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Embarrassing debate to be avoided

Guernsey Press Comment | Published:

IT IS a one-line amendment that says so much.

‘To resolve that the Policy Letter ‘Committee for Home Affairs Membership’ be withdrawn.’

There is no explanatory note – it would be just too embarrassing.

The policy letter in question called for the sacking of Deputy Victoria Oliver from Home Affairs for the heinous crime of a single Facebook post questioning the mixed messaging of arresting people for small amounts of one form of cannabis while Home Affairs’ own vice president is a director of a company growing legal cannabis.

The call for her immediate removal was overkill which bordered on bullying.

Why the change of heart?

As yet, there has been no public apology by Deputy Oliver, which was a central demand of the committee. She had already taken down the offending post and said sorry in private for causing offence.

Could it be that Home Affairs has realised the folly of its own rash actions and its president decided to delete the offending policy letter?

No doubt there will be some blather in the (very brief) debate about the dispute being resolved following private discussions. Perhaps Deputy Oliver will apologise then and everyone can go back to being friends. Sorry to trouble you.

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Deputies and the long-suffering public can breathe a sigh of relief at that.

But why did it take so long for Home Affairs to come to its senses? A deeply personal debate was never going to bring credit to the Assembly or the committee.

The lesson to be learned is that members must rub along despite their quarrels, not run to the Assembly like squabbling children asking for mum or dad to choose a side.

Such disputes should be dealt with internally. The committee had made it clear how unhappy it was with the Facebook post and, on reflection, Deputy Oliver was contrite, if not effusively so.

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As grown-ups, the five deputies should now be able to put aside their differences for the few short weeks before preparations for October’s general election become all-consuming.

At that point this most dysfunctional of committees can be disbanded and new members appointed to restore its reputation with more policy and a lot less personality.

Editor's note: An outdated picture accompanying this article for the Guernsey Press's Daily News email of 3 July included former members of the Home Affairs committee deputies Robert Prow and Richard Graham. Both left the committee a year ago and played no part in the decision to bring the policy letter.

Deputy Graham says that Home Affairs made a serious misjudgement in bringing the matter to the States and, if the motion had been debated, he would have spoken and voted against it.

The current members are: deputies Mary Lowe, president; Marc Leadbeater, vice-president; Jeremy Smithies, Paul Le Pelley and Victoria Oliver.

The Guernsey Press apologises for the error.

Shaun Green

By Shaun Green
Editor

Really nice guy

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