While this week Juan’s department, the Department of Home Affairs, is highlighting the police force has been shortlisted for a management award, there is a lot more to consider.
The Isle of Man’s answer to Pitt the Younger has had an eventful first year in the cabinet. Credit where it is due, most people who were Minister for Home Affairs would do well to be remembered mainly for something other than a decision to close police stations, reduce the number of officers and also sanction cuts to the fire service.
But Juan, at the ripe old age of 31, made more headlines by getting drunk and falling asleep on a bus.
Was it astute political foresight that caused Juan to imbibe a little too much, knowing that people would forget his cuts to the 999 services a lot more readily if an embarrassing and humiliating discretion could be arranged a couple of months beforehand?
Doubtful, because that would require some pretty impressive forward thinking.
That certainly was not the case at a press conference when he urged Christmas revelers not to overdo the partying.
Just hours later, after his department’s Christmas do, he boarded a bus home in a tired and emotional state.
Unfortunately he nodded off and couldn’t be woken up when the bus reached Port St Mary, which resulted in the driver having to bring him back all the way into the Isle of Man’s capital of Douglas. To add to the fun, Mr Watterson was reportedly sick.
Obviously, he wasn’t the first politician to say one thing and do the other – and he certainly won’t be the last. But to contradict his own words so spectacularly and so soon after uttering them was impressive.
So well done Juan.
At least your first year at the helm won’t be remembered primarily for the fact that funding for the fire service was cut by £221,000, including the axing of three posts – through ‘natural turnover’ – and the need to leave the administrative headquarters.
Or for the £600,000 cut in funding for the police service, involving the axing of six posts and the closure of two police stations – Braddan and Onchan.
Just this week, we have been told that the Isle of Man Constabulary, despite its cutback in costs, has been shortlisted in the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s People Management Awards.
According to the DHA this is recognition that the force is a ‘values-driven, people-focused organisation’, which will be a big relief to those the officers protect and serve and, for that matter, the officers on the frontline with two fewer police stations from which to serve the community.
It’s unfair to mock, considering in 2006 a survey found that conditions were ‘poor’ for the officers. Any improvement in any part of the force should be welcomed.
Still, with a £600k cut, the public will be concerned that the values that are being driven include combating crime directly – certainly more than arranging figures and ticking boxes.
Every year, stats are produced that say recorded crime has fallen and every year they are treated with a certain amount of scepticism.
The question is, really, have complaints dropped, or just the classification of them?
For if certain incidents are not investigated formally in the first place, such as improper behaviour on public transport, then perhaps it’s no wonder that recorded crime figures show a decline.
While the personal humiliation of the bus incident won’t have been enjoyable, it is not irrecoverable.
Yes, there will have been plenty of sniggering that the young whippersnapper has been put in his place.
Most people over the age of 30 probably rolled their eyes when Juan was first elected as a 26-year-old. It’s hard to imagine that anyone that age really has enough life experience to be a decent politician.
And the Kindergarten Keys member has had to deal with that ever since, particularly when he was made a minister at the age of 31 – the youngest ever cabinet appointment.
So there will have been a lot of quiet satisfaction in political circles, not to mention other areas, that the young upstart had been brought down a peg or two by his festive foolishness
Chief Minister Allan Bell has decided to stick with him though, a decision perhaps made easier when police decided no further action was necessary after the bus incident because the bus driver, did not submit a formal complaint.
However, the minister’s career trajectory may be flatlining for a year or two.
One suspects Watterson, with his financial background, craves the Treasury job. But that’s a long way off and not just because Eddie Teare is unlikely to be shifting for a while yet.
That isn’t a bad thing. A little less precociousness will prove beneficial to Juan. In time it may stop us seeing him and thinking of the dreadful teenage version of William Hague at the Conservative Party Conference.
The other thing he needs to sort out is his fashion sense. If you are out and about down south then you may have seen him in his white suit – it’s scary and someone needs to have a word.
Not to mention the picture of him in combat fatigues from a political delegation to Afghanistan a couple of years ago. At least it stopped him looking like Harry Potter for a moment, but only because he had the appearance of an eagle-eyes era Action Man.
Nevertheless, there are signs of promise hidden away in there, not least the bringing in of the Breastfeeding Act in 2011, making it a legal right for a mother to breastfeed in public. That’s a bigger achievement than you can imagine when you consider that the vast majority of members of the House of Keys have all the social modernity of Jim from the Royle Family.
So well done Juan, a young dad who, despite now being as old as 32, still has a lot to learn himself.
If he can find a darker suit, avoid cutting emergency services too much and stay on the lemonade at all future office dos, there may still be a bright future.
GNU Rating: 6/10. His loyalty has probably been guaranteed given that Allan Bell decided not to sack him for his bus misdemeanour.
Follow on Twitter: @Norbertsdad
If you found this article interesting, you may want to read this one about his fellow Rushen MHK and minister Phil Gawne:
You may also enjoy these political predictions: