And so we turn our attention to David Cretney in our ongoing survey of the efforts of members of the Council of Ministers over the past year.
The Infrastructure Minister is in the interesting position of being one of the most experienced members of Allan Bell’s cabinet but, unless there is a very big change in fortunes and – probably – ambitions, he won’t be regarded as a threat or a potential successor.
David Cretney, MHK for Douglas South, is also a member of the Manx Labour Party. The party has never had a high profile in the proceedings of Tynwald, but it has had influence. Certainly one Labour member from a good few years ago, Bernie May, would recall how its policies can have an impact. He found himself in the difficult position of being the government minister in charge of the introduction of the jobseekers’ allowance, which the party opposed.
Many found that a little difficult to stomach and Mr May lost his seat at the next general election.
So, although he’s probably got the strongest constituency core support of all MHKs, Mr Cretney will be aware that there are people out there who have voted for him because of his Manx Labour allegiances.
It is unlikely to have such a detrimental impact on a ministry or general sensible departmental policy as Peter Karran’s membership of Liberal Vannin did on his stint as education minister, but it is unlikely Mr Cretney will forget it.
He’s also probably experienced enough to avoid some of the conflicts that Peter Karran found himself in.
Truth is that the Department of Infrastructure is probably as high as David Cretney will fly, but it’s probably also the case that he will not mind that.
He’s one of the few who still appears to be genuine in what he does, whether it works or not.
That can make him prone to being a little thin-skinned also, but he’s not alone in that problem among his colleagues in Tynwald.
While his predecessor in the department, Phil Gawne, managed to attract some controversy by miraculously spotting a need for a new roundabout where few others did, in his own constituency, so far the DOI has managed to avoid any really daft, overblown schemes since Cretters took the helm.
Of course, it’s only ever one horses’ home car park away from attracting the wrong sort of headline with road schemes.
And the department is spending a not inconsiderable amount on a new luggage carrier system at the airport, but it wouldn’t be the Manx Government without at least one grandiose scheme at Ronaldsway.
Mr C’s biggest moment of controversy came when he was revealed as the source of a leaked document from CoMin, in connection with the nursery fees row. (It’s worth noting that the Manx Labour Party policy is for universal free nursery education.)
There were cries of indignation from supporters of the former education minister Peter Karran, who had become Political Carrion following his step out of line on the Pinewood Studios deal, and they demanded to know why PK was sacked but DC wasn’t.
Rumour has it that Peter Karran actually forgot to vote against the Pinewood deal in the relevant CoMin meeting – supported by the official government line that he had not formally stated his opposition in cabinet – which rather undid his stance when the matter came to Tynwald.
In terms of Cretney’s indiscretion, the truth is that if Allan Bell sacked every minister who leaked a document, he’d be sat on his own at the next cabinet meeting.
Not forgetting that the ‘shock’, expressed by one Brenda Cannell, at the serious nature of such a leak and the fact it was to assist opponents of a flawed policy, meant that if anything it improved David Cretney’s standing.
I rather suspect, also, that Mr Bell quite enjoyed the fact that information got into the public domain, although he would never admit such a thing.
So I expect David Cretney to be in situ this time next year; once his favoured ground of the tourism industry found itself part of the Department of Economic Development monolith, there were no preferable options for him and, unless he messes up badly, it probably suits Bell to have an old stager around.
GNU RATING: 7/10 Wrist slapped for the leaked document, but doubt Allan Bell was really that upset.
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If you enjoyed this article then you may like this piece about Peter Karran:
And this article on Graham Cregeen:
Meanwhile, an earlier article rated the performance of the minister in charge at the Department of Economic Development (mentioned above):