The best man for this crisis

A CONSEQUENCE of the New Normal is that as I write this on Tuesday I have no idea what our island life will be like as you are reading this on Friday. It seems so unreal as I look out through my window and see bright sunshine, a blue sky and all the signs of spring that this is my first spring in many decades which isn’t a sign of better things to come.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey. ,27590876)
(Picture by Sophie Rabey. ,27590876)

In another life this was the time of year when we could at last get the cows out of the stables and into the fields after months of winter. It was quite an experience opening the gate to the yards and to watch a hundred or more big animals run and skip along up the lane to get to the lush grass. Even the inevitable limpy, older cow at the back would be going lickety-split imitating a frisky young heifer.

Well the cows will be let into the fields this year, when they dry out or when the winter food runs out, but we will likely be locked in our houses staring wistfully out at our new unreal world.

Hard times are already with some of our community who are the first to feel the impact of our enforced economic slowdown. It is likely that, despite the best efforts of the States of Guernsey, some local businesses will close never to reopen again.

Yes, our New Normal is not the best of places to be at the moment.

But it’s only all doom and gloom if we make it so. I have been amazingly lifted watching our community step up to the plate to make the New Normal bearable. We have always been a mostly caring and tight-knit society and we have evidence in spades that our Occupation spirit hasn’t left us.

Of course we still have the few in our midst who refuse to help their neighbour and indeed, like the villains of our Occupation who wrote tip-off letters to the Gestapo to settle personal grudges (yes, they really did), their modern counterparts now take to social media to spread false accusations and fake news.

That same social media is a force for good as well as evil. As we withdraw from physical society we must do our utmost to embrace the virtual society and we must do our utmost to keep it friendly, positive and meaningful. Where once we used it to keep in touch with friends and family far away in the world we can now use it to keep in touch with friends and family on-island.

I am one of several administrators of a popular, over 15,000 members and growing, local Facebook group. As admins we are a very diverse group of people indeed but we are all united in keeping the worst excesses of social media at bay. Social media is mentioned at every briefing and portrayed as evil incarnate but like the Force it has its light and dark sides. Now more than ever we need its light shining upon us.

To keep us together socially, to keep us informed, to keep us amused and to give us hope of a better tomorrow once the dark clouds have been blown away. We need more impromptu concerts, offers of help, pictures of kittens and the general camaraderie that binds a community.

We don’t need vile language, downright lies, personal accusations and doomsayers at this moment in time. Nor do we need those poor unfortunates who have drawn the short straw and find themselves leading us in this crisis to be undermined and every decision questioned.

There is a huge team of people working on our behalf to get us through this as best we can and as quickly as we can. However, the one person I would not want to be at this moment in time is Deputy Gavin St Pier.

Yes, there are other deputies making difficult decisions on our behalf but we have in Deputy St Pier one figurehead, one leader who will forever be associated with this pandemic, however it turns out for us.

I don’t know Gavin that well – he's a former colleague but in a different discipline (he is more fiduciary and I am very firmly funds) – but I do know enough about him to know that he will be taking everything very personally and the weight he is carrying on his shoulders grows day by day.

When he threw his hat into the ring to be our chief minister, I doubt he ever thought he would be making life and death decisions, not only for islanders but also for our way of life and our economic future. The man who has led us through what we thought was a major crisis in 2008 and who has rebalanced our books now has to make decisions that will crash our economy much more than 2008 and who will have to open the floodgates to States spending just to keep food in many mouths.

Others who aspired to be our chief minister must now be thanking the Lord that they were unsuccessful and the poisoned chalice passed them by.

And we must thank the Lord that we got Gavin. I may not agree with his politics, I may consider that some of his decisions have been suspect and I understand he is Marmite, but I know he is the best man for this crisis. And I also know that another former colleague, Deputy Soulsby, is absolutely the best person we can have at his right hand at this time.

You, my dear reader, know that I love to question the decisions of our politicians and you know that scrutiny is my normal motivation but in the New Normal I am temporarily accepting that in this warlike scenario we have a chain of command and I will wait for instructions to pass down the line to me and when I receive them I will do my utmost to carry them out.

And I cannot but ask you all to do the same.

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