Enterprise Minister Laurence Skelly has announced he will not seek reelection as an MHK this year, but he has thrown his hat into the ring to be the next President of Tynwald.

Mr Skelly, who was first elected in 2011, said he wanted to ‘thank all those who have generously supported me through two elections, serving the good people of Rushen and the Isle of Man since 2011’.

The Minister said he has been approached by other members and ‘asked that I stand for President of Tynwald’.  

He added: ‘I have agreed to put my name forward in July and if unsuccessful I shall return to the private sector.’

Speaker Juan Watterson is the only other candidate to publicly state he wants to replace Steve Rodan who will retire as President of Tynwald in July this year.

Mr Skelly’s Statement in Full

‘Many of my supporters are aware I never intended to be a career politician and initially stood as I wanted to help guide our Island through difficult economic times and improve our social wellbeing. The island had not long suffered the massive loss of VAT revenue and was struggling with the fallout of the 2008 financial crash.   

‘I have served the majority of my tenure as Minister responsible for our economy with the Department of Economic Development and restructured a leaner and fit for purpose new Department for Enterprise. 

‘This Department has helped build a stronger economy with continued diversification and, pre-Covid, a 15 year low unemployment and positive wage growth, including government commitment for a living wage. Confidence from our business community had not only returned but was revitalised with a genuine sense of entrepreneurship and innovation being demonstrated since the successful launch of ISLEXPO in 2015. 

‘Pre-Covid, the visitor economy had reversed decades of decline with healthy growth and investment running high. In addition,  the Council of Ministers’ decision to secure ownership of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has swiftly proven its value. It remains a true lifeline that ensures stability and security for Manx residents, visitors and businesses and I am sure will prove a long term positive investment.

‘Over the past decade, I have also supported overdue social legislation with the equality bill, abortion bill, adoption bill, medicinal cannabis regulations and climate change bill that will help our future generations. 

‘As Chairman of Isle of Man Arts Council, launching the Year of Culture in 2014, it was gratifying to see culture and heritage being recognised and appreciated to a much greater extent. Following that success, it was a privilege to help initiate the UNESCO Biosphere bid and we now witness so many people embracing its principles and demonstrating such passion and pride in our beautiful Island.

‘Closer to home, as a Founding Trustee of Rushen Heritage Trust it has been a pleasure to see this organisation flourish and unlock our deep and rich local heritage in Rushen to both locals and visitors alike. 

‘I have actively encouraged and supported investment of our major brownfield sites in Rushen with most either being developed, planning approved or in the pipeline but delayed due to the pandemic.

‘Rushen MHKs were influential in helping secure 17 acres of recreational use at Ballakilley at no cost to our community and were delighted to see Nomads Rugby Club finally have a home.

‘Of course, all the above seems to pale in comparison in dealing with the global pandemic that was thrust upon our Island last year with little warning and no rule book how to manage. I believe this is exactly why you stand in politics – to stand up and make leadership decisions no matter how difficult they appear and in the best interests of the people and nation you represent. 

‘It has been an extraordinary and relentless challenge and, at this stage, I believe we have navigated as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I can honestly say it has been a privilege to be part of the Council of Ministers and Tynwald working together in dealing with this unprecedented health and subsequent economic crisis. The true Manx spirit – Quocunque Jeceris Stabit – whichever way thrown always stand – has shone through.  That said, without our strong and resilient economy, critical decisions would have been hugely more difficult.

‘I do believe as a result of our management of this pandemic, the Island is in a much stronger position going forward to deal with any crisis and build a healthy and sustainable future for us all.    

‘Since deciding not to seek re-election as an MHK, and with President Steve Rodan recently announcing his retirement, several Members have approached and asked that I stand for President of Tynwald.  I have agreed to put my name forward in July and if unsuccessful I shall return to the private sector. 

‘Being a national politician serving the nation is rewarding and challenging in equal measure and one of the most rewarding aspects is helping the very people you serve. I feel deeply enriched by my experience of the last 10 years and it has truly been an honour and privilege to represent the good people of Rushen and the Isle of Man.  

‘Mish lesh firrinys & Mannin son dy bragh – Yours faithfully & Isle of Man forever.’

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