COMMENT: Beyond the headlines it's not all doom and gloom

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WHAT a difference a week makes. Rewind seven days and the headlines were dominated by the aftermath of 'that' vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister who saved his bacon by throwing Senator Philip Ozouf under the bus, there was contrition all round as backbenchers demanded better communication between them and the top table, and there was even a hint that ministers would have their anti-dissent gags removed.

And here we are, this week, with Jersey storming it early on at the NatWest Island Games in Gotland, the glitz and glamour of the inaugural Jersey Style Awards making headlines in the celeb pages of multiple national publications, and Jersey Airport has just installed a cash machine in its arrivals hall.

See, life's not all bad!

I start this week's column with no grand plan or theme in mind, other than an attempt to find some positives to share with you.

There's so much doom and gloom in the news, and there seems to be a much greater quantity of 'knocking' everything and anything from the sidelines at the moment, that I thought it'd be good to stop, take a deep breath, and reflect on a few things.

I bumped into a lady in the coffee shop the other day. She was on holiday from Birmingham and was positively beaming about how much she loves Jersey. The scenery, the beaches, the relaxed way of life, the weather (to be fair it was really hot and sunny at the time), and that sense you can just switch off and get away from it all.

It struck me as an image in stark contrast to the hell and high water headlines we see so often. Population's growing, there is no plan. The finance centre's ugly and there are shady deals being done to fill the office space. The States only care about the rich.

Each of those assertions, which you'll see bandied about on internet forums, is based on a grain of truth, but it isn't the whole story.

Hearing an assistant minister on the radio calmly and fairly explain the delicate balancing act that any population strategy needs to consider made me realise it's not as easy as turning on or off a tap marked 'immigration'.


Reading more about the arrangements that meant a major tenant could move into the first finance centre building reminded me these things are incredibly complex and require an eye on the bigger picture.

Listening to claims that government policy solely serves the interest of the wealthiest is at odds with the hard work many of our elected representatives are putting in to make the Island successful and fair for all.

Of course the lady from Birmingham doesn't need to worry herself with any of these things. She was just here for a holiday. We live here and these day-to-day issues do matter. But, perhaps, as well as rightly challenging and scrutinising decision-making and policy we should also – for our own benefit – look at Jersey through the eyes of a visitor... it really is a rather wonderful place to be.

You may remember I was the first to mention the vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister in my column on 17 May.


Well, just as you wait ages for one bus and then two come along at once, I'm hearing of unrest among politicians that means it's not beyond the realms of possibility that another vote of no confidence could very soon see the light of day.

The impression I get is that the next one won't be against the Chief Minister, rather one of his Council of Ministers could be in the firing line.

All I would say, after the last one, is that any such move is fraught with risk. It could easily be seen as grandstanding or score-settling.

That said, with the long summer recess on the horizon, there's enough time for something to gather pace.

Watch this space!

And, finally, we're just days away from the publication of the report from the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.

For victims of abuse this will be a very difficult time, regardless of what it says.

For those who were in frontline positions of responsibility there are likely to be uncomfortable truths. For authority figures, some at the very top of the 'Establishment' who were in other powerful roles in previous decades, there will difficult questions that deserve answers.

And for today's politicians, there will be a demand for tangible action and no reliance on that God-awful phrase 'lessons have been learned so it couldn't happen again'.

Every time there's a serious case review, we hear it.

Every time when journalists like me ask who should be help responsibile, we're told it's 'the system' so no one's at fault.

This report is Jersey's opportunity to prove to all Islanders and the world that those cited for wrongdoing will face justice, that those running 'the system' won't escape without sanction, and that the victims who were cowed into silence or disbelieved for generations will, at long last, get some form of justice.

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