With Covid numbers rising, the cost of major projects spiralling and everything else the gov has to deal with, the Council of Ministers has decided the best use of its time is to launch an attack on Speaker Juan Watterson.
In a statement issued by the gov’s comms team, CoMin said it ‘expressed concern at the initial decision by the Deputy President of Tynwald [Mr Watterson] to hold this week’s sitting of Tynwald virtually’.
That decision would have meant that members of Tynwald would not have been able to attend the sitting in person in the Tynwald Chamber. However it was later ditched with members electing to hold a hybrid sitting with some in the Chamber and others dialling in from home.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle said: ‘It was disappointing and concerning that Mr Deputy President took the initial decision to hold this month’s sitting of Tynwald virtually. I am of course sympathetic to the concerns some Tynwald members may have. But the public understandably expects Tynwald and Government to lead from the front and set an example. Our teachers are in their classrooms, government’s public counters are open, and our community is working together so that people can go about their lives as normally as possible. This is part of adapting to live in a world with COVID-19, which has been made possible thanks to the protection offered by our vaccination programme.
‘A number of members, myself included, received representations from the public over the signal the initial decision to hold a virtual Tynwald sent. It is the view of the Council of Ministers that this decision created a perception that there is one rule for politicians and one rule for everyone else. I appreciate that Government and Tynwald are often blurred in the public consciousness, but I wish to make clear that this was a parliamentary decision by Tynwald, not a decision by the Council of Ministers or the Isle of Man Government.’
A Joint Decision
When he made the original decision, Mr Watterson said he had ‘received strong representations from Members about the current risks of sitting in the Chamber’ and that he had acted with members of Tynwald and in the interest of the health of not only members, but Tynwald staff. He said that the decision had been taken after he and the Clerk of Tynwald sought the advice of Public Health.
Mr Watterson also said that he discussed the matter with the new President of Tynwald Laurence Skelly, who, until this morning, was the Minister for Enterprise and that he had agreed with the decision. He also suggested that other members of CoMin had either been favour of or raised not objection to his initial decision.
Speaking to Gef, Mr Watterson said: ‘It’s a surprising announcement as the decision was concurred with by Laurence Skelly. Knowing it was potentially sensitive he undertook to speak to the Chief Minister and I understood there was no objection. It’s a shame that the hard work of officers and the pragmatic approach finally taken hasn’t been recognised.’
It does just seem a bit, well…
Whether you agree or disagree with the decisions taken to first make Tynwald virtual and then to opt for a hybrid system, is there seriously nothing better for gov staff to be doing than firing shots at the Speaker of the House of Keys? People are seeing rising cases, they are wanting to know if they should send their children to school, whether they should go to work, why there are no lateral flow tests, why PCR testing is taking so long.
People also want to know why THEIR money has been squandered on successive infrastructure projects which have spiralled out of control and why no one is ever held accountable, why work on the new high school in Castletown is delayed, what is being done to solve overcrowding at Ballakermeen, why nothing meaningful has been done to address affordable housing or gas prices, why so many families are reliant on the Foodbank or how we move to zero carbon electricity and transport. Instead of answers to these issues, we get to the last sitting of this administration just to see cheap political point scoring and a swinging d*ck contest.
Honestly, we deserve better than this.