Guernsey Press

UK council Zoom sensation in island for inspirational talks

VIRAL sensation Jackie Weaver has been visiting Guernsey to inspire a new generation of women and young people to get involved in local politics.

Jackie Weaver, an advocate for women in government, author, viral sensation and chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, was in the island as part of an event for women interested in public office. (Picture by Paul Chambers of Jackson Chambers Photography)

Last night she spoke to a packed room of more than 150 people at the Performing Arts Centre.

‘Women need to be a part of the decision-making process in governments,’ she said.

‘There’s a fading perception that politics is a man’s game, but it’s not.

‘Women bring a different perspective to the table, and it’s important for us to be heard.’

Mrs Weaver – an advocate for women in government, author and chief officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils – went viral during the Covid-19 lockdown for the way she handled abuse from councillors during an online Handforth parish council meeting.

In the video, two older male councillors can be heard shouting ‘Read the standing orders. Read them and understand them’; ‘You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver’, and ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’

Mrs Weaver evicted the two council men from the Zoom call, and criticised their behaviour as ‘unacceptable bullying’.

Last night Mrs Weaver came to the Performing Arts Centre for an event called ‘You do have the authority! An evening with Jackie Weaver’

Mrs Weaver was interviewed by Women in Public Life chairwoman Shelaine Green about her life, the infamous Zoom meeting, and her advice to women.

Then, the tables were turned and Mrs Weaver interviewed a panel of women currently holding public office roles in Guernsey to understand the quirks of the island’s unique system of douzeniers, deputies and jurats.

‘We were thrilled when Jackie accepted our invitation to come to Guernsey and can’t wait to find out more about the woman behind the Zoom screen.

‘We’re looking forward to her plain old common sense advice, including how to assert yourself in the workplace and how to take charge of your life,’ said Ms Green.

‘Jackie is keen to encourage everyone to get involved in local democracy, at whatever level suits them, and we’re sure her considerable experience and wit will help to inspire more Guernsey women to stand as douzeniers, jurats, deputies and tribunal members.’

The unexpected fame from the parish council video has given Mrs Weaver a platform, which she has used for two causes near and dear to her – the first is encouraging women and the younger generations to get involved in politics. The second is calling for raised standards in public life.

‘The behaviour we saw on that parish council video is not what we aspire to,’ Mrs Weaver said.

Although the UK government and parish councils often have strong codes of conduct for its members, Mrs Weaver said there are no available sanctions for if and when members fail to follow the code.

‘We can’t show that public office is a safe and welcoming environment without sanctions,’ she said.

However, she reassured anyone thinking of running for local office that the extreme behaviour of councillors in the Handforth parish meeting is very unusual.

Jurat Felicity Quevatre-Malcic, Deputy Tina Bury and St Sampson’s douzenier Leonie Le Tissier were all part of the panel at the event.