The race for power

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For much of the ten days since election night, it appeared as though there would be at least three Senators contesting the role.

However, Senator Lyndon Farnham pulled out after admitting that the support of Members appeared to lie with the other two candidates.

That leaves incumbent Ian Gorst and experienced Scrutineer Senator-elect John Le Fondré as the Chamber’s two choices.

Both men have released mission statements on how they would aim to shape government if selected.

Ian Gorst

Whatever happens in the Chief Minister election, Senator Gorst looks likely to play a key role in the next government.

He will either be successful in his quest for a third term at the top, or, if he loses out, Senator-elect Le Fondré has already indicated that Senator Gorst would be his preferred choice to lead the External Relations Department.

Senator Gorst has been clear throughout his election campaign that he should continue in the role he has held since 2011 and has argued that it is the ‘Chief Minister who directly negotiates with and advises international ministers’.

And while he has stressed the need for a change in approach, an overhaul of the way the civil service is run and the need to create a more inclusive Assembly, Senator Gorst believes that that can only be achieved by ensuring stability at the head of the Chief Minister’s Department.

‘Over the last six years I have led our Island through some of the toughest economic and political times in decades, finding a way through a difficult social crisis and moving forward with reforms to make our institutions and our services fit for purpose for a modern Jersey.

‘The threats that we still face, the challenges that we need to overcome and the changes that we need to make cannot be left to chance.

‘They need firm, purposeful and experienced leadership. I believe that I am best placed to offer that at this time.’

His challenge may not be helped by a sixth-place finish in the Senatorial poll. Four years earlier, Senator Gorst topped the poll before being elected Chief Minister unopposed.

Senator Gorst also faced a vote of no confidence last year from backbenchers who had grown disillusioned with his leadership. And while that motion was comprehensively defeated, some within the Chamber still feel that Senator Gorst has failed to create a government system that allows everyone’s voice to be heard.

He has pledged that if he is returned to the position, he will create a new Affordable Housing Commission within six weeks to provide recommendations about how to ‘drive down the cost of housing’ and ‘increase the supply’.

He has committed himself to implementing the eight core recommendations laid out in last year’s Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report and gained plaudits for the way he handled the damaging
and shocking conclusions of the investigation.

Discussing the challenges of Brexit, he added: ‘I will continue to maintain our Island’s historic constitutional position by standing up for Jersey in Westminster, protecting our reputation as a responsible financial jurisdiction in the EU and globally and promoting our economy and our way of life around the world.’

*Nominators: St Lawrence Constable Deidre Mezbourian, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, Senator-elect Steve Pallett, St Helier Deputy Richard Rondel, St Ouen Deputy Richard Renouf, Senator-elect Kristina Moore, St Helier Deputy Scott Wickenden, St Clement Deputy Susie Pinel, St Brelade Deputy Graham Truscott, Trinity Constable Philip Le Sueur.

John Le Fondré

The former St Lawrence Deputy might never have previously held a ministerial role, but his case for taking the top job is bolstered by his long-standing Scrutiny work and an impressive third-place finish in the Senatorial election.

Many sitting Members have spent the previous four years clamouring for a more inclusive government which listens to backbenchers as well as the Council of Ministers.

For them, Senator-elect Le Fondré represents a different approach to Senator Gorst’s stewardship over the past six years.

Senator-elect Le Fondré was most recently chairman of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel and has previously held Assistant Minister positions within the Treasury and Transport and Technical Services Departments (now Infrastructure Department).

In his mission statement, he has committed to ensuring the Council of Ministers works more effectively with Scrutiny as that relationship is the ‘success to good government’.

He said: ‘Inclusion is critical if we are to move away from the mistakes of the past Assembly and achieve much better engagement among all Members.

‘Members will have differing views on different areas, including what is an appropriate level of expenditure.

‘However, I believe that over my years in the States I have demonstrated that I do communicate and also that I am prepared to deal with difficult and demanding subjects in a robust manner, but with integrity.’

Senator-elect Le Fondré has developed a reputation as a meticulous Scrutineer. However, he came under fire from several corners of the Assembly last term when, as chairman of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, he brought proposals to include a tolerance clause within same-sex marriage legislation.

He has also hoped to allay any fears that he lacks experience in international relations, with Brexit around the corner, by pointing to his work as the Island’s representative of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

Among his promises, Senator-elect Le Fondré has said that he would commission a ‘like-for-like’ cost comparison of key alternative sites for the new hospital to ‘allay public uncertainty’ and to continue to work on implementing the recommendations of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.

Should he be successful, he has said that he would propose Senator Gorst for the role of External Relations Minister and that his preferred choice for Education Minister would be Senatorial poll-topper Senator-elect Tracey Vallois.

He added: ‘Members must try to erase their experience under the previous regime of specific ministries, sitting in their silos, performing specific functions.

‘The emphasis must be on the team as a whole.

‘This Assembly has lost many decades of knowledge as a result of retirements from the previous Assembly. We need to rebuild experience across all parts
of the Assembly and move forward together.’

*Nominators: St Clement Deputy-elect Lindsay Ash, St Ouen Constable-elect Richard Buchanan, Senator Sarah Ferguson, St Lawrence Deputy-elect Gregory Guida, St Peter Deputy-elect Rowland Huelin, St Brelade Constable-elect Mike Jackson, St Mary Deputy David Johnson, St Mary Constable-elect John Le Bailly, Grouville Constable John Le Maistre, St Saviour Deputy Kevin Lewis, St Helier Deputy Judy Martin, St Martin Constable-elect Karen Shenton-Stone, St John Constable Chris Taylor, St Peter Constable-elect Richard Vibert, St Brelade Deputy-elect John Young.

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