Playing by the rules

It’s been a busy few weeks, what with the election and choosing a chief minister. And now with the hold-up at Heathrow it’ll be a wonder if Emile’s letter ever reaches his cousin...

(Illustration by Peewee)
(Illustration by Peewee)

Cher Eugene.

Well, we had the election, us, and we’ve finally got a new States now. But you wouldn’t believe the fuss to get a new chief minister, Eugene.

There were 22 new deputies elected, so that’s nearly half the States, eh? But that didn’t stop some of the old ones trying to fix things before the new ones got sworn in, mon viaer.

Caw, there was more manoeuvring going on than when Jack tries to back his boat trailer into his yard, eh?

It was all because that advocate, the one who did the review of government, he got in as a deputy and said he wanted to be chief minister. But according to the rules he wasn’t eligible, him. There were two others standing, but they included the old chief minister, so would you believe, the old Constitution committee spoke to the law officers and quick put a billet together to change the rules? It was so quick some of the committee members weren’t even told there was a meeting, and there were a few saying it looked like a conspiracy, Eugene. After all, only three people attended, and one of them was leaving the States and another had seconded the advocate. I don’t know about a conspiracy, me, but when the law officers and a States committee move that fast you know there’s something going on, that’s for sure, eh?

There was a lot of suspicion it was the old deputies who didn’t want the former chief minister to get elected again. And it worked, Eugene, because when he saw what was going on he withdrew his name. But there was a hustings meeting already arranged, where the public weren’t allowed to ask any questions, so it could have been one candidate talking to himself, eh?

Then again, I suppose at least no one would answer back, eh?

But then a funny thing happened, because when the hustings were held the advocate was allowed to speak as well, even though he wasn’t eligible, and the next day the new States met they agreed to change the rules, the advocate got proposed, and he ended up as chief minister. Old Jack said his dad used to say there’s only two sorts who know how to get round the law, criminals and advocates. Caw, I don’t know if he can say that now we’ve got a lawyer as a chief minister, eh?

Mind you, the former chief minister didn’t help himself by saying how he’d gone round the world and made friends with important UK politicians, because it doesn’t seem to have done much good, mon viaer. When you look at how the UK’s treated Guernsey lately, hang, with friends like that you don’t need bloney enemies, that’s for sure.

I told you the UK stopped all those VAT-free imports from the Channel Islands, but they didn’t stop them from anywhere else, eh? Well, now it seems goods from Guernsey are being piled up in a warehouse at Heathrow and kept until the UK customs can check they’re all legal. There’s things been sent to England for repair delayed for weeks because their border agency want loads of documents and paperwork before they’ll release the goods. It seems to me that’s deliberate, Eugene, and I was thinking, me, the Guernsey Post is still collecting the VAT on behalf of the UK government, so perhaps it should collect up all the cash and send it in a parcel, then when it gets stuck in a warehouse at Heathrow we’ll see how the UK likes it, eh?

Jack said he used to travel to countries where they wanted loads of paperwork just to cross the border, but a backhander to the right official usually got the rules changed. He said it just needs a person who knows how to get round it, like someone who can get into chief minister’s hustings even though he’s not eligible, eh?

But the thing is, the UK aren’t delaying things sent from other countries, Eugene, it’s just Guernsey, eh? And they’ve done the same with pension schemes, saying only three out of 300 schemes in Guernsey comply with their tax rules. But there’s the same schemes being run in other places and they haven’t said anything about those, eh?

And then last week it was on the Press how the EU has ruled that Guernsey’s zero-10 tax idea isn’t acceptable, but Jersey and the Isle of Man are alright. Caw, when you think, we’ve had to adopt all these laws from the EU, like age discrimination and sex discrimination and all that, it seems to me we need one about country discrimination, eh?

And do you know, that last Treasury minister didn’t stand for election, him, but one of the last things he said was Guernsey shouldn’t rely on its tax advantage. Can you believe that, mon viaer? All the last States did was encourage firms to come here because of it, and the chief minister went round the world telling everyone about it, eh?

But the trouble is, there’s firms closing down and banks laying off staff, and a lot of people out of work now. And with the way the last States treated the small businesses, there’s not much local industry left, eh? I was saying to Jack, they seem to have more idea about expanding their economy up in Alderney, them. After all, they’re already ahead of Guernsey in looking into tidal power, and there was a piece on the Press about them laying a cable link to get electric from France to Alderney, and then putting another cable link to the UK so they can sell it on. That’s a good idea, eh? Perhaps someone should have nominated an Alderney representative for chief minister, Eugene, then if the UK get too heavy-handed they could threaten to turn the electric off, eh?

Bert, from L’Ancresse, he came round last week, and he was saying how the UK wouldn’t even let that marathon runner into their Olympic team, even though he’d run faster than one they’d already selected, eh? They said the rules didn’t allow him in the team.

Mind you, they changed their mind later, so they got round the rules somehow. Jack said perhaps his coach is a Guernsey advocate, eh?

Talking of sport, we’ve been doing well lately, mon viaer, because as well as the runner getting into the Olympics the Guernsey football team got promoted in their league, and the rugby team as well.

Mind you, the Crapauds got promoted as well, them, so I don’t know what will happen in the Siam cup, or the Muratti. Jack was saying some people think rugby is just a lot of people fighting over one thing.

I said if they think that, they could always go to the States next week and watch the deputies trying to get minister’s jobs, eh? And at least the Siam and the Muratti have rules that everyone sticks to, eh, mon viaer?

A la perchoine,

Your cousin Emile