Blog 9 May 21Our friends and colleagues in Jersey certainly had an interesting week after dozens of French fishermen blockaded the St Helier harbour over post-Brexit access to the waters around Jersey.

Things escalated when the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson sent two Royal Navy vessels to patrol the area, although things slowly de-escalated when the fishing boats left late on Thursday evening. The discussions between the Governments of Jersey, UK and France continue.

The island also featured heavily on most main news channels this week after France also threatened to cut off the supply of electricity due to the ongoing post-Brexit fishing rights.

If nothing else it is great to have Brexit back on the agenda instead of Covid-19 for a change – who would have thought that……?

In other news this week, the House of Keys general election in September is now coming onto the horizon with several sitting Members declaring their intention to seek re-election this week.

I formally declared my own intention on Tuesday, in order to seek re-election to the House of Keys, and I have to say a massive thank you for all the positive comments and messages I have received over the past few days, which has definitely given me the confidence to start fighting another election.

Although it only feels like yesterday, I first got involved in Manx politics during the Onchan District Commissioners by-election held on 17th November 2011. On that occasion I finished third behind two very good and strong candidates in John Quaye and Robin Turton who were successfully elected as Commissioners. That election did however give me the confidence to stand again in May 2012, which was uncontested.

I was then successfully elected to the House of Keys in September 2016 and that brings us up to date and the 2021 House of Keys General Election that will be held on Thursday 23rd September, which also just happens to be the date on which Ellen and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary.

I have to say that the last nine years have just flown by, and I still have so many fond memories of that by-election and the House of Keys General Election 2016. It really has been an enormous privilege and honour to serve and represent the people of Onchan and the island over that period.

I would also like to think that I haven’t changed too much over that time and I have remained grounded, but I would hope also that I am just a little wiser in respect of the workings of the Manx government and the island’s political system, which is so different on occasions to the reality that people see from the media and social media headlines.

As I mentioned in my media statement this week, my primary focus has always been on representing Onchan together with the wider Manx Community through supporting individuals, scrutinising government policies and ensuring that the right decisions are backed up by solid evidence, however difficult those decisions might be for the island.

My Onchan colleague Julie Edge, MHK has also declared this week, and it will be interesting to see who else also steps forward to fight the election in the Constituency.

As for my own activities this week, it definitely feels like the “calm before the storm” as I know my own activities and workload will increase in the coming weeks and months leading up to the House of Keys General Election in September.

As for the bank holiday weekend most of Saturday and Sunday was spent working on the garden room, which is slowly coming together. Unfortunately, Monday was a total washout after the Isle of Man was hit by continuous rain and strong winds.

I probably have one more free weekend before my next political surgery next week and other events start to appear in my calendar as the Isle of Man returns back to some sense of normality.

The poor weather also gave me an opportunity to start looking at the election and start going through the guidelines and other rules etc, which have slightly changed since 2016.

Back in the office for 8am on Tuesday and the day started with a couple of constituent issues and returning a few calls. Just before 10am we headed down to the Tynwald Chamber for an emergency sitting that only had a couple of items relating to the Public Health Act 1990. However, the proposed changes certainly generated a considerable debate amongst the Tynwald Members.

Unfortunately, as Tynwald Members we had limited time to review the new the regulations being proposed under the Public Health Act. As one Member mentioned during the debate, the Isle of Man Government recently confirmed that they were getting out of people’s lives, but the new regulations on the surface at least appear to be setting up various categories of travellers returning to the island, which might even go against the recently published “exit framework” – it is all very confusing.

In the end the Court supported an amendment by the Speaker, Juan Watterson, SHK, and the Tynwald sitting lasted just over an hour. From there it was straight into the House of Keys at 11.30am for this week’s sitting that started with 13 oral and 16 written questions.

We then had the first reading of the Administration of Justice and Other Amendments Bill 2021 followed by the third reading of the Enterprise (Aviation and Merchant Shipping) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2021 before this week’s sitting finished just after 13.00.

From the Chamber it was straight up to the Barrool Suite for a presentation on the Administration of Justice and Other Amendments Bill 2021, which relates to civil debt recovery. This is something that is long overdue on the island, especially for small businesses, and something that Bill Shimmins, MHK and I have been asking for throughout this administration.

The rest of the Tuesday and part of the evening was spent going through the DEFA agenda, which took a few hours, so I didn’t actually finish until around 20.00.

On Wednesday I was in the office for around 7.30am in order to print off various documents and reports relating to the DEFA meetings, which I wanted to see in print because I find it far easier to read certain reports in paper form.

I also had to pick up a couple of Constituent matters before logging into the first of two DEFA meetings at 9.30am, which was the Policy and Strategy Meeting that had a heavy agenda that lasted well over three hours. Topics of discussion included Dutch Elm Disease, Commercial Fishing, Waste, Green Living Schemes, Woodlands, Planning, the Animal Welfare Bill and Blue Carbon.

A short break before the DEFA Department meeting that got underway at 13.45, but I was back in the office for around 15.00, which gave me time to catch up with a few things in the office before heading home.

Not much to report on Thursday, with no briefings or meetings I was able to work from home and most of the day was spent working on a couple of election projects, starting to look at the Tynwald order papers, because the next three sittings of Tynwald will be very long, before House of Keys Members leave office in July.

I was also able to take a couple of hours off over lunchtime, in order to get some jobs done around the house.

As for Friday I was able to work from home again and the first job was to go through the House of Keys order paper, along with picking up a constituent issue relating to an ongoing housing matter.

At 10am the Visit Isle of Man Agency had a general discussion around the island’s tourism sector ahead of all the restrictions being lifted hopefully at the end of June.

A very good discussion around testing, borders and self-isolation etc, but let’s hope we get some tourism activities this year.

As for the rest of the day, it was spent going through a few department papers, catching up with some reading and the Tynwald order paper.

As I mentioned, not the toughest week in the role but things will change very quickly.

On Friday evening Ellen and I went to the Gaiety Theatre to see the final performance of “Shrek The Musical” by Douglas Choral Union, who are also celebrating their 125th Anniversary this year.

We have waited almost 13 months due to Covid-19, but it was great to see the theatre full once more.

It was well worth the wait. The production set and costumes were amazing. It really was an unbelievable performance by the entire cast and orchestra. They definitely deserved the prolonged standing ovation at the end of the night.
Definitely the best post-Covid-19 tonic…..

As for the weekend, Saturday will be taking up working on the garden room but on Sunday I will be working on a few election projects.