The run into the Christmas break has certainly started, as I have started to notice Christmas lights being switched on and decorations going up all across the island – not forgetting the snow.

I didn’t mention it in last week’s Blog as I wanted the main media outlets to run the story first, but the news broke last Friday that my colleague from Onchan, Julie Edge, MHK had resigned from the LibVan Party.

I don’t think it is right for me to comment on Julie’s own circumstances or reasons as that is a matter between themselves.

However, I do remember several discussions I had with LIbVan Party members back in 2016, and I remember very clearly my final correspondence to Peter and Kate in which I said that I would prefer to lose the election as an independent than be elected as LibVan Party Member and then find that I was myself unable to serve Onchan and the wider Community.

That said and despite the perception, it is extremely difficult to build up the confidence and knowledge as an independent candidate within the Manx Political system. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, in the UK candidates normally start at the grassroots and gradually work their way through a party and then move on to a local or national platform. Secondly, they also get a considerable amount of support and information from the party structure, which is very beneficial….

In the Isle of Man you can build up this knowledge either through Local Government or a Party Structure (Manx Labour or LibVan) or simply by jumping in and learning on the ground as you go…….

It sounds easy but it isn’t. All MHKs especially backbench members need to build up friendships and support amongst colleagues and civil servants if they are to achieve anything meaningful in this role.

Anyway, turning my attention now to this week’s Blog….

Ellen was off the island visiting family, so I decided to head into work for 7.50am on Monday, in order to go through the evidence submitted by Mr. David Jones who was appearing before the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee in the afternoon.

I also thought I had a Public Accounts Meeting at 10am according to my calendar, but we then realised that I was excluded from the Committee. I wasn’t complaining as this gave me sufficient time to read though the evidence that ran into hundreds of pages.

At lunchtime there was a Tynwald briefing on behalf of Life IOM, which started at 12 noon but I was only able to stay for around 20 minutes as I needed to continue preparing for the Committee session.

Just before 14.00 I headed down to the Committee room for today’s session with Mr. David Jones, which finished at 16.20.

I found this Committee session hard as I was unable to follow some of the evidence given in Mr. Jones’ evidence in respect of the potential saving between Regional and Centralisation.

However, upon a further review of the data the penny finally dropped……

I left the office at 17.05 in order to run down to the airport to collect Ellen.

In the office for 8am on Tuesday and I was able to draft and send out a couple of pieces of correspondence and to catch up with colleagues.

News also broke this morning that Clare Bettison had also resigned from the Department of Health and Social Care, which followed my resignation back in March.

Changes to the current political structure within the Department of Health and Social Care will have to be considered by the Chief Minister, especially if the Department is to rebuild confidence with media and the general public.

Just before 10am we headed down to the House of Keys for a very short sitting, which lasted less than an hour.

There were only six questions down for oral answer, and a further five down for written reply.

Once the sitting finished I went home and change out of my suit, along with taking Ellen out for lunch at the Noodle Bar on Athol Street.

From around 13.15 I was at Onchan School for the Christmas Fair, setting up the hall and doing any odd jobs along the ways.

It was a nice way to spend the afternoon and part of the evening. I finally got home for around 20.30, and after catching up with e-mails I called it a day at 21.15.

Wednesday was a difficult day in many ways, in the office for 8.20am and the first job was to start preparing for this month’s Tynwald sitting, which is a week earlier than normal because of the Christmas break.

Just before 10am Tim Crookall, MLC and I walked over to DfE for a three hour TT briefing, which covered sponsorship, contracts and again the decision making process and what information should be given to political members in advance and what is considered an operational or a race decision.

It was certainly a difficult meeting at times, but it remained professional as we tried to overcome the challenges.

After lunch I headed into Onchan for three Constituent meetings, which related to Manx Gas, Hospital Appointments and a difficult neighbour.

Back to the office briefly to catch up with a few e-mails and to draft a couple of letters before leaving the office 17.10.

I didn’t sleep well on Wednesday night, mainly because of the sound of the heavy rain and high winds, but our cat Oscar can certainly take his share of the blame…..

Anyway, in the office for 8.15am on Thursday, which enabled me to print off the remaining items on the Tynwald Order Paper, along with starting to read through several reports.

At 10.30am a number of MHKs got together to go through the Tynwald Order Paper ahead of the sitting. It was also a good opportunity to catch up with colleagues and to discuss the Tynwald sitting and other items, as the Order Paper looks relatively light this month.

I also had a few smaller meetings with DfE Minister relating to the TT contracts and tenders.

At 13.00 Tynwald Members headed up to the Barool Suite for a presentation on the island’s tourism accommodation sector. I love this sector and genuinely believe the Isle of Man has a fantastic offering in respect of accommodation, we just need to improve some of the hotels and improve our transport links and costs.

Straight after the briefing there was a Tynwald workshop on the Programme for Government. I felt it was a really good session amongst the Tynwald Members as we were split into three groups and asked to list our ten biggest threats and opportunities facing the Isle of Man and give reasons …..

It was surprising that all three groups came up with slightly different lists, but the group discussion was very interesting.

Once the workshop finished I was able to catch up with e-mails before leaving the office at 17.10.

After tea I spent a few hours on the phone, reading correspondence and responding to certain allegations or points raised within my political responsibility for Motorsport.

Part of my role as an MHK is to scrutinise the decisions and recommendations being made, and to ask questions on how certain decisions were reached, especially when as political members we have had no input into those decisions.

I have received a large amount of correspondence, including one email from Australia, from people wanting explanations about certain TT decisions made, so I asked the relevant questions this week. Unfortunately this has been taken as interference, which is extremely disappointing and was never my intention.

Finally finished at 21.00.

The Isle of Man was hit by a snow storm on Friday morning, which meant that most of the Isle of Man came to a halt and I took the opportunity to stay at home as I had already re-scheduled my Friday meetings.

I also took the opportunity to continue to read through the Vision Nine report, but it was a lazy day in many ways.

A busy week ahead before the Christmas break.