Guernsey Press

Peter Ferbrache ‘has his say’ on Facebook

POLICY & RESOURCES president Peter Ferbrache put aside his concerns about social media yesterday and jumped into online debate on the Facebook group Guernsey People Have Your Say.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache has joined the ‘Guernsey People Have Your Say’ Facebook group to engage more with the public. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32547908)

He had previously been highly critical of social media and claimed never to have participated.

But he spent more than an hour answering questions about P&R’s latest tax, spending and borrowing plans, which will face debate in the States next month.

‘I’m never going to be an internet-type person. I’m not of that generation. I’ve never been a gadget person,’ he said.

‘I like reading books and speaking to people. The best form of communication is face-to-face but you can’t do that with 63,000 people with 15,000 different views.

‘Whether I like it or not, social media is a way of communicating. We’ve got a very important States debate in the second part of October and we’ve got to do what we can to communicate.’

There are more than 21,000 people in the group, which is known for active political discussion and strong views.

Deputy Ferbrache said he had enjoyed his first taste of social media and pledged to return, but he warned ‘keyboard warriors’ to keep discussion civil.

‘If it’s pure rudeness I’m just going to ignore it. I’m not the most even-tempered of people. My reputation is for being a little bit fiery. So I’ll just ignore rudeness it because I can’t get involved in that sort of battle,’ he said.

As of 5pm, nearly 300 people had liked Deputy Ferbrache’s post, which had more than 360 comments.

Guernsey Press columnist Horace Camp, who helps run the Facebook group, publicly appealed for Deputy Ferbrache to join it recently. He said the P&R president had got off to a flying start.

‘The fact that within two hours of his first post it had reached just shy of 8,000 group members and that over 500 had directly engaged with Deputy Ferbrache says it all really,’ said Mr Camp.

‘By not engaging he had created a void, which was being filled by others with far less of an idea of what is actually going on.

‘In this digital age, there is no longer a place for analogue leaders who engage with the electorate only at election time.

‘By taking this big first step, our chief minister may be on the path to actually leading us somewhere over the next two years.’

Deputy Ferbrache’s entry onto social media is part of a communications blitz planned by P&R ahead of next month’s debate.

‘We’ll be doing lots of things,’ he said.

‘Such as writing articles for the Press and hosting a meet Peter Ferbrache evening on 5 October, as a chat, more than me lecturing anyone. My four colleagues on P&R will be doing their own things as well.’

In his first post, Deputy Ferbrache asked others to be polite and be patient with his ‘innocence’ on social media.

‘I cannot, because of other commitments spend all day responding, but I will as regularly as I can,’ he said.

His advisers at Sir Charles Frossard House had encouraged him to get involved in political debate online, but his posts were his own work.

‘I’ve done it all myself so far. I can tell you that it takes me forever to type. It’s all my own abysmal efforts.’

He said he would be trying to explain why tax changes, including a goods and services tax, were necessary to secure the island’s future.

‘I don’t want to put up any taxes anytime ever.

‘It’s not something you come into the States thinking about doing.

‘But the reality is that if we want to have good-quality services and if we want to do something about our infrastructure, which is looking pretty tatty at the moment, it’s got to be paid for.’