Blog 22 Dec 19With the Conservatives’ UK general election victory last week still ringing in the ears of the Labour leadership and for their supporters across the UK, I do wonder if anyone actually spares a thought for those MPs who have lost their seats….

The reason for putting that question on the table this week is because there is a fascinating article on the BBC website entitled “What is it like to lose your seat as an MP”, which brought back some strange memories from the 2016 House of Keys General Election on a cold September evening.

Politics is brutal at times and there is no other way to describe it. Prior to the 2016 House of Keys General Election I gave very little thought to other candidates when I was casting my own vote.

Local Elections and House of Keys elections here on the Isle of Man are very different, as Local Elections are for unpaid voluntary or community positions.

Back in 2011 I stood in an Onchan District Commissioners by-election and I finished third behind John Quaye and Robin Turton. A few months later in April 2012 I was elected to the Commissioners, but I still had a full-time job in the island‘s finance sector – so my financial circumstances had not changed through that particular appointment.

Fast forward to the House of Keys General Election in 2016 and it was only during the formal count in the Onchan Community Hub after a long campaign and a very long day outside the polling station that I realised that the sitting MHK was about to lose their seat, job and financial income, and that I would have to give notice to my current employer, which certainly created its own problem at the time….

It really wasn’t that long ago when Tynwald was full of MHKs and MLCs that ran their own businesses or had other financial interests outside of politics, but things have certainly changed over the past 10 to 15 years.

I think most Tynwald Members these days do consider their role to be full time, and rightfully so…..

Anyway, the article from the BBC gives an excellent insight from former UK politicians who failed to win back their seats, some having only been an MP for around two years.

The House of Commons has too many millionaires for my liking at times, and those coming from key professions will always be able to find suitable opportunities relatively quickly. However, many elected Members in the House of Commons and in Tynwald are simply ordinary people with mortgages and bills to pay like everyone else.

I enclose a link to the article, because it is definitely worth a read….

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50712756

Back to this week’s activities…

Last Saturday Ellen and I went into Douglas and the new Tynwald Mills in St John’s to do some shopping and on Sunday we managed to head out for a walk before attending St Peter’s “Christingle” service at tea time, which is always a wonderful Christmas event.

As for the rest of this week it really was about catching up with any outstanding jobs and bits of administration in the office before the Christmas holidays get underway next week.

The first part of Monday was spent going through the paperwork for the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee, which rescheduled its meeting to 11am on Monday.

At lunchtime I was hoping to attend a Christmas concert by Ashley Hill School in St Peter’s, but unfortunately I had to spend the afternoon preparing for the House of Keys sitting and the various stages of a particular Bill being discussed on Tuesday morning, along with trying to help two Constituents resolve their current accommodation situation before Christmas, which took up a couple of hours in the afternoon.

On Monday evening I attended the 2nd Onchan Scouts Tombola draw, which generated a considerable amount for the extension project. A massive thank you to everyone who bought tickets and to the Companies that donated prizes.

I will post further details once I have the final figure of the amount collected from the Tombola.

Back in the office early on Tuesday to prepare for the final House of Keys sitting. In advance of the sitting I needed to draft various emails, together with going through a few Department papers along with any outstanding items relating to the Public Accounts Committee meeting.

Just before 10am the House of Keys Members headed down to the Chamber for the final sitting of this year. Sitting late in December is a relatively new idea for the House of Keys under the current administration – previous administrations usually finished a week earlier.

The sitting started with 5 oral questions and just 1 written question, but it certainly wasn’t a short sitting. Once question time had finished, the Deputy Speaker, Chris Robertshaw, MHK asked the House to bring forward an urgent Private Member’s Bill to amend the Tynwald Proceedings Act 1876 to provide for immunity from compulsion to give evidence, produce documents or supply information relating to proceedings in Tynwald and for connected purposes.

I am not going to comment further on the Tynwald Proceedings (Amendment) Bill 2019, because it does relate to an ongoing and live legal case. That said, anyone interested on this particular legislation can listen to the debate via the Tynwald website.

House of Keys Members then went through the Consideration of Clauses relating to the Regulation of Care (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the Sexual Offences and Obscene Publications Bill 2019, which took us some time and remains one of the most important pieces of legislation for this administration.

The Keys sitting finished just after 11.30am, which gave me some time to catch up with a few things.

At 13.00 Tynwald Members went up to the Barrool Suite for the Secret Santa, which always generates a few surprises and a lot of laughs amongst the Members. I only wish I could tell you of some of the presents that were exchanged, because they were pure genius…..

At 13.15 Members were joined by Tynwald officers and staff for Christmas lunch in the Barrool Suite, which once again was funded by Tynwald Members, as a simple thank you to all the staff for their support and help over the past 12 months.

A massive thank you has to go to Clare Barber, MHK for organising the Secret Santa and for helping to sort out lunch once again, and not forgetting the Government canteen, especially to Wendy for providing a wonderful lunch.

From the Barrool Suite we went to the Members’ Room for a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting, which was just a general discussion amongst the PAC and the Policy Review Committee members.

That meeting finished just after 16.40.

I left the office before 17.00 in order to get home and changed as we needed to be at Government House for 18.30, in order to attend a Christmas reception.

The Christmas reception always gives me an opportunity to catch up with people and is certainly an excellent event, usually involving singing Christmas carols. I might have mentioned it last year, but the 12 Days of Christmas is a particular favourite, especially when the room is split into two and becomes a competition amongst the guests.

We finally got home around 20.30.

In the office for normal time on Wednesday morning but things are starting to slow down, which is giving me plenty of time to catch the few bits of administration and a couple of ongoing projects in the office. At 10am the Chief Minister and officers from the Cabinet Office held a briefing to Tynwald Members, giving an overview of the UK general election and what could potentially happen over the next 18 months.

Disappointing that only 13 Tynwald Members turned up, but overall I felt it was a good presentation.

Back to the office and than straight over to DfE for a Motorsport sport team for the usual catch up as we look towards next year’s event. I then spent the next couple of hours drafting a few letters before I headed home mid afternoon, in order to start going through the Isle of Man Visit Agency agenda pack but I was able to finish for 18.00.

One final push on Thursday to get a few things done. The morning session is taken up with two DfE meetings relating to the Visit Isle of Man Agency.

The first meeting was the monthly tourism agency meeting, which lasted around three hours. I certainly feel that the Agency is finishing the year on a positive platform but more much work needs to be undertaken with the island’s tourism industry, although I feel that the Sector has turned a major corner in 2019.

The second meeting related to a discussion around what support DfE should (could) provide to service accommodation providers in 2020….

Back to the office briefly to do a couple of jobs, but I was able finish for around 14.30 on Thursday.

Just a couple of meetings scheduled on Friday, and I was in the office just before 8am.

At 10am there was a tourism team meeting, in order to look over a funding application that required careful consideration.

At 11.30am there was a DfE workshop in which the political members gave an overview of their agencies, which included details on work undertaken over the past 12 months and a look at future objectives, etc over the next couple of years.

That meeting finished just after 13.00 and it was straight back to the office to tidy up a few things, but once again I was able to finish just after 14.30.

As for the weekend, I have a couple of engagements planned, including the Nine Carols and Lessons at St Peter’s Church on Sunday, which is always one of my personal Christmas favourites.

I guess the only thing to do now is wish everyone a wonderful Christmas – thank you so much for following my journey over the past 12 months…