Douglas By-Election – Keith Fittion and Maire Booth – LibVan

As both LibVan candidates’ manifestos contain the same substance, but with an individual introduction, I’ve decided to look at them both at the same time.

Opening – Maire Booth, Douglas North 

Maire talks about the sense of community she feels in Douglas North, which is a nice change from the other candidates who don’t seem to talk about the constituency in any real positive way. Maire focuses her introduction on some of the things she’d like to see in the constituency and whilst it’s a little bit more “local” than I would have expected it really does contrast with the other two candidates who barely talk about the constituency they’re wanting to represent.

This focus also brings home to me that the decisions MHK’s make have real lasting impact on our communities.

The national issues Maire talks about are the loss of trust in our government and the impact the seemingly endless “stealth taxes”  are having on people. I can’t help but agree with the sentiment here and I really think this helps set Maire apart from the other candidates as unlike them, she is one of those more directly affected by our government’s often skewed financial priorities.

Overall a reasonable opening. Not as much focus on her personal experiences as the other candidates, but then I think this is actually a good thing as I’m not really interested if Ralph was a Parish walk finisher, or if David has experience as “Chairman of commercial lettings”.

Opening – Keith Fitton, Douglas South 

Keith also identifies the financial “squeeze” many people are feeling as a key issue on the doorstep, and also the levels of frustration and disillusionment people are feeling with the current system. Keith dives straight into his views on national policies such as Education and the need to encourage our graduates to return to the Island to settle down. This is a step further than the other candidates, Keith is setting out an “end game” for his position on education, linking his specific policies to a long term goal.

Keith clearly sets out his position on Party politics (he’s in favour, in case you weren’t sure!) which is a welcome rebuttal of the opposite position taken by the other candidates. The only thing missing from Keith’s introduction is any real focus on local issues, i’d like to have seen a little of this if only to demonstrate that Keith can focus on the local as well as national priorities.

One thing I did notice about both Keith and Maire’s statements is that they didn’t feel the need to make “pledges” or “promises” as the other candidates have about their commitment to the role. This is quite refreshing, it makes me feel that when you see “LibVan” you just take it for granted that the candidate fully expects to be held to account by their electorate and that they take it for granted that they will have to work hard and offer a completely different type of politics than the incumbents. It really offers a counterpoint and highlights that by having to make these “promises” the other candidates feel the need to point to the fact that they’ll be honest and open as well (as if we’d expect anything less).

Policies

This is the key difference between the LibVan manifestos and all the others, LibVan’s are packed with policies and ideas. This clearly demonstrates that in all areas these two candidates have something to offer, much more than just generalised statements. This is a much more “business friendly” manifesto that we’ve seen from LibVan in the past, which reflects not only a broader membership but also a renewed focus on the Economy. From my perspective this is pretty positive, it shows the party is evolving and isn’t stuck in a single mindset as some other groupings on the Island seem to be (CoMin springs to mind…)

I’m not going to dwell on the individual policies, goals and ideas, partly because there are so many, partly because none of them have had me bowled over with disbelief (like Amy’s Closed Circuit Stadium or Ralph’s All Island Horse Trams) but also partly because this is exactly what a manifesto is supposed to deliver. I want to know what specifically a candidate will be pushing for. Each section is headed by a brief introduction to give the reader an overview of the candidate’s position on a particular area – so looking at Economy for example the candidates state:

We believe that the role of government is to create the right environment to allow businesses to grow and to promote, not just regulate, private enterprise

This sets out a vision, which is then backed up by some actual policies. This helps you get a feel for what a candidates position is on economic growth whilst at the same time giving clear indication as to how they want to go about fulfiling their vision.

Some of the other candidates have partly succeeded with setting out their general view, but aside from some headline vote grabbing policies haven’t really followed through in their manifestos.

The final thing to note on these policies is that nearly all of them are actually pretty straightforward:

A fully open and transparent tender process

Reintroduce incentives such as our previous policy on national insurance holidays

Protect frontline staff and services

Ensure that the Chief Minister has a public mandate

Simple, straightforward and achievable. The one thing this manifesto shows above all else is that it should have been relatively easy for all the candidates to have set out some specific ideas and some focused policies.

Ok, there’s one or two statements I’m not 100% certain on (e.g. Weekend prisons and the Deepwater berth) – but actually both of these are options for exploration and consideration, not hard and definite policies.

This is another good thing coming out of this manifesto, a number of the policies are “ideas for further consideration”, again showing the party is open to new ideas and to being challenged on it’s positions.

Conclusion

Overall I’m happy with the LibVan manifestos for each of Maire and Keith (although you’d expect me to me I suppose!).

Whether or not the voters agree with all the policies, Keith Fitton and Maire Booth are the only candidates that have put enough down in writing to let the electorate make that determination for themselves.

 Links –

Keith Fitton

Maire Booth

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