Tony was the instigator of what became known as the Guernsey Reform Group, and worked tirelessly with others of us during the last two years of the previous States of Deliberation to promote a better overall quality of membership of the States and to advance the policies of GRG with the electorate, some of which included, inter alia:-
- Building upon the present consensus model of government, with the objective of making it work properly, if at all possible.
- Requiring strict financial controls with respect to revenue and capital expenditure by the State; in other words, living within our means.
- Requiring public accountability for both elected representatives and public servants, with power to remove staff in exceptional cases.
- Moving towards greater openness on the part of government whilst acknowledging that certain issues have to remain confidential during periods of sensitivity.
- Introducing a system of Island-wide voting which allows the electorate to choose their representatives free of limitations by district, whilst also preserving a viable parochial system.
- Seeking to reduce the number of Deputies and departments of the States.
- Promoting a society in which those in genuine need are assisted or supported with care and imagination, whilst moving away from a culture of dependency, in those cases where support toward an alternative lifestyle may be appropriate.
- Whilst encouraging and sustaining our major industries, widening the Island’s economic base and encouraging individuals to create and sustain viable businesses, offering sound employment opportunities. Matching planning goals to these objectives.
- Paying great attention to the education and training of our younger members of the community, the seed corn of the Island’s future well-being.
- Having an affordable civil service which is up-to-date, fit for purpose and has costs which are sustainable.
- Decentralising and commercialising various services and facilities, which may be run more effectively with less direct political control, but without imposing overbearing regulatory burdens on those bodies.
- Creating greater autonomy for our Island, in conjunction with other Crown dependencies, with respect to our lawmaking and external relations but without moving towards an unsupportable degree of independence.
- Maintaining a level of population consistent with preserving our well-being and Guernsey’s way of life.
All of the above and other issues have been addressed by those candidates who recently stood for election to the States of Deliberation. The electorate has chosen its future representatives with many of these points in mind. We now have the potential for strong, effective and caring government, and if it has contributed in some small way to these outcomes, the purpose for which GRG came about has been largely achieved. I believe Tony would have taken some quiet satisfaction from the outcome of the general election. As for the rest, we shall have to wait and see.
Several months prior to the elections, GRG had taken a deliberate decision to stand back and let candidates plough their own furrows. Not to have done so may have led to mischief by giving rise to the suggestion that GRG was a political party in all but name, which is certainly not the case at all.
A pressure group which presses its case, whether or not a need exists, is not desirable. In the case of GRG, it is recognised that our new States needs a period of time in which to settle down and address the future work of governing our Island effectively and responsibly.
During that period, GRG will quietly encourage our elected representatives in their endeavours. That aside, the work of GRG has been largely accomplished for the present, and only future events will dictate whether or not it needs to pursue a more active role at a later date.
Finally, we extend our grateful thanks to everyone who has contributed to the work of GRG, for some very wise counsel, considerable encouragement and, sometimes, an opposite perspective. All have been welcomed and appreciated.
For Guernsey Reform Group