QUIRKS OF LIFE: Where you can... what?

PLAYING TO AN AUDIENCE OF ONE: Chris Robertshaw talks, but who is actually listening? PHOTO: Mike Wade MW100527 (91).

PLAYING TO AN AUDIENCE OF ONE: Chris Robertshaw talks, but who is actually listening? PHOTO: Mike Wade MW100527 (91).

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IN a political world where the cliche is king and depth is something you find at the far end of the swimming pool, it probably should come as no surprise that we have been given a new slogan for the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man. Where You Can.

It was announced by the Department of Economic Development just over a week ago to lots of fanfare.

And you have to congratulate those involved for outdoing the introduction of Freedom to Flourish, which became intrinsically linked with the IRIS all-island sewerage project and Freedom to Flush.

They’ve gone one better this time in giving us a slogan that all the naysayers will be able to adapt it for their own specific purpose.

The Isle of Man. Where You Can get a new roundabout built at the merest suggestion.

The Isle of Man. Where You Can’t get pre-school nursery places without paying for them.

The Isle of Man. Where You Can easily progress a career in politics without being held back by such trivialities as a complete absence of acumen or ability.

That’s not to criticise the slogan. But the truth is that, as soon as you come up with one, someone will come up with something that takes the proverbial out of it.

Great ideas on paper don’t always work out as you had hoped. The Cones Hotline probably seemed a brilliant way to connect with the public about a matter that really bothers them. Instead it conveyed the impression of a clueless government trying to divert attention from bigger failings.

What will happen with this new IoM slogan is that it will get the backing of all the right businesses here.

Politicians will pat each other on the back.

The public will grumble about how much money has been spent on coming up with six words.

The message will appear on government literature.

Some business may arrive in the Isle of Man. No one will actually know if it will be the result of the six words or for other reasons.

We’ll all talk about it a little more and then turn our attention back to asking ourselves exactly what the Department of Economic Development has done for us.

We can be fairly confident that its minister, John Shimmin, will be assured in his proclamations as to the importance of his department’s work.

Ministers are very good at reminding us how valuable their work is.

For instance, it’s good to hear Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw, put at the helm of a government department whose very need for existence he had quite publicly questioned prior to being appointed to the highly paid cabinet position, explain, soporifically, that the reason the department still exists, and with it his job in the Council of Ministers, is not because he has changed his mind but ‘we’ve changed ourselves’. That’s a relief. You’d hate politicians to start getting cosy with their feet underneath the nicely polished tables of a government department.

In another example, it’s always good to see the Legislative Council discover a way to find fault with proposals to make its membership popularly elected, or for it to be abolished entirely.

It’s never job protection, you understand, it’s because whatever proposals have come forward are not quite workable.

Take a look at the number of items on the Legislative Council agenda today. I think it would be safe to say there would be time for them to spend the rest of the morning – perhaps even the afternoon – coming up with the ideal solution, given that nothing anyone else ever suggests appears to fit the bill.

The Isle of Man. Where You Can reform the parliamentary system to make it truly democratic? Don’t hold your breath.

Congratulations, by the way, to the government for its phased releasing of the suggestions in the Scope of Government reports. By coming up with even more barmy ideas, it certainly makes you realise that some of the policies operated by our current incumbents may not necessarily be that bad after all. (Except some of them are.) You wonder if Allan Bell has pinched this one from the Tories too, a bit like adopting the David Cameron concept of using a Liberal leader hopelessly out of his depth and suddenly isolated from his own policies, to act as a shield against criticism closer to home.

• Following the unparalleled success of my Twitter countdown of the top five MHKs of the past 20 years – mainly unparalleled because I hadn’t done it before – it has been decided to repeat the exercise by revealing the five greatest moments in Tynwald over the past 20 years, starting today with number five. So don’t forget to go to @Norbertsdad each day this week to see what has made it into the list.

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