Saturday, 5 April 2014

Manx democracy, a contradictatorship interned

If you owe your Manx political appointment to an unelected cabal in another country, shouldn't you have the common decency to butt out of the democratic process?
I only ask because of this pseudo-political slide back to the Middle Ages (see ), which I could not point out here at the time because I was too busy elsewhere to go into it.
The key point is that:
“At the July sitting, statements and moving a report will be limited to 20 minutes while moving any other motion will be limited to 15 minutes.
Speaking to a motion or amendment will be restricted to 10 minutes while contributions at Question Time should be no longer than five minutes. Tynwald president Clare Christian will have discretion to allocate additional time on request.”
Media presentation and discussion of the matter nicely avoids the problem: which is that the real work in the movement of any parliamentary bill is done in the committees.
Membership of both those committees and the various government departments is not determined by merit, suitable professional or other background or other common-sensical principles. It is, in reality, determined by a vague and shadowy system of patronage.
If your face fits – with both senior political and civil service figures – you might just be allowed a place. If you are totally unsuitable (semi-literate, disinterested, too wrapped up in your day job to turn up except when needed to vote) you are even more likely to get in, because you won't be in the way when special interest groups want something that is definitely not in the general public's interest.
This leaves short spaces in the discussion of clauses (providing this hasn't already been delegated to a committee) and third and final reading of bills where any MHK (if fortunate enough to be forewarned and even luckier enough to catch the Speaker's eye) can jump up, ask questions or point out anomalies. That few minutes is the last precious remains of democracy in the Manx political process, and this nasty little move almost strangles it.
If I was in a mood to joke, it would be tempting to ask, could sermons be limited by law in the same way?
But far more importantly – who put the freeloading carbuncle up to it? Because it certainly was not his initiative, which suggests that somewhere in the murky depths of Legislative Council or the Council of Ministers a deal was done to nod through public funds the Church wants but should not be getting, in return for something that a loathsome floater in one of those bodies needs so that the Manx business community is not inconvenienced by democracy or common decency and that community, in return, finds a nice non-executive board place for a soon-to-retire politician or civil service executive.
Watch the Manx business pages after the next election, or the next round of civil service retirements, and you will find the answer. Those pages are just a joke, read by nobody outside the business community that provides acres of dull (and free) copy, so those that do feel so far above public scrutiny to bother hiding the connection.

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