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Shake me up Judy

Election Post-Mortem

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Now that all the declarations are in I can't help thinking that something has got to change before the next election in five years time. There is something fundamentally rotten about our politics that produces, as we all predicted, such a poor field of candidates to once again represent the Manx people at the highest level of government. Can we afford to carry on like this ? It's time to start thinking about rebuilding grass roots politics rather than the five yearly X-Factor of chancers, egomaniacs, pension chasers, no-hopers and the deluded. This current lot won't get us out of the mess and will probably make it worse. Liberal Vannin seem to have adopted the policy of throwing candidates at the electorate in the hope that one or two will sneak in, and I think they probably need a major rethink after this is over if they're to have any political longevity. We need to learn from this debacle and not repeat it all over again.

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Now that all the declarations are in I can't help thinking that something has got to change before the next election in five years time. There is something fundamentally rotten about our politics that produces, as we all predicted, such a poor field of candidates to once again represent the Manx people at the highest level of government. Can we afford to carry on like this ? It's time to start thinking about rebuilding grass roots politics rather than the five yearly X-Factor of chancers, egomaniacs, pension chasers, no-hopers and the deluded. This current lot won't get us out of the mess and will probably make it worse. Liberal Vannin seem to have adopted the policy of throwing candidates at the electorate in the hope that one or two will sneak in, and I think they probably need a major rethink after this is over if they're to have any political longevity. We need to learn from this debacle and not repeat it all over again.

You have a good point. Firstly though you need to work out what will make more "qualified" candidates stand. In the UK of course there is quite a rigorous process to go through if say you wanted to be a conservative candidate, although interesting to note that you might be standing in a different area to your "home" town or county.

 

You of course have to remember that there are only 80,000 people on the Island and you have to accept you are not always going to have the same calibre of politician as you might find in Westminster.

 

I think the way to do it is for some form of selection panel to be put in place to pre-approve candidates. This may be a national panel comprising a cross section of society ??

 

I also believe that part of the answer may be to find out why more "qualified" candidates don't want to do the job. I do think that our politicians have a harder job than most in that they are so close and available to the comunity and therefore every move is scrutinised - does this put some people off ? Or, do we need to reduce the numbers and pay more money ?

 

Sorry if I am waffling a bit, but I hope you get my gist. There is a definite need to improve here, but we have to come up with a sensible solution.

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I think the way to do it is for some form of selection panel to be put in place to pre-approve candidates. This may be a national panel comprising a cross section of society ??

 

I don't mean to be rude, but that's a horrible idea. One basic premise of a democracy is that anyone can stand for parliament. Yes, parties insist on selection panels in the UK, but anyone can still stand as an independent if they like. In your vision, you basically have a group of people curtailing the electorate's choice according to their own personal sensibilities and bias. It also poses the awkward question of who chooses the selection panel and how.

 

Also, your suggestion doesn't actually bare any relation to the main thrust of your post. The rationale for selection in the UK is that the parties have so many applicants wanting to stand that there's a necessity to sift through these to select the best (or most likely to win) candidate for a given seat. That isn't the problem we have; if as you suggest we're simply not getting decent candidates, no amount of arbitrarily imposed selection will change that fact.

 

It's also worth pointing out that the selection committees set up by political parties in the UK are subject to serious criticisms as well. Certainly, there are some truly woeful MPs about, so it's questionable as to just how effective they really are.

Edited by VinnieK

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There are over two and a half thousand other potential candidates living in my constituency and yet I am the only one with the balls to put my name forward. I am the boss of my own company, I do a job that I truly enjoy and I have a great home with a wife that I love. Life is good for me at the moment and it’s thanks to bloody hard work and determination that I have made it this way. So why would I want to put all this at risk to become a politician? Why would I choose to be labelled as part of an “X-Factor of chancers, egomaniacs, pension chasers, no-hopers and the deluded”?

Perhaps it’s because I choose to care enough about the land of my birth and the people I proudly share it with? Or because I feel some obligation to the generations before me who through their sacrifices allowed us to inherit this brilliant Island and entrusted us to take care of it for future generations.

I agree that there are candidates who simply see the position of MHK as a job with reasonable salary, pension etc. However, there are some of us who see it as position of trust and one of huge responsibility. It is position that rarely brings credit and often brings criticism but I can think of few positions more worthwhile. It is such a shame that nearly half of our population show little enthusiasm for Manx politics and I wonder if the ‘quality’ of our candidates is to blame?

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I think the way to do it is for some form of selection panel to be put in place to pre-approve candidates. This may be a national panel comprising a cross section of society ??

 

I don't mean to be rude, but that's a horrible idea. One basic premise of a democracy is that anyone can stand for parliament. Yes, parties insist on selection panels in the UK, but anyone can still stand as an independent if they like. In your vision, you basically have a group of people curtailing the electorate's choice according to their own personal sensibilities and bias. It also poses the awkward question of who chooses the selection panel and how.

 

Also, your suggestion doesn't actually bare any relation to the main thrust of your post. The rationale for selection in the UK is that the parties have so many applicants wanting to stand that there's a necessity to sift through these to select the best (or most likely to win) candidate for a given seat. That isn't the problem we have; if as you suggest we're simply not getting decent candidates, no amount of arbitrarily imposed selection will change that fact.

 

It's also worth pointing out that the selection committees set up by political parties in the UK are subject to serious criticisms as well. Certainly, there are some truly woeful MPs about, so it's questionable as to just how effective they really are.

Thats why I has said the selection panel had to be a cross section of society. I agree that this may be tenuous, but you have to remember that we are a small community in real terms and the problem is that "bad" candidates can do a great deal of damage by splitting votes etc.

 

In terms of your other point, I did go on to say we needed to work out why more "qualified" candidates were not standing (ie pay / exposure etc).

 

Paul, you don't seem to recognise that there is a problem here, which for a new candidate I find disappointing. And I'm afraid your Winston Churchill speech above has, I'm afraid, led me to believe that you are either an egomaniac or deluded. I'm not sure which.

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There are over two and a half thousand other potential candidates living in my constituency and yet I am the only one with the balls to put my name forward. I am the boss of my own company, I do a job that I truly enjoy and I have a great home with a wife that I love. Life is good for me at the moment and it’s thanks to bloody hard work and determination that I have made it this way. So why would I want to put all this at risk to become a politician? Why would I choose to be labelled as part of an “X-Factor of chancers, egomaniacs, pension chasers, no-hopers and the deluded”?

Perhaps it’s because I choose to care enough about the land of my birth and the people I proudly share it with? Or because I feel some obligation to the generations before me who through their sacrifices allowed us to inherit this brilliant Island and entrusted us to take care of it for future generations.

I agree that there are candidates who simply see the position of MHK as a job with reasonable salary, pension etc. However, there are some of us who see it as position of trust and one of huge responsibility. It is position that rarely brings credit and often brings criticism but I can think of few positions more worthwhile. It is such a shame that nearly half of our population show little enthusiasm for Manx politics and I wonder if the ‘quality’ of our candidates is to blame?

 

Paul: Your reply is much to your credit and I assure you I didn't have every single candidate in mind. Of course there are some individual candidates who are worthy of the people's trust but surely even you must admit the shocking quality of the field taken as a whole, and that is the bigger issue as far as I'm concerned with implications way beyond the merits of individual candidates. I wish you all good luck on a personal level but that's not what concerns me here.

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Thats why I has said the selection panel had to be a cross section of society.

 

Again, who appoints them? For that matter, who defines how truly representative that cross section is and the criteria for selection? Do we do it by supposed class, place of birth, education, income, age, gender, sexuality, religious belief, constituency and/or political leanings? Even within any one or combination of those categories there's going to be a range of opinion, so it's doubtful how representative such a set up can ever be.

 

Additionally, how do we ensure that those on the panel choose the best and most talented candidates, and not simply those candidates who simply appeal to them on a personal level? That's just one of the contradictions your proposal results in: you want the panel to be representative of society and to select the best candidates. However, if it is a truly faithful representation, their voting habits are going to be the same as the broader electorate's and you're going to have those you view as quality candidates losing out due to split votes etc. If, however, you relax the conditions on how representative the panel is, and you just end up introducing the possibility of its composition and hence its selection of candidates being unintentionally biased.

 

On a practical level, it's simply unworkable and it should be remembered that party political selection panels are different in so much as they have a clear ideological agenda guiding their judgement (though even then, it's debatable how well they serve the constituencies their candidates are supposed to represent, or even the nation as a whole given that their choice may be effected by any number of prejudices, such as towards party loyalty or popular appeal, which may have little connection with quality).

 

I agree that this may be tenuous, but you have to remember that we are a small community in real terms and the problem is that "bad" candidates can do a great deal of damage by splitting votes etc.

 

Yes, bad candidates can have a harmful influence by splitting the vote, but that's as much fault of those members of the electorate voting for them as it is the candidates for standing. The point is that it's the individual's choice who they vote for. If we're to accept that some are incapable or unwilling of making that choice sensibly and that it's the political system's duty to attempt to mitigate the effects of this choice, then we may as well ditch the pretence of democracy entirely and simply restrict who can vote in the first place rather than faff about trying to limit their ability to vote to a couple of options selected for them by their supposed peers. And, as I say before, a selection panel may not even result in 'good' candidates being put up for election.

 

In terms of your other point, I did go on to say we needed to work out why more "qualified" candidates were not standing (ie pay / exposure etc).

 

True, however that doesn't change the fact that such a system is redundant and has no purpose until there is a sufficiently large number of candidates, and decent candidates at that, to make a selection process even remotely useful, and even then the idea suffers from both the moral and practical concerns listed above.

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Thats why I has said the selection panel had to be a cross section of society.

 

Again, who appoints them? For that matter, who defines how truly representative that cross section is and the criteria for selection? Do we do it by supposed class, place of birth, education, income, age, gender, sexuality, religious belief, constituency and/or political leanings? Even within any one or combination of those categories there's going to be a range of opinion, so it's doubtful how representative such a set up can ever be.

 

Additionally, how do we ensure that those on the panel choose the best and most talented candidates, and not simply those candidates who simply appeal to them on a personal level? That's just one of the contradictions your proposal results in: you want the panel to be representative of society and to select the best candidates. However, if it is a truly faithful representation, their voting habits are going to be the same as the broader electorate's and you're going to have those you view as quality candidates losing out due to split votes etc. If, however, you relax the conditions on how representative the panel is, and you just end up introducing the possibility of its composition and hence its selection of candidates being unintentionally biased.

 

On a practical level, it's simply unworkable and it should be remembered that party political selection panels are different in so much as they have a clear ideological agenda guiding their judgement (though even then, it's debatable how well they serve the constituencies their candidates are supposed to represent, or even the nation as a whole given that their choice may be effected by any number of prejudices, such as towards party loyalty or popular appeal, which may have little connection with quality).

 

I agree that this may be tenuous, but you have to remember that we are a small community in real terms and the problem is that "bad" candidates can do a great deal of damage by splitting votes etc.

 

Yes, bad candidates can have a harmful influence by splitting the vote, but that's as much fault of those members of the electorate voting for them as it is the candidates for standing. The point is that it's the individual's choice who they vote for. If we're to accept that some are incapable or unwilling of making that choice sensibly and that it's the political system's duty to attempt to mitigate the effects of this choice, then we may as well ditch the pretence of democracy entirely and simply restrict who can vote in the first place rather than faff about trying to limit their ability to vote to a couple of options selected for them by their supposed peers. And, as I say before, a selection panel may not even result in 'good' candidates being put up for election.

 

In terms of your other point, I did go on to say we needed to work out why more "qualified" candidates were not standing (ie pay / exposure etc).

 

True, however that doesn't change the fact that such a system is redundant and has no purpose until there is a sufficiently large number of candidates, and decent candidates at that, to make a selection process even remotely useful, and even then the idea suffers from both the moral and practical concerns listed above.

Point taken.......so, business as usual then !

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Point taken.......so, business as usual then !

 

Heh, sorry to go on!

 

I think the sad fact is that it is business as usual, right up until there's some kind of change in the public's attitude towards the Island's politics, and that we can't really do a great deal about that without compromising pretty fundamental democratic principles or introducing procedures of questionable reliability.

 

That change has to be some kind of greater politicization. That can be influenced by parties arising, political groups like P.A.G. and public debates, the establishment of more serious alternatives to our current lack lustre media, and (in the long term) increased education about the politics of the Island - anything which gets people talking or thinking about the Island's politics.

 

However, the populace has to be receptive to such approaches in the first place. Given that apathy and parochialism have been long standing characteristics of the Island's political culture, I'm betting it's going to take a proper, sustained shock to instigate such a change in attitude by emphasising the importance of the Island's politics and its government. As I've said before, I don't think we've reached that point yet; at the moment we're all just anxious about what the future might bring, but in five years it might be different a story.

 

Perhaps the turbulence and uncertainty we're facing is, unfortunately, exactly what the Island needs.

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Thank you Judy, I appreciate your concerns and do realise the point you are making. I do admit there is poor turn-out in terms of quality but who am I to criticise? We all remain at the mercy of the electorate whether as a prospective politician or a concerned individual.

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Everyone seems very quick to criticise those that have stood and I personally know two of the challengers. Both are people that have successful businesses and can only stand because they have supportive families unlike the civil servants that can just walk back into their jobs if they don't succeed so have nothing whatsoever to lose

 

If you don't like what you see in the potential candidates then perhaps you should have had the balls to stand yourself and put your money where you mouth is.

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Everyone seems very quick to criticise those that have stood and I personally know two of the challengers. Both are people that have successful businesses and can only stand because they have supportive families unlike the civil servants that can just walk back into their jobs if they don't succeed so have nothing whatsoever to lose

 

If you don't like what you see in the potential candidates then perhaps you should have had the balls to stand yourself and put your money where you mouth is.

 

Do you see what you did there Bobs ? There's still a boat in the morning too. Whether I stood or not wouldn't make a jot of difference to my point, which I think you're missing. Despite the undoubted qualities of some individual candidates, people who I would possibly vote for, do you not agree that taken as a whole, there is a woefully weak field of candidates ? Do you not think that you're just 'shooting the messenger' here ? Can't we be a bit grown up about it and discusss politics without questioning the masculinity of contributors ? It's the sort of tiresome old argument that gets us nowhere.

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I believe the problem to be that Tynwald is rotten to the core.

 

I mean, who in their right mind:

 

  • would think that being an MHK is somehow challenging???
  • would want to be associated with a litany of financial ineptitude that includes MEA, Iris, incinerator, linkspan, hospital, airport etc etc etc???
  • would want to be a part of an organisation that functions on a system of patronage with all the arse-kissing that involves???
  • would want to to be in an organisation where the figurehead/leader (hah!) is ALWAYS a compromise candidate???
  • would want to attract the kind of public scorn that only comes with deliberately ring-fencing your own non-contributory pension with self-interest whilst reducing the contributory pensions of others???
  • would ever fool themselves into thinking that they were part of a democracy???

 

A recent survey of the electorate put Allan Bell as the public front-runner for CM with a paltry 15% of the vote. But this is the bit that got me. The survey showed that ‘Honesty/transparency’ was cited as the most important quality sought by the public in a chief minister.' and Allan Bell came out in front. The same Allan Bell who was found by Nigel Macleod QC to have "deliberately misled" Tynwald. You just couldn't make it up...

 

The upper chamber is a bit of a joke as well. Full of ersatz MHK's it stands for cronyism, placemenship and patronage. Now I'm no fan of the House of Lords but when you have eminent surgeons like Ara Darzi there as a health minister at least you know that there are folks checking health legislation who KNOW the health business as opposed to politicians who don't.

 

Tynwald needs a major overhaul. That can only come from within.

 

So forget it...

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One of the biggest problems here is apathy, I wouldn't be surprised at a general voting turnout of less than 50% this time round. In Onchan we have 6 candidates, 3 hoping to return and 3 new. Two have visited us, plus we have a newsletter or three from LVP. PK will return, of that I have no doubt, of the other seats I have no confidence in any of the remaining candidates to fill these and look after our interests. I did like June Kelly but she is too health biased and with no disrespect to her 'is too nice' if you know what I mean.

Like Paul H said there are plenty of potential candidates out there but they are already employed in decent jobs, so why change this to put yourself in the firing line of the nation.

I follow politics quite keenly and even considered stepping forward myself, but again like Paul H I had to consider my own business commitments and how it would all work together, not easy! I certainly could and would not give it up as it is part of my pension plan (hopefully).

In addition I would have been an unknown in both political circles and by the general public, also I have never worked in public sector in my life, although I have worked for them externally. I would see this as an advantage rather than the opposite, but not all agree.

My wife who does work in public sector said I would be frustrated to death at the pace of 'the system', my work life has been along the lines of 'make a decision-implement' usually a matter of days or weeks, not months or years! or in many cases things take so long they just give up in the end, IOM Steam Packet report, accountability of MEA debt a few examples!!

One thing that did crop up 'sounding out' friends and colleagues was the amount of people who asked if I was Manx. I have spent more of my life here than anywhere else but was not born here, whilst not a pre-requisite for office it is clearly an issue in the minds of many, even the returning officer asked the question.

Like my daughter said (us Manx) "we don't like change", she is qualified to be critical and I think the results of the election may prove her right!

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It's the Konchesky Principle. The knowledge & perception that allowed me to recognise that Paul Konchesky wasn't equipped to play left back for Liverpool, is the same one that leads me to realise that I'm not either.

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