Alistair Ramsay: You must vote |


In the last House of Keys general election, only half of the 60,000 people registered on the electoral roll bothered to do so.

At 53%, national turnout in 2016 was the lowest in decades and well below the UK equivalent (69% in 2017).

Many countries have experienced a decline in electoral engagement, but this appears to be a particular problem in the seat of the world’s oldest permanent parliament.

This seems surprising, as the small scale of Manx politics gives individual voters much more influence over the results.

Five years ago, for example, three seats were won by a margin of less than 25 votes. In East Douglas, the gap was only seven votes.

So what drove nearly 30,000 citizens away from the democratic process last time around?

It is hard to believe that not all of them knew about the election or that they did not care about the issues being discussed.

One of the biggest obstacles to voting has to be the popular perception that it makes no difference who is elected.

All candidates are basically the same, from this perspective, and once in the House, they have no power to accomplish anything meaningful.

This skepticism is understandable, given the opaque nature of island politics.

In a system based on personality rather than politics, it is more difficult for the uninitiated to distinguish one candidate from another.

And the Maison des Clés has never been good at explaining the importance of its work or its relevance in everyday life.

However, although there are no major political divisions between the candidates, their skills to do the job are very different.

Some would help point the Isle of Man in the right direction while others, frankly, would put us on the rocks.

A short-sighted madhouse could easily fail in its duty to protect the economy, the environment, public finances and utilities.

With a community in crisis one would understand, too late, to what extent the MHKs bear the responsibility.

Such a calamity may seem unimaginable, but the island is now sailing in unknown waters.

Brexit and Covid have shown that the unexpected can happen.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Now is the time to throw complacency overboard and stop believing in our own propaganda.

It will take vision, skill and integrity to meet the challenges ahead.

In addition to our response to climate change, this includes reinventing the economy of the Isle of Man and making sure we can afford the best healthcare, social services and education.

There is also the open question of equal opportunity, and why relative poverty persists in a supposedly prosperous society.

Last but not least is the issue of intergenerational equity.

Thousands of young people have already left the island, driven out by the high cost of housing and limited career prospects.

It is a national scandal and a health warning for the economy.

The Isle of Man is at a crossroads.

The next House of Keys may be heading in the right direction in addressing these important issues, or going down the wrong path.

It all depends on the quality of its members.

It is therefore up to you, as a registered voter, to ensure that the most suitable candidates are chosen to work on your behalf and that of your family.

Be aware that if you do not show up to the polls, there is a greater chance that less qualified candidates will enter it, not on the basis of their skills but on the back of their personal networks.

This can happen when there is a low turnout.

If you care about the future of the Isle of Man and all the people who live there, please take the time to vote this Thursday.

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