‘There is a bit of rivalry but deputies are pulling together’

IF YOU were on a first day in a new job, Aidan Matthews is the type of colleague who would come over to your desk and say hello and offer help.

Deputy Aidan Matthews. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29205240)
Deputy Aidan Matthews. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29205240)

An interview with him keeps circling back to the themes of getting on with people, finding common ground, collaboration and co-operation.

‘I think there’s been some really good attempts from Policy & Resources to get everyone together and to set priorities for the government as a whole, a couple of the other committees have done that as well, Education, Sport & Culture did a presentation to all deputies, getting people other than the committee involved in making the decisions.

‘So I hope that continues, you occasionally hear this view that once things get difficult it’ll all descend into back-biting, and I hope that doesn’t happen, I hope this stays as a fairly cohesive group.

‘There’s been the odd bit of rivalry here and there, but the impression I’ve got, and I wasn’t actually there for the last term because I’m a new deputy, but the impression that I’ve got is that it was very

fractious, and I haven’t really felt that this time.’

The commitment among politicians to be civilised and friendly to each other is a motif of this new Assembly, but he chuckled at the suggestion that a group hug should be on the agenda at every States meeting.

‘It’s not quite a group hug, we have all got different views, but I don’t feel there’s a lot of attempts to undermine other people, which would be destructive, it feels like people are pulling together.’

A member of Health & Social Care, Deputy Matthews was full of praise for his fellow committee members.

‘HSC is a very, very good committee. There was this impression that it was kind of cobbled together, which I think was not entirely a fair representation of how things happened.

‘I think Al [Deputy Al Brouard] is a really good president. I’m very, very impressed with Al, Tina [Deputy Tina Bury] has done a good job as vice-president, and actually I think all of the committee members on HSC are really committed to doing a good job and I think we’re achieving some good results there.’

The key priorities for this new deputy are improving mental health provision, getting an excellent secondary education model, managing States finances better, and making the planning system more efficient and an economic enabler.

However, speed bumps in the public sector road need to be negotiated.

‘One thing I’m finding is that it’s a little bit frustrating because you want to go at a much faster pace sometimes than the machinery allows, so that’s probably something that new deputies find maybe more than returning ones. You want to do a lot of things and achieve a lot as soon as possible, and you have to bear in mind that these things take time to work through the machinery.’

Lockdown has brought new challenges, and, like most parents, home schooling has its moments, but then again.

‘Guernsey has the right approach to managing it and it will reap benefits in the future. We need to keep the togetherness and unity of the team.’

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