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OPINION: It’s good to admit that you’re wrong

OPINION: It’s good to admit that you’re wrong

Thursday 26 January 2023

OPINION: It’s good to admit that you’re wrong

Thursday 26 January 2023

It’s hard to face up to the possibility that you might be thinking and talking waffle.

But it’s a noble thing to hold your hands up and admit it when you do so, particularly when learned and lived experience point in the opposite direction.

There are so many biases constantly playing out in our day-to-day lives. 

It’s one thing (and a difficult thing at that) to be aware of all of them and stop yourself when you feel them creeping in, but another to accept that these might be affecting your judgement.

We can all think of times where we’ve ended up with our tail between our legs, and no-one is immune. Not politicians, authority figures, you, or me. 

Deputy Matt Fallaize with Petition

Pictured: Former deputy - and former Express reporter - Matt Fallaize.

I faced this firsthand when I met and worked with former deputy Matt Fallaize. 

It’s fair to say that I was in the now ill-fated ‘Pause and Review’ camp. 

I had never met or spoken to Matt, taken the time to read his open letters or listen to him speak in the States chamber. And yet I felt as though I hated him. 

I even wrote a letter to the Guernsey Press while a sixth form student expressing my anger and perception that the views of my teachers were not being respected by the Education committee of the day. 

His policy position was simply unacceptable to me, and I sought to largely vote for candidates in the last election through the lens of that single issue. Certainly not for Fallaize – anybody but him. 

When I saw the electorate had given him the boot, I was delighted. The evil man who tried to close my secondary school and set up mega-schools was gone in my mind.

But only now do I realise what a mistake that restricted way of thinking was. 

election count 2020 

Pictured: There was no vote for Matt Fallaize on my ballot paper in 2020.

It was incredible to me how wrong I was about his character when face-to-face with him less than two years later. 

And after witnessing the slow-motion car crash that is the agreed alternative reform of the secondary education system, I pause to consider my culpability in all this.  

I begged friends and family members to not lend him their votes.      

The truth is that sometimes desire collides with reality, the complexity of governing, and the misfortune of not being able to see the unintended stumbling blocks that life leaves in its wake. 

I’m not saying if he was still leading in this area that everything would be fine and dandy. To do so would again open myself up to future examples of getting it wrong. Nor is it to say that Matt was right in his objectives.

But for many reasons, I was wrong back then. 

The letter I wrote to the media was praised by many for coming from the heart. It was. Others criticised it for being self-defeating. It was. It was illogical. 

The argument I made was more in support of 11-18 schools than my pro-selection prejudices, only I was unable to see that at the time because of them.

I see it now. Hands up. My bad. 


Pictured: I was proven wrong when Russia invaded Ukraine last year, too.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend one drunken night in mid-February last year.

He was extremely paranoid about the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, insisting that an invasion was imminent.

“That will never happen,” I said. “These things always build and build and build but an agreement will be reached at the eleventh hour”. 

I’d read editorials that conveniently reinforced my view. I agreed with them, they agreed with me. War would not return to Europe. 

Just a few days later the missiles were firing, and the tanks were rolling towards Kyiv. 

An apology was due and delivered to my friend the following weekend.

Sorry, I was wrong.


Pictured: Can people change their minds, once their manifesto has been printed?

These are just a few personal examples, but they are plain to see all around.

The point is it’s easy to decry and dismiss, particularly our politicians, without accepting our equal stake in everyday matters. 

Locally at least, they do not act with destroying the island at the forefront of their minds. I believe most are sincere and want what’s best for this community. That doesn’t mean they are right but cannot make them ‘evil’.

Having the benefit of working in a job where I’m required to speak to them candidly almost every day, my opinion has changed for many – starkly in some cases, just as it did with Matt.

Swathes of the public are enraged by what they see as turn coating on manifesto promises, particularly with respect to those three dreaded words: GST. 

As frustrating as this is, I don’t accept that coming to a different conclusion when new evidence arises is wrong. 

For those that have revised their position and intend to vote in favour of personal tax rises, these accusations are simply their cross to bear and something they should have braced for. 

But we must face up to the fact that we put those people in the decision-making chair. We are responsible for that. 

We read the manifestos and tended to lean towards the ones that said: ‘I love Guernsey, me’, ‘no new taxes’, ‘cut the fat’, ‘pay those nurses more’. 

And yet here we are.

We need to stop voting for fluff manifestos and realise that each new States will not deliver sunlit uplands and Pimm’s on deckchairs. The world is far too complex and unpredictable to expect feel-good politics in aeternum.

That goes equally for those writing the manifestos.

Just because we want it does not mean it couldn’t be wrong. 

Admitting you are wrong and giving yourself and your preconceptions up to something else is a liberating experience, and something to be celebrated. 

We would all be happier by recognising it’s not our way or the highway all the time.

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