Jersey’s new title is more than a name
FAREWELL the States of Jersey.
Last week’s announcement that the name ‘Government of Jersey’ will be adopted as the official title both in the island and overseas is another reminder that the two islands have chosen very different political paths.
The decision to drop the States of Jersey is designed to highlight the roles and responsibilities of the government – ie. the executive authority of the Council of Ministers and their public administrators – as opposed to the States Assembly of deputies, who act as the lawmakers.
Guernsey’s committee-based system has no such divisions, of course. The 38 deputies are held jointly responsible for government and are still seen as one unit, despite the apparent 50:50 voting split on many major issues.
Not surprisingly, Jersey’s decision has not gone down well with everybody. The States of Jersey is a historic term bound up tightly with its identity both abroad and at home.
Even the figleaf offering of the Jerriais alternative, where appropriate, of ‘Gouvernement d’Jerri’ has done little to douse the fire of those who see it as a betrayal of the island’s heritage.
The rebranding should make no difference to the unrealised ambitions of the two Bailiwicks to work more closely together.
However, each time the chief ministers hand over their business cards in Westminster or send in letters to Whitehall and Brussels there will be a small reminder to those outside the Channel Islands that the islands are separated by more than just a few miles of sea water.
There will be those in Guernsey who envy Jersey their executive government. Certainly, if the States of Guernsey cannot rise from its current torpor and start showing an ability to be decisive, imaginative and forward-thinking the clamour for the ‘Government of Guernsey’ will get louder.
It is not clear at this stage if that move towards executive government will be given impetus by the advent of island-wide voting next year. With no sign of the development of strong political parties in time for this election it will once again be 38 individuals – with some loose alliances – voted in.
Each will then take their share of the burden of government through their votes on committees and in the States Assembly.