DO we trust our politicians?
Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw MHK said the public consultation over welfare reform had raised two main themes – fear of change and whether people trust their politicians.
He told the Manx Independent: ‘I feel that currently we don’t enjoy the level of trust that in some ways is needed. When it comes to dealing with difficult policies, we must have the people with us.’
At a time of massively reduced government income, we are having to put our faith in our government to take the right action to get public finances back on track. We are also being asked to support some controversial policy decisions – including benefits reform, the possible part-privatisation of public services and the Pinewood film deal.
But our view of politicians here has been tainted by the experiences elsewhere – the expenses scandal at Westminster being only the latest example.
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Mr Robertshaw said it was important for politicians to earn a degree of respect even if the policy decisions they make don’t necessarily enjoy unanimous support.
He said: ‘I don’t think this is necessarily just limited to politics – I heard the Bishop talking about the level of public trust in his clergy as they try to make difficult decisions. I think we are entering into a new era where the establishment doesn’t any longer enjoy automatic regard and that there is a need to prove your worth. The only way we can move forward is with an agenda of fairness and then we can build a degree of respect for what we do even if people disagree or are uncomfortable with a policy decision.’
He said Manx politics had slipped into a ‘somewhat complacent manner in the days of plenty’.
Mr Robertshaw added: ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do. We were too often seen as pursuing self interest rather than public service. That’s not going to change overnight.’
The Social Care Minister said fear of change was natural. He said there had been some sense of annoyance among the public that the social care consultation didn’t look at detailed policies, but he insisted this was always about the principles and once these had been identified, then specific policies would follow.
‘It’s important that our administration is able to articulate a clear narrative to show where we intend to go and how we intend to get there,’ he added.
Angela Moffatt, of the Prospect union, said there was a strong view among her members that MHKs were not suffering in the same way as the rest of the public as the financial squeeze took hold. She said: ‘There’s a real credibility problem for Manx politicians.
‘There are a lot of things they are trying to change with public services when there are some fundamental problems inherent in their own set up they don’t seem to want to address. They would get a lot more trust and respect if they led by example. They need to get their own house in order. We’re not talking about pay cuts, it’s about political reform. We have too many MHKs.’
• What do you think? Email opinions(at)manx.net or sign in to add you comment below. Don’t forget you can vote in the panel at the right of this story too.
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Weather for Isle of Man
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: South