From Tulisa to Atos – Tynwald is back and we’re quaking in our boots

Tulisa Contostavlos, Google Images, Yahoo Image SearchThis week sees the return of Tynwald for the new year.

The excitement is unbearable.

What will our politicians do for us? Well, we already know they’ll be looking at redrawing constituency boundaries. The current proposal for 12 two-member constituencies has some flaws, in that it has decided Michael and Maughold have a lot in common geographically.

It has also decided to split up Onchan across two different constituencies, with one of them being subsumed into another area and the other bearing the rather ‘street’ name of Onchan Urban, conjuring up the image of David Quirk going head to head with Tulisa Contostavlos for a seat in the island’s parliament.

If you want to see the full extent of the splendid proposals – here’s a link.

But that’s a sideshow for the big events this week: the Scope of Government Report on improving efficiency etc at the Manx Government, and the debate on the government’s Agenda for Change.

Crucially, one recommendation on the Scope of Government is that the government spends yet another year reviewing its delivery of services before actually doing anything. Sigh.

As usual in times of crisis, it is important that government comes up with plenty of rhetoric rather than doing much about it.

We have heard a lot about the need to protect the vulnerable while government makes drastic cuts to education and police stations have closed, but have we heard much beyond worthy statements about the substance of how that is going to be done?

The ‘Agenda for Change’ contains the rhetoric. I’ve copied the key points below and, in italics, is an explanation of the possible true meaning.

Economy

We see further development of our diversified economy as being key to the future of our Island.  We will create growth and with it good quality jobs for our people. Hopefully they won’t be after a pay rise for the next couple of years.

We will ensure our education system is developing the skills and knowledge needed to support our economy. We have done this by ending the state provision of teacher-led nursery education.

Environment and Infrastructure

We must provide an island infrastructure that enables people to live, work and travel and to enjoy a good quality of life. Yes, we’re sure bendy buses and a bus terminal in a narrow Douglas road (Victoria Street) will help with that.

It must also provide the support which new and existing business needs to flourish. And if you tell us you’re involved in the film industry, we’re right behind you.

We must use our natural resources sustainably and ensure we respond to the global challenges, responsibilities and opportunities which food security, energy security and climate change present. Unless it’s something in one of our constituencies and we risk losing some votes.

Good Government

We recognise that Government must change. We will lead the change to a more efficient way of working, using technology to support better delivery of services and reduce bureaucracy.  We will work in partnership with, and listen to, the views of staff and our customers. We want to privatise and corporatise stuff and we want to stop subsidising local authority services. The latter means we can look as though we’ve made savings for the public who hopefully won’t notice the increase in the rates they’ll be asked to pay to cover this ‘cut’. Also, on the Scope of Government report, when it comes to actually streamlining the wheels of government itself, we’ve decided we can spend another year reviewing our delivery of services, because it’s not as if we could have been doing that for the last 18 months.

Income and Expenditure

We recognise that the world has changed immeasurably in the past decades; we must continue to adapt to those changes. We recognise to the extent that we must say things like the previous sentence, but we would rather spend our time navel gazing on things like House of Keys constituencies than addressing matters of real substance.

We will ensure we continue to be recognised as an internationally responsible, reputable and competitive jurisdiction. And hope the UK Government isn’t too horrible about us.

In rebalancing and redistributing the Budget, we will control Government expenditure, and apply charges where necessary, in a fair manner.  Yep, pre-school children don’t vote and hopefully the students who can afford to actually study a degree will forget about the tuition fees if they ever return.

Wellbeing and Welfare Reform

We see the continuing welfare and wellbeing of our community as fundamental to our quality of life.  We must educate and develop our young people to give them the skills they need to be able to contribute fully.  The education cuts won’t harm that in any way. Oh no.

We will continue to ensure that those in greatest need are supported and protected. When it suits.

We recognise that the way we currently provide our social welfare is no longer sustainable.  We will radically reform our social policies.  This will be done in a way that is both affordable and fair.  The traditional ‘universal services for all’ model of provision is no longer sustainable and some services will be means tested in the future. And remember, we ask people like Atos to make the judgements.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @Norbertsdad

MORE ARTICLES BY PAUL SPELLER

Five shocking moments in Manx politics

A bluffer’s guide to getting elected to the Legislative Council

How to survive the tension of the X Factor

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About Paul Speller

Writer, journalist, husband, dad.
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