• December 1, 2014


The British Irish Council (BIC) has met on the Isle of Man and not surprisingly the main focus was on ‘new girl on the block’, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

Nicola was generous to her Manx hosts saying her country could ‘learn from the Isle of Man’ and its dealings with the United Kingdom particularly over VAT arrangements.

Obviously her Manx hosts were too polite to point out that the main thing that can be learned from Mann’s relationship with the United Kingdom is just how disingenuous it’s Government and particularly its Treasury can be.

The Isle of Mans receipt of VAT revenues has been severely slashed in recent years to the extent that it calls into question whether the formal VAT (Common Purse) agreement is worth continuing.

If Scotland can learn anything from the Isle of Man it is that the sooner it continues along the road to independence the better – somehow we think that’s something Nicola Sturgeon has in mind anyway.

The Manx Chief Minister, Allan Bell, MHK when opening the conference accorded a special welcome ‘to the BIC family’ for Scotland’s First Minister.

Bell was no doubt sincere in the warmth of his welcome and there is no doubt that he and former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, had a close working relationship.

However, there was just a slight note of hypocrisy in the effusiveness of the welcome given that the Isle of Man not only contemplated an independent Scotland with some trepidation – a potential competitor for key business sectors once it (Scotland) had cut the umbilical to the UK.

Also throughout the Scottish independence debate when some of the more ludicrous scare stories were doing the rounds the Manx government kept strangely quiet. For example that BOE lender of last resort nonsense (the IOM government underwrites its own banks) and of course you can’t use a currency pegged to sterling well that’s just what the Manx do. Even that argument about having to pay for health care south of the border after independence – well no Manx person would get specialist treatment in the north-west of England if the Manx Treasury didn’t stump up the cost.

During the Scottish referendum ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’ became a catchphrase used to sum up the NO side’s argument for going it alone.

Perhaps the Manx government failed to speak out about some of the patent absurdities levelled against the argument for independence in Scotland because they felt they would be regarded as ‘too small and too stupid’.

Perhaps the Manx government felt that benign neutrality was best option – though given the ‘BIC family’ analogy keeping ‘stum’ is a strange way for ‘a relative’ to behave.

Never mind, the independence issue is all over now (for the time!). Welcome to the British Irish Council Nicola!

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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