Boys Only

A few months ago, there was some local excitement when the former Clerk of the House of Commons came here to conduct a review of the workings of Manx government. The whole thing was either a total cock-up or a deliberate con – depending on your opinion and background knowledge of Manx government.

In theory, interested parties were supposed to be able to make their views known to Lord Lisvane, who might then choose to invite a few along for public questioning. In practice, the out-of-the-blue announcement of the review (with no chance for informed parties who have been after change to write a decent submission) and the handful of right wing nutjobs actually invited along to speak suggests the whole thing was a scam – set up quietly by those who do not want the status quo disturbed.

So, no surprise then that the result (which can be found at https://www.gov.im/media/1352029/review-of-the-functioning-of-tynwald-gd-2016-0047.pdf ) looks like something thrown together hurriedly after a long session in one of the exclusive clubs to which the author belongs.

Not that you would guess from http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/sitting-mhks-should-not-be-elected-to-legco-says-lord-lisvane-1-8003804, which (given that the paper in which it appeared has just been sold to a new, notoriously censorious, owner) may be about as much serious press analysis as this farce gets.

For example, the ignoble Lord’s opposition to MHKs being “retired” upstairs to avoid rejection at the polls by an angry electorate can hardly be seen as a principled interest in stopping privilege, and certainly not in reforming an “Old Boys Club”.

Because on any close reading he doesn’t seem at all interested in open and efficient government or meritocracy. This, as even the briefest look at his CV suggests is, in fact, the case. He is a lifelong OBC member himself, so why would he rock the boat?

Bear in mind, Lisvane/Rogers is a career civil servant who never had to face the electorate or get a mandate from the public. After leaving public school and university, he went briefly to the MOD, then spent around 40 years at Westminster, so has never had to deal with the real world.

In fact his life’s work has been to ensure that the professional political class is not answerable to the UK population, and he was given a peerage for it. In addition, through his role on the Ecclesiastical Committee within parliament, and church involvement outside, he is as near to being Anglican hierarchy as it is possible to be without taking holy orders. No wonder his opinion on the role of the bishop is so blinkered. It would be like Bernard Matthews voting against Christmas.

In fact, the only really surprising thing will be if the over-privileged old barfmat has the good manners to return the extravagant fee he got for throwing up such rubbish in the first place.

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