• February 27, 2015


It was less ‘the night of the long knives’ and more ‘the day of the blunt pens’.

A government Minister has moved swiftly to deny a newspaper article that he and colleagues were conspiring against the Isle of Man Chief Minister and planning a vote of no confidence.

The newspaper meanwhile, in the persona of its Editor, has rejected the denial standing by its article and defending the journalist who wrote it.

There’s no doubt that the old adage ‘when the cats away the mice will play’ has some resonance here. The Celtic League heard rumours some weeks ago shortly before the Chief Minister went on leave that there was what was termed ‘jockeying for position going on amongst those who saw themselves as ‘worthy’ successors. The exact wording used by a Tynwald insider was ‘it’s embarrassing they are circling like sharks’.

The newspaper article therefore in our view must have traction but what gives it greater credence is its author, Adrian Darbyshire.

Darbyshire is ‘a newshound’ who practices the journalism of the old school – he sniffs a story and hunts it down. Having dealt with him (and often having been castigated by him) I would say his story must be soundly based.

In the other corner the Ministerial conspirators apparent defender is a fairly youthful Minister, Juan Watterson MHK, who argues that it was all simply post COMIN (Council of Ministers) banter that’s been misconstrued.

Watterson to is a credible figure politically, although much maligned on social media for a minor misdemeanour some Christmases ago.

With March just days away the whole thing has a whiff of Shakespeare about it perhaps the Chief Minister, Allan Bell MHK, should ‘beware the ides of March’ but knowing him he probably will not lose any sleep over it.

Allan Bell did not win a popularity contest to get his job – put bluntly at the time he was the only one capable and none of his colleagues could match that. Again he’s much maligned on social media but one wonders where the Island would be in these troubled times with VAT returns slashed and ill judged and ill informed political attacks from the UK without him.

In addition in his absence things have hardly gone ‘swimmingly’. The Island already in something of a political turmoil has seen one Minister resign (the ludicrously titled ‘enforcer’, Chris Robertshaw MHK) to be replaced by another MHK who had previously resigned as a Minister!

Meanwhile the budget (on which we have commented at length) also appears to be unravelling with Ministers admitting their ‘grand plans’ may not work.

Not really the best time for a political coup.

Our money is on the newspapers version at the moment and as for the denial perhaps, in furtherance of what one hopes will be a lengthy political career, Minister Watterson should also heed the words of Shakespeare lest people think he ‘doth protest to much’.

Meanwhile Manx people can only speculate on who hoped to benefit most from this failed ‘political coup’. All in all an unedifying episode!

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.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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