It was quite a surprise to learn last week that after months of discussion, a committee comprising representatives of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council could not decide whether reform of the latter was a good thing in constitutional terms.
Yes, learning this was akin to being slapped in the face with a wet kipper, so unexpected was the news. It was impressive that it took them nearly 12 months to come to this conclusion.
As we approach the final sitting of Tynwald in 2012, it is time to reflect on five other equally shocking occurrences in Isle of Man politics.
Peter Karran starts the year as a minister but doesn’t finish it. No one saw this coming. No, not at all.
The only surprise, quite frankly, was that he was allowed to mess things up at the helm of the Department of Education and Children for as long as he did before he got the boot. And then that he got the boot for failing to support proposals to do with the film industry rather than being completely wrong for the job.
Karran, lest we forget, ended the provision of any state run pre-school nursery facilities.
There will probably be some surprise in a few years’ time when the failure to give children the proper early years start in education is blamed for a dip in standards at secondary level.
It is largely accepted the minister chose the cut this to avoid the imposition of tuition fees for university students, which he had always been against in his role as Liberal Vannin supremo.
The Department of Education and Children announces proposals to introduce tuition fees for university students. Nope, no one saw that coming. Under the new minister, the proposal for tuition fees waited long enough for the present batch of students to return to university before being announced by the DEC.
Equally unsurprising, members of Tynwald have asked for longer to consider the proposal before debating it this week, as originally scheduled. Clearly the idea must have come as a surprise to them, too. It wasn’t predictable at all.
The good news is that, by also pulling the rug from under the feet of youngsters at the start of their educational journey, there will probably be fewer in position to apply for university in 15 years’ time anyway.
An increase in industrial unrest. The only real surprise is that Alf Cannan, chairman of Whitley Council, hasn’t been the main cause of it. Credit must instead go to the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure, for its handling of the bus drivers’ dispute. Especially the sending out of letters effectively giving drivers’ notice and telling them they’d have to sign new contracts of employment resulting in a pay cut – just a day or two after it was revealed that politicians had given themselves a little pay rise. Nice touch.
Most people still aren’t convinced about the film industry. The Pinewood deal – in which the island’s £25m media development fund will be run by Pinewood Shepperton, while we apparently have a near 10 per cent share of the company - has not done a great deal to enhance confidence that the Isle of Man has benefited from the film industry to its fullest extent.
The fact none of the CinemaNX funded films so far has turned in a profit has something to do with that. But the government gets awful touchy about people questioning it, surprisingly.
The daftest ideas have involved buses. Nothing new there. A bus station in Victoria Street and bendy buses for school children, coupled with vintage trains on standby to help in the event of a bus strike have been the suggestions to keep us amused this year.
Are the right people being targeted for a pay cut in that department?
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