By-election fun! Sefton, bus drivers, economy and Manx Gaelic

It’s by-election time. And I love elections. It’s sort of a do-over from the poor result in the previous Isle of Man General Election which saw Geoff Corkish and John Shimmin get in, despite my feeble attempt otherwise. As a further spit in the face of democracy, Geoff Corkish, a man who has previously spoken against democratic freedom of speech using modern media such as social networks, has been promoted to the Legislative Council – undemocratically.

The four candidates have been out campaigning in the Douglas West ward, some of whom are hoping for better success this time round.

Martin Moore once again put his name forward for election, a welcome move considering his agitation at the way the MHKs are conducting themselves and the island. I like an agitator. However, once again he pulled out. This time, it wasn’t because he filled in the forms wrong, it was because he got cold feet.

That left Clive Dawson, John Skinner, Quintin Gill and Chris Thomas. I sent them all an email asking 4 simple questions:

  1. Sefton. Handled well? What could have been done better?
  2. The island is looking pretty dire economically. How can this be improved?
  3. Bus drivers’ strike generally, and in particular over TT week. Other public workers have similar poorly handled contracts. Are we to expect another set of strikes?
  4. Manx Gaelic investment and support. How will you act to maintain this heritage and educational benefit?

Quintin Gill has relocated from his previous ward of Rushen where he lost in 2011.Perhaps experience would be an asset. With his manifesto citing “earn more, spend less, utilise savings”, it seems pretty usual electioneering. Expansion of existing sectors such as E-Gaming to earn more is unimaginative. Spending less on already inflated salaries is going to be very difficult – when was the last person to quietly sacrifice their inflated package? And utilise savings? Of course, use the reserves – I’m sure they’ve already been spent at least twice. On Sefton he was of the same idea as Clive Dawson, that the case sadly lacked any form of PR competence to involve the tax payer and voter in their explanations. As for Manx Gaelic, he acknowledged the value of Manx Gaelic, particularly as it has such good value for money. Whilst not committing to anything in particular, he did sign off “lhiats”.

Chris Thomas’ manifesto seems to be very well thought out and is the only one to include actual data in numeric and graph form. Some good ideas, particularly his views on The Steam Packet and MEA being brought back into local ownership. Although he says he has a certificate in Manx Gaelic and has strong Manx Gaelic knowledge within his team, no real commitments were obvious other than general support in heritage. I’m looking for something more than just Manx Gaelic as a heritage asset.

John Skinner failed to engage with me last time and didn’t bother to reply to the email this time, either. So much for him. Must try harder. In fact, don’t bother. There’s no room for more tardiness in Tynwald.

Clive Dawson was the only candidate to make the effort to come out and see me after reading the email. A nice guy, seems honest, though he is unapologetically UKIP like. When I challenged him on this, he was quite enthusiastic about removing benefits from immigrants and actively preventing future immigration to the island despite the value of working immigrant people – myself included (though this was apparently a different type of immigration). He suggested the island could get out of the financial problems it finds itself in through attracting charities to use the island as a base, but in the same breath, also Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar – even with their questionable human rights. Clive acknowledged the value of a second language and the value of developing bilingualism in education, but seemed more concerned about other languages than Manx Gaelic. However, I do thank him for his time.

Update – 22 May 2013 – Day before

John Skinner did email me tonight. Perhaps too late to swing my decision. Alas, his response was again a mixture of better PR and a lack lustre assertion of the importance of Manx Gaelic. He did suggest that things are as bad as I made out for the island, which has enjoyed consistent economic performance of 3%. Maybe, but tell that to those who are losing their jobs and seeing small business closed (the bigger ones just get bailed out).