So we have Island Wide Voting (IWV) – 6,017 (52.48%) people out of the 14,370 who voted yesterday have chosen our new system of electing Deputies. Should we respect the vote? Absolutely! Should we consider what it means? Yes – I think we have a duty to do so and now’s the time.
Whilst IWV is a quantum shift from the way we have chosen our elected representatives in the past, will it have the dynamic effect that the proponents hope for? A better calibre of Deputy was one claim – personally I don’t think IWV will make a jot of difference with the quality of candidate or, indeed, who is chosen but improving the way we support all candidates and changing the way the government works will.
We need to encourage a wide diversity of candidates not only to stand as Deputy but to put themselves forward for all roles in public life – and let’s start now by ensuring our adverts for the roles are more welcoming. We must ensure that the way in which we support candidates – whatever their background, age, gender etc – is tailored to their needs and equally given. At elections, we need to make sure it is fair for both newbies and those who re-stand for election to promote diversity and better decision making as a result.
We also need to consider how we can make IWV a success. Before I was elected, I was keen to promote Island Wide Voting as I felt it would inspire more people to get involved in Guernsey politics. I wrote a paper on all the ways that the electoral process could help such as late closing of the electoral roll, electronic voting, speed hustings, multi night hustings and a voting slip similar to the National Lottery. Quite a few of those changes have been made and no doubt more ideas will be developed.
However, the biggest question that must be addressed is does IWV go far enough? Many are disillusioned with the way Guernsey’s government works – or as some say- not work! I personally feel that the way in which policies are developed and then legislation produced is a process that could do with a complete overhaul. I believe we need a more streamline process in Guernsey in the form of executive government. We need to alter the way in which a proposal can be changed so drastically in a few hours of debate in the Assembly from the well-researched proposals which results in a complete mish mash and inevitable procrastination. We need to consider again how many Deputies are required and how roles can be designed to ensure the people of Guernsey get the most their elected representatives.
Some may say we’ve looked at that several years ago but then we didn’t have IWV. Also, I felt that executive government was dismissed out of hand so very easily in that first Policy Letter and so should be revisited. We are looking at an overhaul of the civil service, change because of Brexit and serious world issues such as climate change. For all of that, we need a government fit for purpose able to face the challenges in the decades to come. A review of our system is a must.