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Just call it a political party – Scrutiny president’s challenge

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MEMBERS of the recently-announced political association should have ‘the courage of their convictions’ and call it a party, said the president of the Scrutiny Management Committee

The three founding memnbers of the unnamed political association. Left to right, Deputies Carl Meerveld, Peter Ferbrache and Joe Mooney. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 20810329)

The group was made public on Friday by its founder members, Deputies Peter Ferbrache, Joe Mooney and Carl Meerveld.

Scrutiny president Chris Green said that he could see how it was a natural extension of Charter 2018 – a 13-strong group to which the three members already belong.

‘However, it clearly is a nascent political party,’ he said.

‘They wish to enlist a number of candidates who will stand on a common manifesto. That manifesto will set out agreed policy objectives.

‘That looks and sounds rather like a party to me. Perhaps they should have the courage of their convictions and call it a party?’

However, he thought he understood their reluctance to do this.

While sympathetic to some aspects of party politics, he was not yet convinced that his parishioners in the Castel wished to see this.

‘I detect that there is still a certain amount of cultural attachment, and indeed public faith, in people voting for individuals and not groups,’ said Deputy Green.

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‘There certainly appears to be very little enthusiasm for a Westminster-style “my party is better than yours” approach to local politics.’

His view was that if the island ended up with full island-wide voting as a result of the October referendum, it would probably lead to full-blooded party politics.

‘That could well eventually lead to executive government. Do people actually want that? 2018 is the time for the people of the island to indicate their preferences.’

Education, Sport & Culture president Deputy Matt Fallaize said it had taken only two weeks for what appeared to be a breakaway group from the charterists to be formed.

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‘If you take a light-hearted view of all this, there is something slightly Monty Python-like about it,’ he said.

‘Perhaps they will call themselves the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea.’

On a more serious note, he said he hoped that the groups were being driven by a common policy agenda and not personal animosity towards other States members.

‘If they are driven by policy considerations, I fully respect their decision to create formal groups. They may be ahead of their time and this may be the future of Guernsey politics.’

Like other States members and islanders, he was simply observing the formation of these ‘parties or associations’ while not being involved. ‘By my calculations around two-thirds of the States, me included, remain independent deputies not aligned to any party or association.

‘I have always been indifferent to the idea of parties in Guernsey. I’m happy to work in a system with or without parties. I accept that if voters back full island-wide voting in the referendum in October then it is quite likely that more candidates will commit to parties or alliances ahead of the next general election in 2020.’

He added that if he was to join a party or alliance it would have be one with a broad range of members in which there was room for members such as himself whose views range across the centre ground of politics, ‘which I don’t think is anywhere near the position of the groups formed so far’.

Charter 2018 group member Jan Kuttelwascher said that the new association should not be confused with the other group.

‘The purpose of it is completely different,’ he said. While the charterists were concerned with what was going to be done in this States term, the new group is focusing on what is going to be done at the next election.

He said he had taken to calling Deputies Ferbrache, Mooney and Meerveld ‘The Three Musketeers’.

‘They’ve said their main purpose is to go down the road of island-wide voting and they are going to promote that,’ he said.

In the run-up to the referendum on the issue it is anticipated that campaign groups will emerge to back each of the different options being proposed: ‘I would expect this group will be putting their name forwards as a campaign group,’ said Deputy Kuttelwascher.

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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