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Opinion

OPINION: What happened in the States last week?

OPINION: What happened in the States last week?

Saturday 16 September 2023

OPINION: What happened in the States last week?

Saturday 16 September 2023


In the first States’ meeting in July, the Policy & Resources Committee (P&R) had a number of amendments imposed upon their east coast development policy letter, despite their opposition. The Assembly then was telling P&R they really did want to see some action this term on the east coast, even if P&R had given up.

I wrote then: “The tectonic plates have shifted and they are not going to shift back.”

But even I could not have foreseen that this shift would manifest itself in humiliation for the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture (ESC), forcing the reversal of its very short-lived ‘pilot’ closure of Herm School.

Herm_School.jpg

Pictured: Deputy De Lisle successfully led the reprieve for Herm School.

After a long and ill-tempered debate, the final vote was 28-9 in favour of the Requete, ordering the school be re-opened. The 28 included two of ESC’s own members and the President of P&R.

The writing was on the wall from the get-go when Deputy De Lisle secured a significant majority for an amendment to his own Requete.

Such amendments normally face the headwind of criticism that the Requerants clearly hadn’t thought their proposals through if they are seeking to amend them. In this case, Deputy De Lisle was directing that the restoration of the school be managed from within ESC’s own resources, not by going cap in hand to P&R for more funding.

Deputy Dudley-Owen’s closing speech on ESC’s own amendment, which came next, was deflated and lacked her normal vigour. She knew what was coming.

The Assembly wasn’t interested in any of ESC’s three alternatives and the amendment was heavily defeated. Deputy Kazantseva-Miller’s well-intentioned late attempt at a compromise amendment was also swept aside. ESC’s enthusiastic support for it, may well have been its kiss-of-death.

Following the debate, Deputy De Lisle clearly wasn’t feeling very magnanimous after his victory, as he called on the committee ‘to consider their positions,’ which is of course political-speak for, ‘they should resign.’

education esc

Pictured: Deputy De Lisle called for the resignation of the ESC committee after he successfully led the Requete calling for Herm School to reopen.

Deputy De Lisle’s robust stand and loss of confidence no doubt takes account of the debacle of a debate in June on ESC’s Education Law proposals which were so amended by thumping majorities, that ESC eventually saw the light and withdrew the policy letter from further debate.

It also may reflect the widespread concern that ESC’s proposals for secondary and post-16 education are unravelling, as costs spiral out of control and without a builder yet contracted. This has resulted in a decision to move the Sixth Form from its modern, purpose built location to a site – La Mare de Carteret – ear-marked for closure, with nobody believing that such a move will only be for one year as ESC claim.

Whilst in July Deputy Murray had secured a sursis to delay the debate of the electricity strategy, ostensibly because it needed to be debated alongside P&R’s funding and investment plans, his willingness for a fight seemed to have ebbed entirely over the summer.

There was no bid to further delay the debate until P&R’s plans are debated next month and he never laid his long amendment, which had been criticised by many outside the States. Instead, an amendment worked up by he and Deputies de Sausmarez in a late night conversation was laid. This was presented and lauded as a compromise. But given that it did no more than re-present some of the language and content of the policy letter in the form of a proposition, it felt more like capitulation by Deputy Murray.

The electricity strategy went on to be approved by 37 votes to one.

bob Murray Lindsay de sausmarez

Pictured: Deputies Bob Murray and Lindsay de Sausmarez.

Given that it had at one stage seemed extremely vulnerable to significant alteration by amendment, this was a stunning, well deserved win and masterclass from Deputy de Sausmarez and her Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure (E&I). The policy letter was well researched, written and presented with support from key stakeholders assured.

Although the whole strategy is much later than originally envisaged, as it turns out, that delay has almost certainly been of benefit to E&I in securing support for the strategy.

The tectonic plates have shifted and they are not going to shift back.

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