Could Commerce clash put others off joining board?

LAST week, the States in debating Sunday trading dealt with its first truly controversial issue – and instantly registered its first resignation.

LAST week, the States in debating Sunday trading dealt with its first truly controversial issue – and instantly registered its first resignation.

Speaking to Deputy Mike Hadley soon after his decision to quit Commerce and Employment, the level of the personality clash with his minister Kevin Stewart was clear.

Two strong personalities could no longer work together and in a flash it was all over.

Commerce and Employment was always an early favourite for a major political falling-out.

Just two of the board members supported Deputy Stewart during the ministerial elections – Deputy Hadley himself had voted for Deputy Roger Perrot instead – something Deputy Stewart shrugged off at the time: ‘I’m pleased that my board members are 100% behind what we are looking to achieve as a department,’ he said back in May.

There was no scramble to get onto Commerce and Employment, evidenced by the fact there were no contested elections to get a seat on the board, with the talk around the States chamber being that Deputy Stewart struggled to get a team together.

Deputy Stewart was warned at the time that Deputy Hadley could be hot-headed, but said late on Friday that he had been willing to give him a chance.

Some argue that Deputy Stewart had little choice.

The way the Sunday trading debate at times degenerated has been noted by Mother of the House Mary Lowe, who took to Twitter to remind members of the code of conduct, specifically treating other members with respect and courtesy.

It was not this new Assembly at its best – nor was the build-up to Deputy Hadley’s and Deputy Stewart’s very public falling out.

Deputy Matt Fallaize, chairman of the States Assembly and Constitution Committee, is another who is disappointed with the minister’s behaviour.

‘In time, Deputy Stewart might reflect upon the wisdom of speaking in such personal and contemptuous terms about another member of the States,’ said Deputy Fallaize.

‘During the debate on the requete, Deputy Stewart made quite a good speech and presented perfectly legitimate arguments against further liberalisation of Sunday trading.

‘Unfortunately, before and after the States meeting he chose to say things to the media which added nothing to the debate itself and which can only have been calculated to offend and disparage Deputy Hadley. It was especially unfortunate to hear a minister speaking in such terms.’

So what now, given that the fall-out from last week has exposed what relationships could be like on the department?

Deputy Stewart may well look to those deputies without a portfolio first.

You could almost certainly rule out deputies Roger Perrot and Lyndon Trott, seemingly content in their roles as ‘independent scrutineers’.

Deputy Lester Queripel is the early front-runner – he would no doubt stand if asked, especially given his recent interest in one aspect of the department’s work, the minimum wage.

Deputy Mary Lowe, whom Deputy Stewart nominated for the role of Social Security minister, is another without a seat on a department, although it seems unlikely this is the job she is after.

Outside of that, Deputy Stewart could look to the likes of Deputy Peter Gillson, currently without a department seat and who previously served on Commerce and Employment.

But again, whether he has the appetite to return is questionable, especially while he has a seat on Scrutiny and Sacc.

Deputy Hadley, who lost his seat on Health and Social Services early into last term under acrimonious circumstances, remains deputy minister of the Housing board.

At least now, even though the requete was not successful, Sunday trading has taken a stumble forward with a pledge by Deputy Stewart to compile a full report  by the end of this term – although with a majority of his board.