Pullyman: General election special

Michael Cowin

Michael Cowin

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Sometimes I wake up at early o’clock and switch the radio on to see if I can guess what time it is.

That may sound a bit strange but Radio 4 changes to BBC World Service for several hours and is being broadcast to various time zones simultaneously. So somewhere in the world folk will be eating their cornflakes and elsewhere others will be off to the pub.

Last night I switched on just in time to hear that somewhere in the world, some bloke called Ali Bongo was having a bit of a disagreement with another bloke, Mr Ping. I went straight back to sleep.

Now you know how you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and realise you have just understood the meaning of life, or you have just thought of an invention that would solve all known problems, but when daylight comes you’ve forgotten what it was. Well that never happens to something trivial. You remember every last detail.

At this stage, I must apologise to Messrs Bongo and Ping for implying their dispute is trivial. Trivial it is not, but with regard to the Isle of Man it is low on our priorities list, which is of course why I remembered it.

It would appear the incumbent President of the African state of Gabon, Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, had narrowly held onto the President’s job, but this was disputed by the challenger for the Presidency Mr Jean Ping. Alleged irregularities during the election are still being investigated.

I hope their dispute will soon be resolved but the latest BBC news from Gabon reported that the Ping HQ had been bombed by a helicopter belonging to the Presidential Guard. Not much hope for a quick result there, then.

This incident made me think about our own general election. It is, of course, election day today, with 63 hopefuls – I make it 50 men and 13 women – vying for your votes.

So at least that should answer the ‘why aren’t there more women in the House of Keys?’ brigade. Because they obviously don’t want to be in the House of Keys, is what I think they’re telling us.

A more worrying fact about the next House is there are only 17 past members (male and female) who are seeking re-election and some of these have only got a few months’ service under their belts.

So no matter how you look at the numbers, just over 50 per cent of the new House will have had any parliamentary experience whatsoever.

One thing is certain, the election of the new Chief Minister will be very interesting. And whoever draws that short straw will then have to select his (or her) team of departmental Ministers.

You can just imagine the scenario. A new minister for the environment with responsibilities that include the IRIS scheme, who doesn’t even know where the toilets are in the government buildings.

And last, but by no means least, there is the ‘still to be resolved’ situation of Mr John Houghton, who is seeking re-election in Douglas North*.

The question that no one seems able to answer is that if Mr Houghton is elected will he be allowed to take his seat in the chamber or will he be still on the naughty step?

We should all be relieved that the President of Tynwald, Mr Steve Rodan, doesn’t have a helicopter.

Politics will always produce characters. They could have colourful names like President Ali Bongo Ondimba or they could be controversial, like would-be president Donald Trump.

Will our new House of Keys produce any characters? We shall see. A quick dredge into the memory came up with names such as the sadly missed Clifford Irving, John Bell and Hugh McLeod.

In more recent times I can recall professional wrestler Phil Kermode, and top of the list, the one and only, Peter Karran. Members may come and go and are forgotten but characters last for ever.

Good luck to all candidates.

* The other candidates seeking election in the constituency of Douglas North are: Karen Angela, David Ashford,Ralph Peake and Lynn Sirdefield.

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