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Applying for a job like no other

Guernsey Press Comment | Published:

APART from swearing allegiance to The Queen, deputies have a blank canvas when it comes to doing their duty.

They don’t have to stand for election for any committee.

They don’t have to attend every States meeting.

They don’t have to make public statements or engage with islanders in any meaningful way.

Most do, because they go into politics to make a difference. And misanthropes rarely get elected.

But, unlike most jobs, deputies broadly get to choose how much – or how little – they put into it. They have no boss, except perhaps public opinion.

They do have to follow a code of conduct, but that is mostly a set of rules about what they should not do, not what they should.

Voters this October are therefore putting a huge amount of trust in their chosen candidates. They are relying on them to give it their all, knowing that it is quite possible for deputies to coast through the next four years.

Tales of deputies who play Candy Crush during meetings, fail to read Billets and contribute little to committee meetings beyond eating the biscuits are legion.

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Such timewasters are in it for the States shilling, relying on the discretion of their colleagues and a few well-chosen – and very public – moments to maintain the illusion of hard graft.

Thankfully, such deputies are very much in the minority. Most States members go above and beyond, accessible at all times of night and day, turning up to the dullest and most obscure of meetings late into the evenings and at weekends. They earn every penny of their £40,000-plus.

As the guidance notes say: ‘The hours are not fixed or even very predictable.’

Prospective candidates are advised that they should expect to spend at least 20 hours preparing for each States meeting, anything up to 60 hours a month at weekly committee meetings and 10 or more hours a week helping people out with problems.

Some deputies will roll their eyes even at that, knowing that their commitment is far greater.

The trick for electors is to spot the candidates who hope to get away with less.

Shaun Green

By Shaun Green
Editor

Really nice guy

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