By John Boothman
THE saddest thing about last week, and the resignation of the chief executive and head of the public service, was that events such as this have become a normal occurrence. Since the introduction of ministerial government over 17 years ago we have had very few periods of the political stability that we boast about to those seeking to do business here.
Before 2005 all politicians were involved in government. Then Clothier decided that only 50% of those elected should form the government, with the remainder scrutinising everything they did. Add to that the fact that many of the ministers do not have clear lines of responsibility, there is hopeless overlapping, and an increasing number of entities that seem unaccountable to anyone.
You can see why taxes have needed to rise to cover increasingly expensive government services. Ministerial government isn’t working. For example, it has taken 12 years and tens of millions of pounds for the new-hospital project to get nowhere, and we have constant political bickering. It is getting as bad as UK politics, which is very depressing.
Then there is the chief executive job itself. The previous recruiters were UK based and the majority of independents on the States Employment Board at the interview were UK based. The incumbent was UK based. Should we really be surprised that the appointment failed?
I had conversations with government chief executive Suzanne Wylie on a few occasions, including at the Chamber of Commerce lunch shortly before she resigned. I always found her very approachable and very professional. She has chosen to depart for a role that pays significantly less, but one in which she can probably use her skills to achieve something.
Jersey now has around 8,000 public sector workers. Because we have various quangos and wholly owned companies, no one really knows exactly how many there are (do you include employees in majority-owned companies, for example?).
The Hospital appears to be in a mess, and across the public sector basic protocols and best practice appear to be ignored. There is scant understanding of human rights in key areas and that the world has moved on in terms of bullying, and others don’t abide by their own rules – the list is endless. The thousands of brilliant public sector employees must be fed up with the constant bad publicity caused by those in power.
And the chief executive has to manage this and report to politicians operating to their own agenda, with few sharing a common destination and common goals. The structure of ministerial government not only failed Mrs Wylie, who accepted an impossible role, but it has also failed the whole Island. The role is designed for failure, and this needs addressing before we recruit anyone else.