It's time for deputies to set high standards

THE day after the night before, and there are footballers and civic leaders queueing up to castigate social media abuse after England's penalty despair in the Euro2020 final.

‘This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,’ said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

‘To those who have been directing racist abuse I say “shame on you and I hope you will crawl back under the rock from which you emerged”.’

All islanders would agree with Mr Johnson.

But this is the Prime Minister who, just a month ago, was accused of not having the guts to call out racial abuse by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Frankly it’s a cause for despair, but also timely that online abuse is leading the news agenda as the States is set to deal with its own outbreak.

To return to Mr Johnson for a moment, we must hope that the States members do have the ‘guts’ to follow through on the recommendations of the Code of Conduct panel which heard Deputy Chris Le Tissier’s appeal against his expulsion from the States earlier this year.

This States vote should not be a personality contest, nor particularly a moment to offer forgiveness, as at least one deputy seems prepared to do. It is certainly not the time to abstain, a move likely from those who would it appears would ‘judge not, that ye be not judged’.

It is an opportunity for the government to set the standards by which they wish to be judged.

Long-term, what happens to Deputy Le Tissier’s nascent political career is almost incidental.

It is a debate – though we hear it might not be a debate at all, which may prove rather awkward and unedifying, but rather a straight vote – or a decision which will say much about our government, the way it wants to be seen, and the tone of behaviour it will now set and tolerate.

In an environment where behavioural standards, and, dare we say it, kindness, have undoubtedly slipped in political life, and the code of conduct process – almost irrelevant for members and the public a decade ago – is now regularly being weaponised, it’s an important moment for deputies to show how they mean to carry on.

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