This column first appeared in the Manx Advertiser.
So the dust is settling after Allan Bell’s changes to his cabinet.
It is rather ironic that David Anderson has lost his job at the helm of the health department, just when he could probably do with some medical attention to the wound in his back.
And if Sir Humphrey Appleby were around to comment upon Mr Bell’s decision to give two of the largest spending departments to novices, no doubt he would describe it as ‘very brave’.
However, we are all in this together and it is in that spirit that I offer the following advice to the new boys: Infrastructure Minister Laurence Skelly and Health and (soon to be) Social Care Minister Howard Quayle.
• However much you think you know, it is not nearly enough. Learn much and learn it quickly. If you can do that with some humility you may even find the brow-beaten public servants who still have jobs in your departments won’t hate you.
• Don’t get too comfy or too cocky. Your job is at the whim of the chief minister and if it’s expedient, you’ll be out. Just ask Graham Cregeen, the last new minister.
• Any anti-government comments you made from the comfort of the back benches will be remembered by some of your colleagues who will, absolutely, not be tempted to throw them back in your face. Better find a good reason to explain why you’ve changed your mind.
• You’ve been appointed with just enough time to go before the general election for the public to blame you for something. Or, if the glass is half-full, to prove that all those manifesto pledges were not empty rhetoric.
• When using public transport, try to stay awake.
• When getting wound up by provocative point-scoring from the back benches, remember you were doing that a couple of weeks ago.
• Don’t ever upset CoMin colleague and cabinet enforcer Chris Robertshaw. He doesn’t countenance dissent and you may find yourself, fairly quickly, ‘reformed’.
• Remember that, ultimately, you’re still employed by your electorate. It is the voters who pay your wages with their taxes and, perhaps more pertinent to some MHKs, get to give an appraisal in a couple of years’ time.
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