Now – onto the manifesto’s. As I don’t live in Douglas I’ll only be able to comment on the manifesto’s I get sent, so this series might not end up being a complete set.
Kurt Buchholz – Douglas South
Kurt has a reasonably strong opening page, setting out clearly his belief that we need a “new type of politician” with “fresh views and fresh ideas” – so lets see if he delivers.
The entire second page deals with how a candidate’s past experience should be counted – and a part of me agrees with this. A candidate’s education and past experience should count when deciding who to vote for, but it isn’t the sum total of what i’m looking for in a candidate. I think Kurt shoots himself in the foot a little as he spends a whole page in his manifesto talking about the need for a qualified and experienced individual, but then doesn’t give any details of how he fits this category.
Kurt implies he has a lot of experience, but doesn’t convince me of it with the short “CV” on the back page – I wouldn’t have expected much, just a few key highlights perhaps, a bit of detail on why his experience qualifies him for the role. Instead we get “Directors positions” or “Professional career in shipping” which are pretty vague statements. If Kurt wants to push education and experience as qualities you need in an MHK, he should be showing how he has these qualities.
Kurt starts off with a good point about how we need a suitable legal and regulatory framework (i.e. a good environment for business) – but then immediately moves into the Sea Routes. This, on page 3 of his manifesto, is where we find Kurt’s first two policies.
First, Two User Agreements. Unsurprising that Kurt decides to focus on the User Agreement as his first policy, but is having one User Agreement for each route the answer to reducing off-Island transport costs? I’m unsure, but it’s good that Kurt has made his position clear. I do agree with Kurt that tenders should all be open tenders (although I’d add they should also be fair tenders).
Second: Merge the Department of Infrastructure (DOI), and the Department for Economic Development (DED). Now from my perspective this doesn’t make any sense. The DOI and the DED have completely distinct and separate roles. Of course infrastructure plays an important role in sustaining our economy, but the focus of the DED should be on supporting business and growing the economy, not fixing roads or managing Government’s properties. In my view, this policy demonstrates Kurt’s lack of understanding about some of the most fundamental roles of our Government.
“Inefficiencies need to be identified and rectified” – Kurt’s noticed that Government could be better, but unfortunately doesn’t explain how he proposes to do this different to, or better than his opponents. This has to be one of the biggest challenges facing our next government, and yet Kurt finds it only deserves the briefest mention in his manifesto.
Kurt then goes on to state the OFT and Judiciary should be politically independent. It’s an odd pair to pick, given the number of areas of government that need changing. Should the Judiciary be outside the control of Parliament? How else are the Courts to be held accountable? Again, no real specifics.
His comments on the OFT, specifically about reports being withheld are a clear jab at events surrounding the User Agreement – reinforcing that this is his clear priority.
On Health Kurt makes some definite statements, that the health service should be of a “good standard”, and workers should be “adequately paid”. This is pretty radical stuff. Absolutely no specific issues, no policy aims and no fresh ideas.
Kurt’s take on Education is equally as vague – aside from his statement that the “Government needs to support Higher Education” there is nothing here. What sort of support? How should it work? What about apprentices?
What about primary or secondary education?
How can such an important part of our society be glossed over so briefly?
Tax and Welfare
Kurt wants to “Fight against any abuse of the benefit system” – well I’m glad Kurt isn’t advocating greater abuse of the system – but he doesn’t explain how. Is he talking about Means Testing, ATOS style interviews or something else?
Here we see Kurts next few policies. Free bus tickets and free TV licence for the over 65’s – vote winners perhaps, but how will they be funded?
Kurt then goes on to advocate “No tax on pensions and retirement annuity plans” – is he for real? How does he intend to pay for these far fetched schemes? Government finances are under significant pressure, and Kurt is advocating removing the tax on these two types of income without any consideration as to the potential consequences.
Finally on this section, Kurt advocates a “new First Time Buyer Scheme” – great! I agree the current scheme could be improved – but wait! Where’s Kurt’s alternative? Oh, that’s right. As with everything else, it’s just a soundbite with no substance behind it.
Kurt has a good positive stance on renewable energy, and I have to say I fully support him trying to fight for clean, renewable energy. The only issue he doesn’t address is the current high level of debt sitting within the Manx Utilities Authority. Where does the money come from to build these new turbines, when we’re still paying off the debt from the last power plant? Again, Kurt doesn’t seem to have fully understood the financial constraints the next administration will be under.
Finally, Kurt talks about the environment – and I can’t help but agree with him on most of his statements. We should take more pride in our Island, and striving for blue water beaches and litter free streets are admirable goals. The issue here is again that Kurt doesn’t provide any detail on how he would go about achieving his aims.
A Manifesto should be about setting forth a candidates key policies so we can gain an understanding of what they will be standing for. I don’t expect these policies to be fully developed (as often the information available is limited), but I do expect candidates to set out some clear policies, not a wish list, but grounded in reality. A candidates Manifesto should set out why they are worthy of our vote, more than any of the others.
Kurt calls for “Fresh views, fresh ideas, a vision”
Unfortunately I didn’t find much of that here.