Past votes don’t make a perfect future
AN UNDER-pressure Deputy Al Brouard revealed much about States’ attitudes to spending on the first day of the Tax Review debate.
Late into the meeting of the States of Election, apparently due to a prolonged altercation with protestors on the steps of the Royal Court, a few hours later Deputy Brouard spoke in debate on Deputy Carl Meerveld’s sursis bid.
It came across as a speech conceived in that protest encounter. As president of Health & Social Care, Deputy Brouard knows what it is like to be harangued by islanders. Mainly over the phone, but from vulnerable people, often in tears at their own health issues, or more likely, those of a loved one, exacerbated, they feel, by government’s unwillingness to fund the right treatments and services.
We know this because sometimes they phone the Guernsey Press, repeating the same story, adding that politicians they have called were polite but unwilling or unable to help.
So it may have been understandable that Deputy Brouard sought to put down Deputy Meerveld in the Chamber by outlining that the style and size of government islanders ‘want’ is ‘exactly what we’ve got today’.
After all, that’s what he hears on the telephone every week. In fact, he gets told that the States don’t provide enough, or charges too much for what it does offer.
‘People may not shout it out from the parapets but they do tell me on the telephone that they want government to be bigger. They want smaller class sizes. They want more cancer care drugs. They want more community police,’ he said.
The deputy feels this pain. But this argument is surely misguided. Rather like the complicated history of the development of social security, government services pulled together and enhanced piecemeal over the years can make a camel from a racehorse.
Just because politicians and the community thought something was a good idea, once upon a time, doesn’t mean it is now.
Islanders’ continued demands for health treatments are unsustainable. But there are other issues within government, including pay and conditions arrangements, that are equally unsustainable, and yet don’t get the same scrutiny as health services, or its president.