Monday, October 28th 2013 - 20:24 UTC

Falklands lawmakers: “The full time problem”

Falkland Islands are holding elections next 7 November and eleven candidates will be disputing the five Legislative Assembly seats for Stanly and five the three for the Camp.

Patrick for years was director of the local broadcasting station and regular contributor of the British and foreign media

Although there is nothing new about the every four year democratic event and the challenges the new assembly will have to address, as of now the MLAs will be full time and paid a salary accordingly.

For a small community of 3.000 people the issue was long discussed but remains controversial.

A readers' letter in the latest edition of the Penguin News points out to concern about the “revolutionary variation' and equally significant it was written by a long time prestigious journalist born and raised in the Falklands, Patrick Watts MBE.

Follows the text:

”It appears that the move towards full-time MLAS is inevitable and the newly elected Legislature will create history in this respect. However I feel I am not alone in expressing concern over this revolutionary variation, particularly as I feel it deters many people from standing simply because they cannot afford to devote five days a week sitting in Gilbert House while they have a business or sheep farm to run.

Already several 'good' Camp Constituency prospective candidates have said they did not stand for the reason that I have stated above. One farmer was adamant that he did not wish to spend his £40,000 MLA salary, if he was elected, paying someone else to run his farm for him, as he had been advised when enquiring about standing.

Now we hear that a former MLA, who worked incessantly during the past four years on promoting the Falklands at an International level - portraying the Islands incredible progress since 1982 and the desire of the population to stay British - has not stood because this former MLA cannot combine being a full-time MLA and maintaining a business. The person not standing is a considerable loss to the Islands. If indeed we do have full-time MLAs then I would hope that several high level posts within Government will in due course be abolished as, for example, I would expect the full-time MLAS to decide the policy for the Falklands and accordingly the highly paid post of Head of Policy could go and thus bring a considerable monetary saving within the public service.

Patrick J. Watts MBE  - Stanley
 

23 comments Feed

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1 Anglotino (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 08:46 pm Report abuse
It is what is best for the Falklands and not what is best for the MLAs.

As the Falklands economy grows more complex and the Islands take on more responsibilities and the trappings of statehood, there is a need for more permanent and full time 'hands on the wheel'.

While this may mean that some quality candidates are unable to stand, that is the price to be paid by a community that is now more than just sheep farming.
2 Islander1 (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 08:57 pm Report abuse
1- Quite right, and would not imagine a farmer would have to pay a manager the full £40k - and the idea behind it is the farm owner would still havew the farm income and the balance of the 40k to live on anyway. Reality is that 40 years ago being an MLA took 2-3 days a month and a week at annual Budget and maybe one trip abroad every 2 or 3 years if that.
Today we live in the real world.
3 Mr Ed (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 09:40 pm Report abuse
What an insult to the dead of 198would be the emergence of a salaried political class for what is little more than a parish council. There is no need for any MLAs, just put any issue to a vote, like New Hampshire town meetings.

As far as I am concerned, the UK cam leave them to the Argies if they vote in salaries for MLAs, the place would not be worth defending.
4 Monty69 (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 10:05 pm Report abuse
3 Mr Ed
Too late; it's already happening.
That whole 'parish council' thing is utter tosh. Parish councils don't have to provide healthcare, education, social services, manage natural resources, decide policy and manage the national budget. Apart from that, it's exactly the same.
Luckily, you aren't 'concerned', in any way.

2 Islander1
That's not really practical, is it, when you think it through. Most settlements only have one house, so where is the 'manager' going to live? Most farms are family operations , needing more that one person at busy times. Anyway, moving yourself and your family to town, even assuming you had somewhere to live, rather defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
5 Anglotino (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 10:06 pm Report abuse
@2 Islander1

Agreed!

The Falklamd Islands are no longer a lonely colonial outpost here London ran and dictated everything but a nation in its own right that is taking on more as more responsibilities. Eventually (though not too quickly) it will become a nation-state. And that can't be done without professional politicians who make a career out of public service; whether as politicians or public servants.

What will probably be needed is too deepen the skills base which will require an increase in immigration. I understand the concerns this causes but it is possible. It will change the character of the Islands but that is not necessarily a negative thing. Here in Australia we have a massive immigration programme. Indeed I saw an article yesterday that estimates a 10% increase in our population in the next 5 years and more than half of that will be from immigration. That will be a 7 million increase on our 2001 population. You would be hard presses to find anyone that thinks this has made Australia worse.
6 Mr Ed (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 10:36 pm Report abuse
@ 4 why not govern by referenda? Voluntary effort can provide fire brigades, life boats, magistrates, mayors, police services, aircraft restoration, medical care, the lot. If some fool wants to be a politician, the worst thing that you could do is to give them a salary that would insulate them from the consequences of their policies and give that fool a financial interest in being paid for their looting and waste. Look at the scoundrels who have fiddled expenses in Westminster, and all the 'legitimate' expenses the rest get, that is the repulsive future awaiting once the snouts are in the trough. Why not be different? Politics is about rewarding failure, and taking from the productive, keep politicians poor and the people prosperous. By all means pay expenses for the trips abroad for anyone who wishes to represent the people, but paying politicians is wrong. Don't confuse political talent with ambition. Anyone who wants to be paid for political office should thereby disqualify themself for it. And if the Islanders don't resist this measure, then they won't be worth defending.

The FI are small enough and still civilised enough to have Town Hall meetings US style, with modern adaptations such as electronic voting for those remote or busy doing something productive.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_meeting

Let the FI become a nation state if they want, but let them defend their waters and territory with their money and their lives.
7 A_Voice (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 11:00 pm Report abuse
Also it's only for 4 years....what happens if you are in the service sector or a civil servant....being such a small place someone with probably fill your shoes...
Then what happens at the end....no job....
It's a difficult choice...
8 Falkland Islands (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 11:09 pm Report abuse
@3 big boy! if I can't have my way, let them burn in hell! sicko!
9 Anglotino (#) Oct 28th, 2013 - 11:15 pm Report abuse
A_Voice

That is indeed a good point. And something politicians whine about here though none of then seem that hard up in my eyes. However I think FI suffers an employment shortage rather than unemployment. And with a more complex economic base starting to form I would say that it shouldn't become too much if an issue. However it may stop some worthy people running for a position. But as I said this is the price and consequence of the Islands becoming a more a nation-state and less a colonial offshoot.

Creating a job with salary will attract people that would otherwise not run. As a part time unpaid position; going forward this would become an elitist job that only the wealthy could endure.
10 kelperabout (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 12:04 am Report abuse
Remember you can please some people some of the time but not all people all of the time. Whatever way the issue was decided someone would have had a lot to say about it.

People know the reality of giving up their job to become a councillor and will stand on that knowledge alone. Yes there will be some who are in it for the money after all it is almost four times more than some of the candidates are getting paid right now. But they all know the score . The tax payer is paying their salaries and the voters will put them in or kick them out.

Bottom line is that no matter who runs they will be in for the toughest time of their lives if elected .
11 Lord Ton (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 01:41 am Report abuse
Naive Mr Ed - the process of democratization and self-government leads unfailingly to professional representatives. It has everywhere else and the islands are no exception. Those who died in 1982, on the British side at least, died for this - progress !

The islands economy is growing, and if the oil flows the archipelago will change dramatically. Sadly there is no room for amateurs and its about time this step was taken.
12 St.John (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 03:39 am Report abuse
@ 6 Mr Ed

“The FI are small enough and still civilised enough to have Town Hall meetings”

Population-wise, yes, but the area is 12,173 sq.km = 4,700 sq.miles, and distances are up to several hundred miles - not exactly your average UK parish. People would have to fly at a high cost from home to wherever the meeting is to be held.
13 Marcos Alejandro (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 04:01 am Report abuse
”They cannot afford to devote five days a week sitting in Gilbert House while they have a business or sheep farm to run
It should say:
They cannot afford to devote five days a week sitting in Gilbert House while they are on paid vacations six months out of the year in London or south France.
14 Mr Ed (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 07:07 am Report abuse
@12 radio and telephone conferencing, staggered meetings, online proposals for voting, keep up with the world.

@8 not at all, if I and millions like me who have been paying for the defence of the Islands for decades feel that they are no longer worth the bother, we are entitlted to walk away and stop paying, should the majority of Islanders wish to copy our mistakes and vote in a class of troughers, I would let them, but pray tell me why we should pay to defend them should we choose not to? If the Islanders want freedom, they have to defend it, even if that means going to the effort of restraining their own would-be politicians. If they can't be bothered, why should the Uk taxpayer pay?

@11 indeed, butthere is no room for professionals, as too much might be at stake, but the oil might get fracked beyond marginal cost. It is not inevitable, if people care, if they don't, then that is there look out, if the current crop have been getting by on £10k, no one forces them to do so.
15 Faz (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 08:55 am Report abuse
Absolutely Marcos, London is the best city on earth. Or, they might go to Lonely Planets other coolest places, Gods own county Yorkshire or Scotland. They can afford it, they are welcomed, and its far more fun than going to the nearby dump, your country. Thats why England is increasingl packed with talented RG refugees. They want to escape the hellhole CFK has created. The British Legion in Dover is far more attractive (and much safer) than the waterside in BA!
16 GALlamosa (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 10:41 am Report abuse
Its nice to see Partick speaking up on something he clearly feels strongly about....and the great thing is that he is free to do so. In many other places he would be in jail by now.

I have never liked the idea of “professionalisation” of politicials, particularly here. It must never be a job for life. It is still very much a community service, and is best approached in that fashion. A balanced group of people from different age groups and different parts of the social structure is what is required, a good diversity of people. The new system is beginning to look as though it will produce that, though inevitably it will not suit everyone.
17 Conqueror (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 10:53 am Report abuse
I suggest that Mr Watts has a point that merits proper consideration. But it is a matter of ways and means rather than reverting to unpaid MLAs. This is where local knowledge becomes important. For example, the 2007 estimate of GDP (PPP) per capita was US$55,400. The equivalent of F£34,223. Against that an annual salary of F£40,000 sounds quite reasonable. But it's not that simple. Presumably the MLA has to pay tax and so forth. So he/she doesn't actually get F£40,000. As Monty points out, everyone has to actually live somewhere. Moving from Camp to Stanley for 4 years is not an option I would consider. Especially if I had a family. I understand that the Falklands has already seen the necessity for YOUNG MLAs. Ones most likely to have families. The idea that the Falklands can still be governed by the equivalent of a town or parish council is frankly laughable. As is the idea of governing by referenda. Imagine. “Shall we have a new road between A and B?” After taking the best part of a week to deal with the referendum, what happens when, partway through construction, it looks as though costs are mounting beyond the budget? Another referendum? Now, how about an “electronic” government? Video conferencing on an appropriate scale. Electronic communications. First job after an MLA is elected would be to outfit their home with all the necessary equipment. Come to think of it, why not an adapted container on a suitable truck? Just drive it to where it is required and lay power cables. The MLA can be in constant communication, but still in a position to continue their business. And the salary still gets paid! Perhaps, to make it really worthwhile, the MLA salary could be non-taxable. After all, it's only 8 salaries. Just how much tax is due on F£320,000? As for the idea that the introduction of salaries for MLAs somehow makes the Falklands not worth defending, that isn't laughable. It's disgusting. No normal human would abandon nearly 3,000 people due to 8 salaries.
18 GALlamosa (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 12:57 pm Report abuse
The issue was widely consulted on prior to consideration and appeared to have general support. Most of the points raised were considered and debated, and this is the solution that wasc onsidered appropriate. Patrick has a minority view, and that is fine. All our friends and supporters will have different ideas about what is best to do, and I hope we always learn from others experience.

I would just add that in my view Government by referendum (even if it were practical) is no kind of Government. MLA's are elected to make judgements and to lead the country, and that is what they should do.
19 Benson (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 01:32 pm Report abuse
@ Mr Ed
How many parish councils have to deal with £100+ million budgets, the creation of laws, setting up an infrastructure for oil, dealing with billion pound companies, legislating a large fishing industry and having to work around a large aggressive country that tries its best to bring economic sanctions against us.
There is too much work for someone making an average living to dedicate enough time to council meaning that only the well off or the retired can afford to run for council.
As for a voluntary medical service, really? What do we call the local butcher for life saving emergency operations. Voluntary options for a towns local services might work fine when you have a national service to call on when things get hairy but not when you are 1000 mile from the nearest friendly nation.
20 Pugol-H (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 07:31 pm Report abuse
@13 Marcos Alejandro
Nice work if you can get it!

Technically speaking, I suppose you would consider it was at Argentina’s expense, as the resources paying for it you would consider Argentinian.

Ouch, that must hurt!

As bad as having to buy gas from us at exorbitant prices?
21 Islander1 (#) Oct 29th, 2013 - 10:21 pm Report abuse
Monty69- dont think anyone expects to move from Camp to Stanley- they will be in Stanley 4 days a week instead of averaging 2 or 3 I think. Back in their Constituencies the rest of the time similar to Members of Parliament in many countries and their family will tend to stay on the farm most of the time I expect.
With today,s drive to get more people into Camp again there wouldbe a good chance of good deals on grants and loans for new housing in Camp - and with roads the hired manager can live several miles away.
I imagine that is how farmers in UK who are MPs make it work and in many other places - just needs a different approach.
Mr Ed - you show your total ignorance of facts!Marcos - do please give me current examples of MLAs spending 6 months holidays a year in europe? One did for a while-and his electorate knew it in advance but still voted him in - he later resigned as he relaised it was unfair on the others MLAs - but he never drew a £ of expenses whilst away and not doing MLA jobs..
Like Mr Ed you love ballsing up facts and fiction!
22 Monty69 (#) Oct 30th, 2013 - 12:33 am Report abuse
21 Islander1
In the UK, most MPs have homes in London, paid for through their expenses, and visit their constituencies at the weekend.
It would be possible to leave the 'family' on the farm, but a tough proposition for everyone involved. Running a Camp household is a very tough proposition for one person alone, and adding the social isolation of being without your partner, I just can't see it appealing to many people. Well, it clearly hasn't this time around.
Plus most people who have stuck it out in Camp this long really want to live there. They would have moved to Stanley long ago otherwise.
The problem is, there really aren't many people in Camp. There isn't likely to be anyone nearby to manage a farm for you, even with the roads. Most people are flat out running their own farms. There aren't any deals on housing, especially on the strength of a four- year contract.
I'm happy enough with our candidates; they are the usual crop of retired and rich people mainly, but there are some realistic choices there. I don't think anything's changed though.
23 Martin Woodhead (#) Oct 31st, 2013 - 12:26 pm Report abuse
8 people to govern 2000 odd people deal with international oil and shipping companys etc etc is not bad going

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