N Matthews’ suggestion (Examiner letters, June 20) that the Isle of Man should have an MP in Westminster is at best naive.
It represents a total failure to appreciate the main asset of the Isle of Man.
That asset is the ability to pass its own laws.
Yes, ultimately, Westminster can overrule Tynwald but the last time that happened was over the Radio Caroline debacle in the late 1960s when the UK wanted to silence a pirate radio station broadcasting to its citizens from Manx waters.
But, in the main, Westminster isn’t very concerned about us.
That’s why we can set our own taxes. Without the ability to do that, we’d have no real economy.
Why do companies set up here? Tax.
Without that, there would be almost nothing.
It’s also the reason, for example, that we can stage the TT races. Our own road laws meant we could do what we like.
Let’s not imagine that having an MP in Westminster would mean we could continue to set our own laws and taxes.
The Isle of Man’s population is slightly more than the average parliamentary constituency in England.
But there are some quite marked variations in that. The Isle of Wight has a population of 113,000 but still only one MP.
It’s pretty safe to assume that we’d be one constituency.
The Isle of Man’s MP would be just one of 650 in Westminster.
That MP would be voting on laws governing the UK. He or she would be voting for or against the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget.
So Westminster wouldn’t allow just one of its constituencies to pass different laws from (the rest of) the United Kingdom or have different taxes.
The Isle of Man would end up having no more right to do that than Bury South or North West Norfolk.
So it would have to lead to the end of Tynwald and more than 1,000 years of parliament.
What would that mean?
There would be no administration to issue edicts to shut roads.
We’d pay the same income tax as people in the UK. We’d pay stamp duty and inheritance tax.
Companies would pay full UK business taxes. So why on earth would they set up in a hard-to-get-to island rather than Guildford, for example?
Most of the private sector would get up and leave within weeks.
With so much less work, the population would plummet as people left to find a way to make a living elsewhere.
A much smaller population would mean local farmers would not have the markets they currently do.
Far fewer pints of milk being drunk means far fewer cows are needed.
We know already about the extra transport costs farmers face in exporting off the island.
So many farmers, many of whom are already facing big challenges, would pack up. What would happen to that farmland?
Why would Marks & Spencer, Tesco and B&Q stay here if their customer footfall dropped with depopulation?
The problems would go on and on.
What would the indigenous population do? Go back to doing what we once did?
The mines are empty. The days of fishing herring in great quantities are long gone.
Mass tourism? The bucket and spade brigade, upon which we once depended, is extinct. Spain is cheaper and as quick to get to and is likely to be warmer.
The ‘running trade’ – smuggling – is probably not going to be our salvation in the 21st century.
Go to a remote Scottish island and see what our future would look like.
Mull, which is bigger than the Isle of Man, has a population of 2,667. The biggest difference is that it is closer to the mainland – an advantage it has over the Isle of Man.
So finally, yes, there are problems with the current government and system of administration, of which anyone who reads this newspaper is only too aware.
But nobody with sense would swap that for no real local power, depopulation and economic collapse.
That’s what would happen if we were to become a part of the United Kingdom. Make no mistake, having an MP in Westminster would inevitably mean we’d be as much a part of the UK as Chipping Sodbury.
Name and address supplied
This letter first appeared in the Isle of Man Examiner of June 27.
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