Guernsey Press

Anti-GST deputies deny they played personality politics

GST opponents who also voted against the ‘fairer alternative’ tax plan have denied claims it was defeated by 'personality politics'.

A Say No to GST banner (31760929)

And they say they have not ruled out voting for a revised version, which Heidi Soulsby has suggested to the Policy & Resources Committee ahead of the States’ tax debate resuming in two weeks’ time.

Deputy Soulsby’s alternative plan excluded GST. But it was still opposed by seven of the nine deputies involved in the ‘Say No To GST’ public campaign.

Simon Vermeulen, one of the seven, said yesterday that he simply disagreed with the proposals in the self-styled fairer alternative plan, as well as GST.

‘It was too prescriptive and contained too many solutions, some I liked and some I didn’t, like the cruise liner and tourist taxes,’ said Deputy Vermeulen.

He said he was also persuaded against Deputy Soulsby’s plan to set up two new committees to look into tax and spending issues.

Deputy Vermeulen said some deputies behind the fairer alternative plan changed their approach as last week’s States meeting progressed.

‘They were perfectly cordial, trying to garner support I suppose. The charm offensive ended abruptly as the fairer alternative failed.’

Deputy Chris Le Tissier said he thought another amendment from Deputy Charles Parkinson, which proposed increasing tax on companies, was better than Deputy Soulsby’s.

‘I voted for the Parkinson amendment, but sadly the Soulsby amendment supporters didn’t. So there may have been some elements of politics at play,’ said Deputy Le Tissier.

‘There were some proposals in the Soulsby amendment I didn’t agree with and some that seemed rather strange and not big picture items that would fill the black hole, such as TRP on parking spaces and cruise liners.

‘I have repeatedly said that small marginal gains all add up, but P&R don’t seem to be supportive of that approach. I would have liked to see more small gains set out, rather than these somewhat random proposals.’

Deputy Soulsby blamed tribal loyalties for the defeat of her amendment, by 24 votes to 16, after more than nine hours of debate.

‘I knew it was going to lose and that

the vote would fall along the sides there sadly are in our Assembly,’ said Deputy Soulsby.

‘Certain comments were made behind the scenes that there must be some ulterior motive. I despair at the "us and them" attitude of some in this States.’

Deputies Vermeulen and Le Tissier are among a small group of anti-GST campaigners whose votes supporters of the fairer alternative hope to swing when the States’ debate resumes.