The Guernsey Party’s Deputy Bob Murray looks set to secure the backing of the Policy & Resources Committee to replace Vice President Deputy Heidi Soulsby, who resigned last week.
Express understands that the Committee approached at least two other States’ members – and possibly a third – about standing for the vacant seat but was turned down by each of them. It is not known whether these approaches were made before or alongside the Committee’s discussions with Deputy Murray.
Deputy Murray, pictured top (right), confirmed his interest in the role this morning. And there is now a wide expectation across the States’ Assembly that he will be the Committee’s preferred candidate when the States meet to elect a new member of their senior committee on 23 November. Other candidates can be proposed if they have proposers and seconders.
"Given you [Express] had quite a few names on your straw poll, you will of course be aware that there will inevitably be speculation over who might stand or indeed be nominated," said Deputy Murray.
"I can only confirm that the role would be of interest to me, as I am sure it would be to others, too. It is for the Policy & Resources Committee to come to their own decision about any future replacement for the very capable Deputy Soulsby."
The Committee was approached just before 08:00 today but made no comment by 12:00 while the States were sitting.
Readers can click HERE to vote in Express' poll on which deputy they think should win the seat on the Policy & Resources Committee.
Pictured: Deputy Lyndon Trott told Express that the Policy & Resources Committee had sounded him out about its vacant seat.
Two former Presidents of the Policy & Resources Committee and treasury leads in the States – neither of whom has been elected to a single seat in the current Assembly – told Express this morning that they had expressed interest in the vacancy but had been rebuffed by the Committee in different ways.
Deputy Gavin St. Pier, pictured top (left), said that he registered his interest with the Committee, but the Committee was not interested in proposing him.
"I was not approached by Policy & Resources, but I did approach them," said Deputy St. Pier. "It was made clear that I would not be the Committee’s nominee."
Deputy Lyndon Trott revealed that he was approached by the President of the Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, and sounded out about whether he would join the Committee. But he was told that there would be no room for him to lead in his areas of previous experience.
"Yesterday afternoon [Tuesday], Deputy Ferbrache asked if I would be interested," said Deputy Trott.
"I believe that both the treasury role and the external relations role are well suited to my previous and current roles, both politically and professionally. I asked if there would be an opportunity in those areas. Deputy Ferbrache explained that there would be no reshuffle and the post would effectively be a like-for-like replacement for Deputy Soulsby.
"I said the Committee could benefit from a freshen up. I believe this is a view held by many within the States. Deputy Ferbrache is well aware of my view around the importance of mid-term internal elections across all positions in the States."
Pictured: Deputy Lyndon Trott said the Policy & Resources Committee had made it clear to him that it would not consider moving Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq (left) from his role as external relations lead or Deputy Mark Helyar (right) from his role as treasury lead.
Deputy St. Pier said he hoped that Deputy Murray would not be the only candidate for the seat.
"Policy & Resources is the senior committee of the States. It’s very important that it comprises different voices representing a diversity of background, experience and thinking. In business, a company would insist on this in the composition of its board," said Deputy St. Pier.
"Deputy Murray, as a carbon copy of the Committee’s existing composition, does not bring diversity. No doubt, as a member of the governing coalition, he will help ensure that meetings will be shorter and discussion in the committee room more harmonious. But if there is internal challenge within committees, decisions are stronger and policy making sounder.
"The failure of Policy & Resources to recognise and embrace this is a poor model of leadership to other committees and is another sign of weakness.
"I hope that there will be challenges to Deputy Murray from the floor."
Pictured: The President of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, is now widely expected to nominate Deputy Bob Murray as a new member of the Committee, but Deputy Ferbrache's predecessor, Deputy Gavin St. Pier, said he hoped there would be other candidates.
Deputy Trott said that Deputy Murray would be a surprising choice for the Committee.
"I have seen myself that Deputy Murray brings various skills to the States and I know members of his committees value him as a colleague," said Deputy Trott.
"However, we know that Policy & Resources is only weeks away from asking the Assembly to support the introduction of GST and yet Deputy Murray was elected to the States with a very strong commitment to oppose GST.
"I think it would be unprecedented for the States to elect someone to their senior committee who got into the States as one of the strongest opponents of the policy that Committee is about to propose."
Pictured: Deputy Charles Parkinson thinks that prospective candidates' stances on GST will influence who the Policy & Resources Committee proposes to fill the seat left vacant by Deputy Heidi Soulsby's resignation.
Another former treasury lead, Deputy Charles Parkinson, who also does not have a senior role in the current Assembly, told Express at the weekend that the Committee would struggle to find a new member as strong as Deputy Soulsby.
"I must admit I was slightly surprised by Heidi’s resignation, but it has been clear since the start of this term that she was out of step with the majority on the Committee," said Deputy Parkinson.
"I think it will be hard for Deputy Ferbrache to replace her with anyone of the same calibre. As a former member of the Guernsey Partnership of Independents, she lent the Committee a degree of bipartisan credibility.
"I don’t know what her position is on GST, but she may have thought it likely that the Committee will lose its propositions."
Deputy Parkinson has previously said the Committee should resign if, as expected, it tries again to win a vote on GST in the Assembly and is defeated by deputies.
"I imagine that Deputy Ferbrache would prefer to recruit a deputy sympathetic to GST, who is female and who can be presented as representative of 'the other side' [in the Assembly]." At the time, he said that Deputy Yvonne Burford “would be my guess” as the most likely deputy to be nominated by the Committee for the vacant seat.
Pictured: Deputy Bob Murray has been number two to Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen on the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture since October 2020.
Deputy Murray is currently Vice President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture and a member of the Development & Planning Authority.
He would be required to resign from these roles if elected as a member of the Policy & Resources Committee.
Elections to fill those vacancies would then most likely be held when the States meet on 14 December.
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