Mec Vannin

Yn Pabyr Seyr

Yn Pabyr Seyr is published by Mec Vannin, the Manx Nationalist Party. All articles are copyright Mec Vannin unless otherwise stated. Mec Vannin grants permission to reproduce articles from Yn Pabyr Seyr provided that the source is credited.

Yn Pabyr Seyr is published and distributed in hard-copy at least twice a year and archived to the internet.

Issue 34 - January 2005


Contents




A History Lesson

Our country has no essential written Constitution and, as such, it is open to convenient interpretation or even disregard. Such disregard would be fiercely opposed in the UK parliament but not here.

Until 1949, The Isle of Man was a full-blown British colony. The extra-parliamentary Manx National Reform League (established 1903) and a Select Committee of Tynwald (established 1904, reporting 1905) petitioned the UK for constitutional reform. Both reformist parties recognised that the UK was abusing the established constitutional relationship between Keys and Council to exert its influence: The Legislative Council was composed entirely of Crown appointments and the Legislature controlled all the Boards.

The Keys unsuccesfully suggested that two appointed members of the Legislature be replaced by two members elected indirectly by the House of Keys. The high-handed behaviour of Lord Raglan (Lieutenant Governor 1903-1919) enjoyed solid support from the UK Home Office and, in 1911, the Keys actually refused to progress any matters for two months. This forced a UK commission into constitutional review (The MacDonnell Commission). The results were hardly breathtaking but it did signal the limitation of governors' terms to five years.

Colonial abuse continued. The UK used both the Legislature and the "Royal Assent" to block and frustrate the Keys but, after the Second World War, a different situation prevailed: A fresh UK Labour Government, a collapsing British Empire and UN resolutions brought a new willingness to decolonise administratively. More importantly, the status quo was likely to force the UK to actually inject rather than extract revenue from the Island, but the UK remained firmly opposed to any notion of independence.

Changes were discussed from 1949 on, leading to the transfer of Treasury powers to Tynwald in 1958. Prior to this, however, a Royal Commission was established at Tynwald's request in 1957 to investigate more reform. The resultant "MacDermott Commission" reported in 1959. Its recommendations fell far short of the Keys' desires but it did accept the notion of reducing some Legislative Council powers.  A nucleus of Crown appointed members remained and the reduction in Council power mimicked the UK's House of Lords, rather than taking regard of the Manx constitutional position of the Legislative Council in pre-colonial days. It remained firmly opposed to erosion of the Lieutenant Governor's executive status and the Home Office made it clear to the Keys that any attempt to legislate away such power would be ultimately obstructed.

Nonetheless, 60 years of pressure for reform had led to a House of Keys with a toe in the door of the Legislative Council. The 1970s saw, at long last, a reduction in the Lieutenant-Governor's powers and a move towards a Tynwald executive.

In comparison to the slow change of the previous century, the transition from government by Boards under UK direction to ministerial government with its own executive took place at lightening speed. It also co-incided with a transition in personnel in Tynwald from those who had suffered and understood the colonial era with its failings, to those whose appreciation of those days was less developed.

The result was that the first Tynwald to see ministerial government also permitted the first Chief Minister to consolidate his personal power base with the approval of the "Hire and Fire" powers instead of Tynwald sanctioned ministers. The imbalance of power was recognised by some but they were defeated. Subsequent attempts at reform have been defeated with accusations of "navel gazing" from both within and without Tynwald. The concensus politics of the 60s and 70s, where disagreement and dissent did not lead to marginalisation, have been replaced by personality based politics and shallow power-grabbing. This has all happened, not only under the nose of the UK, but with its explicit approval.

With the re-appointment of Donald Gelling to Chief Minister, constitutional propriety has been thrown out of the window, with the reliance instead being put upon pure legislation. As a result, a written, democratic constitution becomes an imperative rather than preference.


House of Cards

Manx society should not be surprised by the reaction of certain Manx politicians to the widespread UK and Irish media coverage of recent political developments here. Mec Vannin knows that behind the scenes, the reaction has been even more furious, verging on the hysterical. We are aware that there have been clashes, confrontations and raised voices in the Members Room of Tynwald.

It is ironic but inevitable that successive Manx Governments, whose master plan has apparently been to increase our "independence" by making us ever more reliant on a sometimes dubious finance sector, should be absolutely petrified by any reference in the British and Irish press to the conclusions of the Mount Murray Inquiry, or the recently disclosed £120,000,000 MEA scandal, let alone to a "seedy tax-haven". Their reaction betrays their nervous apprehension, as if they know that sooner or later the whole edifice will come crashing down at the whim of a British Government. In fact, not so much the House of Keys, more a house of cards.

It can be cause for satisfaction to Mec Vannin that the coverage in the UK and Irish media was a self-inflicted wound on the Manx Government (but not the Manx people). The adverse publicity was a direct outcome of the stifling of dissent here at home, the closure of internet forums, the truncation of Mannin Line, the failure of the print media to reflect divergence of opinion and the apparent bias of certain Manx Radio reporters. Contrary to the perception of some of our politicians, the world media isn't queueing up to take a shot at the Isle of Man. Ultimately, however, high profile allegations and arrests made coverage inevitable. Mec Vannin has been assured that the interest in Manx affairs shown by the British and Irish media will continue, and in particular the £120,000,000 MEA fiasco is being closely watched. The Manx Government would be wise to remember that.


Oraid Ghaelgagh

Vraane as gheiney seyrey, ta shin nyn shassoo aynshoh jiu ayns cooinaghtyn jeh Illiam y Christeen.  Share er enn dooin eshyn rere y far-ennym caarjoil 'sy Ghaelg echey, Illiam Dhone.  As er-lhiam dy vel shen soilshaghey magh dooin dy row theay Vannin jeeaghyn er y dooinney shoh myr carrey mie. 

Vel shin toiggal cre'n sorch dy ghooinney v'ayn?  S'doillee eh gra dy vel.  Ta shin jeeaghyn nyn-gooyl gys traa mysh tree cheead dy lieh vlein er-dy-henney.  Er-coontey jeh ny bleeantyn t'er ngoll shaghey neayr's laghyn Illiam Dhone, she docmaidyn oikoil, son y chooid smoo, ta cur fys dooin er Illiam Dhone.  Agh dy mennick, she fenish ny noidyn echey ta ry-lhaih ayns ny docmaidyn shen. 

Agh rere shenn arrane er Illiam Dhone, V'ou laue-yesh yn Eearley.   Ta fys ain dy row Illiam Dhone ny ghooinney scanshoil ayns Mannin; dy row eh ny oaseir as ny ghooinney seyr, jeh sluight mooar y chloan Christeen; as dy row treisht ec y lught-thie Stanlagh er ablid y ghooinney shoh.  Agh ny smoo na shen, rere yn un chenn arrane, dy chooilleeney ny fockleyn, V'ou laue yesh yn Eearley, as sooill yesh y theay. 

Ta fys ain dy ren mysh hoght cheead dy chummaltee ooasle Vannin loo dy eiyrt er Illiam Dhone tra v'eh ginsh daue dy row eh son goaill, ayns y ghaa laue echeysyn hene, y currym dy stiurey cooishyn ny cheerey ass-lieh theay Vannin, ny yei dy row y Ven-Eearley Charlotte, va ny ben, as gyn yss jee, ny ben-treoghe, da'n Shiaghtoo Eearley James, y Stanlagh Mooar, cummal Mannin ass-lieh y chrooin noi ny Ard-whaiylee. 

Ta fys ain dy daink eh lesh Illiam Dhone as ny caarjyn echey, as dy re eshyn va loayrt ass-lieh theay Vannin rish y Colonel Robert Duckinfield, va ny ard-oaseir jeh ny Ard-whaiylee.  Ta fys ain dy jagh Illiam Dhone as y braar echey gys Lunnin dy hoilshaghey magh shenn chiartyssyn eiraght as chied as cairyn Vannin, as dy row ny Ard-whaiylee cur arrym da Illiam Dhone myr ny ghooinney seyr as mie-ynsit.

Fy-yerrey hoal, ta fys ain dy dooar Illiam Dhone baase faggys da'n voayl shoh, ny shliee na jeih bleeaney ny s'anmey, er-coontey jeh kialg nearagh vee-ynrick liorish y lught-thie Stanlagh dy chur shaghey cairys as dy chur gy baase dooinney v'ad geearee cur y drogh er myr noid.  Scammylt v'eh, as cha nyrrys dooin dy row deyrrey baaish currit er.

Tra haink y traa, cha row Illiam Dhone goaill aggle, ga nagh row eh geearee geddyn baase.  Cha ren eh reih baase, agh ny yei shen as ooilley, chaill eh y vioys echey faggys da'n voayl shoh.  As cre'n fa?  Er-yn-oyr dy row eh arryltagh dy chur coraa oikoil da theay Vannin, lurg cheeadyn dy vleeantyn tra nagh row agh conaase ec y lught-reill v'ayn er cummaltee yn Ellan shoh.

Agh shen tree cheead dy lieh vlein er dy henney.  Nagh insh dou ny va mee, agh insh dou ny ta mee: shenn raa creeney, my te.   Ta'n stayd politicagh ayns Mannin anchasley dy mooar rish y stayd v'ayns lhing Illiam Dhone.  Nar lhig dooin jarrood dy vel cooishyn politicagh ayns Mannin nish nagh row ayn tree cheead dy lieh vlein er-dy-henney, ny eer daeed blein, eer feed blein, er-dy-henney, as lhig dooin cur bwooise son shen.
 
Ta stayd politicagh Vannin foast goll er caghlaa.   Agh ta ourys ec theay Vannin dy vel foast kuse dy leih as conaase oc er cummaltee yn Ellan.  Ta kuse dy leih goaill aggle roish Bugganeyn ayns Brussels; ta kuse dy leih goaill aggle roish Wagaantee ayns Whitehall; ta kuse dy leih goaill aggle roish Mitchooryn ayns Mannin hene.    

V'ad gra mychione Illiam Dhone dy row eh laue yesh yn Eearley as sooill yesh y theay.  Lhig dooin toiggal shen rere stayd Mannin myr t'eh nish. 

Laue yesh yn Eearley: cha nel shen dy ghra dy vel 'yn Illiam Dhone noa' ny oltey jeh'n reiltys; ny ny oaseir; ny fer jeh'n sleih ta seiy ad hene er oaie.  Cosoyley Mannin rish buill elley, ta toiggalys ec 'yn Illiam Dhone noa' shoh dy vel anchaslyssyn ayn: stayd cultooroil er-lheh, cooishyn politicagh er-lheh, aght baghee er-lheh – as ta'n 'Illiam Dhone noa' shoh cur olteynyn y lught-reill ayns cooinaghtyn jeh shen my vees ad ayns danjeyr jeh jarrood eh.

Sooill yesh y theay: naght shen, ta'n 'Illiam Dhone noa' cur cooinaghtyn da'n lught-reill nagh re ynrick eh, ny kiart, ny cooie, dy yannoo faghid jeh cummaltee Vannin liorish reaghey y reiltys ass-lieh 'sluight yn argid' ynrican, ny ass-lieh jus ayrn erbee elley jeh cummaltee Vannin.   Shegin da'n reiltys stiurey cooishyn ass-lieh ooilley yn sleih ta jannoo seose theay Vannin, quoi erbee t'aynshoh.

Ta caa dooin ooilley ardjaghey ny coraaghyn ain.  Naght cheddin as Illiam Dhone, fodmayd ooilley freayll arrey; fodmayd ooilley freayll rick – foddee lesh screeunyn da'n lught-reill, foddee lesh screeunyn da'n phabyr naight, foddee er y Mannin Line er Radio Vannin.

Cre erbee elley va Illiam Dhone, cre'n sorch dy ghooinney, cre ooilley va jeant echey, foddee nagh vel shin shickyr.  Agh ta fys ain er shoh – dy row dunverys jeant aynshoh er-yn-oyr dy row Illiam Dhone toiggal dy row y currym echey ass-lieh theay Vannin ny smoo scanshoil na coardailys rish lught-reill conaasagh va soaighey beg jeh ny cummaltee va surranse fo'n smaght echey.

Er-coontey jeh'n vee-chairys v'ayn, cha row Illiam Dhone rieau jarroodit.  Va cooinaghtyn ersyn ec theay Vannin myr carrey trooid y far-ennym caarjoil echey; va cooinaghtyn ersyn ec theay Vannin as y Ghaelg ayns nyn meeal, trooid far-ennym Gaelgagh.  As nar lhig dooinyn jarrood, ayns dagh ooilley lhing, dy vel feme ain foast er feallee jeh'n un spyrryd as Illiam y Christeen, ta mie er enn dooin foast myr Illiam Dhone.

Robard y Carsalagh

On the way out....

Since the election of Donald Gelling as Chief Minister, rumours have been rife of a ministerial re-shuffle sometime in the New Year. One man who should be feeling distinctly nervous is the current Treasury Minister, Allan Bell, whose political career is surely in terminal decline, and not just because of the MEA affair.

It is surely inconceivable that Mr. Bell can any longer aspire to be a future Chief Minister. More importantly, Donald Gelling knows that Bell can never be a Chief Minister and this presents him with a problem: Rightly or wrongly, it appears that since the introduction of the Ministerial system, a Chief Minister is in a strong position to virtually nominate his successor, or at least seriously influence the choice, through the appointment of his Treasury Minister. Thus, the unfolding MEA scandal presents Gelling with an ideal opportunity to move Bell out of the Treasury (and out of CoMin altogether) so that his protégé (whoever he or she might be) can be in place for the next couple of years and use the position as a springboard to become the next Chief Minister in two years time.

The question of whether there is anybody in the present Council of Ministers capable of either position is another matter altogether.


Lerts in short supply

In the wake of the initial Al Q'aida attacks, Anglo-American propaganda was really pumping the bio-terrorism. It quickly emerged that the UK didn't have anything like sufficient vaccine for a mass immunisation programme in the event of such an attack and it was established that the Isle of Man had only sufficient vaccine for "key personnel" in the event of an outbreak. Furthermore, there appears to have been no attempt to address this deficiency.

Then we had former DLGE minister Pam Crowe's famous "kipper" quip in relation to iodine tablets. This was after both the UK and Irish governments issued iodine tablets to the communities in danger from radioactive contamination should there be yet another incident during the decomission of Windscale / Sellafield.

Another inquiry to the Island's Director of Public Health in August 2003 revealed that the Island had ample stocks of iodine tablets which, if taken promptly, prevent the body absorbing dangerous isotopes into the thyroid gland. Despite this, there are no plans to distribute them.

In the correspondence, Dr. MacLean stated that he perceived the threat of terrorism to be measurably greater than contamination from Sellafield. Since then, attempts to stoke terrorism fears have included the "dirty bomb" scenario. Still no iodine tablets. Still no smallpox vaccine.

A few weeks before Christmas, all households in the Island received an "information leaflet"  entitled "Be A Lert" telling us all what to do in case of a terrorist attack. What it didn't include was any plans to distribute our ample stocks of iodine tablets or acquire smallpox vaccine.

I'm sure that I am not alone in consigning the leaflet straight to the bin, largely unread and, cynic that I am, I believe that that was the very intention. The mass-burn incinerator at Richmond Hill needs feeding. Expect more "information leaflets" through your door. Don't expect anything that may actually help you in case of a terrorist attack or an accident at Sellafield.


Housing Shortage

As land and subsequent housing values become entangled with social values, the best housing appears to be that kept away from the hoipolloi. Ever spiralling house prices have ensured that none but the already comfortably off can afford to buy a house in the grotesquely inflated Manx housing market.

The construction of affordable homes for the person of ordinary means seems to defeat government and its masters in the construction industry permanently. After all no construction company wants to build six  starter homes if the same piece of land can be used to build one posh manor house. "Exclusive" developments of luxury homes are advertised everywhere, and exclusive is how both the builders and many of the neighbours want them to remain.

It is perfectly possible, with sufficient government support, to build affordable housing but the economic cleansing in which both construction companies and government conspire is exacerbating the Manx housing crisis.

As the builders concentrate on providing expensive homes the rich have more choice than ever before, just as the poor are discovering that there is nowhere to turn.  The shortfall is blamed by the developers on the lack of suitable land. In reality the development industry itself appears to be one of the principal culprits.  Just a handful control much of the Island's potential building land and sit happily on their assets in order to increase the value of the homes they sell. They have little incentive to build now if they can ensure that prices continue to boom. They have no incentive whatsoever to solve the underlying crisis by building small cheap homes rather than large expensive ones.

There are plenty of solid arguments for fighting development encroaching into our ever diminishing countryside, keeping new development as compact as possible, regenerating run-down town areas and using brownfield land before building in the countryside. Good urban design cuts crime, encourages social integration nd reduces inequality. But good urban design is the enemy of the development companies. Building on greenfield land is far cheaper than clearing existing sites and, if the land was bought at agricultural prices, far more profitable.

What problems of this kind suggest is that housing provision simply cannot be left to the market.  The first measure it must take is to use planning law to hold down the cost of land. Development land reaches the value of the most lucrative use to which it can be put. If land is zoned only, or largely for, affordable housing, then its price falls accordingly. This zoning would have to be accompanied by a time limit, to prevent developers from sitting on it pending a change of policy.

There is no room for second and third homes, or property investment portfolios, where others have none.

A New Year quiz for John Rimington DoLGE

What has happened to the Draft Braddan Plan?

Was a complaint made by a member of the public concerning a potential perception of bias in drawing up the Draft Braddan Plan, contrary to the first recommendation of the Pilling Report?

Did that perception of bias revolve around the planning officer apparently responsible for drawing up the Draft Braddan Plan being a resident of the Parish?

Was an independent inquiry held into this complaint?

Has a report now been received?

Has the complaint been upheld?

If it has been upheld, how does your Department intend to respond, in the light of  what might be considered serious maladministration?

Bonus question (and no conferring): do you intend to honour your 2001 election pledge relating to the Island Strategic Plan - or is your position as a Minister too important to you?


2005 Illiam Dhone English Oration by Roly Drower

In 2005, Jersey will begin the process of introducing a ministerial system of government to its people. Their current system will be replaced by a chief minister and up to ten ministers. In this respect they will be following the Isle of Man, which has had ministerial government since 1986.

Don't do it Jersey! At least - don't follow our model. The Manx ministerial system has been, in my view, very damaging to democracy.

Why? Because the Council of Ministers has become more powerful than the parliament that should control it.

Firstly, there is the problem of the ministerial block vote. Ten ministers are simply too much for a small elected assembly. We have nine, plus the Chief Minister, which, until Mr Corkill resigned, amounted to 40% of any vote in the House of Keys.

We also have a large number of members of departments, who can be seen as deputy ministers. Precisely why we need so many members of Tynwald tied up doing work that ministers and their civil servants should be doing defeats me.

But all of them, as members of the Government, are expected to respect the ministerial consensus, and to observe collective responsibility. The footprint in an electoral assembly of this mass of nodding dogs almost guarantees that the "ayes" have it in any vote.

Next, there is the manner in which ministers are appointed. The Chief Minister is not elected with a national manifesto by the people, but by the very parliament in which the consensus mentality lives and breathes. When the Chief is elected, it is he or she that selects the Council of Ministers, who then go on to choose their members. This is a recipe for cronyism.

Then there is the manner in which members of the Government are rewarded. Parliamentarians receive more on their salary if they are members of departments, and a substantial amount more if they are ministers. Although collective responsibility is not itself enforced, the financial rewards for keeping to the ministerial line are very large - as are the penalties for speaking out of turn. As was demonstrated in the last Gelling Government, breaking ranks can get you sacked.

Take these three problems alone and you have an amorphous organism at the heart of government that has practically ensured that it does not have an opposition. Is that the sort of government the people of Jersey are looking for?

In the November issue of a Jersey newsletter entitled "We want our Island Back", I found the following:

"The Island [Jersey] is ready for party politics. Let's go ahead now! Having one party is downright dangerous, don't you think?   . . . We believe Jersey needs the safeguard of a political system that encourages real democracy. Having a party in power and an opposition party is the tried and tested method favoured by many democracies around the world."

We do not have an opposition on the Isle of Man because any attempt at forming a coherent party system usually fizzles out. This is because, if any members of a potential opposition are elected, they are soon sweetened with government jobs. What little outspoken, and out-of-pocket, opposition then remains, is shouted down as narrow-minded, counter-productive, or even subversive.

These are not my only complaints about ministerial government.

How, for example, do we find out what decisions are actually being made by our Council of Ministers? It holds its meetings in closed session without publishing an agenda, even to MHKs, and without making a copy of their minutes available to the public.

Given that all the real decision making is done in the Council of Ministers, not in the parliament, and given that many subjects worthy of a full debate in the House are hurriedly chaperoned through the Keys with the block vote, the hansard has effectively been taken out of the public domain and made inaccessible to the electorate.

All this from a government that claims to be committed to transparency.

Secrecy has isolated government so far from the people that very few of us actually know what the policies of our government actually are. They publish a Government Plan. But this is not a manifesto so much as a list of lame mantras about the aims and purpose of government.

For instance:

"To pursue manageable and sustainable growth based on a diversified economy."

Or

"To progress the social well-being of the people of the Island."

It is difficult to extract information from a set of policies that have been distilled from rain-water. They tell you nothing about what is going to happen next.

But, fluffed up with this vapour of good intention, the Government becomes assured, arrogant and so disconnected from its electorate that ministers appear to run amok, spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money on glamorous projects for which they have no mandate whatsoever from the electorate. Half of the glamorous projects turn out to be white elephants, and all of them turn out to have cost twice if not three times the norm.

In a recent issue of the South Douglas Community Newsletter, David Cretney said of recent events:

"Arrogance, egos and lack of transparency have no place in a modern democracy."

So it is official, is it David? We can tell Jersey to add arrogance to the list of problems that ministerial government will bring with it?

The Tourism Minister is referring, perhaps, to a Chief Minister who, in the midst of a blast of serious allegations, arrogantly refused to step down again and again until, finally, his arrest was so internationally conspicuous that it brings with it the Irish and UK press.

Or perhaps he is referring to a Treasury Minister who, having been found to have knowingly misled his own parliament and his own people by both a Commission of Inquiry and a Standards Committee, refuses point blank to resign. Well, the Manx people are all sick of your protests, Mr Bell. Just go!

Let me remind you of one of those core aims of government again.

"To pursue manageable and sustainable growth based on a diversified economy."

Our politicians - shopkeepers for the most part - have been using the word 'growth' for years without once demonstrating that they know what the word means. Now they have magically added the word 'sustainable' to it.

Sustainable growth? In what? In the wealth of the existing population? In the population itself?

Well, sorry to break up the meeting guys, but 'growth'is not 'sustainable'.

I spent hours at university sweating over the equations of growth. They occur in problems ranging from the exponential increase of populations to the runaway fission in a nuclear bomb. They do not, in my mind, characterise stability. They do, however, characterise our management of resources on the planet as a whole - a massive burn out, then nothing left.

The only growth that is sustainable is zero growth. Period.

I mention growth because it leads us quite nicely to another ailment in our system of government. Spin.

Let's take the Isle of Man Strategic Plan. When this document was presented to the public for comment in 2001, I wrote to DoLGE protesting about the way it gaily used the word 'development'.

Why are words important? Because 'development' is like the word 'growth'. Our politicians have allowed it to become central to the very language of planning. The word means (according to my dictionary) the process of making something fuller, or larger. It is about increase. It is not about constancy, or stasis, or even remotely restraint.

When you read the Strategic Plan on one hand, and see the vast spending on infrastructure on the other; when you see ministers overturning the decisions of planning committees and independent inspectors to give planning permission to companies that blatantly profiteer; then it is very hard to believe that there is not some hidden intention within government to smooth the way for a substantial increase in population.

The mindset of those behind planning in this regard was revealed with brutal clarity in 2002 when the former Director of Planning, Barry Vannan defended his support for residential development at Mount Murray on the radio. He explained, and I quote:

"..Malta, that's half the size of the Isle of Man and has a population somewhere about 400,000 .. the Channel Islands, there's a population of something like 150,000, 160,000 people in something like a quarter of the land mass .."

By extension then, according to a once respected senior planning official, the Isle of Man can comfortably accommodate over half a million people. Well, yes! - if you want it to end up looking like part of Middlesex.

Anyway. I was not even graced with an acknowledgement for my letter in 2001. And, sure enough, in the 2004 version of the Strategic Plan the word 'development' is everywhere. It falls off the pages.

According to DoLGE it is required by statute to maintain a 'Development Plan', and the Strategic Plan forms part of this Development Plan. A strange hierarchy because this means that planning strategy - if we can call something that only plans for the next 12 years a 'strategy' at all - is subservient to the principal motive of 'development', rather than the reverse. Would a 'Conservation Plan' not have been more appropriate.

Two differences between the 2001 version and the 2004 versions of the Strategic Plan give the game away.

In the new version, the word 'sustainable' has been sprinkled in like fairy-dust to give us the nice buzz phrase  'Sustainable development'. They even use it in the title, 'Towards a Sustainable Island'.

I would argue again that 'development' is no more sustainable than 'growth'.

But listen to this: In the 2001 Strategic Plan the number of new dwellings proposed was 3500 in ten years, or 350 per year. In the new Draft Strategic Plan, it is 5400 in 12 years, or 450 per year.

I'll run it past you again, in case you missed it. One: They add the word 'sustainable?. Two: They increase the rate increase by almost 30%.

Now that is what I call spin.

It is a source of endless despair to me that politicians charged with planning for the future seem to be unable to see beyond their own brief lifetimes. They handle the future the same way a dysfunctional parent handles a credit card. They live for the moment, cashing in the pension, heaping hire-purchase agreements on their grand-children, content to extend the patio onto the vegetable garden, and then describe that as 'sustainable growth'.

So that is my take on Ministerial Government: Spin, arrogance, secrecy, a system of block vote, cronyism and consensus by reward. The very opposite of democracy. What message will this give our friends in Jersey?

But I will end on this one positive thought. If democracy is easy to break, it is probably quite easy to fix as well.

RP DROWER





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