Chris Thomas column: What I can do outside the Council of Ministers
This column first appeared in the Isle of Man Examiner of June 7.
Thank you to everyone who voted last September.
I acknowledge the privilege I have to continue to represent everyone in central Douglas, trying to do ‘right in all matters … without favour or affection, affinity or consanguinity, love or fear, reward or gain’ and delivering my option ‘justly and truly’, as affirmed at the first Keys sitting.
One question I get asked is about why I am not a minister. I guess this is because I am the fourth longest serving MHK and served as Minister for Policy and Reform until May 2020.
One reason is that it is not only ministers – with their huge budgets and powers – who can get things done.
For instance I accepted the Chief Minister’s challenge to work across Government to tackle our housing crisis, and the Housing Action Plan which I took to Tynwald in May lays out many legislative, financial and practical interventions for this, including some to tackle homelessness through a Housing First approach, to enable more people to own their own homes, to bring back brownfield sites and empty properties into use, and to improve housing standards and arrangements.
I have also focused on the need for careful handling of our fragile public finances to recover strained healthcare, maintain infrastructure, help people make their money go further and keep pension promises whilst treating younger people fairly.
My commentary on the Dr Ranson tribunal judgement was helpful I hope to begin to restore public confidence in government and public service morale.
But it was disappointing how government was formed after the election.
For instance the Island Plan does not set out a costed and prioritised government programme, and it remains unclear how government intends to address so many of the real challenges we face.
By staying outside Council of Ministers I have been able to say that and suggest more freely better policy and action.
What we needed was a passionate and informed debate between all elected members last October about ‘current challenges and opportunities that face the island with a collective and prioritised policy agenda, financial plan and legislative programme to address them’”, as I tried to make happen.
People deserved clear policy options during the election and solid debates between potential Ministers and backbenchers after it for ‘continuity between how voters vote, which members are elected, the Ministers that arise out of the process and the policies that develop’, as I argued back in June 2021.
Unfortunately MHKs preferred a televised private hustings for Chief Minister, rather than questions in Keys on candidate statements before the Chief Minister election; and Alfred Cannan became Chief Minister without even an indication of his key ministerial team and their actual collective priorities.
Please don’t get me wrong, I might be offered and accept a ministership.
But whatever happens I will continue to beat the drum for our community and our island, without glossing over realities or spinning to justify policies that need changing.
Although perhaps making it harder to get re-elected, it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit!
CommentsTo leave a comment you need to create an account. |