By Stephen Le Quesne
The past week or so in Jersey’s political history has been a little distasteful.
Politicians, like everyone else are flawed, working in an imperfect system, often slow and sometimes painful. They must directly contend with decisions of the past, while working in the present and planning for the future.
Much of their hard work is hidden away from the public in meetings on strategy and policy and within countless emails. Their time is often filled with conversations, talking to other politicians, to civil servants, and the public, in various formats. Much of what they do, we are unaware of and is mostly a thankless task. What we see via the media is a tiny window of what really happens, not because they are plotting in secret (an obvious statement), but because of how democracy and our political system works.
I really do hope that Deputy Kristina Moore is okay in her wellbeing and general health because she has been squeezed through the rollers, as it were, and hung out to dry. Her political career, decision-making, personality and integrity have all been questioned and at times it has gone too far.
She was the Island’s first female Chief Minister and look how she has been treated – thrown out within 18 months. Is this an example of misogyny? Possibly, and it is a question I feel we need to answer if we are to move forward. One personal disclaimer is that I will gladly call any politician out on something I feel is wrong or misguided, but I will always try do it with facts and reason.
Being Chief Minister is obviously not an easy job. It is a position with so much complexity, which needs unique negotiation and communication skills and, due to this, it is going to lend itself to mistakes. It is called being human.
The whole saga of the vote of no confidence was based more around personal gripes, individual grievances, perceptions, and egos, rather than policy and strategy, which in a world where politicians are meant to be the best “adults” we have, was incredibly immature, reckless and a sign that many of our politicians do not have the maturity needed for what they have been elected to do. For an individual to propose a VoNC after only 18 months in politics, who has an eye on the job and who then messes up his proposal form says it all. It is comical. Let’s hope he has learned his lesson and takes more of a backseat going forward.
The Government of Jersey does have a large “to do” list, but many modern, liberal democracies have the same issues, and our government, like many others, is paying the price for ignoring the most complex and difficult issues, kicking the can down the road.
Many of our large issues, such as the hospital and housing, have needed to be addressed and should be addressed in the long term, through different governments where a set policy or framework is agreed and continuously worked upon. We cannot afford to keep resetting every time we have a new government. This is where compromise and maturity are key.
The government is also battling global issues that we have little control over such as climate change, ecological collapse, fluctuating energy prices and outbreaks of conflict and wars which put a huge strain on our already fragile food, trade and economic systems. We currently have large, potentially historically changing, events happening that require governments and politicians to work together as well as fundamental issues with capitalism, inequality and poverty.
There is also the rise of fascism and the far-right within Europe, who are using these issues to create division and a siege mentality of us versus them. This is a lot to deal with and Jersey is prone to feel these issues more as we are an island, especially when it comes to food prices. Our food security rating (if there was one) would be poor at best.
I find this difficult at times, but we need to remember that the work of governments and politicians is not all about what we see on the news. Much of it is unheralded, unseen and takes months to complete (often too long).
It is ironic that the individuals who demanded the Chief Minister go because not enough was being done are now faced with a new Chief Minister and Council of Ministers who could reset all the previous hard work of the past 18 months, therefore getting even less done.
Governments are never going to be perfect; they won’t solve everything. As a politician, you are not always going to get what you want, when you want it and sometimes you need to step back, breathe, and focus on what you do have. During the past or week or two many have forgotten this.
Stephen Le Quesne is a naturalist, conservationist, forest school leader and nature connection advocate.