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Deputy Roffey - Personal Statement

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Wednesday 24 October 2018

Sir, I have obviously had to ask myself where the referendum result leaves me personally as the President of the States' Assembly & Constitution Committee.

I respect the people's decision to adopt island-wide voting 100% and as a Deputy I will do everything I can to aid its smooth implementation. I am sure each and every one of us will do exactly that that. Anything less would be a breach of promise. But I do have to ask myself if I am the right person to lead that process.

I have always believed that really big political projects are far better being driven by political committees who are true and passionate believers in them. Who in their heart of hearts are completely convinced that those projects will be in Guernsey's best interests.

Indeed when this Assembly confirmed the decision of the last States to move away from selective education I was quite vocal in suggesting that those members of Education, Sport & Culture who profoundly disagreed with that decision should make way for those who genuinely believed in it to drive the project forward. I was convinced that this would greatly increase its chances of being a success.

I cannot now be hypercritical.

I have said that I respect the result of the referendum 100% but there is a subtle difference between fully accepting a democratic decision and genuinely believing that it was a good one.

Despite remaining studiously neutral during the referendum campaign I suspect my views on island-wide voting are quite well known. I have always loved the concept in principle but felt that it had too many ingrained practical problems to make the system work well.

Prime amongst these is expecting voters to select 38 deputies from a list of maybe 90 hopefuls. By that I don't mean how to distribute manifestoes or hold meaningful hustings - although clearly those issues do exist - but rather the challenge of weighing up mentally the strengths and weaknesses of so many candidates and reaching a considered conclusion. I suspect for all but the political anoraks it will be a complete turn-off.

Frankly I fear that in practice many electors will only use a fraction of their votes allowing some deputies to be elected on truly miniscule mandates. I worry the new system - however structured - will hugely benefit known names over any talented newcomers with lower profiles. And I am quite certain that island-wide voting will make it far, far harder for the public to vote out unpopular sitting deputies.

Lastly the new electoral system might well be a catalyst for full blown party politics - although that is far from certain. I certainly hope it isn't as I am convinced the inherent negativity and adversarial nature of party politics would serve Guernsey very ill indeed and we would come to hugely regret it.

Sir, it is human nature that no amount of respect for the outcome of the referendum can simply wipe such ingrained doubts from my head and I am utterly convinced that the public of this island, who voted for island-wide voting, deserve to see it being driven forward by a champion who not only respects the outcome - as I do - but who believes in it in their very DNA.

With this in mind I handed you my resignation as the President of SACC this morning and I believe some members of the committee intend to follow suit.

I know that sitting in this assembly there are very many passionate and able advocates of island-wide voting. Some of whom have been pushing for it for many years.

This is their moment. I say to them - don't be coy. Step up to the plate. Put your shoulders to the wheel and deliver island-wide voting for the people of Guernsey in a way that only true believers can hope to achieve.




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