An MLC who has announced her candidacy for this year’s House of Keys General Election says she believes she could achieve more as an MHK.
Kate Lord-Brennan, who was selected as an MLC by the Keys in 2018, has declared her intention to stand in Glenfaba and Peel, its seats are currently held by ministers Geoffrey Boot and Ray Harmer. While islanders vote for MHKs, the Legislative Council (LegCo) is chosen by MHKs, its role is more of a scrutinising body than one which creates legislation.
In declaring her intention to stand, Mrs Lord-Brennan said: ‘The experience of being a Member of the Legislative Council and a Member of Tynwald has given me a considerable insight into the need for change in a number of areas; but it has also taught me – as a resident of Peel – that I could achieve a great deal more for the constituency if I was fortunate enough to be a directly elected Member for the constituency of Glenfaba and Peel.’
Speaking to Gef, Mrs Lord-Brennan said there are many things that need to change and improve across gov, which she said ‘becomes apparent in terms of unsuccessful or poorly implemented projects’.
She said there are also issues around ‘people accessing services, redress not coming easily, or policy not being sufficiently well-developed’. ‘There’s a lack of strategic capacity,’ she said. The MLC said that she wants to see improvements in education and for children and families, the environment, gov reform, and how the island’s economy recovers from Covid.
When asked why her current role prohibits her from achieving these aims, Mrs Lord-Brennan said: ‘MLCs, for me, have a different role – that of oversight, scrutiny and challenge for checks and balances; that second look and yes, sometimes saying no, causing a pause for thought or amending legislation.
‘If you want to actively pursue policies, advocate for change and have a connection with the views and interests of the people in your area, it is of course right to do that from the Keys, and with a public mandate. Big ideas, big changes are Keys not LegCo. The same could be said for government positions. I resigned from DoI in July 2019 and had no intention of taking up another departmental or executive position for this reason. It doesn’t work.’
While she would have to give up her seat in LegoCo were she elected, Mrs Lord-Brennan said it wouldn’t be right to resign in order to contest this election as ‘there is still important work to be done so my first duty would be to continue on with that, rather than causing a bye-election’.
She added: ‘As it goes, my term is set to finish early 2023, and so it ends up being either down to the public in the General Election, or down the line, it is for Keys to decide. It’s not up to me. I hope people respect that it takes a lot of courage to stand even though there is an existing role to consider.’
There is a precedent for an MLC deciding to stand for the Keys and resigning their seat in LegCo in order to do so. In 2006 Leonard Singer quit LegCo in order to contest that year’s General Election. However Mr Singer had been an MHK since 1997 before being ‘elevated’ to LegCo in 2003.