Yes, the headline’s right. This is a tribute to the political genius of Allan Bell.
Some of you may be a little surprised at such a sentiment, but you’ve got to admire Old Dinger for his performance in the six months he’s had at the helm.
Well, it’s quite incredible for a leader of the self-styled government of national unity, where clearly his objective is to ensure that we’re all in it together, including the Council of Ministers, to have outdone Teflon Tony in the ensuring-other-people-carry-the-can stakes.
From the bizarre tactics employed by Peter Karran (pictured looking inspiring below, right) in his always doomed attempt to get into the office of chief minister, to the ludicrously ill-judged bleating of Economic Development Minister John Shimmin (pictured looking concerned about politicians’ income below, left), AB must be struggling to disguise his laughter at how everyone else is looking worse than him, even though he’s presiding over events.
You can’t help but feel that he must be running out of ink when it comes to marking off the tick list of ensuring political rivals don’t pose too great a threat.
More of Peter Karran and his appointment as minister later.
Next beneficial moment for Mr Bell was the strife that Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson found himself in. It wasn’t just his unfortunate incident on the bus, but the timing, just hours after a lecture about good behaviour.
Everyone makes mistakes and the chief was understanding and supportive, but let’s be honest, Juan owes him one now. And while he may not have been a direct, immediate threat to Mr Bell, he was marked out as one for the future and, significantly, would have been likely to bring with him the support of some of the newer breed of MHKs, which could have made him a dangerous ally for any political rival to Mr Bell.
Then we have Eddie Teare. Widely seen prior to the appointment of chief minister, as another possibility for the top job.
What has he done wrong? Well nothing, but he’s got the good luck to be Treasury Minister during the toughest economic period we’ve faced in years. So he’s the one we’re blaming for the cuts.
Quite handy for Allan Bell that.
Chris Robertshaw was considered, by those who could actually stay awake throughout the entire course of his speeches, as another one for the future. Which is just as well for him as he appears to regard the elderly as being the past.
Anyway, our chief minister let it be known that he didn’t particularly support Chris’s decision to cut back on support for charities and gave a little telling off.
Another double whammy for the chief – a minister makes some unpopular decisions and then is put in his place by the boss.
Tim Crookall can’t seriously be considered as a future chief minister at the moment, of course, or even much of a threat to Mr Bell. But the whole ‘maybe we want a diesel engine, maybe we don’t’ fiasco has been a bonus. Another of the young bucks with damaged credibility.
Who are we left with?
Well Phil Gawne is unlikely to be able to stake a claim for some years yet without someone shouting ‘Ballakillowey roundabout’ from the rafters.
David Cretney won’t be a chief minister, although he may still have some influence. David Anderson, of course, has health. There’s no way his department won’t find itself having problems in the future.
And then there’s Peter Karran.
We chuckled when he was appointed. Perhaps it was a cunning way to make the scourge of successive governments put up or shut up.
Trouble is, Peter’s done neither – although he’s noticeably quiet, except for his usual cliches, when asked unscripted questions.
As well as one departmental resignation, we had a situation last week where one department member voted against him and another – a colleague in his own Liberal Vannin, no less – at best did not make the effort to vote for him as he made himself absent at the crucial time.
Whatever ‘savings’ Karran’s ship has made, we risk future costs, Because if the way the story on how they came to their flawed decisions spreads to other matters, we’ll need new textbooks to accommodate the re-writing of history.
It’s fair to say his credibility, whatever it was before, has gone. Completely.
So, Bell’s greatest success.
But, you see, the problem is that while we may think that it was a clever move to stick Peter in a ministry and ruin him, I can’t get past the fact that Allan Bell thought it was acceptable to play politics with people’s jobs and the lives of the island’s children.
That is hard to forgive.