OPINION: Mountains and molehills

If expulsion is seen as a fitting sentence for being a fool on social media, how do we punish deputies who commit more serious offences? asks Horace Camp.

THERE are no moles in Guernsey and therefore it is odd that a favoured pursuit in this island is to build mountains from non-existent molehills.

I fear it has always been so and it is obviously ingrained in our collective psyche. Possibly it can even be classified as cultural and so something to be embraced and conserved like patois?

Unlike patois, mountain building from molehills is alive and well. Flourishing, even, and possibly stronger now than at any time in the past.

As I write these very words, two great peaks to rival mighty Everest are being erected and hundreds if not thousands of Sarnians are happily contributing to the task.

By now many of you will be aware of Mount Deputy Le Tissier. It started out as nothing more than an annoying divot but very quickly became a hillock and is now approaching Himalayan height. Luckily the death penalty has been abolished or I dread to think what the Code of Conduct panel’s recommendation could have been and how long it would have taken to scour the Royal Court cupboards for the black cap.

Actually a bit of time spent peeking into dusty corners would possibly have prevented the premature publication of the pronouncement and helped to limit the peak height of Mount Le T.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no supporter of Deputy Le Tissier, nor do I condone his actions. I didn’t vote for him in the General Election, nor do I think the Assembly would be the poorer if he gets booted out by his peers at some time in the future. He was never going to set the Guernsey political scene ablaze and he isn’t the only one. I doubt very much if his name is in former deputy Graham’s box of potentially useful politicians. I imagine the box to be a very small one containing very few names.

What I do believe in is fairness and that punishment should be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence and that similar offences should receive similar sentences.

In my view, Deputy Le Tissier’s offence does nothing more than out him as a complete fool. As to charges of causing offence, just about anything could cause offence to someone these days. Heavens, some of my own innocuous comments have in the past caused offence.

Deputy Chris Le Tissier. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29414101)

The bad deputy hasn’t committed any crime. And yet we have sitting deputies who have broken the law. Yes, law makers who have chosen not to respect our own laws.

I bet a few have fallen foul of parking regulations in their time and in the future one or two may even illegally sell a fish to a neighbour.

There is a plus side to Deputy Le T being kicked out in that just about anyone who is elected to replace him will be equally as good at warming an Assembly seat – and in all likelihood probably better.

A vacant seat now could even see former deputies back. Matt Fallaize and Baz Brehaut, are you sitting on the edges of your chairs watching this play out?

But what is effectively a £100,000-plus financial penalty for what is nothing more than naive foolishness, which he probably didn’t realise would be taken so badly, especially when he will not have been the first deputy to post on social media under a pseudonym, is hardly commensurate with the offence.

The Code of Conduct is a strange beast. In the past it has awarded no more than slaps on the wrist for multiple claimed offences.

The Late Great Mike Hadley wore his Code of Conduct admonishments as badges of honour. And he was right to do so.

Now, if expulsion is seen as the commensurate punishment for being an utter fool on social media by posting stuff under a false name that he could just as easily have posted under his own, then how do we punish deputies in the future should they commit actual serious offences?

Time to rethink this one before it gets out of hand.

In the same manner, the effort being spent building the mountain around the visit of the rugby bloke would be better directed elsewhere.

Deputy St Pier stoking the flames of this one as part of his feud with Foxy Ferbrache hardly does either of them any favours.

Gavin may be writing his version of ‘My Wilderness Years: The Lone Voice against Ferbrache’, but he is no Churchill and Foxy isn’t an insane fascist.

Time to direct his considerable talents towards consensus government and work as part of the Guernsey reconstruction team, perhaps?

I’ve no interest in rugby or just about any other sport and my personal view is that I’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet of Lockdown Guernsey. In no way would I personally want the airport to get busy again and fill the skies over Old Farm with intrusive aircraft.

But I know I can’t be that selfish, as much as I would want to.

Luckily the people in charge have a desire to see Guernsey open up again and for prosperity to return for all.

I’m pretty sure the same people moaning about the rugby reconnoiter would moan just as vociferously if Jersey stole the initiative and was successful. But then the mountain would be built on the molehill of Jersey’s success and our failure.

One of the plus points about my molehill analogy will be the opportunity a certain would-be politician, Ross Le Brun, will have to promote his mole boring business. Given that he is one of our master mountain builders, possibly it is the spoil from his excavations that provides the building material?

By encouraging Mr Le B, have I unwittingly unleashed a monster mountain building season?

Only time will tell.

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