The UK is shit.
People are choosing between heating and eating. The Government is corrupt. Politicians can do anything without any accountability. In recent years, young people have thought that homeownership feels like a wild fantasy- now, renting a property without damp and a living room that hasn’t been converted into another couple of box bedrooms feels like a fantasy.
If you’re reading this from the Isle of Man, I have good news. You do not live in the UK. So why, then, do these issues feel so pertinent to those living on the island?
The state of both Britain and the Isle of Man have been on my mind a lot recently during the last couple of months. Firstly, because of this brilliant article by Emma Garland, which encapsulated the complacent attitude of many Brits, who accept a dull life of pre-packaged sandwiches and terrible coffee, as long as a cheap, annual holiday to somewhere better is on the cards. And, secondly, because I have made the move off-island, to live half-way across the world in Asia.
Of course, my own decision to leave has shaped my whole view on how the world could be better. One of the most absurd things I’ve noticed is that I’ve had to move half-way across the world to rent somewhere that isn’t my childhood bedroom. And while the issue is bad in the UK, the Isle of Man does not need to be the same. So often, we accept our issues because the UK are going through the same ones: if the UK Government, who are so consistently brilliant in everything they do can’t deal with an issue, how is the little old Isle of Man expected to do it? Or worse still, we sit and whine- why bother to do anything when you can scroll through estate agents’ websites and calculate how many pay rises you’d need to afford to buy a flat that you can’t even afford to heat.
Yet we have the means to change things. We have the ability to be radical. We have the population of a small city, yet a whole national government that thankfully isn’t a Conservative government. Our MHKs aren’t some distant figures: you’ll probably see them knocking about in Shoprite, doing their big shop like anybody else. The island has the ability to work for its residents- a place where everyone has a good quality of life- there just needs to be change.
Take housing for example. There’s a lot being said about housing, but seemingly no action except for a few council flats being built- which is great to see, and we need more of, but unless there are a lot more flats being built, it hardly solves the issue- especially considering that families need housing, too. Instead, there needs to be some control over the private rental sector- whether that’s higher taxation of those who own second properties, or something even more radical. That’s not a tremendously popular thought among those who see their second homes as their pension pot (at the expense of a younger generation)- which is why education on investments that don’t screw over our community is vital.
Another area where we don’t need to follow the UK is on our high street. At Gef, we’ve probably banged on about the state of Strand Street enough- but it really is tragic. Yet, it could be so good- and that’s not because it could have a Zara or a Primark. The island could have a truly unique high street full of vibrant independent shops that benefit the community, and stand out from the monotony of the British high street. Instead, we’re currently stuck with a barren high street due to extreme rent prices as landlords would rather see a shop empty for a year and then welcome another giant in, than cut their profits and see a win for our community. The fact that things could be better if there were just some fairer landlords is terrible.
Look, it’s probably jarring to hear that you should change the island from someone who has left. But when I did leave, there was a distinct feeling of misery about- one that doesn’t have to be on an island, one that can be changed. Leaving made sense for me at that moment, but the options do not have to suffer or leave.
The island could change for its community, stop merely following the UK, and we could all be happier. We have the capacity- all we need is the confidence to drive the change we want to see. While many people in the UK feel powerless and disillusioned with politics, the island’s population has the capacity to call for change for our community. Isn’t that empowering to know?