NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
With utility prices never more in focus across all the Celtic countries it was refreshingly pleasant to hear forceful questioning by Manx Radio reporter, James Davis, of outgoing Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Vice Chair Chris Thomas MHK on this morning’s Mandate current affairs programme.
With the OFT in the frame because of the crippling price of gas in the Isle of Man, not to mention a recent spat over charging, Davis pressed assiduously on a range of issues.
Chris Thomas’s decision, the MHK averred, is because of a recent decision of the OFT and COMIN (Council of Ministers) over gas regulation. However, it seems that the decision in principle was taken almost a year ago, so why the decision to quit? Why not, as Davis suggested, fight from within for what you believe in? No clear answer was forthcoming.
The interviewer, Davis, ploughed on determinedly and given that an earlier news story had referred to Dunkirk one would be forgiven for thinking that Thomas was trying to fight a sort of rear guard action himself under withering fire.
Several important points were raised. Why not fight from within? What about the charging issue? Are we (in the IOM) subsiding the Company’s sister operation in the Channel Isles?
Finally, just before Thomas jumped in the last boat from ‘his particular Dunkirk beach’, reference to the General Election which looms large in the mind of all MHKs at present.
We say ‘looms large’ because it was clear by the recent indecent surge of applications by sitting members for (unelected) vacancies on Legislative Council that many decisions currently being taken by members are motivated less by principle than self preservation.
Chris Thomas’s decision may well be motivated by deeply held convictions but I would wager some of his colleagues of a less altruistic bent will also be departing their positions, and ‘heading for the beaches’ in coming months.
Being seen as too close to what is perhaps one of the most unpopular governments of recent years is obviously not ‘pole position’ as an election looms.
Granted the Manx government has to take unpopular decisions at a difficult time but the manner in which some determinations of priority have been made has not helped their position. I feel certain the scramble towards the exit will continue.
However, to continue with the Dunkirk analogy, where does Thomas’s departure leave his colleague OFT Chairman, David Quirk MHK?
Well, Quirk finds himself in a difficult position (just like General Harold Alexander all those years ago) left in charge of ‘the rearguard’ at the OFT.
As in the case of General Alexander I hope the outcome for Quirk is positive and he isn’t left stranded on the beaches.
Current Chief Minister Allan Bell probably cannot count on a great degree of collegiate support (given the attempted ‘coup that never was recently’). However, Quirk, like him or loath him, is a tenacious politician who is determined and more importantly is loyal.
Back in the slightly less rarefied world of ordinary people meanwhile, political machinations and resignations do nothing to address the real problem. Energy prices on this Island are crippling, both gas and electricity, and people have ‘had a belly full’ of excuses: they want action!
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
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