With Alf Cannan confirmed as Chief Minister, attention now turns to who will be joining his Council of Ministers.
With only three members of the previous administration surviving the election, albeit with Laurence Skelly leaving to become President of Tynwald and Howard Quayle’s retirement, experience is thin on the ground.
Some will undoubtedly see that as a good thing and will point to many of the failings of the previous administration which, in truth, spread itself too thin with its Programme for Government and arguably set itself up for failure right from the start.
Mr Cannan will need to blend experience with fresh blood, but who should go where? Here’s what we think could happen.
Alf’s old stomping ground will have a big role to play in the new administration as we continue our economic recovery from the pandemic. Wouldn’t be surprised to see David Ashford promoted to the second job in CoMin, even though personally I’d keep him in health through the winter before moving him. Now is the time for change, but a new minister wouldn’t have much time to get their heads around DHSC, unless..
How about Clare Barber or Dr Allinson? Both from medical backgrounds, both will be better placed than many to go in and understand the pressures on Manx Care this winter and both of them have experience as members of Tynwald to know how the system works. Other countries have medical professionals in charge of their health and social care departments, I don’t see why it can’t work here.
Ah the poisoned chalice. With Mr Cannan suggesting he wants to see the DoI split up or at least shrunk, the dept will go through some changes in the coming weeks and months. We all know it is insane that the DoI is in charge of large capital projects (though probably not for much longer), the railways, the buses, local authorities and everything else that has been landed at its door. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rob Callister land here. But equally with former minister Tim Crookall back in the Keys, he could conceivably be in line for a quick return to CoMin.
Justice and Home Affairs
Jane Poole-Wilson led the Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice Committee which laid down some strong recommendations for improving the island’s legal system. I’d think she would be well placed to take on this role. If not her, then Kate Lord-Brennan, who also made the move from MLC to MHK could be a great fit in the dept given her own legal background and experience in Tynwald.
If he doesn’t get one of the “bigger jobs”, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr Allinson is asked to carry on in Education, Sport and Culture. Equally if he is moved, JPW or Ann Corlett could be well placed to step in here and take over. There are big challenges coming in Education and the dept needs someone who can guide it through the difficult times ahead.
Dr Michelle Haywood must be a favourite here, with her background and expertise. The other option is Tim Johnston, he’s new to Tynwald, but he’s also a farmer and Alf’s stable mate as MHK for A&M. It makes sense to me to put someone with knowledge of the farming industry and/or the environment into the role. If not Minister, I’d expect they both find their way into DEFA in one way or another.
Policy and Reform
Could Chris Thomas return to his old job? It’s a weird role this one but if it doesn’t go to CT, I’d like to see Julie Edge move into CoMin. Her, often difficult, time as chair of the Post Office has been a baptism of fire, but Ms Edge has shown her eye for detail and a successful time in P&R could be a stepping stone to higher office.
A straight choice for me between Claire Christian and Lawrie Hooper. With the TT making a comeback in 2022, the dept has to get things right. Admittedly it is already falling at the first hurdle since the Grandstand won’t have a proper scoreboard, but they’re trying to fix the rest of it. The dept also has to start justifying its own existence, with questions being asked in Tynwald about how much it actually contributes to the island’s economy, DfE could be returning to its previous designation Dept of Economic Development, DED.
There will be other roles to fill throughout the gov, chair of planning, chair of the Post Office, chair of the Meatplant, as well as dept members, if indeed MHKs decide they want to go into depts, remember they get no extra cash for doing so. I’d expect to see more experienced members like Jason Moorhouse finding a new role with Tynwald, but it will be interesting to see how the new members settle in and where they go. The Manx Labour Party’s Joney Faragher and Sarah Maltby have said they want to work with gov, but does that mean they want to be in gov or working from the outside?
Equally Stu Peters and John Wannenburgh, who are the two real political outsiders, need to define their own roles for the next five years. Garff’s new MHK Andrew Smith likewise seems like someone who will bring something new to the table, as does Tim Glover who has already spoken of the importance of communication for Tynwald, but will he find a role where ministers will listen?
With Juan Watterson and Daphne Caine operating as Speaker and Deputy Speaker, this rules them out for gov jobs, but they will likely be key figures on the backbenches and in the scrutiny of the new administration’s policies.
Department for ???
With Mr Cannan saying he wants the DoI to be split up or shrunk and his plan for a minister for housing, we’re also likely to see a reshuffle kerfuffle. Alternatively, it may just be time to update the letterheads and rearrange what the depts get up to.