• January 19, 2016



Some of the staunchest Trade Unionists I had the pleasure to work with when I was a Full Time Union Official for the TGWU were members of the Manx Legion Club in Douglas. It was a short hop from Transport House in Fort Street to the club on Market Hill. Frequently debates (or should I say ferocious arguments) about strategy for dealing with employers and the government started in the Union Hall and concluded in the Legion.

I wonder what those stalwarts (sadly in many instances no longer with us) will make of the news that the Chamber of Commerce is launching a charm offensive with a public meeting at the Legion Club later this month.

The Chambers press release is gushing with positivity and inclusiveness and if you had not had dealings with them (as I had over the years) you could easily be conned into believing that they are an integral and contributory element in the social fabric of our Island. Take this:

“Established some 55 years ago, the IoM Chamber of Commerce has experienced all the ups and downs of the Island’s economy. In the past 12 months the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce seems to have adopted a higher public profile.

“With the current economic uncertainty it is dedicated to creating a climate for economic growth in our community.

“In this General Election year the IOMCOC will play an active part in promoting its ideas to both candidates and to the electorate.

“It will not be focusing on what are perceived fundamental community essentials – health, social care & education – but will concentrate on all other aspects of the political debate.”

Reading the last bit you might be seduced into believing that the Chamber had the National interest and Social well being of society as its mantra. It does not its mantra is self interest and ‘the bottom line’.

Further down the release they witter on about ‘relationship with government’ and the old chestnut ‘inward migration’.

Well on the first point there is nothing to explain. They have this government in their pocket with a Chief Minister who ‘dances to their tune’. Even his own colleagues are increasingly concerned about his obsession with not doing or proposing anything that upsets the business community. He quite disgustingly has dismantled the tri-partite consultative arrangements built up by the first Ministerial Walker government and excluded the Unions preferring the company of his bedfellows in the Chamber of Commerce. As I said recently in an article about the much trumpeted ‘growth’ the Chamber are seeking to stuff down our throat:

“Miles Walker (then Chief Minister) would listen to their exposition and politely utter a few blandishments in response. I have to hand it to Walker he was some political operator no wonder he got that knighthood! One Minister however who was noticeably fuming from time to time, to the extent he boiled, over was our current Chief Minister (Allan Bell).

However times change and Allan appears to have warmed to the Chamber these days. I don’t know what it was about the Chamber perhaps it was simply my inherent dogmatism but they put the hair up on my neck whenever they pontificated about the Island and developing its economy. It is like ‘graybacks’ you come across feasting on carrion on the road who annoyingly hang on until you almost run into them. However I’ll wager the Chambers work ‘for all our benefit’ is motivated by a hefty dose of self-interest and they have a fair slice of that £50 million EDF (in handy £10 million slices) in their sights.”

Perhaps in hindsight ‘graybacks’ was to soft a word. The Chamber are more like jackals running, in the opportunistic way that animal does, after a compliant government.

On ‘inward migration’ well that’s just another word for destroying even more the quality of life enjoyed in the Isle of Man and making members of the Chamber of Commerce very wealthy.

You will have an opportunity to question the Chamber about the brave new world they propose but don’t expect them to take on board any concerns you have this is a body whose only interest is self interest.

Admission is free – You may as well go it’s the only thing you will ever get of the Chamber of Commerce and they are going to take plenty of you!


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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