Douglas By-Election 2015, Politics

Candidates Information Leaflets – Douglas 2015

Well, we’ve seen the videos – but how do the hopefuls come across on paper? As the various manifesto’s are starting to be released I thought i’d first have a quick skeet at the information leaflets being thrust through voters’ letterboxes.

LibVan – Keith Fitton – Douglas South / Maire Booth – Douglas North 

I’ve put these together because the core part of the leaflet is the same for both – although both have an individual introduction.

Maire is keen to emphasise her belief that our Government needs to be accountable, while Keith focuses on opposing the increase in indirect “stealth” taxes. Both candidates come across as committed and determined, and both clearly want to see meaningful change.

The key thing about these leaflets is that they contain actual policies. Not indefinite statements, but clearly defined aims. This contrasts quite clearly with the other leaflets put out, which as you’ll see are rather thin on the detail…

David Ashford – Douglas North

David is very keen to promote his time spent in Douglas Council, although I’m not sure his time on the Housing Committee will help him out, given that last year they recommended a 5% rent increase for public sector housing – and have presented unpopular plans to introduce gas heating in place of oil on some of Douglas’ estates.

David also makes clear his commitment that he will only vote for issues he personally supports – does this mean he supported this rent increase? If so, his talk about “increased charges” which “bite deep” seems a little hypocritical.

David talks about the right things, but I’m not surprised here. Having spent 7 years on Douglas Council he certainly knows what the hot button issues are – but as an independent can he really translate this into meaningful change? I’m not convinced.

Ralph Peake – Douglas North

Ralph makes a lot of promises on the front page of his leaflet, but when you look at them closely they don’t amount to anything. Would I expect any less from my MHK than “not to quit or give up”? This really sums up Ralph’s leaflet, on the surface there seems to be something interesting there, but when you take time to read there’s nothing of substance at all.

Ralph has identified that we need economic growth (nice spot there Mr Peake), but doesn’t actually identify anything he proposes to help this along. He does want to protect free TV licences for the over 75’s as well as the pension supplement. I’m not sure how this would work with his pledge to reduce government expenditure.

His tax policy is the most contradictory thing I’ve seen in a long time. Ralph wants to raise tax (worrying) but at the same time protect 0/10, and raise the personal allowance (both good things). How does he plan to raise taxes without going after 0/10. Does he advocate removing the tax cap? Does he want to increase the rate of personal tax? No idea, as there isn’t any information here. Not even a hint of what he’s proposing – and that’s worrying when he’s talking about raising tax.

Now we get to my favourite part of the leaflet – “whether its the Horse Trams or car parking in the centre of Douglas” Ralph wants to see these “all-island services” paid for out of a central all-island rate. Now I wouldn’t describe either of these as “all island services” and I’d suggest that the rest of the Island wouldn’t either. For me this shows how little grasp Ralph has on the national issues we face. There are genuine issues with our tax and rating systems, but Ralph wants to focus on the Horse Trams and parking? Ralph should be running for Douglas Council, not the House of Keys.

Kurt Buchholz – Douglas South

Kurt is keen to highlight that he has spent time as a ship’s captain. Perhaps he thinks this will help him navigate the troubled waters of Manx politics?

Kurt’s “issues I am against”  is just a list of generic common concerns. I’d suggest we’re all against “abuse of the benefit system”. Is this a widespread issue on the Island? How does Kurt plan on addressing this? There’s no specifics here, and nothing to convince me that he has any idea how to address any of the issues he identifies.

The list of “issues I support” is just as bland. Nothing that stands out from the crowd, and certainly nothing that might make we want to know more.

Sorry Kurt, but I think you need to try a different tack.

Bill Malarkey – Douglas South

Not a lot to say about Bill’s letter. After introducing himself and listing all of his roles during his time in Government he manages to neatly wrap up his entire political career in less than a page. Seems like Bill doesn’t have a lot to say for himself either.

Amy Burns – Douglas South

Amy hasn’t put out a leaflet that I’ve seen, but she does have an “about me” section on her website. Amy lists her academic qualifications and her “business experience” and then goes on to offer this ‘experience’ to help drive economic growth. In a bid to try and give herself some credibility Amy tries to justify how her travel experiences (read ‘holidays’) have given her a better understanding of international economies. I’m not convinced.

Amy is also offering her “social experience” to help economic growth. I’m not sure what she means by this, but then it’s just another bland statement without any real meaning.

The one thing I really feel should be highlighted is where Amy has stated:

My team and I achieved a positive result with the Council of Ministers going back to Tynwald and agreeing on a scheme that has seen vouchers introduced rather than losing any form of pre-school altogether.

This is simply not true.

Did Amy develop the voucher scheme herself? No.

Page 7 of the LibVan 2011 manifesto clearly states “Empower parents to select pre-school education by the introduction of a voucher system”.

It was Peter Karran in his role as Education Minister who replaced the previous system with the current childcare voucher system – following on from his 2011 Election promise.

It was not Amy and her “team” that agreed on the introduction of vouchers. The old system was never going to be removed without being replaced by a voucher system and to claim otherwise is a complete fabrication.

If Amy is willing to deliberately mislead people now, how can we believe she will treat her voters any different should she be elected? What else in her publications and her manifesto might not be entirely true?

Links –

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