On Monday 12 March 2018, in the House of Keys, the results of the Manx Legislative Council election will be announced.
Five new members shall be elected amidst great fanfare. There will be bunting and everything. Probably.
Earlier this month, Gef ran a poll asking you dear followers if you knew what an MLC was and what they did. The overwhelming response was that no, no you didn’t.
So let’s break it down, Gef style.
What is an MLC and how do you become one?
Quite simply, it is a member of the Manx Legislative Council. You may be surprised to learn anybody living on the Man Isle and 21 years old or over can become one. Unlike the Members of the House of Keys (MHKs), an MLC is not voted for by the public. The support comes from the MHK’s. If you’re interested you need to drum up MHK support. Befriend someone in power and they can act as your ‘proposer’. This is basically them writing a personal statement of recommendation on your behalf. MHK’s then vote for as many MLC’s as they so desire. The budding MLC’s with the most votes emerge victorious.
What do they do?
They consider and review draft legislation. Bills tend to be introduced to the House of Keys initially but then they come to the MLC as a revising chamber. The MLC get together each Tuesday at 10.30am (decent lie in, that) except on the third Tuesday of the month (no clue why) and hammer out all manner of legislative review for as long as necessary. Each meeting is documented and all bills are considered in four stages: First reading, Second reading, Clauses stage and finally, the originally titled Third reading. There needs to be a simple majority of voting members for all stages.
How many members are there?
Eleven in total. Eight of which are nominated. The three consistent figures are the President of Tynwald (Steve “Lamb” Rodan “Josh” has this title at present), The Bishop of Sodor & Mann (Thomas the Tank Engine has this title as he resides on the Island of Sodor) and the Attorney General.
Elected members have a maximum five-year term. Of the five spots up for grabs this year, four of them are for the full five-year term and the other is for a two year period.
Why would you become one?
This was formerly a secret ballot but, excitingly, this year’s election is the first ever openly transparent one. Now there will be complete accountability as to whom every MHK voted for. Previous accusations of nepotism or voting for the old guard (in this case, literally old: Old men!) can now be challenged should they occur.
This is a genuine opportunity to implement and affect real change. The recent abortion and equality bills are indication enough of a shifting mentality in the Island’s priorities. No need for futile social media ranting – here you can actually impact change on a tangible level. Whilst you do not formally represent the people in the same way as an MHK, you have a huge level of responsibility in representing public concern via a different channel. For £41k a year too! Go easy on the expenses though. You don’t want to head straight for political scandal.
The times they are a-changin’
In the 2016 general election, 12 new MHK’s were appointed in a night signalling the Island’s political desire to clear out the deadwood.
A record five women were elected putting pay to those lazy accusations of our small Island mentality. We are progressive peoples!
Lest we forget we have the oldest continuously functioning parliament in the world and we were the first in Western Europe to give 16-year-olds the vote. There is a generational shift and the hope is that the MLC election will continue to highlight this.
Of the ten nominations for the MLC to be confirmed, 7 of these are women.
Of the 8 present elected MLC’s there is only one woman on the legislative council. In a 2016 review of the MLC process it was determined that no sitting MHK could be elected and only in very exceptional cases could MLC’s also be ministers.
Add to this the dropping of the secrecy of the ballot and the increased curiosity of the youth in all things politics and you have a real potential for significant change.
Time will tell but it promises to be a fascinating election.