Our safety trumps any work plan

FROM today the States debates the Government Work Plan (GWP), providing a framework for getting the Bailiwick back on its feet post-pandemic, investing in essential infrastructure and generally inspiring ‘action this day’.

Except, according to its critics, that plan is a crude attempt at introducing executive government by the backdoor, slipping in unknown tax increases and seeing Policy and Resources sidestepping proper parliamentary scrutiny of its activities.

So far, so States of Guernsey. What is different this time, however, is the weariness of islanders over political games when hard-won gains in the battle against Covid appear so at risk.

Masks are reintroduced in Jersey, while Alderney and Sark watch in horror as their safe position is eroded by a border opening which many there didn’t want and warned against, and people here wondering whether community seeding is widespread but simply undetected.

Against a backdrop like that, the GWP is something of an irrelevance to voters after all these islands have had to endure in transitioning from the illness being pandemic to ‘merely’ endemic.

It is to P&R’s credit that it has tried to present a front of normality and a streamlined work plan. The reality is no one cares too much. Apart from States members, for whom this is truly significant, the plan has failed to engage islanders.

Perhaps worse, as we edge towards the anniversary of the first island-wide general election with a Covid-19 situation that could be getting much worse, islanders are realising how powerless their government is to tackle our day-to-day issues.

Plan or no plan, nothing has really changed. None of the serious issues identified by the northern parishes have solutions ready to implement and economic recovery is being led by the private sector.

That’s not to say this government has over-promised and under-delivered, but it has raised unrealistic expectations and it is now being challenged over process rather than outcomes.

These are desperately strange times, where islanders want less political rhetoric and to believe that the plan – once again – puts the health and wellbeing of this community first and foremost.

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