Chief Minister: ‘Focus on issues, not personalities’

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THE new States Assembly should avoid ‘petty politicking’ and focus on issues rather than personalities, the outgoing Chief Minister has said.

Senator John Le Fondré, who last week became the first Chief Minister to lose his seat, said that the toughest part of the job had been ‘politics done from personal standpoints’.

Last week’s election results saw a seismic shift in the States as 11 sitting politicians lost their seat – including several senior members of Senator Le Fondré’s government.

Reflecting on his time in office, the Chief Minister, who is interviewed on pages 4 and 5 today, said that he was proudest of managing and leading the Island’s response to the Covid pandemic.

He admitted that there was ‘unfinished business’ and that several key areas did not progress as well as he would have liked.

And Senator Le Fondré said one of the most difficult aspects of the job was dealing with duelling personalities.

‘Family-wise, the past four years have had a huge impact. Part of that is the hours but I think the worst bit of the whole job has been what I call petty politicking – politics done from personal standpoints.

‘It is fine to disagree with the policy or the evidence but disagreeing just because of the person bringing something forward – that makes the job a whole lot harder.’

As the new States Members were today due to be sworn in at the Royal Court, Senator Le Fondré warned ‘any politician if they try to do a nine-to-five job then they have a shock coming’.

He said that the role of a Jersey politician had become increasingly international and that the new crop of Members had a responsibility to ‘tell the Island’s story’ and enhance its reputation.

And he said that criticism of government spending can often be misunderstood as the benefits and savings further down the line are not always realised straight away.

‘We got criticised for the amount of money we wanted to spend on IT. Our IT systems had not been updated for a long time and if we had not had those upgrades in place we would have been in a very difficult position dealing with the pandemic, for example.’

Discussing life after politics, Senator Le Fondré said he hoped to take on a greater role with the Les Vaux Housing Trust, of which he is a board member, and that he has a ‘family business which I probably need to pay a bit of attention to’.

‘After that I will see,’ he said. ‘I imagine there will be scope for a couple of extra charitable roles and then may be either think about going back to accountancy or take on some NED roles.’

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