Well here we go folks, it’s election time again on the Isle of Man however these aren’t elections that the public have any say or matter in. These are the elections to the Legislative Council, one of the two houses of the Isle of Man Parliament known as Tynwald. The other house being the House of Keys which is elected by the populace every five years unless of course a member can no longer continue due to ill health, jail or some other incapacity.
I should of course declare an interest in case anyone thinks I am going off on one. I stood along with two other members of the public last May when a vacancy became available in the Legislative Council, it was a massive learning curve for someone who had previously had very little interaction with politicians apart from when they came round looking for your vote every five years.
Anyway this time around there are five seats available on the Legislative Council out of a possible eight; the other seats are made up by The Bishop, the Attorney General and the President. Here is Tynwald as it currently sits. The way you get nominated to stand for election to the Legislative Council is to find two Members of the Keys who think you may or may not have a chance and then find two more who will act as your Assentors. With me so far? good. Now all you have to do is convince the rest of the members of the House of Keys that you are capable of doing the job. What is the job you may ask and rightly so, well I can’t put it in a nutshell as it would be pretty huge but if I was to tell you that the role of the Legislative Council is changing you would think it would be like nailing jelly to a wall. Not quite, there was an inquiry and report by Lord Lisvane on the Review of the Functioning of Tynwald. And as a follow on to that there was a Select Committee on the Functioning of Tynwald.
So after you have read all of the reports, submissions and everything else what lies ahead for the candidate, once nominations close there are the hustings, this is a little like Mastermind but with potentially 24 questioners not one. If you want to watch me squirm and eventually forget that there is a camera a yard or so away from me have a look here!
So finally this year after four members of the Council decided not to stand again and one member decided to resign; we now have the situation of five vacant seats on the Council. As of the 13th February 2018 there is the list of the runners and riders for the Grand Legislative Council Runoff on the 12th March 2018. This list closes on Friday 23rd February 2018 (and should autoupdate as people come forward in the dying days of the closing date. ) As you may have noticed if you were interested enough to have a look at the excellent local web TV Isle of Man TV you’ll see that there are number of interviews of the candidates for this election on the site, I was interviewed myself but because I am not proceeding with my nomination it won’t be shown. Another ten minutes of non fame!
But what next for the future? Will the elections to the Legislative Council become elections by the populace or will they within the ‘gift’ of the Keys? does this therefore mean that political patronage will ensure that any attempts to continue to modernise Tynwald have the potential to fail. Public perception, as can be ascertained from the numerous pages on Facebook and other forums, give the range of opinions from snouts in the trough, an anachronism, old boys club for MHKs, through to complete ignorance as to what the Legislative Council do or what they are about. It will be interesting to see how Tynwald evolves with regard to the Legislative Council and it’s place in the future of isle of Man politics. It will also be interesting to see how the Tynwald PR machine continues to work to enhance the public image of both Houses of Tynwald in the future.
In the meantime on a personal note I wish all the candidates well in their election hopes and dreams; look on the bright side there will be another election in two years for the Legislative Council
(entrance to Tynwald)