I was a Sniper. Not a conspiracy theorist, but definitely a Sniper. On the old ManxNet Forums during 2004 and early 2005, I was amongst those having a go at Government, and as soon as the MEA 'scandal' broke, the forums exploded with bile against Government. The MEA added to the list of such other alleged scandals as The Hospital, the Incinerator and any other White Elephants flying home to roost that you could name.
And how times haven't changed.
Read the forums nowadays, and exactly the same sniping is still going on. VAT , Reciprocal Health Agreement, spending on new schemes - these are the current versions of The Hospital, The Incinerator and the MEA.
I went into Tynwald for various reasons, but two of them were 1) To boldly seek out the Brown Envelopes 2) To find out how Things Work.
1. The Brown Envelope - I have looked hard, but there is absolutely no sign of such a beast. There may have been at one time, but everyone I have dealt with has been totally straight. Perhaps they know I am watching them....... The only 'perks' which come the way of a Member of Tynwald are a diary, and a sloth-like second hand laptop.
Having said that, there are mistakes, there are occasionally cock-ups. But, it turns out that the Incinerator works, it gives us energy for 3000 houses, we no longer have to bury waste in the ground, and it came in on time and on budget. Similarly the Hospital. It came in within the budget approved by Tynwald, even though there were problems with a contractor who went bandit. The MEA is another story, and as a member of the Select Committee investigating the affairs for the last five years, I think the public will be interested in the story when it comes out later in the year.
2. How Things Work - that has been fascinating - we have a great Island, and the infrastructure is superb. I have been behind the scenes at all the major water, electric and sewage works, the Incinerator, specialist areas of the Hospital, underground with the IRIS tubes and systems, and the power station. Much of it is like being on a James Bond set, but they Make Things Work.
We have the essentials of life which all work well, because someone - perhaps even helped by politicians - had the foresight to make them happen, and sometimes they did it when we had little money.
For example, Sulby reservoir was built when the Island was on its uppers. The projects of today - the new Bemahague School, and new homes for the elderly are modern examples of where we spend to invest in the future. And that must go on, and if it keeps people employed and off the dole, so much the better.
As for the current problems, most of them came at Government out of the blue. How they were handled may be criticised, but as Harold MacMillan said when asked what the greatest challenge was for a politician, “Events, my dear boy, events” Events happen.
Having realised that this is the second MacMillan quote in consecutive blogs, and that I only need a Wind of Change to complete the set, I leave this blog with my sniping rifle better focussed and a weather eye cocked for those pesky envelopes.....