Need for the big shake-up correctly predicted years ago

I ALWAYS appreciate and enjoy reading Colonel Richard Graham’s witty, ironic, if occasionally wounding and acerbic political reviews. His reference to the cute but awful Violet Elizabeth Bott from Richmal Crompton’s work reminds me of a former deputy’s wife who thought I resembled William from the Just William books. Another redoubtable colleague said I was the Harry Potter of the States... perhaps because I believed in impossible things.

But the revelation and confirmation that former chief minister and government reviewer Advocate Harwood is working hard on a justice review on top of his many other roles, from researching tribunals to carer concerns, shows he is still as relevant in coming back as Abba. And we still have faith in him, too, regardless of any issues with ESC. However I do recall another politician rather cheekily and unfairly likened Mr Harwood to the European folk and Disney character Chicken Little. I suppose the inference to be drawn was unjustified predictions of doom and disaster. And yet Deputy Harwood nine years back correctly prophesied the demographic time bomb, the need for radical welfare and tax reviews and fundamental transformation of the public and civil service. Not so much of a political chicken, then, although I perhaps could dream up a few turkeys dreading Christmas.

At this moment we see the unified 'blue wall/blue wave' approach of jaunty Boris Johnson’s cabinet and huge party majority in the UK in danger of unravelling. The issue is competing policy strands of conservatism and the incompatibility of certain manifesto promises. To put it more bluntly, chickens coming home to roost.

Promises of better deals for grey power pensioners, eradicating poverty, greater equality, a supported living Slaws [Supported living and ageing well strategy] revolution while retaining low taxation, affordable social insurance contributions, inter-generational fairness, business growth and the ability of affluent voters to retain and inherit home property without care debts were made in manifestos but can’t be easily delivered, especially post-pandemic.

Of course our political landscape in Guernsey and party culture is very different, so I am sure we won’t see any ambiguous manifesto policies not delivered and confusion about whether regressive taxation needs to be imposed to cross-subsidise the wealth and property rights of the better-off here. Our politicians are smarter than that.

JOHN GOLLOP

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