Winners and losers

With a new top dog in place and the make-up of the committees now decided, Horace Camp looks back at the biggest surprises and disappointments of the past week

This island is under new management.

It will become obvious even to the politically unengaged members of our community that something has happened when two strangers turn up with Dr Brink MBE to give the next CCA Covid briefing. Hint, the one with the moustache isn’t our new president.

As with all new management they are promising a new, better way of doing things which will result in wonderful outcomes – and for all our sakes let’s hope that this time the promises made by new managers actually deliver that better future for all.

At least island-wide voting wasn’t the practical disaster many of us imagined it would be. Deputy Inder, his committee and the election team delivered something that worked and it is obvious that Guernsey folk prefer colouring in ovals in the comfort of their own homes rather than going out to polling stations.

And the way the Inder Team delivered something new in what was, for the States, a short time period and amazingly that worked is, I believe, the blueprint for the new management going forward. Getting things done seems to be the mantra of our new Great Leader. And those things have to be needed, not desired, and implementation will happen in a timely manner because the pursuit of perfection will no longer be allowed to leave us with nothing at all.

I’m also getting the vibe that this new management has its focus very much on Guernsey. Yes, we are a global citizen and we have responsibilities to all humankind (and all of the flora and fauna as well, if you listen to our new president of Environment & Infrastructure), but, let’s be honest, if we want to maintain or hopefully improve our island lifestyle then we can only rely on 65,000 people out of seven billion to actually care what happens to us.

Some encouraging sound-bites from the speeches as deputies pitched for the big jobs gave the impression that any money the States spends will, wherever possible, be spent on-island and not allowed to drip, drip out of our economy as it does now.

We face a possible future where less money will be coming into the island to balance the millions we spend off-island and for our own economic safety the more we can keep circulating here, the better. And hopefully, as promised by President Ferbrache, the money the States spends will not be bolstered by unnecessary borrowing.

As it stands at the moment, it appears Deputy Ferbrache commands more of the States Assembly than Deputy St Pier did in 2016. Given the nature of Guernsey politics, that could change in the blink of an eye, but personally I see Gavin’s Partnership of Independents withering on the vine before Peter sees any diluting of his following.

Although from Deputy Ferbrache’s point of view, the Partnership of Independents pledge not to challenge any decisions made by the Assembly will make his life a lot easier.

I have been somewhat dismayed by the lack of ambition and desire to serve the community shown by many of our new States. How can it possibly be that the Health & Social Care mandate was won by someone who stood at the 11th hour only because he thought he should, more to serve the community than for any desire to be the president of such a behemoth. But hats off to Al Brouard for doing it. I was rather hoping Deputy St Pier would take this on and take charge of its huge budget.

He is rather good with money.

Similarly, Education, Sport & Culture was handed unopposed to Deputy Dudley-Owen. The state of education was possibly the biggest topic of the election and indeed the past few years. Yet no one other than Deputy D-O decided to try for it. Was that because it has destroyed the careers of some previous presidents? This is the post that I hoped Lyndon would take on and bring his undoubtedly great talents to bear on our greatest immediate problem.

Undoubtedly, Deputy D-O, since being toppled from ESC in 2018, has worked tirelessly to undermine the two-school model and has been very successful in having it almost removed from the table.

Fingers crossed she is as good at building solutions as bringing them down.

There were one or two glimpses of the bad old days, such as when our new vice-president, Deputy Heidi Soulsby, nominated a candidate opposing our chief minister’s nominated candidate. She lost, but is clearly going to be her own woman over the next five years and I fully expect her to seek election as our first female chief minister in 2025. Hopefully, though, in the meantime she will be working for Team Guernsey and fully supporting the president of our senior committee.

The big beasts of the old government failed to secure any jobs for themselves.

First, Deputy Trott was soundly beaten by the Man in the Hat for the States Assembly & Constitution Committee. I have to say that I would have preferred Lyndon to have won but I expect that Sacc is a place Deputy Meerveld can do little harm and I think the result shows his support in the Assembly hardly matches his support outside of the Assembly, as shown by his 38th position. I believe Deputy M is what the young people would call an ‘influencer’.

Which leaves Deputy St Pier, who earlier this week announced he would stand for the States’ Trading & Supervisory Board in what would have been a complete job swap with Deputy Ferbrache. The job is too small for Gavin, as it was for Peter F, but it is an important one.

But oh my dear Lord, our former chief minister, Covid saviour, poll topper and arguably Guernsey’s most capable politician in a generation was told his services on the top bench were no longer required.

Are we really blessed with so much political talent that we can rest such a titan?

Deputy Ferbrache, you have very big shoes to fill and I want to see you deliver more in the next five years than you did in the last four. You can do it.

My postscript for the general election is as follows. The greatest loss on the night was Matt Fallaize. Truly one of our great parliamentarians and his presence will be sorely missed. He was brought down by his inability to properly read the public mood and politically he undervalued the support of the populace. Hopefully he will be back and, after a few years on Twitter, will be more a man of the people.

If Matt was the greatest tragedy then Yvonne Burford was the greatest blessing of election night. I followed Yvonne’s fight back to the Assembly over a long period and became more and more impressed by her determination and ability. Her handling of the public debate on Facebook that many of our grandest politicians are too frightened to even attempt was nothing more than magical. Her calm, reasoned and evidence-based responses to every intemperate comment were a joy to behold.

Deputy Green took Scrutiny to a new high and I believe we will see the bar raised even further by Yvonne and her team.

Welcome back.

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