Thursday, 30 July 2009

Is there a Manx word for 'Equality'?

What seems like years ago, but was in fact less than 18 months, I helped contribute to a government consultation on a planned Employment Equality Bill. Yesterday I was informed the results had been published.
You can find them at, and I warn you now some of them are not pleasant. If anyone needed an accurate picture of the gap between the understanding of basic human rights and respect for others seen in the civilised world and the Manx view on such things, this is it.
Almost the only positive thing I can say about the report on the consultation is that, for once, whoever collated it reveals what was said and who said it. In that sense it is a valuable document for anyone who wants to understand just how Manx democracy and government happens – or rather, doesn’t.
I know personally from watching them in action that Manx government departments are often run by folk who care little for humanity, but the comments you see from some of them in this consultation might surprise everyone else. For example the total disinterest in giving disabled people basic employment rights and support which are now taken for granted throughout Europe.
The comments from religious organisations will surprise nobody, and to be fair they are quite upfront about their intent to ride roughshod over everyone else’s rights and feelings if they can get away with it. But it is still astonishing that government just doesn’t get it on religious privilege.
Despite having it explained in words of one syllable, they plan to allow religious organisations paid from public money to continue discriminating against employing women, gays and non-Christians as they see fit. One wonders what more we can do to educate our dimwit politicos or the culturally clueless who advise them – pictures, watch the bouncing ball singalongs in a Powerpoint presentation…or what? Someone tell me, because I give up!
Comments from others in the Manx community might also raise eyebrows, as will the government response. For example, it is astonishing that an organisation representing a dozen or so tosspot employers gets more government ‘weighting’ than the views of the Isle of Man Trades Council, which represents the vast majority of Manx working people.
You will also discover fairly quickly why the words ‘honest’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘Manx advocate’ are rarely, if ever, found in the same sentence – apart from this one.
The mind boggles at the astonishing sums which must have changed hands for members of the Isle of Man Law Society to write the responses of the employer and business organisations who, in theory, responded to this one, as well as ghost-writing most of the government department responses too (a quick review of government accounts shows the regularity with which ‘independent legal advice’ is sought on the most trivial matters). Yet the pretence is that the Society simply responded as one party.
Read this report. If you are an off-island reader I won’t blame you if you laugh out loud, but if you are local be very, very ashamed of what we are letting happen on an island which is, at least nominally, democratic and with residents who can walk without dragging their knuckles.

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