Guernsey Press

‘Only you can save us, Foxy'

It’s time to return to consensus politics and to start pulling our community back together, says Horace Camp...

Deputy Peter Ferbrache. (31978763)

ALTHOUGH I focus most of my attention on what goes on in Guernsey, like most of us I do also keep in touch with events in the UK.

I naturally look down on the UK’s doings as secondary to our own, given that the universe revolves around us and spent decades telling mostly English people of our superior political system.

And not just our political system. Who in their right minds would pluck 12 random people off the street to form a jury? I’m not sure it would feel right to me to have individuals with no other qualification than they lost a lottery, deciding on my guilt or innocence. Here in blessed Guernsey we have a far better process where only our most upstanding citizens with proven expertise, not in law, in their chosen fields and in life, take on that onerous task.

See where I’m going with this?

Once I could hold up our system of government as the best the world had to offer. No capital P politics in the form of parties represented in parliament by professional politicians who are elected by their tribes based purely on the colour of the rosette they wear. And in a large part those tribes choose their ribbon colour based on the dead industries that their grandparents worked in.

Can you imagine because your great, great grandfather worked in a quarry that you could only vote for the Dead and Dusted Quarry Party? Or because my family were farmers not growers that I could only vote for candidates sponsored by the Dairy Farmers Union?

I would often ask English voters I met that if their tribe (party) selected a squirrel as a candidate, would they vote for Tufty anyway? In most cases the answer would be yes. They would rather be represented by the squirrel which could be trained to walk into the correct room following a trail of nuts when a division is called.

How superior I felt when I explained the Guernsey system, where you voted for the candidate, not the colour of the ribbon he or she was wearing. Not only that but you had every opportunity to grill every prospective representative of the people for your district (parish) face-to-face in the comfort of your own home.

Then, when elected, they weren’t seated in blocks of like-minded peers and every single one of them was in the government, and they together were the executive. Half of them couldn’t blame the other half for doing everything badly because there were no fixed halves. Each individual politician came to each debate guided by their own conscience with no whip telling them how to vote.

Quite obviously proposals tended to form groups of those pour and those contre. But here was the Guernsey magic. The groups were not always the same. Your voting buddy on proposal A may be your opponent on proposal B. Because, surprisingly, individual people have different views on different propositions. A concept unfathomable to those brought up in the UK.

Then came the bit that would almost blow the minds of my UK listeners. Once a decision had been made, those who had voted against then accepted the outcome and would work with all of their fellows to make it succeed for the greater benefit of all. We called it ‘consensus’.

I would then astound my audience by explaining how all the talent in our ‘parliament’ could be utilised and there was no need to exclude the brightest and best from projects just because they sang the wrong party song. We in Guernsey, I would say, do not leave our best brains idle just because the Duffers are in power and prefer their own mediocre colleagues to face the challenges of running the country.

How times have changed. The Duffers are now in charge and our brightest and best sit unused, while those who cannot hold a candle to them are tasked with steering our ship through stormy waters. Recently some of our Alpha politicians with highly relevant experience put their names forward for an important role. Were they selected? What do you think?

For years I have hated the rhetoric of UK political debate being basically ‘but for the 12 years of Tory misrule’ or ‘Labour’s record of fiscal management’. But now I can see how a divided House and a divided nation can be led down that mud-slinging road. And now I feel I must join them.

This is not the worst States we have ever had, but we do have the worst Policy & Resources we have ever had, and much of the mess we find ourselves in can be laid totally at the door of two years of ruling coalition misrule. Which includes their record of fiscal mismanagement.

Island-wide voting not only failed to increase the quality of deputies but spectacularly did the opposite, by throwing out good ones and replacing them with not-so-good ones. And then, having severely reduced the amount of talent in the pool, those wanting of talent did their utmost to bench the stars of the Assembly. I suppose if you shine with the light of a candle you don’t want a star standing next to you.

I was somewhat surprised when the people’s top choices were sidelined, but I was prepared to give P&R a chance, especially when it had Deputy Le Tocq and Deputy Soulsby on board. Unfortunately, its balance has been tipped away from consensus, which in my opinion negated the whole benefit of Deputies Soulsby and Le Tocq.

We know Deputy Soulsby stood down and I expect Deputy Le Tocq is focused on his foreign affairs brief, which is the only stellar success of our senior committee this term.

I have no idea why Deputy Mahoney has so quickly become one of the big beasts of the States in his first term. Everything he touches certainly doesn’t turn into gold, but resembles a more earthy substance.

And we have more than two years of this to endure. Two vital years.

I am aware that Jersey is already peddling the idea that we are on the road to ruin, with even a hint in their newspaper that the UK is keeping an eye on us as if we become even more of a basket case, it may have to step in and sort us out.

We are in a crisis and facing a community meltdown of a magnitude not seen since the Occupation. I fear we are facing a mass exodus of our children and grandchildren akin to the depopulation of the Scottish islands.

This entire rant is a message from my heart to the ruling coalition. That message is to create a government of all the talents. Get Lyndon back in harness. Tap into Gavin’s intellect and drive. Accept that Yvonne is probably a better asset than any of you. And recognise that Heidi will likely be our next Chief Minister, so don’t leave her on the benches.

Pride cometh before a fall, so swallow some of it if you don’t want to fall a long way, taking us all with you.

As Bill Maher once said: ‘The problem with politicians isn’t that they’re stupid, it’s that they’re too damn smart. They’re so smart they know how to get elected, but too proud to do what’s right’.

Well, Deputy Ferbrache, is now the time to be smart and to start pulling this community back together and out of the toxic pit this politics has dumped us in?

An island divided is not the answer, nor one that can bounce back from this pit of despair.

Only you can save us, Foxy. Time for you and Gavin to embrace, and up your B team to the A Team?