Guernsey Press

OPINION: Stuff of dreams

Horace Camp considers what would happen if the ‘Alderney Solution’ was applied to Guernsey

If we surrender ourselves to the UK, Guernsey could be integrated into Hampshire. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 31611246)

IT CAME to me in a dream. The solution to all our fiscal problems, and it was inspired by our resident 'Wise Man', Deputy Le Tocq.

For the avoidance of doubt, I don’t often dream about States deputies, but they do pop up in my occasional nightmares.

I expect this particular dream was influenced by too much panettone. I would have been more than happy with humble mince pies but I was visiting my daughter who has more exotic tastes. And the loose connection between Christmas and Christianity possibly pulled our 'God squad' former chief minister from out of a deep, dark part of my subconscious.

A few fragments of words from a recent States meeting set the scene for the revelation of our pathway to happiness. Those magical words were about the 'Guernsification' of Alderney. In short, it revealed how the people of Alderney want everything the people of Guernsey have, even though they can’t afford it.

And then the clouds billowed in, obscuring tiny Alderney and when they were blown away, lo and behold there was Guernsey. And in our sainted isle a great throng of 60,000 people were looking to the north and coveting all that England offered to its people but we were unable to afford.

One great male (other genders are available) stepped forward and proclaimed that we need to anglicise Guernsey despite the cost and look to the ‘Alderney Solution’ to make it happen. The words ‘Alderney Solution’ were etched in giant letters of an infinitely long and wide runway refurbished with the purest gold and finest gems making it impossible for me to miss the words of power.

I awoke with a start and without any effort on my part realised what we have to do. We must surrender our almost millennial tradition of self-rule and surrender ourselves to the UK and ask to be integrated into Hampshire.

Almost instantly our need for thousands of civil servants will disappear and of course all States deputies could stand down, being surplus to requirements. Our health system will immediately be incorporated into the NHS, something many people have dreamed of for years. Who needs almost instantaneous GP appointments or ambulances that come in minutes?

Our education costs would be covered by a council in Hampshire and our university students would be able to have student loans. And we would have all the rights enjoyed by the folk of the UK which have been denied to us and make our lives complete miseries.

We would of course have to petition the UK to subsidise an essential air service, maintain and extend our runway and perhaps take over our port.

We would of course have to adopt UK taxation – this means no finance industry, which will be well received by many in Guernsey who blame it for all our problems. We will also lose all the high net worth individuals and that will mean there are fewer people available to tell us what we should be doing. But let’s be honest we will be replacing rule from the Assembly with rule from the Mother of Parliaments filled with the greatest political minds which can be drawn from a population a thousand times greater than our own.

We shouldn’t worry too much about taxes because the majority here will probably be better under the UK regime, which is quite generous for the lowly paid with no capital assets, which will be the majority of island residents after the great exodus as folk follow the money as it leaves.

VAT is a bit of an issue but if we negotiate a similar deal with the UK to the one we have with Alderney, then at £5,000 of subsidy per head the UK can pump in an extra £300m. a year. In fact, if we could strike an actual deal like the Alderney one we could keep our independence and the UK could subsidise us with more money than we actually need to fill any black hole. In fact, we could reduce taxes, hopefully the regressive TRP, and still have no need to introduce GST.

Of course these things can only happen in dreams or in Alderney. The fact is that a tiny population of a tiny self- governing island cannot afford all the things that a 30 times bigger population can afford in a larger island. Surely everyone realises this?

If so, then why do we have so much trouble recognising that we cannot afford everything a bigger island with a thousand times greater population can? And that bigger island can only ‘afford’ the services it offers by creating money out of thin air.

I can understand why half the population here who have previously been used to the level of services offered by the UK expect the same to apply here and to be funded in the same way, expecting medical services to be free at the point of use.

But that is just not possible in this small island. Alderney can only afford its way of life because it gets a £5,000 subsidy per year for every resident. I realise that, as mentioned above, we could do the same if we could find some mug willing to subsidise each of us with £5,000 a year. But I think, despite my dream, that will be unlikely to transpire.

2022 hasn’t been the greatest year I can remember but it’s nearly behind us now. We look forward to 2023 which could be very different if we don’t look to the States for everything but take personal responsibility for what we can afford. This is my second time in two weeks pushing this message.

We are on the wrong path because we have forgotten who we are and what is important to us. I am willing to have fewer opportunities if it helps us maintain our independence. In my eyes that almost sovereignty means more than trying to bankrupt ourselves trying to create a socialist utopia in the Channel which we know will never work.

I leave you with the prediction of a dire outcome if UK nurses get their 19% rise. We recruit in the UK, we know we have to add a premium to entice nurses here. If UK wages go up then Guernsey wages will go up by the same ratio. There is little we have political control over. We for instance cannot control mortgage rates and we cannot control inflation.

But we can control our ‘wants’. That’s what we need to start doing in 2023.

Happy New Year, everyone!