Blog 1 July 18After a busy couple of days in Stratford Upon Avon last week attending the AIM conference, I was able spend part of last Saturday just looking around Warwick and Stratford Upon Avon before flying back to the Isle of Man on Sunday afternoon.

Although I am out of the office or off island, as an MHK I am always keeping one eye firmly on correspondence and messages – but I offer my apologies if I was late responding to any messages last week.

When I was away last week I met a couple of potential Labour Candidates at the Conference and it reminded me that I had downloaded Tony Blair’s “A Journey” audio book to listen to about two years ago, but had either forgotten about it or was simply unable to find a suitable hour to listen to it.

So when I was sat in Birmingham Airport and on the flight home, I took the opportunity to listen to the first chapter of the book, which focused on the UK election in 1997 that saw Labour secure 418 seats, compared to the 165 Conservative and 46 for Liberal Democrats.

Apologies, for the history lesson but I am actually able to relate to how Tony Blair felt on the election in a very small way, and it brought back some of my own memories from the 2016 House of Keys general election.

I definitely remember not over celebrating and simply going home reflecting on the result and the next five years which were about to unfold.

It also got me thinking about the BIG difference between the UK political structure where the main parties have a massive political party machine to support their Candidates.

Here on the Isle of Man, it is fair to say that all Ministers and the Council of Ministers collectively have a lot of the support from their CEOs and an army of Civil Servants, but backbench MHKs have little or no political support outside their departmental or parliamentary committee positions, which definitely makes the role even more difficult than it first appears.

Anyway, back to this week’s activities, I was surprised to discover on Sunday evening that I didn’t actually have any meetings or briefings scheduled for Monday, so I was able to work from home catching up with various tasks.

I was firstly able to go into Tesco at 8.30am….

After getting on top of any outstanding personal tasks, I needed to read through various bits of legislation that would be going before the House of Keys on Tuesday.

Monday was about mainly catching up with things, but it definitely wasn’t a stressful day…..

I was back in the office on Tuesday for 8am, in order to catch up with emails and any outstanding administrative tasks before the final House of Keys sitting for this parliamentary session.

I also needed to print off the Order Paper, along with the DfE Agenda Pack.

At 10am we went down to the House of Keys for the sitting, which started with 21 Oral Questions and 13 Written Questions. There was also the first reading of the Communications Bill 2018 and the Payment of Members’ Expenses (Amendment) Bill 2018.

The sitting finished at 12.30, which gave me time to respond to a few emails before heading up to Woodbourne House for the Speaker’s Lunch, which started at 13.00.

I was back my desk for 15.30 as my Constituent meeting scheduled for 15.00 was cancelled.

It also gave me time to go through a TT proposal and to respond to a few emails and correspondence before going home at 17.10.

Straight after tea I went through the DfE agenda pack but was happy to finish at 20.00.

Back in the office for 8am on Wednesday and the first job was to send off various letters relating to invitations and constituent matters.

Just before 9.30am I walked over to DfE for the usual Department and Political meetings with the Minister.

No presentations this week so we were able to focus on the Agenda, which was relatively light.

The meeting finished at 13.00 and it was straight over to the Barrool Suite for a presentation on the draft Communications Bill, which will be going through the Chambers in due course.

I left the meeting just after 14.00, in order to respond to a couple of Constituent matters relating to an employment issue.

With no further meetings I was able to get my head down and look at a couple of ongoing projects.

I left the office at 17.15.

At 19.40 I headed down to Peel for a practice session for the Viking Longboat race, which takes place on Saturday.

It was perfect weather and the water was dead calm. We practised for around 45 minutes, but to be honest I haven’t laughed or had that much fun for a very long time.

Finally got home for 21.50, which gave me time to respond to a couple of emails before calling it a day.

In the office just before 8am on Thursday to collect a few things before heading to the Palace Hotel for the Junior Achievement event.

Special guest speaker was Nick Chambers, Chief Executive of Education and Employers Charity, UK who gave a fascinating insight into the minds of 20,000 primary school children from around the world, which also included a number of schools across our island.

The survey is the biggest skills survey of its kind and asked primary school children aged 7 to 11 to draw a picture of the job they want to do when they grow up. To determine the factors influencing career choices, the survey also asked participants whether they personally knew anyone who did the job, and if not, how they knew about the job, as well as their favourite subject, etc….

It was a very interesting presentation and definitely needs to support the work undertaken by the Junior Achievement across our schools.

Junior Achievement are looking for 1,000 volunteers to get involved in various activities over the next years, so I hope business of all sizes along with individuals take the opportunity to get involved, even if it is only for an hour…..

Contact Sue Cook or the team at Junior Achievement for more details.

I finally got into the office for 10am and from there I got head down, in order to catch up with correspondence, especially letters. I also continued to work on a few projects, which are ongoing.

Drafting several letters does take time and before I realised it was 13.00.

Just before 14.00 I drove down to Hamilton House to support a Constituent who was attending an education appeal over the Onchan Catchment Areas. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to actually go into the appeal hearing, but I was happy to sit and wait outside and keep my fingers crossed.

Got back to the office for around 15.30, but I was able to catch up with emails as I waited for news from the appeal.

The last hour was spent going through a statutory nuisance application and some explanatory notes for several pieces of draft legislation.

I left the office at 17.15.

In the office before 8am on Friday with a full schedule of meetings. I was able to spend the first hour drafting several more letters and catching up with any remaining e-mails.

Just before 9am I walked to DfE for a one to one meeting with officers, in order to go through my concerns on our current immigration policy, in order to ensure that the Isle of Man policy is in line with the UK’s policy etc.

My 10am meeting was cancelled, which gave me some free time before I drove over to the Palace Hotel & Casino for 10.45 to meeting the General Manager, in order to discuss the island’s hotel and tourism industry.

From there I drove to the Noodle Bar at the beginning of Athol Street to meet up with Lawrie Hooper, MHK to discuss a few current topics over a working lunch.

Unfortunately, I had to leave lunch slightly early, in order to get into Onchan to meet the owner of the old Isle of Man Bank and to discuss the bus stop, which has been temporarily suspended in order for the construction company to carry out some urgent works.

The works are taking a little longer than expected, but hopefully at the end of it, Onchan will have some fantastic new facilities.

The Isle of Man Bank meeting only lasted around 15 minutes as I had already scheduled a meeting for 13.15, in which a Constituent and I had a general catch up.

The meeting finished at 14.15 and on my way back to car I met a good friend, which gave us an opportunity to share few words.

I then had a race to get to the other side of Douglas for 14.40 to meet someone who is heavily involved in Housing Matters.

It was an excellent meeting as we discussed at length some of the core issues at the heart of homelessness on the Isle of Man at the moment.

I definitely feel we can improve certain guidelines or services, in order to ensure that the right level of support is made available to those most in need, especially during family breakdowns or those leaving prison etc….

I finally got back to the office for 16.30 in order to catch up with colleagues and to send a couple of emails before leaving the office at 17.20.

Still had a few jobs to complete at home, but I managed to finish at 19.00.

I have an enjoyable weekend to look forward to with the Peel Longboat race on Saturday afternoon, a 25th wedding anniversary celebration on Saturday night and the Tynwald Garden Party on Sunday afternoon.

I also have two Constituent meetings scheduled over the weekend.