Have you got through the festivities without falling victim to the current bugs flying around?

If so, well done you are really fortunate.

I have friends who have been suffering well over a week.

On Saturday, December 17, I did my usual Christmas 60s 70s 80s disco party at the Old Friends’ Club on Finch Road.

In the week leading up to it I felt something was brewing and as I write this I’m just starting to feel better again.

I’ve had all the symptoms of ‘man flu’: cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, muscle ache, fever, chills and a general weakness and tiredness.

So much so that I didn’t leave the house for four days and then only for essentials.

The cough was so chesty and irritating that it really hurt and in bed I didn’t sleep well at all and woke up when I did overheating.

I had all the usual day or night medical options and the cough medicine for chesty coughs but all too often found myself asleep on the couch quite early in the evening with my tiredness catching up.

I’m sure there really is little difference between males and females in terms of likelihood of contracting the bug but it really does seem to knock males for six much more than females.

Why is that? Answers on a postcard! Seriously though, if you have encountered this latest round of nasties I do hope it hasn’t spoilt your Christmas enjoyment.


Industrial relations has featured in the news recently not only in the UK but also in the Isle of Man.

In the mid- to late-1980s it was clear that reform of the legislation was needed on the Isle of Man and the Miles Walker administration recognised this and set out to improve the situation.

I was a member of the social issues committee of Tynwald and with others worked closely with specialist employment consultants Collinson Grant, who were engaged to make recommendations in relation to employment law.

Significant public consultation followed and for some respondents proposed reforms would see businesses closing wholesale whilst for others they didn’t go far enough.

There can be no question though that these long-overdue protections set in place a system which recognised that approximately 75% of businesses on the island would be described as ‘small enterprises’ and that employed people should have similar protection in law to other adjacent jurisdictions.

For example it was only in December 1989 that Tynwald finally accepted the principle of redundancy payments for Manx workers, some 25 years after similar laws had been introduced in the UK.

Collinson Grant produced draft Employment and Trade Union Bills which, after much debate, introduced a modern code of employment law including the right to claim compensation for unfair dismissal for the first time.

I have for some time felt there was a need to review the success and continue the process of fairness in relation to employment matters after all the existing laws have been around for over 30 years.

Recently there was some comment about teachers ‘ working to rule’ and I’m not sure if what is meant by that was grasped by all commentators.

It means simply this in the case of teachers: Carrying out the requirements of their contract of employment without all the extras at no cost that they are often called upon to fulfil.

I think the same applies to others in the public sector in various jurisdictions. For example, those involved in the provision of National Health Service services have in my opinion historically been overlooked knowingly by some in power because a calculated risk has been taken that their dedication to duty would prevent them from withdrawing their labour even in situations like we are currently facing where their pay has considerably lost value because of the inflationary increases to many everyday costs.

I’m acutely aware of the impact on employment sectors across the board who are facing increased costs through no fault of their own, also for those on fixed incomes.

It is for this reason that any downgrading review of employment rights should not be considered rather a strengthening of the links between employees, employers and government to cooperate through this most difficult period.

All parties sitting around the table to make progress in the national interest is called for.


As we approach 2023 how was the past year for you and what are you looking forward to?

Spending time at Christmas with those closest to you and hoping the New Year will bring less uncertainty,more optimism?

For me one of the good things compared with historic data has been the very low numbers on the unemployment register.

I’ve said previously on here when I was first elected in 1985 there were more than 3,500 people out of a lower working population without work.

Now the issue has gone diametrically opposite because sadly some businesses have been forced to close or reduce their hours because of the unavailability of skilled staff in many areas.

I remember clearly the misery of unemployment with people queuing up outside the employment exchange to sign on the dole.

We need to ensure that our school leavers have the skills required for a modern work force and available opportunities. University is not an option for all and neither should it be.

Apprenticeships in construction, our diverse light engineering and manufacturing and other sectors are just as important.

Housing, for too long a barrier for our young people returning home, remains a top priority so we should all look forward to the work in this area.

I look forward to the reality of some of the long standing brownfield sites lying dormant for years becoming developed takes a step closer.

For a long time I have been suggesting one clear way to revitalise the town centres is to breath new life in to them via residential development.

I first argued that before the Douglas town plan in 1990.

Little terraces of houses were being transferred into office accommodation and given the nature of the business and the emerging technologies it was not a necessity that they should be within walking distance of Athol Street.

Unfortunately my pleas fell on deaf ears then but I am looking forward to a reversal in some respects of the previous policy and hope the planners will get behind this initiative.

It is always more economically viable for developers to work on greenfield sites on the perimeter of towns rather than undertaking the rebirth of brownfield sites.

Elsewhere the public purse provides an incentive to overcome some of the additional costs, so it is a proven business model.


Anyone who knows me will be aware that I am a passionate advocate for tourism and leisure on our island and, in the 10 years I was minister, the most negative contacts I received were in relation to the costs of access.

When people arrived they enjoyed many aspects of island life so as the natural beauty, heritage, unique food and drink offering or our range of sporting and cultural events.

Let’s be open minded and ambitious in relation to the opportunities that exist in this area. Happy, healthy 2023 to everyone!