I am in favour of an early election for us deputies
I don’t disagree with some colleagues that the Policy and Resources Committee's plan to demand an early general election is maybe an exasperated plea of frustration at a States Assembly in impasse, and could be seen as a confrontational strategy to warn off an unwanted but inevitable vote of no confidence in themselves by implying a vote of no confidence in the entire States Assembly
But maybe we are a failed States. The first ever island-wide referendum brought forth the initial island-wide election of all 38 of us with unparalleled engagement with voting turnout at 80%, almost double Jersey’s, the largest number of candidates by far and well-organised postal voting by the excellent election team. But as the current Scrutiny review is discovering, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the results and outcomes.
Not only are we divided much of the time into factions and have failed in diverse policy areas, especially infrastructure, investment, education, ports and taxation, but we can be toxic on a bad day. But one area lacking from the island-wide results was true democracy and diversity, not just with gender, disability, income, ethnic and age balances, but more significantly policy choice. Too many candidates ignored the warnings of Gavin St Pier and Lyndon Trott’s P&R report of the need for £100m. a year in extra income, and campaigned on ‘no new taxes’, ‘let’s cut pay’ and ‘be more efficient’. It wasn’t realistic or practical and possibly misled the electorate giving them unrealistic expectations. Responsibility means telling the full story to the electorate so an informed choice can be made. Otherwise we risk becoming a failed States after a sham election.
I don’t want to support a forced vote of no confidence in Deputy Ferbrache’s Policy & Resources Committee because in certain respects, despite being in part a politically inexperienced committee, they have sought to tackle many issues ranging from the deficit in housing, Leale’s Yard, Alderney airport and Condor, that others just philosophise about. Their replacements, however able, would struggle and it would be disruptive.
Despite the obvious resource issues and potential disadvantages to new candidates engaging with induction and access for potential new candidates, I am on balance in favour of an early 2024 election for us deputies. It would accelerate change, the opportunity for new ideas and a new Policy & Resources team to work for a full term. Of course the UK prime minister’s ability to call an early general election is partly designed to benefit incumbents by surprise.
As Deputy Simon Vermuelen said recently, we lack the ability for a mid-term reset to promote talent and discard the less effective players – the system of government again. One of the obvious benefits of an early general election is not just new members, the defeat of less popular deputies and retirements, but it also allows all presidencies and board and committee places to be open for new candidates and possibilities.
People said to me turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, but I would. Bring it on.
I want to explain my ideas and policies and as a voter too would be interested to hear from the people who, unlike me who did not vote for territorial tax, or higher income tax (I seconded Lyndon Trott’s game-changing amendment for GST-free food options to possibly fund health care, public services or essential infrastructure without cuts, charges or arguably false promises they could not realistically keep).
So I might be one turkey, waiting for some sage or hot chestnut stuffing, who knows his onions.
deputy John Gollop