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P&R vacancy: who's in the race?

P&R vacancy: who's in the race?

Wednesday 26 October 2022

P&R vacancy: who's in the race?

Wednesday 26 October 2022


The Policy & Resources Committee began the search for a new member yesterday to replace its departing Vice President, Deputy Heidi Soulsby.

He or she will be elected by the States’ Assembly in a secret ballot, almost certainly at one of the States’ two meetings in November.

The Committee’s President, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, will want to propose a candidate on behalf of a united Committee. Challengers can be proposed by other States' members from the floor, as they say.

Express takes a look at six potential candidates to keep an eye on.

Deputy_Peter_Ferbrache.jpg

Pictured: Deputy Peter Ferbrache is now leading his Committee's search for a new member to replace Deputy Heidi Soulsby, who resigned yesterday. 

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen

If there was an early favourite for the vacancy in the hours immediately following Deputy Soulsby's resignation, it was Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen.

Deputy Dudley-Owen is widely understood to be near the top, if not at the top, of Deputy Ferbrache's preferred successors as Policy & Resources Committee President when he steps down, as he has said he will, at the end of the States' term in June 2025. She is not unambitious and may see advantages in gaining experience on the senior committee.

As President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, she led far-reaching proposals to reorganise secondary and further education, and obtaining States' approval was a major political success. Seeing it through to completion may be harder - "events, dear boy, events" - and leading Education, Sport & Culture is a tougher and riskier role than being an ordinary member of Policy & Resources.

Deputy Dudley-Owen is a key part of the coalition which usually forms a majority in the States. She would, therefore, probably have little difficulty being elected if she wanted the role. She would not reach out to the minority group in the Assembly, as Deputy Soulsby often could, but she would of course prevent the Committee from becoming the exclusive preserve of men aged in the mid-50s and older.

She also has a very active Vice President at Education, Sport & Culture, Deputy Bob Murray, who may be better placed than most vice presidents to step up to the number one role.

Deputy Dudley-Owen is understood to have initially distanced herself from moving to Policy & Resources, understandably saying that her leadership of Education, Sport & Culture is too important to leave mid-term. But she is a very close ally of Deputy Ferbrache and, if he gets stuck for credible candidates, which he may, don't discount the possibility of him having a 'in the national interest' conversation with Deputy Dudley-Owen.

Deputies Andrea Dudley-Owen & Bob Murray

Pictured: Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, who is currently President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, with her Vice-President, Deputy Bob Murray.

Deputy Yvonne Burford

Deputy Yvonne Burford now has more than four years' experience as a 'top bench' committee president across two States' terms. She is particularly well regarded by Policy & Resources' external relations lead, Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, alongside whom she served as a committee president when he was Chief Minister. 

Deputy Soulsby's departure leaves the Committee light not only on political experience but also on political application: detailed policymaking, patiently building alliances across the States, crafting propositions and amendments. These are all strengths of Deputy Burford.

Like Deputy Dudley-Owen, she would of course help to make the Committee look at least a little more like the community it serves. Unlike Deputy Dudley-Owen, she would be able to reach out into the minority group in the Assembly, which is where her political views place her this term.

And she may be seen as relatively untouched by the tribalism which continues to afflict this term. If so, the majority coalition could conceivably see her as a rare acceptable face of the minority in the centre and centre-left of the Assembly.

The big questions are whether Deputy Burford is ready to leave the Presidency of the Scrutiny Management Committee after only two years and when it is on the verge of more interesting and high-profile work and whether she is prepared to work in an environment which has forced out her close ally, Deputy Soulsby.

Deputy Yvonne Burford

Pictured: Deputy Yvonne Burford was the first deputy to leave Deputy Gavin St. Pier's Partnership of Independents after regaining her seat in the States in October 2020.

Deputy Lyndon Trott

Deputy Lyndon Trott has broader political experience than probably anyone else in the States, including terms as Chief Minister, Treasury Minister and Vice President of the Policy & Resources Committee. First elected in 2000, he is politically more astute than the remaining four members of Policy & Resources.

He currently holds no committee seats and could be elected to Policy & Resources without causing a reshuffle elsewhere. He is also understood to have been sounded out by Deputy Ferbrache for a role on Policy & Resources two years ago, which suggested that the President would be prepared to bring an old rival into his tent.

Deputy Trott occupies an interesting space in the politics of this Assembly. He is an orthodox conservative on tax and spending but over two States' terms he has been so dismayed by the actions of many colleagues who share those views that he is now more associated with the centre and centre left. However, this could make him, possibly alone among the potential contenders, acceptable to both of the main political groups in the States.

However, Deputy Trott is thought to be lining up to oppose Policy & Resources' flagship tax policies early in the New Year, and he may be reluctant to throw himself into the middle of the impeding storm over a goods and services tax [GST], which some experienced deputies are privately warning could yet bring down the senior committee.

Deputy Lyndon Trott

Pictured: It is understood that Deputy Lyndon Trott was sounded out for a seat on the Policy & Resources Committee when Deputy Peter Ferbrache was first constructing his Committee after being elected in October 2020.

Underdogs...Deputies Nick Moakes, Chris Blin & Liam McKenna

One half of the Policy & Resources Committee at least is likely to see the merit in recruiting a new member from broadly the same political space as the departing Deputy Soulsby. But those deputies may fear that the circumstances facing them on the Committee would be no different to those which Deputy Soulsby ultimately found unbearable. And so it is not at all clear that any of them will be prepared to volunteer. 

If that's the position Policy & Resources finds itself in, it will have no choice but to narrow the range of views around its table and propose a candidate politically closer to its existing majority of members. That could mean someone from Deputy Mark Helyar's Guernsey Party or a fellow traveller. 

Deputy Nick Moakes is in the Guernsey Party; Deputy Liam McKenna wasn't and then was and then wasn't again; many of Deputy Chris Blin's colleagues see him as so near to the politics of the Guernsey Party as makes no difference.

Deputy_Liam_McKenna_Deputy_Chris_Blin_and_Deputy_Nick_Moakes.jpg

Pictured (clockwise from left): Deputies Liam McKenna, Chris Blin and Nick Moakes.

Deputy Moakes often comes across as a relatively considered and moderate voice. It's unlikely he would have any difficulties quickly fitting into the way the Policy & Resources Committee works. He does, however, already sit on two busy committees - Economic Development and the Trading Supervisory Board - and elevating him to Policy & Resources would risk an extensive reshuffle elsewhere.

Deputy McKenna was one of the stand out performers at the 2020 general election, polling 11th, the third highest placed candidate among those standing for the first time. He is less easy than many of his colleagues to allocate to one group or faction or another and seems genuinely independent minded and on reasonable terms with deputies across the political spectrum. He is, however, viscerally opposed to GST, which could bring him into immediate conflict on Policy & Resources.

Deputy Chris Blin may feel that he has served a useful apprenticeship as President of the Overseas Aid Commission for the past two years. He has no other active committee memberships, which would avoid an extensive reshuffle. And he may be unlikely to generate much opposition from any quarter of the States, which could be a significant advantage if the election of a new member becomes, as it could, an emblem of the tribalism for which this Assembly is justifiably better known than any of its predecessors.

READ MORE...

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