Manx politicians smile as they sell the people down the river

Those nations and regions that we see engaged in the struggle for greater autonomy and self determination around Europe and the world are often faced with force, intimidation and suppression. Catalonia is an obvious current example of a people suffering this fate. However, the organisations and local political representatives seeking greater degrees of self determination, have the aspiration to provide a better life for their people, to protect their culture, distinct identity, and to provide social improvements and better living conditions. If they did not have such aims and objectives they would fail to retain the support of the people. We would not now, for example, be seeing the bravery of ordinary Catalan men and women standing up in support of their representatives in the struggle against a belligerent Spanish government.

Interesting then to see the political establishment in the Isle of Man doing the exact opposite. It seems their aim and objective is to work to undermine the separate identity of the Island, its territorial integrity and impoverish Manx people. For a number of years we have seen poor pay levels, increased utility costs, stealth charges and a steady erosion of work permits that were established to protect the conditions of Manx workers. The work permit issue has come to the fore again after the recent granting of work permit exemptions by the Department of Economic Development to the so-called 'hospitality sector’. A sector that is anyway notoriously poorly paid and would, by offering decent pay, attract staff.

There are likely to be more 'exemptions' in the future. Seen as an easier way to fill job vacancies than offering training opportunities and decent pay to Manx people, some would be happy to see people being forced to leave their island to be replaced by cheap imported labour. There will always be people that think in this way, such as the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce, which is seen by many to be a greed based interest group and anti-Manx in nature. At the moment they are busily mounting a campaign to prevent the introduction of a national living wage on the Isle of Man; no surprise there. They are of course welcome to their opinions, but it is of real concern that this particular self-interest group is over-influential on the Manx government which can lead to policies being introduced that are not in the interest of the Manx nation and its people.

All of this is adding to an increasing level of discontent on the Island. Although many Manx people are quite trusting of their political representatives there is, nevertheless, a healthy and growing degree of cynicism. With some notable exceptions, the feeling is that the present MHK's (members of the Manx parliament), lack the ability to see economic alternatives that would benefit the nation and all of its people. In general Manx people are not the type to take to the streets in protest and they are also unlikely to want to be seen to state an opinion that might upset someone. Certainly the present Manx administration does get upset by criticism whether from social or mainstream media. Which is a great compliment to both, because an important function of any non-state run form of media in any democratic society is to hold governments to account. 

Overall, most people would be happier if somehow more elected politicians on the Isle of Man would look to their own conscience, be bold, serve the Island, protect its culture, its environment and pursue policies that will enhance the lives of Manx people. However, there is a high degree of scepticism that this will happen. Some politicians will and they will earn the utmost respect. Some can be intimidated by the same government ministers who seek to stifle criticism from the media. Others, sadly it seems the majority at this time, appear to be self serving rather than servants of the public. However, their role in doing so will not be forgotten. In the meantime all power to those that continue to criticise, expose, hold politicians to account and campaign for a change of direction. Rather than be discouraged by the hostile reaction of government ministers, they should take heart from it because it means their message is hitting home.

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