Quality of life
I believe we must protect the very precious quality of life that the Isle of Man offers. This doesn’t always boil down to money; it is imperative that we act as an independent country where necessary to protect our environment and businesses. We are not part of the European Union, although we are part of Europe. There is a big difference. The way in which we have soaked up and implemented much of their over-burdening, bureaucratic, politically correct legislation must stop. It is time for the Manx voice to be heard not the heavy, choking hand of the UK or Europe. This may change with a no vote in the forth coming UK referendum on European membership offering new opportunities as well as challenges.
We only have to look at the arrogant way in which the UK treated us over the VAT issue, reducing our overall tax intake by nearly a fifth in one fell swoop. Even the UK Justice Committee on Crown Dependencies reported that they had found undue interference in our affairs, with a paternalistic approach to island legislation from the UK. This simply must stop, we must tailor solutions specific to our way of life.
Not everyone in life is born equal or has equal opportunities but it is particularly important, especially on an island like the Isle of Man where there are some very rich individuals, that we ensure that the disadvantaged are not forgotten or pushed aside. Locally that means we must ensure a supply of affordable housing for the young and old and that the Social Service provision for the ill and disabled is world class.
The Isle of Man must come first. Whilst we can compete in the world of financial services, with the increased cost and benefit of our small Island economy to smaller businesses and in particular farmers, we must act to protect these industries and put our own economic stability first. Taxes should be kept low. Parliament must exercise proper fiscal responsibility with robust scrutiny.
At the same time we need to grow our economy which will increase our tax base which at the end of the day is what pays for the good things we want, like health, education, law and order.
We suffered a major blow when the UK arbitrarily changed the VAT agreement. Whatever happened that enabled an agreement to be so arbitrarily terminated? Did our politicians get it wrong or was the wool pulled over their eyes? This should never happen again.
Public services are important to everyone in the Isle of Man. At present the heavy hand of State controls nearly all public services and utilities. This is anathema in a modern world and whilst the State should guarantee public services they should not necessarily all be run by the State. Examples of this are the way in which the Manx Electricity Authority has, through bad management and oversight, put the cost of electricity up for all users in the Isle of Man. I am not advocating mass privatisation. I am a great believer in the National Health Service but there must be better oversight and management and if this means trusting private professionals and sharing responsibility between the public and private sector then so be it.
Human rights. security and freedom are not good bedfellows, but we need to fight crime and terrorism. The European Union has, via the back door, reduced the effectiveness of our judicial system and the results are clear to see particularly in the UK . Let’s stop being bullied by the UK and Europe and protect our own freedoms.
Good government means trusting people and business. Regulation should be as light as possible and support people’s aspirations for home ownership, starting businesses, pensions and health care provision. It should also support family life and marriage but offer respect for those who chose a different path. It should also promote activity that brings the nation together, promoting our Manx identity through cultural activity, sport and the arts.
I believe that parliament and government should be a function of the people it represents and be closer to it rather than at arm’s length. It is good to see the recent devolution of services to local Commissioners. As a German Commissioner I welcome this as it brings more local accountability.
Immigration is not always a bad thing, if managed properly and we have a good work permit system it can be a driver for economic growth, more working people means more tax paid and with a population that is on average growing older we need to refresh the workforce, bring in new skills. Sadly a lot of our young people emigrate on completion of their education consequently immigration is a way of refreshing the workforce.
After all I wouldn’t be here and let’s face it, the island wouldn’t be what it is today without immigration. More active workers means a larger tax base and new skills, essential if we are to attract new and grow existing businesses.
On the other side of the coin, many Manx people work and travel abroad and no one would argue with their right to do this. Strangely, in the Isle of Man we have no proper border controls so we have no idea of who or how many people are at present coming into the Isle of Man and staying. With the requirement for security checks at the airport and the need to take names to travel on the steam packet it would not be beyond the wit of government to collect information on arrivals and departures. I am not, however, in favour of any stringent or further restrictions on travel between the UK and Ireland.