It's your vote use it!
Monday, 08 August 2011
by Chris Gledhill
One of my favourite quotes on the subject of politics is 'democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried' attributed to Winston Churchill. And here on the Isle of Man we have been trying it for longer than most. Tynwald is said to be the oldest parliament in the world in continuous existence, in 1881 the Isle of Man became the first country in the world to give women the vote, and since 2006 we are one of only a handful of nations to extend the franchise to 16 year olds.
A pretty proud tradition in my opinion and one which will be refreshed again on the 29th of September when we have our 5 yearly opportunity to elect the House of Keys. There is a general feeling in many circles that the next few years could be quite challenging for the Isle of Man - the global economy, our relationship with the UK, our own public finances, employment and opportunity for all sections of society… These are challenges we will have to face, and after an unprecedented period of continuous economic growth and relative prosperity the next government will have a tough job helping to keep us all in the style to which we have become accustomed.
Musing on this and listening to some of the opinions about our political representatives one hears in the pub or in the Chamber of Commerce for that matter which could be summed up as 'they are paid too much to do a job I wouldn't even consider - not worth the hassle....' I think it is time to say that, firstly anyone willing to take on the challenge of standing deserves a hearing, and secondly if we don't like what we hear then we had better use that vote.
Perhaps most important of all democracy is not a once in five years event, politicians are there to represent us and we should talk to them, as well as about them, if we have something worth saying. In fact the accessibility of government members is one of the great assets the Island portrays to the outside world as a differentiator to attract business and, compared with larger jurisdictions, this is a real asset.
Overall, whatever your view of individual politicians or policies we are very lucky indeed to have the combination of stability and democratic accountability which our size and history permit. I think that we should all be prepared to engage in or at least listen to the debate, and exercise our right to vote on the 29th. With this in mind PDMS are very proud to be sponsoring the Manx Radio Election Website which is intended to provide a comprehensive and independent platform for all of us to understand the candidates we have, their strengths and policies, and perhaps their willingness to engage with a universally accessible record of their campaign.