Part two of the report concentrates on how to lessen dependence on the finance sector and what to put in its place. It is argued here that to free ourselves from subservience to the finance sector, and to give us a breathing space in which to develop an alternative economic future, we must first cap-off any more growth in this area by limiting the issue of banking licences.
The alternative economic development plan outlined in the report rejects the fundamental tenets of current government policy and, instead, starts off with three basic beliefs:
(a) The belief that the cultural and economic regeneration of the Manx people should be at the heart of any development policy, not the periphery.
(b) The belief that we should be given the means to be active participants in our own economic regeneration rather than passive recipients of meaningless jobs from outside.
(c) The belief that the indiscriminate pursuit of economic growth and an ever rising standard of living / level of material consumption destroys more real quality of life than it creates, and should be replaced by balanced development policies which cater for all our cultural, social and environmental as well as economic needs.
The committee puts forward a two-fold strategy to achieve such a Manx centred development of Mann.
They suggest that our fiscal autonomy should be redeployed to create a preferential tax regime in which home-grown enterprise could flourish.
Under such an aegis, measures would be taken to economically empower our own population to take advantage of the favourable new economic climate, through, perhaps, such government sponsored, initiatives as a community bank, a co-operative development agency and credit unions.
The report concludes by attacking what it sees as the one real obstacle in the way of finding an alternative economic track to the one the finance sector is leading us dawn. To quote directly from the final paragraph:
"It is often stated (overstated in fact) that this is a land deficient in resources. The chief resource which is lacking at the moment, we feel, is a belief by the government in the resourcefulness and innate worth of its own people."
Why Mummy? A child's trip to "B&Q"
"Come on, let's go," said Mummy. Today we were going to B&Q. Daddy's been decorating the bathroom we've got to get some more bits and pieces.
It's a nice drive from our home in Peel past lots of fields, farms and animals. We've just turned up past Kirby Garden Centre. Mummy says that when she was a little girl Nanna and Grandad nearly bought a cottage along this road.
"Why didn't they buy it, Mummy?'
We drove on past more houses and more houses until we got to the "B&Q road." We drove down towards "B&Q."
"Why is there a roundabout in the
of nowhere, Mummy?"
I looked over to the right-hand side of the road. "It looks like the builders are going to keep on going on this side too! Will they keep on going all the way over the hills?"
"I hope not," said Mummy, sadly.
Bend over and tell us everything you've done today.....
Mec Vannin was the only party in the Island to speak out against the intimate body search laws. Only a couple of months after being introduced, we have been completely vindicated.
Two minors have been assaulted in probable contravention of international law, and a totally innocent individual has been similarly assaulted on what would appear to be a totally unsubstantiated suspicion.
On top of this we have Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Arnold Callin stating his burning desire to be rid of the right to silence.
The right to silence is fundamental If a person is forced to answer allegations made against them under law, then the fundamental premise of the burden of proof being on the prosecution has been completely reversed.
Those who claim that, "the innocent have nothing to fear" deserve to have a fist stuck up their backsides.
A Time For Change
Mec Vannin has promoted the concept of a fully independent Manx Nation for over thirty years now. This means that it has well outlived the life expectancy given to it by those of lower aspirations. But are we any closer to achieving our objectives?
Many people outside the Manx cultural / political sphere (and, sadly, some within) simply don't know what our objectives are. They make all sorts of assumptions and even worse, deliberately blind themselves to that which Mec Vannin has said. This has frequently included members of Tynwald. But why? There is only one credible answer; fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of reality and fear of standing on our own two feet.
Unfortunately, this fear of positive direction both within the populace and the government has led to self realisation. Candidates for the House of Keys have to be totally homogeneous, virtually featureless infact, for to make positive policy statements involving the word CHANGE is tantamount to political suicide. The result is a government made up of individuals who lack the will to make positive change via their own initiative, preferring instead to listen to those who know exactly what they want from this island and how to get it.
The real political control of this nation lies not in the hands of the elected government, but in the hands of financiers, property developers, estate agents and tax-dodgers. The result has been that Mannin has changed from a small Celtic nation enjoying near independence, peace, high, quality of life - and a vast sustainable income potential into a shoddy little tax-haven with an identity crisis. Those who feared change have seen it realised at their own hands.
But what has Mec Vannin done to prevent any of this? Simply complained, criticised, and harped on about "the good old days?" Nothing of the sort. Some of the many highly successful ideas first put forward by Mec Vannin include the use of our own flag, our own postal system issuing our own stamps, our own coinage, the teaching of Manx in schools and the reclamation of territorial waters.
There are many more whose proper potential is not yet realised, such as recycling, renewable energy, a Manx educational curriculum, and our own currency. Some of those things may appear tokenist, but until we re-establish the confidence in our own young people to believe in themselves as Manx and be proud of their unique identity, we consign them to ignonimity and under-achievement.
In simple terms, if we want
last in the long term, we have to be willing to change a few things in
the short term.
Gaelgeyryn - Yn sleih boght jeh Mannin.
Va ny Manninee 'sy nuyoo eash yeig slane noi yn chengey dooghysagh oc, er y fa dy row ad fakin ny Gaelgeyryn cummal ayns bwaaneyn laaee choud's v'adsyn as Baarle oc jannoo foays da nyn mea. Ta shen so-hoiggal agh ta fys mie ain nish nagh row eh yn Ghaelg va freill yn theay veih sharaghey eh hene - ta shin ooilley Baarleyryn nish agh ta shin foast fo ordaag Hostyn.
Rish ny smoo na keead blein nish,
er n'gheddyn dellal boght veih yn lught-reill ynsee, as eer ayns ny
Cha nel leshtal erbee da'n reilltys yn veerioose shoh y veaynaghey. Lhig da ny Gaelgeyryn ve ynsit ass Gaelg!
An increasing number of children
brought up speaking both Manx and English fluently, However, their use
Right To Learn Manx
The introduction of Manx Gaelic classes in schools was a great step in raising the national consciousness of Manx people. However, put against the considerable population changes Mannin, massive green field housing developments and the virtual annihilation of the traditional Manx industries, it is a small drop in a very big ocean. Government policies are directly responsible for the decline in Manx identity and it i s clear that small under-funded projects such as the Manx Gaelic programme do not absolve the Government of its considerable responsibilities towards promoting and developing a Manx identity.
It is sad to reflect that, far from being over researched, there are not even enough teachers teaching Manx to meet Government's own lowly demands. As if lack of policy funding was not enough, the Manx project faces a very uncertain future. In a recent letter to the Celtic League, the Chief Minister made it clear that he would not guarantee finance for Manx in the future. At the beginning of this year, the Manx Language Officer's contract was renewed for a mere two year period: These are hardly the actions of a Government fully committed to the continued teaching of Manx in schools!
Despite the lack of funding, and the insecurity of the programme, the teaching of Manx in schools has been quite successful. Children are taught Manx for 30 minutes each week over a two year period, after which they will have received a basic grounding in the language. It is important to note that not all children who wish to learn Manx have the opportunity, due to lack of teachers. As Manx is effectively taught outside of the curriculum, children have to miss "normal" lessons to attend Manx classes. Consequently, children (especially in secondary schools) have to negotiate with subject teachers for permission to attend Manx classes and are required to catch up on missed work in their own time. This is especially difficult and intimidator for children, particularly when some teachers are unsympathetic to the Manx language.
Recent changes within the English national curriculum (which our own education department blindly follows) are supposed to release 20% of teaching time to the schools' discretion, so previous time-tabling difficulties for Manx should be easily overcome, at least in primary schools. However, for Manx to be taught effectively at secondary level, an examination course (equivalent to GCSE) must be introduced. Without examination status Manx will always be a poor relation in secondary education and, if pressures became too great in exam subjects, Manx would inevitably suffer. It is essential that the Manx language officer be released from his considerable teaching duties so that his time can be put to developing a Manx examination far secondary schools.
If the Manx Gaelic programme is to properly fulfil the requirements of Government policy, at least one more teacher should be drafted onto the scheme. However, this modest Manx Gaelic programme is being used by Government to hide its completely inadequate policies towards the promotion and development of Manx Gaelic. Mec Vannin believes it should he the right of every child in the Isle of Mann to be taught Manx Gaelic as part of the Manx curriculum - as a mainstream curricular subject, all children would be taught Manx, though they could opt out if they wished, rather than at present having to fight for a place on the course. Far more resources, both in teachers and equipment should he made available to the current Manx programme if Government is to properly shoulder its responsibly ties to the language.
Cultural Officer, Mec Vannin.
Mec Vannin Policy Summary, May 1992 - Language:
"A distinct linguistic and cultural heritage confers upon a people its sense of nationhood and identity. The Manx language and culture must be actively supported and developed both in educational and everyday life by the government.
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