Why I Ran In 2020
- In large populations, political parties may help. Where voters never meet their candidates face-to-face, they may need a manifesto to read.
- But Guernsey is small. Voters meet face-to-face with candidates and deputies all the time. That’s a truer test.
- Manifestos cause bad blood. Either they are hot air, or too much for any individual voter or deputy to be able to agree with it all. This is when a Deputy votes against their conscience. Will your Deputy be true to themself, or follow their Party Manifesto?
- A successful Party candidate doesn’t know if the voters chose them, or the Party. They fear being cold-shouldered by the Party which helped them in.
- Parties attract candidates who play party politics. The party conferences are more about schmoozing than policy.
- I have first-hand experince of this, as assistant to an MP in Westminster after uni.
- That is why I never have been a member of a Party, and I never will be.
The Finance industries do well for Guernsey, probably even for someone in your family.
- But government has drifted away from listening to Finance.
- The Committee for Economic Development dropped its non-States committee members four years ago.
- Our best intentions and world-class advice are too easily ignored.
- Legislation is passed with little time for consultation, so that key words are vague or omitted.
- Relations between the regulator and industry have never been so been strained.
- The Committee for Economic Development must back those world-class technical skills.
- … and business networks, academics, regulators, tax officers, civil servants, ports authorities, the list goes on.
- Guernsey so punches above its weight – indeed we are sometimes world class without realising it.
- We are so networked that many of us switched to working from home without missing a beat.
- Telecoms, local media, public transport, are all part of this vitality.
- All these internal connections! It’s like a brain, unique but fragile.
- I started Bus Users Guernsey (BUG) in 2009 and today we have achieved many of our ojectives.
- In 2013 I signed the States Douzaine Charter on behalf of St Saviours. But Island-Wide Voting now threatens the Douzaines.
- We must protect and nurture our on-Island networks.
Jewel of the sea
Where to begin? History perhaps:
- The neolithic tombs and standing stones? The ancient forest exposed on the west coast at low tide?
- Homer’s Greece? I like the idea that ‘Lisia’ was previously ‘Elysium’.
- Or Rome? Prof Le Patourel (Oxon.) speculated that our Jurats date from the time of the caesars.
- Our wonderful stubbornness? No dictator since pre-history (bar an episode in the 1940s).
- Our Plantagenet feudalism? More humane than the bossy type the English developed after 1066.
- 18th and 19th century stone houses in St Peter Port? Because so much continental brandy and gin was warehoused in Town that the Douzaine feared a firestorm.
- Or the German cemetery beside the Bluebell Woods? Which brings me to…
- Botany? The microclimate of Candie Gardens. The Société’s orchid fields behind L’Eree.
- Marine biology? Let’s survey our kelp and maerl habitats, and set out some underwater reserves.
- Lepidopterology? The Glanville Fritillary butterfly, almost extinct from the British Isles, still holds to our southern cliffs.
- Guernsey needs a Strategy for Nature. My placard at the BLM rally said ‘Equal Justice Under The Law’. Back to those vital Jurats.
No more debt
The idea to borrow £500m comes from a wrong guess about our economy back in April 2020.
- We don’t need the money.
- The April 2020 Policy Letter assumed unemployment of 10% by Christmas (see my paper ‘Saying No To The Bond’ sent to the Deputies here). Even in July 2020, when joblessness was down to 3%, this scare was repeated.
- In August 2020, S&P predicted a 9% contraction in Guernsey GDP for the year. Nonsense. Some taxpaying parts had record years. This was reflected in the final figures announced in 2021.
- This is because more than two thirds of our economy can work easily from home; the schools were all back by 8th June; and again in 2021 on 8th and 9th March; and the Staycation £ is worth three times the spending of visitors (see my June 30th 2020 paper, ‘To Infinity and Beyond: a critique of P&R’s Green Paper for post-lockdown’, sent to the Deputies here).
- And we do make blunders. The State’s 2014 bond was a horror story.
- To buy back their £330m Guernsey bond today would cost £460m. That’s how bad the timing was.
- Almost as embarrassing were the £millions of illogical bells and whistles attached. We were a joke in the market.
- Then we couldn’t use it. The Bond was meant to consolidate the debts of States enterprises. But we had forgotten that those debts had expensive cancellation clauses. Oops.
- And as interest rates fell, States trading boards could find cheaper loans elsewhere. Double oops. (Click here to see my first pamphlet on this from 2009.)
- Today an independent board which accepted a loan from the States Bond could possibly be sued for dereliction of duty.
- So what have we done? Rather than cancel the bonds, we gamble what we can’t lend – on the markets. Admittedly with reasonable odds. But borrowing to speculate – that’s what hedge funds do.
- States members have no right to turn our Island into a massive hedge fund.
- Should we inflict that on our kids?
- Imagine if our parents had endebted us like that!
All the rest
- THE REST FOLLOWS If we can get the jobs, tax and regulation right, we can pay for:
- Good health – we need doctors and nurses, and prevention is better than cure.
- Good education – we need teachers, and our exam results are better than critics said.
- Good sports – creating the Guernsey Sports Commission was truly far-sighted.
- Good training and retraining – the GTA, CFE, WEA, industry etc., do a great job. I support an independent Guernsey Institute.
- Good connectivity – which means fibre and 5G, more than a longer runway.
- Good stewardship of our corner of the planet – we are steadily getting there.