Argument for method of electing our heads of government flawed

AS ONE would expect from a person of his ability and experience, former deputy John Langlois presents the case in favour of the current method of electing our heads of government elegantly and persuasively. [A general election of deputies is not a popularity contest, Tuesday 3 November]. The problem is that his argument is fundamentally and deeply flawed.

He draws a comparison between what happens here and in Whitehall, so I will do the same to highlight the flaw.

The UK has party politics, so that voters know who they are voting for and what policies they are likely to act on.

If there were an election in Britain now, voters choosing the Conservative candidate would know that they were voting for a further term of the same policies from Boris Johnson and his chums and those voting for their Labour candidate would be voting to put Sir Keir Starmer at the head of a government with a different set of priorities and motives.

In Guernsey, voters have no clue how a vote for any candidate will affect how the island will be run or who will be running it.

JL implies that newly-elected deputies choose the most able of their fellows to take the senior posts in the government. Only the incurably naive would believe that. Deputies place each vote according to the effect it will have on their own political ambitions. If they believe that someone will be a complete disaster in a job, they will probably still vote for him or her if that moves their own name further up the greasy pole to success. While trusting deputies to do the honourable thing when voting, Mr Langlois does not seem to expect electors to do so in a responsible way.

At present, the electors must vote for their representatives and hope that amongst them are at least a dozen with an uncommon ability to supervise the work of a department spending many millions of pounds of money squeezed out of the pockets of island taxpayers.

If the electorate were given the final decision on who should head each department, I for one am totally confident that they would choose the candidates who had shown the strongest evidence of the qualities needed for the post. No one in Guernsey is very likely to deliberately vote an idiot into a job that will profoundly affect their own life.

I too was sorry to see the States lose the services of Matt Fallaize after he had worked with such dedication at the tasks he had been given. In fact, I did tell him how much he would be missed [and that was well before the election]. Matt really cannot have much complaint about the result, though. Not only were his proposals as president of the CfES&C deeply unpopular but he was the head of the committee responsible for running the referendum that created the current voting system [although Neil Inder had the unenviable task of turning the result into a working system].

It must be a fundamental requirement of any successful democracy that it allows the people to choose who will govern them and what policies their government will pursue. Guernsey’s current IWV system does neither.


GY6 8BP.

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