Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

Open, accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society for all.

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Budget Opinion

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PAG was unable to hold the February public meeting, with Treasury Minister Alf Cannan, to discuss the IOM Budget 2021-22.

Instead we publish the following opinion which attempts to objectively critique the main features of the Budget.
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Last Updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021 14:39

PAG Event: Budget 2020

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PAG public meeting

The Treasury Minister Explains
The 2020 Manx Budget

A presentation by Hon Alf Cannan MHK

2020 budget

Monday 24th February 2020 at 7:30pm
Manx Legion Club, Douglas

The event is free and open to all

The Treasury Minister will present his 2020 Budget Statement to Tynwald on Tuesday 18th February.

Less than a week later, Positive Action Group is delighted to host the only public meeting where the Minister will expand on his decisions to the broader electorate, and face questions from the floor as to our reaction to those announcements.

Mr Cannan's 2019 Budget was "one of confidence" - with increases in personal allowances and benefits,together with significant increases for several Government Departments including Health and Social Care, Education and Home Affairs (the latter largely to benefit the Police).

Since then, the economy has continued to grow, income tax receipts continue to increase, and Government accounts show a surplus - so, the manx economy appears in great shape.

But the main issues facing Mr Cannan and our Government also continue. The public sector pensions liability is now in excess of £4.1 billion and with the run-down and expiry of the Pensions Reserve in 2022, surely has longer-term financing issues.

Our health and social care policies remain big questions and where their budgets are under continuing stress with a need for annual "top-ups" from contingency funds.
Brexit has been done, but remains an urgent problem with no definitive answers as to its outcome or impact on the Manx economy.

Meantime, the Govenment's poor reputation for project and budget control of initiatives such as Douglas Promenade, Peel Marina and the Liverpool Terminal are also significant concerns.

Expanding the Manx economy is a prime objective of this Government.

The eGaming sector has been a prime engine of growth in recent years – but, given recent news from GVC and Poker Stars, can and will that continue?

The VAT Agreement with the UK underpins the whole basis of Government's accounts - but despite two spending surveys attempting to resolve some of the questions, is Government any closer to reaching a resolution with the UK on expected future revenues?

Whilst public sector employees have the benefit of their generous pension scheme, our government – unlike the UK government - has as yet taken no action to require the private sector to do the same for their workers. Will this lead to an issue of "social fairness", where the public sector enjoys "first class pensions" but "second class or no pensions" for the private sector?

Can we expect changes in financial policy to address these issues – or will the assurance of "future growth" be used to provide the answers?

Each year the Budget Statement is expected with great anticipation.There's much to think about and Positive Action Group (PAG) is pleased to welcome Mr Cannan to share and discuss his thoughts at a public meeting on Monday, 24th February at 7:30pm at the Manx Legion Club, Market Hill, Douglas.

All will be made very welcome to what is sure to be a stimulating evening with much to discuss and debate. The evening is free and open to everyone, with a voluntary collection at the door to help cover PAG expenses to fund our programme of "public interest" events.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2020 22:49

PAG Event: Why we need a republic

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Why we need a Republic!

A Presentation by

Graham Smith, CEO 'Republic'

republic 1

Manx Legion Club, Market Hill, Douglas

7:30 pm MONDAY 27th January 2020

The event is free and open to all

Positive Action Group (PAG) kicks off 2020 with a hot topic.

The talk and following debate will focus on why we need the opportunity to elect our head of state. The unelected Monarchy is going through a torrid time as we enter the new decade. Chief Executive Officer of Republic, Graham Smith, will explain some of the mystique surrounding the existence of the Royal Family.

He starts a nationwide tour here at The Legion, in Douglas. PAG has indeed been fortunate to get him to speak in the IoM. This is the first event of Republic's new "Where You Live' programme, which will see him travelling to dozens of towns and cities talking about why we need a republic.

He will talk about recent events which have shown our constitution to be deeply flawed, and why we all deserve to elect our head of state. Monarchy myth busters will feature.

Graham Smith regularly comments in mainstream media - BBC, Channel 4 - about the need for democratic reform and the abolition of the monarchy.

Commenting on the recent Royal crises Mr Smith said:

"The royal family is in trouble and with the next succession on the horizon their problems are only going to get worse. The Queen and Prince Charles appear comfortable with all the trappings and formality of royal duties, but it's increasingly clear that the younger generations are not so keen.With recent events in the UK parliament exposing the Queen to criticism and prompting serious debate about royal powers this is an important issue".

Following the presentation the audience will have the opportunity to comment and ask questions

As usual the event is free to attend and all are welcome, whether you agree with Republic or not, whether you want to listen to the ideas or get stuck into what promises to be a lively debate.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 January 2020 22:36

PAG Event: ALWAYS follow the MONEY?

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ALWAYS follow the MONEY?

A Presentation by

Louise Whitelegg (IoM co-ordinator for Christian Aid)

Archibald Elliott (IoM Student Climate Network)

manx money

Manx Legion Club, Market Hill, Douglas

7:30 pm MONDAY 25th November 2019

The event is free and open to all

Following the money seems to be the policy of the IoM Government.

At almost the same time as announcing a climate emergency, along with aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050,Government persisted with an agreement to award a gas exploration licence in Manx waters. Further, if 'commercial accumulations of natural gas' are found, drilling will continue. The theory is that revenue raised from gas exploration will go towards funding green initiatives in the future.
All this at the same time each of us being encouraged to reduce our carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels. It all adds up to a confusing message for the public whilst we wait for the eagerly anticipated Curran Report
One measure our government could take is to withdraw our investments in fossil fuel companies i.e. divestment. The Manx government has £42 million held in gas and oil assets. Douglas Borough Council has almost £1 million held in fossil fuels in its pensions portfolio.
Louise Whitelegg, IoM co-ordinator for Christian Aid, puts the case forward for divestment of fossil fuels.
"This is really the only sensible option, not only for the future of our planet but to avoid possible future liabilities and stranded assets. People ask what difference can I make in the climate debate, there are plenty of little things each of us can do but there is one simple thing we can all do to make a massive difference to our environment and that is to divest from fossil fuels"
Aided by researcher Archibald Elliott of the Isle of Man Student Climate Network, Louise will make the case for re-thinking our investment strategy to correlate with tackling the climate emergency.
The event is free and open to all.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2019 22:33

PAG Event: Climate Reality with Paul Craine

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An illustrated Presentation by Paul Craine

Manx Legion Club, Market Hill, Douglas

7:30 pm MONDAY 21st October 2019

The event is free and open to all

As the residents of Laxey will tell you, climate change is a reality.

The 'Climate Reality Project' was founded by Al Gore,former US Vice-President in 2011, and the project's current chairman. It focuses on climate change education through the training of volunteers.

The network now has 20,000 members from 154 countries, all committed to organising presentations and events in their own communities. One of those communities is the IOM.

Paul Craine studied climatology in the 1970's and was drawn towards the Climate Reality programme.
Earlier this year he attended an intensive course in Minneapolis and qualified as a 'Leader'

One of the greatest strengths of the project lies in the resources made available to its Leaders.
At the heart of these is the renowned "Climate Reality slide deck" which is regularly updated.

Paul has kindly agreed to share his knowledge, and experience, with the Manx public.
He will use slides from the powerful Gore Reality slide deck, as well as his own slides, relating to climate change in the IOM

More than a decade ago PAG hosted the IOM Film Premier of Al Gore's Award winning film on climate change "An Inconvenient Truth".

It was attended by most politicians, yet they still feel the need to sponsor a professor to advise them on the way forward to tackle the pressing problem of climate change.

It is apposite that, all these years later, Mr Craine is spreading the global Climate Reality message via PAG. As Al Gore states "The reality we now face implores us to act."

The event is free and open to all

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 October 2019 12:25

Bog Standard Comprehensives

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Following on from the publication of two articles relating to student levels of attainment in the Island’s primary schools, parent David Watts has turned his attention to the secondary schools – focussing on Key Stage 4 GCSE/IGCSE attainment.

The author believes this new article contains some thought-provoking material. As with his previous work much of the data in this document was sourced from Freedom of Information requests and is information he resolutely believes should be in the public domain so that parents and other stakeholders can determine for themselves the relative academic strengths of our secondary schools.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, some school Departments shine; others most certainly have room for improvement. Not only does this new article critically examine GCSE results and so called pass rates over the previous three years it also highlights some important related areas namely:

  • The value added by the schools (how much actual progress is made by pupils through their 5 years of compulsory secondary education?);
  • Whether the Island’s schools are “gaming the system” by concentrating on a particular group of pupils in order to score as highly as possible in the Department’s key performance measure (5 GCSEs at A*-C including English and maths);
  • Are some IOM KS4 pupils effectively “off-rolled” for examination statistics purposes and if so, what is the actual data for all students completing the KS4 in terms of gaining a Level 2 qualification (the traditional pass) in English and maths?
  • Some notes on the performance of King William’s College (the Island’s only public school) and broad comparisons with other areas of the UK notably Wales and Northern Ireland – the latter jurisdiction returns some particularly impressive results in comparison to the Isle of Man;
  • The DESC U-turn in choice of examination board for GCSE mathematics with some shocking statistics on reading ages required to access papers and exceptionally low grade boundaries. According to e-mails released under the FOIA at least one Secondary head has “serious concerns” over certain subjects “and the whole exam set up” and articulated such to the DESC CEO in December 2018 – some 5 months before students sit examinations crucial for their future.

You can access the work by clicking on the link below.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2019 11:10

PAG Event: 5G IoM

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PAG public meeting in conjunction with 5G Aware IoM.

5G IoM

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 September 2019 20:54

PAG Event: Constitution Conundrum

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Public Meeting

"Constitution Conundrum"

manx relatPresentation and panel discussion by:

  • Prof Peter Edge LLB, PhD (Cantab), SFHEA, FRSA. Professor of Law Oxford Brookes University

  • Professor Claire de Than - BA (Hons), LLB, LLM Deputy Director of the Institute of Law, Jersey, and Co-Director of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University

  • Advocate Paul Beckett M.A., M.St. (Oxon.), FRSA, MCIArb., TEP; Senior Counsel, Mann Benham Advocates Limited

Manx Legion Club, Market Hill, Douglas

7:30 pm MONDAY 29th April

- The event is free and open to all -

The frenzied over-long continuing controversy about Brexit has caused many to question as to how how the UK is run. Westminster is generally revered as the mother of all parliaments, but of late fissures have been exposed in the relationship of the government and parliament. Unlike modern states, there is no written constitution to which a citizen can refer.

Like the UK, the IOM muddles through with a jumble of precedent and convention. This was brought into sharp focus here, three years ago, when it was announced that the majority of Manx Residents would not be able to vote in the 2016 EU Referendum. Because of our relationship with the UK we were deprived of a vote, so have been mere by-standers since then.

Our Chief Minister has spent many hours in Westminster ensuring the island's voice is not ignored.

At its free public meeting on April 29th "Constitution Conundrum", PAG will discuss constitutions, constitution making and independence.

A distinguished panel will assemble to consider and discuss this confusing topic with the audience

In arranging over one hundred public meetings, we have never assembled such a distinguished panel of experts. The topic is relevant to current political turmoil brought about by Brexit. We have no codified constitution. We rely on precedent and convention. Is that sensible? What would change look like? Could this be prove our "constitutional moment?"

Prof Edge will provide a broad perspective on constitutions followed by Prof deThan who will explain a perspective from Jersey. Paul Beckett will then introduce the concept of independence for the IoM. Is it a possibility?

The event is free and open to all - come and have you say!


Prof Peter Edge LLB, PhD (Cantab), SFHEA, FRSA. Professor of Law Oxford Brookes University
Peter Edge was educated at Ballasalla Primary School, Castle Rushen High School, Lancaster University and Wolfson College Cambridge. He has been researching on Manx constitutional law and legal history since the 1980s. His publications include Manx Public Law - an open access ebook originally published by the Isle of Man Law Society in 1997 and now available from the Oxford Brookes website.

Professor Claire de Than BA (Hons), LLB, LLM Director of Studies of the Institute of Law, Jersey, and Jersey Law Commissioner; also University of London
Professor Claire de Than is a senior legal academic of more than 25 years' standing, and a Jersey Law Commissioner, currently working on a Criminal Code. She has over 85 legal publications in total, including 15 books, chapters in leading legal monographs and edited collections, such as Reed and Bohlander, Substantive Issues in Criminal Law (Ashgate, 2011) and articles in a variety of national and international journals, including the Modern Law Review. Her research fields include criminal law, comparative law of tiny jurisdictions, human rights law, media law, and disability law. She has been an expert for the Law Commission of England and Wales on two recent projects. She has advised several governments and many organisations on criminal law, human rights and law reform issues, with specialisms in the law of British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

Advocate Paul Beckett M.A., M.St. (Oxon.), FRSA, MCIArb., TEP; Senior Counsel, MannBenham Advocates Limited
On a professional level, I he hasover thirty-five years' experience as a lawyer, both within the international private banking and fiduciary services industries and in private practice. First trained at leading "magic circle" City of London Solicitors Simmons & Simmons, qualified an English Solicitor in 1981 and as an Advocate in 1990. Also a non-practising Solicitor in Ireland and in Northern Ireland. He has diplomatic experience, having been on the staff of the European Patent Office in Munich in this capacity, where he worked in English, German and French; languages which he still use professionally. He was the Honorary Representative of the Isle of Man Government in Switzerland during his time as a Senior Vice President of Deutsche Bank in Geneva. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (founded in 1754). His academic work extends over five decades. He graduated from Worcester College, Oxford University in 1978 with First Class honours in Jurisprudence, being awarded Master of Arts in 1982. He is also a member of New College, Oxford University and completed a Master of Studies in International Human Rights Law in 2014. He has been widely published.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2019 21:52
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