Onward to Ralph Peake – the second Candidate in Douglas North.
I like this approach, straight into the manifesto without any pre-amble. This looks promising. It’s a shame then that the first thing Ralph decides to say doesn’t make any sense.
Government spending hasn’t fallen, so Ralph is disappointed. That’s because Government budgets don’t work the same way as those for a private sector company. By its very nature Government will always be dealing with increasing costs, and can’t just downsize its operations and continue to operate as we expect. Ralph seems to be another candidate who just hasn’t done his research, he claims that Government spends £850 million on us each year – but according to the 2015 budget its more like £944 million (gross) and £545 million (net). Looks like Ralph has already shaved £90 million off Government spending before he’s even been elected!
Ralph wants a smaller government, which is admirable, but only goes so far as to say the Scope and Structure report would be his starting point. Unfortunately he doesn’t identify any areas he would focus on, nor anything he believes needs to be done. So aside from a general “Government is too big” he doesn’t really add anything to this debate.
No parking charges in his constituency? But they’re ok for the rest of us then Ralph? In my view, MHK’s should of course be involved with local issues but should primarily be nationally focused and leave local issues to local government (which is something Ralph goes on to say in fact). If Ralph believes Douglas should be run by Douglas Council, how then will he as an MHK stop them introducing parking charges? This is just one example of how Ralph contradicts himself, despite talking about a “clear vision” it doesn’t seem like Ralph is clear on what he wants.
More generic statements abound when Ralph starts talking about how Government should keep us all safe. Well that goes without saying, but how does Ralph propose to make sure they do this? Obviously he disagrees with current policy enough to mention it in his manifesto, but then doesn’t go on to state what he proposes as a solution.
Another candidate with a 20 year plan – but does it have any substance? The answer unfortunately is a resounding no, the whole section is full of fortune cookie wisdom. “Recognise benefits of family and rest time”, “Do the work we want to do”, “By taking pride in our work we can achieve our goals”. How exactly does any of this help us understand Ralph’s plans for the economy. I am completely dumbfounded by this, Ralph sounds like a self-help book written by someone whose entire experience of psychological training comes from watching daytime soaps.
Ralph also uses data gathered by the “American Independent Business Alliance” to support his wooly positions – nice, except I’m not sure these US statistics are entirely relevant to the Isle of Man.
Some of the soundbites appear to be sensible policies, but given the amount of nonsense in this section I have great difficulty believing there is anything behind them. Given that Ralph is standing on a “business” ticket I expected the Economy to be his strongest area and was completely surprised by how weak his policies are.
This page doesn’t add anything to Ralph’s offering, it’s just a list of rather pointless “promises” – all of which are the bare minimum I’d expect from a public representative.
What exactly does “Important priorities” mean? Is it even possible to have an unimportant priority? Ralph uses a lot of words here, but manages to say absolutely nothing.
As with so much in this manifesto, this section is just meaningless. Nothing is said, no policies, no vision, not even enough here to get a picture of the kind of MHK Ralph Peake would be.
Another section on the Economy? Handy, as the first one didn’t say much. Ralph believes we need new ideas, which is a great place to start – but then surely he should present some sensible ones?
“Older people are not responsible for the financial crisis” – I don’t think anyone said they were? In my view this is just vote grabbing, “free bus pass” “free TV licence” “protect the pension supplement”. How does he plan on paying for these? Well, there’s the unspecified tax rises on businesses and individuals that Ralph alludes to just beneath.
There is one good point in Ralph’s tax “strategy” – he wants to increase the personal allowance, which I fully agree with. Aside from this Ralph’s view on tax is contradictory to say the least.
The current system is “impossible to maintain”, but Ralph wants to protect 0/10. You can’t state the current system is “impossible” but then decide to keep everything the same! So, how does he propose raising the tax needed to plug the hole in our nations finances? Not a clue, the only specific idea he has is a “new business rating system”, which would at best replace the current one and not really generate any significant additional revenue.
Separate the cost of healthcare from general taxation? I can’t see the logic in this – surely we want a simple tax system to encourage economic activity, why make it more complicated than it needs to be?
Finally, Ralph is yet another candidate who seems to believe Douglas ratepayers are paying for services “we all use” more than anywhere else on the Island. This just shows Ralph has no clue how rates work, nor what they actually pay for (If you’re interested have a look at this post). Although Ralph goes a step further towards comedy than any of the other candidates by claiming the Horse Trams are an “All Island Service”.
Who is the Island run for?
Ralph talks a lot about listening to his constituents, and that Government needs to listen and communicate better. He goes on to identify some key areas people want MHK’s to address, including the Education, Health Care and Transport Policy.
So if Ralph is listening to people and will focus on their needs – why hasn’t he mentioned the “main areas” of Health, Education or Transport anywhere in his manifesto!
Surely if he was really listening, his whole manifesto would have been about the “main areas” people want their “MHK’s to address”. Again, Ralph doesn’t demonstrate the “clear leadership” he is promising to deliver.
Ralph talks a little bit about “going into debt” and for some reason believes the Isle of Man can’t have debt? What about the MEA, or the local authority borrowing framework? Just because it’s “off balance sheet” doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Yet another example of Ralph’s naivety.
This is the most superficial manifesto I’ve seen during this by-election, it really doesn’t add anything to the debate yet really shows how ill-prepared Ralph is for the role of an MHK.
Verdict? Ralph Peake – the fortune cookie candidate.