Isle of Man: An Island Led by Rogue Sheep

Last week in the House of Keys was telling. There were a number of questions which if anything illustrated the paucity of political acumen as we stare into the post Covid economic future. It was all the more surprising as by now the average Manx politician will have had an opportunity to contemplate the Chamber of Commerce wish list for the future.

Of course the (recently) Manx politically received wisdom which predated the Covid crisis was that you can buy the future using economic stimuli. This notion is fed by some of the economic hotpots that IOM Today have writing for it or the calibre of person that Manx Radio or Moulton interviews.

Many years ago the Isle of Man was broke so it had no funds to buy a future. The place though did have a few things going for it that would assist the ill conceived ideal of ‘growth’. For a start it had reasonably competent politicians who could think for themselves. Coincidentally one was called Cannan. Sadly we do not have that calibre of independent political thinkers these days. The Island also existed in a fairly unregulated environment critical to the key areas in which it was attempting ‘growth’. That does not exist today and if anything will get tighter. Finally, foremost of the three pillars it had its unique status as ‘an adjunct to the Empire but not part of it’ a degree of anonymity and independence. That too has gone. The politicians that kept Whitehall at arm’s length are no longer with us and the Island via some spectacular scandals is now well known. For all the blathering about ‘white lists’ etc ‘IOM plc’ does not have a good reputation.

So having achieved ‘growth’ – the original plan – the sausage machine has to grind on but how. The world has changed and we have changed not least in the fact that politically the Isle of Man is ill served fielding the most spectacularly incompetent administration for half a century.

Of course the show is still on the road and the Chamber is riding high on the hog. But let’s be blunt, their ideas are not much brighter than the government. They believe like numbskulls such as Cannan (Jnr) and Skelly that you can buy the future but at some stage the money runs out and the Isle of Man already has more debt than it ever had.

At the hustings in September look for vision and a bright future in the manifestos and on the basis of the hats in the ring so far you are unlikely to find it.

Politicians want a fat soft future; it’s a career now for most not an ideal. The Chamber wants an easy ride and if that means crushing social aspirations and having a compliant work force so be it. So some will thrive and others suffer – where will you be in that order? Take it from me the meek are not going to inherit the earth generated by the ‘area plans’!

Of course the Isle of Man could still have a lot going for it but at the moment its ability to negotiate the post Covid world of disaster or opportunity (depending on which bright star is in focus in the Manx media) is questionable. That would need innovative and competent political leadership. I’m sorry that’s just not around. Politically the Island is led by those rogue sheep that farmers put a lankat on to stop them doing damage to themselves and others. Sadly we can’t put a lankat on what will come after Quayle, shame we never put one on him five years ago.

Note: ‘Lankat’, ‘Lanket’: a shackle for an animal from hind to front leg – A W Moore (Morrison and Goodwin) ‘Anglo-Manx Dialect 1924.

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (13th May 2021)

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