COMMENT: If a week is a long time in politics... how about eight?

News | Published:

WELCOME to silly season.

It's that eight-week block of time between States meetings. The summer recess means our elected representatives can retreat to far flung climes, or just do a stop-and-flop in the back garden, safe in the knowledge there's no meeting of the Assembly until the middle of September.

When they get back, the very first thing on their agenda will be whether or not to give the Chief Minister a pay rise. A review body is recommending that whoever gets the top job after next year's general election gets a £7,000 annual hike. No more 'first among equals'. In terms of job title, responsibility and – if approved – pay packet, there'll be no doubting who's boss.

Of course, I'm sure Senator Ian Gorst would be the first to say he's not in it for the money. Frankly, he could earn a lot more in the private sector. But he does have a great opportunity, come September, to enter the debate as a live specimen of the Chief Minister's worth.

He won widespread praise for his immediate response to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry's final report. An immediate apology, an acknowledgement that what the panel found was the truth, and that its recommendations would be acted on.

On the first full day following the report, he announced current States workers in front line roles criticised by the inquiry were suspended from duty pending investigations. Later that week he spoke with an all-too-rare passion about the need to put an end to 'The Jersey Way' and all its associated negative connotations. Earlier this week he confirmed independent inspections of Children's Services facilities had been ordered via an arms-length commission.

So far, so good.

But as Senator Gorst also reminded his political colleagues at the start of this month, there are just ten months until the general election, and that the action the States takes between now and then is exactly what the rest of us should judge them on when we cast our votes.

Well the clock is ticking, and ten months is about to become nine. By the time they all next meet up again after the summer it will be eight.


So while silly season usually means fewer annoying media inquiries, constituent surgeries, side meetings and official events, summer 2017 is different. Nobody, from the top down, can afford to let their foot off the pedal of reform.

The Jersey Way is a vast, deep-rooted beast, with the ability to make itself felt in the most obscure and murky places. It is a cancer which, even in an unspoken way, has the ability to blur the boundaries between right and wrong. It can make ordinarily good people turn a blind eye to bad things. It can forgive the drip-drip of improper process, become a tidal wave of wrongdoing before anybody's actually realised there's trouble brewing.

I wrote a fortnight ago about the need to keep up that early momentum.

The national interest in Jersey's shame has moved on. Decades of abuse that dominated the local headlines for a week or so at the start of this month are already fading.


Let's hope that silly season is actually eight weeks out of the spotlight where a lot can happen behind the scenes. When States Members debate a pay rise for the Chief Minister on 12 September, they should be able to look at the current holder of that office and see a leader who they know has spent his summer turning fine words into vital action.

JERSEY Lifts launches today.

No, not the controversial Facebook page, but an app which can be used to find the nearest vehicle whose registered driver is up for a car share.

And, so long as you pay no more than 60p a mile to cover the cost of any journey, you're not breaking any laws. Indeed, at a time when authorities the world over are encouraging more shared journeys to reduce both traffic and pollution, you'd expect it to be welcomed with open arms.

Detractors argue that more than 60p a mile will change hands, that there are those operating illegal taxi services, that insurance policies in those circumstances are invalid, and that the safety of vulnerable passengers is at risk in an unregulated environment.

It'll be interesting to see how the 'new' Jersey Lifts works. If it's along the lines of the massively successful BlaBlaCar which is used by tens of millions of people in Europe for long-distance ride sharing, then it could become a big hit. The perfect combination of smart technology and a small community means it has every reason to flourish.

And, at a time when so many taxi drivers seem more interested in striking and blocking up roads rather than ensuring there are enough cars at the airport taxi rank (more often than not in recent months there have been zero in my own experience), Jersey Lifts could be a game-changer.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.


Top Stories


More from the JEP

UK & International News