Brexiteers must get their act together- fast !

Could Guernsey’s new electoral system be a trailblazer for other places?

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Trailblazing Guernsey General Election results announced on the evening of Sunday 11th October .
Guernsey’s unique one constituency election system has enabled electors to vote for ALL their 38 representatives.

This commentary explains what happened and why this new electoral system could be part of a well needed rebooting of UK democracy.

I am a former Independent Guernsey politician who has consistently campaigned to have all the political representatives in Guernsey elected in one Island constituency ( rather than seven electoral Districts, as previously). I truly believe this new way of conducting elections will be looked at with interest for the future of elections in many other places, especially for local Council elections. Elections are something I have great experience of, having undertaken all types of election work, including being a Presiding Officer in a number of UK local councils.
The Guernsey election nominations closed on Friday 4th September with 119 candidates for 38 seats.
Electors had up to 38 votes, enabling them to elect all their politicians, which is unique in the world. The results, after Polling stations closed on 7th October, were announced in the early hours of Friday 9th October, after a long counting session. There was then a call for a recount which was completed by early Sunday evening, 11th October.
So far, this new system has been successful, with just minor teething problems, and the electorate were able to cope with a long list of candidates to choose from.
The result has been a blend of the new and old faces and the electorate seem to have chosen wisely. They will never able to complain about some politicians obtaining senior positions as a result of getting elected on relatively small numbers of votes in their constituencies, because that system has been consigned to the dustbins of history. They can now truly say they can elect every single one of their politicians, rather than just a small number.


All jurisdictions have their own forms of elections, which go through change and enhancement.
This is no different in Guernsey, where I come from, and where I was proud to be an elected political representative for over thirteen years.
I have always been interested in electoral reform, and for some years both when I was elected as what is known as a People’s Deputy and afterwards, I actively campaigned to have all the Guernsey politicians elected in one single Island constituency.

I successfully had a States of Guernsey resolution passed to bring in the legal mechanism for the Island to have referenda. This was ultimately followed by the proposal to have a referendum on various options for Island wide voting and the Election which took place now is the result of the choice the people made.
Although I have not been in the front line of politics in Guernsey for some years, I am impressed that what is known as the Guernsey States, the Island Parliament, have finally brought about this major electoral change.
It truly is an historic occasion and I congratulate the States of Guernsey and their Assembly and Constitution Committee for making this happen.

In Jersey, when the Island was considering electoral changes, the electorate were surprisingly never given a choice of voting for Island wide voting for all politicians. It could be argued that this is the reason why Jersey still have three different types of elected politician. This means that, depending on which part of the Island they live in, the Jersey electorate, can vote for between 8 and 12 of their 49 politicians. A vast difference with the Guernsey system.

The other Crown Dependency, the Isle of Man, has 24 Members of their House of Keys elected in constituencies of two, for a five year terms, which means their electorate can vote for up to two of their politicians. It is inevitable that Guernsey’s new electoral system will be looked at with interest not just by the other two Crown Dependencies, but by the fourteen British Overseas Territories, all of which have their own political systems.

The Guernsey electorate had a good range of candidates to choose from with the election day being on 7th October, but with pre-voting staring a few days before on 3rd October, as well as postal voting.

Indeed about two thirds of the electorate signed up for postal votes, which meant that only a third voted at the various Polling stations. This exceptionally high number of postal voters has to be a British Isles record. It could be the result of having a long list of candidates to choose from, it could be voters being less keen to go to polling stations ( even though Guernsey is officially covid-19 free), or it could be just personal choice. This time, it was possible to be a candidate at the age of 18, and Guernsey has had voting at the age of 16 for some years.

In fact there were 119 candidates for 38 seats, which gave them a one in three chance of being elected. ( One dropped out due to health reasons, but remained on the Ballot paper).
It is more candidates than the 81 candidates for the same number of seats in the 2016 pre-reform Guernsey General Election, so it could be argued that the new system has encouraged more candidate interest.

There is also a basic pay of approximately £38,000, more for those given Committee Head and other responsibilities. Electors had to decide who was worth that sum, but interestingly it does not seem sufficient to attract more youngish professional high achiever workers with families to stand, although some did get elected.

As for voter interest, the turnout was 77.8% which was most impressive.
Generally it is believed that the more candidates, the more voters turn out as they have more choice.
The turnout in 2016 was 71.9% and 71.4% in 2012, so Island wide one constituency voting has increased the public interest.
There was a massive increase in postal voting, with 21,000 electors voting that way out of a total who voted of 24,647 voters. Postal votes were only about 3000 at the previous election.
This has to be a first in political history and could be a future trend post covid-19 fears.


Interestingly, voters used an average of 26 votes out of the 38 they could use.
143 voting slips were rejected because of people voting for too many candidates.
Thus there could be calls to change to voting for all the candidates in order of preference in the future, as this could not happen with this system. A total of 637,770 votes were cast by 24,647 voters ( out of 30,899 eligible ones), as opposed to 21,803 voters in the 2016 Election.

As for voter registration, that has only increased slightly at 31,301, up from 30,320 in 2016 and 29,745 in 2012.
Guernsey voter registration is just 63% of those eligible to be on the electoral roll, so it means that 37% of those eligible to be on the electoral roll were therefore not able to vote. This means that two thirds of those in Guernsey were franchised to vote and a third not. This is not a positive, but a problem in many democratic jurisdictions, and one Guernsey is working on to improve.

If comparisons are made with the UK, there were 3415 candidates in the December 2019 General Election for 650 seats which gave candidates in theory less than a one in five chance of being elected, but in practice not taking into account their “safe” seats scenario and first past the post electoral system. There were 3250 candidates representing 68 political parties and only 206 independent candidates.

In Guernsey there were a total of 40 candidates representing political groupings which would concern some as if they had won all the seats, they would completely control the agenda. Many in Guernsey were concerned that these would act like political parties and effectively “whip” their members into voting in certain ways, but these claims have been denied.
The rest of the candidates- 78- were Independents ( who were made up of 18 current States Members and 5 former States Members).
Of the political groupings:
The Guernsey Partnership of Independents (GPI)- 21 candidates-(made up of 11 present and 4 former States Members and 6 newcomers)
The Guernsey Alliance Party (GAP)- 11 candidates- (all newcomers)
The Guernsey Party (GP)– 8 candidates- (all newcomers)
Standing under a “party” banner was a mixed blessing, as it seemed to help some and hinder other candidates. Guernsey is a place where Independent politics is highly valued, yet 16 “party” grouping candidates were elected, with the remaining 22 seats being won by Independents.
There will now be a battle for who will be Chief Minister and who will run the key government Committees.
The Guernsey Partnership of Independents grouping won 10 seats and the Guernsey Party 6 seats, so they will likely be trying to obtain the support of the Independents in coming contests for key political positions.

There were 28 women and 91 men candidates, so a ratio of approximately one to three.
Although, like many places, Guernsey has had pressure for more female candidates and indeed at the previous election made concerted efforts to bring this about, generally the consensus is that it is merit which should count at the ballot box, not gender. This was reflected with the voting results which saw just 8 women being elected ( as opposed to 12 before).

Eleven sitting Deputies lost their seats, five men and six women, and three major Committee Presidents lost their seats. A further 9 sitting Deputies did not stand, which meant that the new States of Guernsey is made up 18 of the previous Members and 20 newcomers ( one of whom was a previous Deputy)

Guernsey now has all politicians elected by the whole Island to represent the Island, rather than the former District electoral system (which had the big disadvantage of not subjecting them to full Island electorate accountability). In neighbouring Jersey the situation is less straightforward with a current mix of 8 Island wide elected Senators, 29 Deputies for Parishes and Districts, and 12 Parish Connetables. This is roughly the system which Guernsey used to have, but changed some years ago.
There is nowhere else in the world which offers this immense choice to the electors.

It is true that there are some jurisdictions like Sark and Alderney and indeed a number of British Overseas Territories which elect all their politicians on a one constituency basis.
However, their populations are much smaller and inevitably the responsibilities are not as extensive as that of the Guernsey States.

There are larger jurisdictions, such as Fiji, Israel and Mozambique, which have whole country type constituencies, but they are still dissimilar because they have proportional representation and party lists. It is thus exceptionally difficult for Independents to become elected.

There are countries such as the Philippines where a proportion of the politicians are elected on a nationwide basis and some independents do get elected. This is effectively similar to the previous Island wide Conseiller system Guernsey used to have. Indeed, I was the last Island wide Conseiller elected at a by-election in 1998. (There were 12 such Conseillers, considered to be the more senior politicians).

In Guernsey, the new concept of the elector being able to vote for every single representative, is much more democratic and accountable. The system is based on voting for the individual and voting in the individuals best suited to be Members of the States of Guernsey.

This historic move by Guernsey has the potential to change how many world countries view democracy and voting rights.
Guernsey should be proud of this achievement.
End

Anthony ( Tony) Webber
States of Guernsey Member 1991-2004
Independent Political Commentator
anthonywebber@cwgsy.net
07824 444604

Brexiteers must get their act together- fast !

Survey of Guernsey Election candidates views on covid-19 related issues

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Summary of results of Guernsey Election candidates’ Survey in relation to Covid-19 related issues

Plus analysis of how the candidates responded to the questions posed ( dealt with in order as further below, given beneath each question).

The political survey for election candidates on covid-19 related issues closed on 28th September.
It has resulted in some useful and varied feedback being received.
I believe that what has been said is a good reflection of how the candidates feel generally.

I know through having been a States of Guernsey Member and having fought a number of Elections, the huge pressures of time which candidates are put under.
In this Election, there have been a number of surveys and questionnaires sent to candidates as well as numerous individual queries from voters, apart from many other election commitments, so it is not surprising if some of them feel overwhelmed.

A short while ago, one of my former political colleagues, John Langlois, sent out a survey on a different subject, with three other individuals, and despite a lot of media promotion, did not receive responses from over 30 of the candidates. The survey I sent out was sent to the local media but was not publicised by them and this affected the level of responses.

There is probably an argument for the Elections Office to facilitate the sending out of questionnaires and surveys to candidates, as another option to organisations and individuals sending them out themselves.
This would ensure a level playing field in this regard.

When I stood as an election candidate I always completed questionnaires and surveys, whether I agreed with them or not, as I believed that it was important to demonstrate transparency and openness on all issues.
There are clearly a number of candidates who have a different opinion on that, which I feel is a pity as it certainly reduces the amount of information on candidates’ views which the electorate is able to be given.

I was also disappointed that there was an effort to dissuade candidates from completing the survey, with at least two Deputies going on social media doing exactly that.

In addition, it was put about that anyone completing the survey was knocking the covid-19 policies the Island authorities adopted. This was untrue as candidates were free to say what they wanted, and did so.

It was also said that I was biased in that I have always been an open opponent of lockdown and a proponent of lockdown free Sweden and other lockdown free countries.
My views were not relevant as this was an opportunity for candidates to express theirs.

There is also the view that some candidates unfortunately have, that they do not “waste their time” on election surveys and want to focus on whatever election methods obtain them the most votes.
This is where local media encouragement to candidates to participate in these surveys is most important.

However, all these aspects had an effect on the numbers of candidates completing the survey.

It was obvious that the survey addressed issues which a number of politicians would rather were kept under wraps.

Despite all this, there was a response from about a third of the candidates, and credit to them for doing so. Some of those responding gave reasons as to why they could not complete the survey, which ranged from being very busy to not agreeing with it. Those who replied demonstrated courtesy which is sadly becoming a rare commodity in politics.
I am also sure that, given a bit more time, more candidates would have been able to complete their surveys, but there has to be a cut- off point at some stage, especially with an election on !

There were 39 candidates replying, with 26 providing survey responses.
The other 12 said either: they would complete the survey, but didn’t; gave good reasons as to why they did not have the time; or gave reasons for declining.

Of the existing States Members standing, the only ones who completed the survey were those who are Independents. There were 5 of these. Jennifer Merrett, Matt Fallaize, Victoria Oliver, Marc Leadbeater and John Gollop. Two Independent States Members gave good reasons as to why they wanted to complete the survey but had run out of time ( Jeremy Smithies and Andrea Dudley Owen).
One former States Member completed the survey, Garry Collins.

Another former States Member replied after the deadline to say she was not going to waste her time completing the survey, Jenny Tasker.

8 Independent candidates who are not States Members also completed the survey:
Simon Fairclough, Diane Mitchell, Yves Lenormand, Rob Gibson, Nicola Young, Clint Gardner, John Titmus, and Gordon Young.
Two Independent candidates said they would complete the survey if they had time;
Richard Skipper and Paul Neuvel.
One, John Robilliard, sought clarification.
One said they would and then did not do so: Sian Jones
One engaged in useful debate about the survey and did not complete it: Chris Blin
One, Guilhem Chene, acknowledged receipt of the survey
One, Marc Brehaut, declined to complete the survey.

Of the Alliance Party of Guernsey, a joint response on completing the survey was made on behalf of the 11 candidates by John Cunningham.
In addition to him, the other candidates are:
Kevin Hainsworth, Arron Hawke, Luke Tough, Daniel Mihalache, Ken Smith, Phil Le Ber, Jane Le Ber, Barry Weir, Geoffrey Mahy and Elaine Mahy

Of the Guernsey Party candidates, 8 reduced to 7 because one has withdrawn from the election:
Two responded.
One Chris Le Tissier, gave reasons why he was not completing the survey.
One, John Dyke, gave a partial contribution due to time constraints.

No States Member who was a member of the Guernsey Partnership of Independents completed the survey. To his credit, one States Member, Mark Dorey, stated why he had not the time.
Of the non- States Members in the group, two gave reasons as to why they were not completing the survey: Sasha Kazantseva-Miller and Tina Bury. There were no replies from any of the former States Members.

In summary:
Of the 78 Independent candidates 21 replied and 14 made responses to the survey
Of the Guernsey Alliance Party, replies and a response to the survey was made on behalf of them all 11 candidates.
Of the Guernsey Party, out of seven candidates, two replies were made with one partial response to the survey
Of the Guernsey Partnership of Independents( 21 candidates of mainly present and former States Members), three replies were made with no responses to the survey.

Five existing States Members, all Independents, completed the survey and one former States Member (Independent)
It is particularly commendable that five sitting Deputies were able to withstand pressures and complete the survey.
Completing the survey simply showed their preparedness to make their own views public on a variety of related issues, and did not imply anything except that.
The same applies to the candidates who are not sitting Deputies who took the trouble to give their views.

For the candidates who did not take the opportunity to give their views on the issue, the electorate have been denied such knowledge.
The survey was intended to open up the election debate on the subject of the authorities’ reaction to covid-19 and various related issues.
Engagement on important issues should be encouraged, not avoided.
Clearly it suited a number of States Members to keep this out of the election, but who will it benefit by doing so?

The analysis of the Survey and some of the points which were made by the candidates is given below. Some of the responses have been very interesting and thought provoking and are referred to below under the title “Responses:”

END
Anthony ( Tony ) Webber
Former States Member, both Deputy and Island Wide Conseiller, 1991-2004
Independent Political Commentator
anthonywebber@cwgsy.net
07824 444604

RESPONSES and the preamble sent to Election Candidates:

For the attention of Guernsey Election Candidates:

Congratulations for putting your name forward for People’s Deputy in these historic Island Wide elections.
Having fought a number of Guernsey elections myself, I am well aware of the pressures on candidates’ time during the election period.
However, I would be grateful if you would complete this survey, the results of which will be made public.
The deadline for the email return is Monday 28th September 2020 at the latest please.

The way the Guernsey authorities has dealt with the covid-19 crisis has had far reaching
consequences for all aspects of economic, political, social and health as well as for many other areas of Island life.
It is important in this election to both debate those decisions as well as to formulate a recovery from the consequences of those decisions.

Survey of views in relation to the Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath:

On 23rd March the UK government brought in a lockdown policy.
At the time, the Guernsey government through the Chief Minister, Gavin St. Pier, said that a lockdown was not appropriate for Guernsey because of the economic and psychological consequences.
The next evening, a lockdown policy for Guernsey was announced to commence at 00.01 hours on 25th March.
1.)Do you think pressure was put on the Guernsey authorities by the British government to have a lockdown?
(Please note that all the countries of the UK and all the three British Crown Dependencies and fourteen British Overseas Territories had lockdowns, regardless of their covid-19 circumstances ).
Please put Yes or No or No comment

Responses:
General point for all questions -Please note that some of the responses on some of the questions were left out, filled in as no comment, or not sure, or similar, and they have been recorded as No Comment. All the individual completed surveys are available on request. The order of responses was done by picking names out of a hat.

Responses on Question 1.)
Gordon Young -No comment/not sure. Jennifer Merrett- No. Simon Fairclough- No. Matt Fallaize-No. Diane Mitchell –Yes, likely. Yves Lenormand- May have. Victoria Oliver-No. Garry Collins-No. Rob Gibson-No. Nicola Young- Yes. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- No. John Titmus- No. John Gollop- No. Guernsey Alliance Party statement ( attached) by Tony Cunningham on behalf of his colleagues, to be read in respect of the total survey: Kevin Hainsworth, Aaron Hawke, Luke Tough, Daniel Mihalache, Ken Smith, Phil Le Ber, Jane Le Ber, Barry Weir, Geoffrey Mahy and Elaine Mahy.
Summary: No-9. Yes- 2. No comment/not sure-13

The Guernsey authorities have had access to covid-19 government information from the UK.
Guernsey has been following the discredited “flatten the curve” theories of Public Health England’s Professor Neil Ferguson.
2.)In view of the extensive damage done to Guernsey’s economy and other aspects of Island life, do you believe that Guernsey should claim compensation from the British government for their advice which has led to a lockdown in Guernsey?
Please put Yes, No or No comment Responses: Gordon Young- Not sure. Jennifer Merrett-No. Simon Fairclough-No. Matt Fallaize-No. Diane Mitchell- Not sure. Yves Lenormand- No. Victoria Oliver-No. Garry Collins-No. Rob Gibson- No. Nicola Young-No comment/unsure. Marc Leadbeater-No. Clint Gardner-Yes. John Titmus- No. John Gollop-No. The Guernsey Alliance Party taken in the No comment category.
Summary: No-10, Yes-1, No comment/not sure- 14

3.)The Guernsey General Election, which had been planned over four years ago, was postponed from the June 2020 date, originally for a year, and then to the current date of October 7th 2020.
Bearing in mind the fact that a number of countries went ahead with their elections during the covid-19 crisis, in particular South Korea, do you think that Guernsey should have had the elections on 17th June 2020, as originally scheduled?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- No. Simon Fairclough- Yes, with hindsight. Matt Fallaize- No. Diane Mitchell- Yes. Yves Lenormand-No. Victoria Oliver- Yes. Garry Collins-Yes, using postal voting. Rob Gibson-No. Nicola Young- Yes. Marc Leadbeater-No. Clint Gardner-No. John Titmus- Yes, people wanted an election asap. John Gollop- No. The Guernsey Alliance Party ( Tony Cunningham, Kevin Hainsworth, Aaron Hawke, Luke Tough, Daniel Mihalache, Ken Smith, Phil Le Ber, Jane Le Ber, Barry Weir, Geoffrey Mahy and Elaine Mahy ) gave a Yes in their statement.
Summary: Yes- 18. No- 7.

When the lockdown restrictions were announced in Guernsey, the Guernsey Chief Minister said in effect that they were as bad ( if not worse) than those imposed on the population by the occupying German Nazi forces.
4.)Do you believe that these lockdown restrictions were a major mistake to take basic liberties away from Guernsey citizens ?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- No. Simon Fairclough-No. Matt Fallaize- No. Diane Mitchell- No/not sure. Yves Lenormand- No. Victoria Oliver-No, unfortunately. Garry Collins- No. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes, with hindsight. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- Not at the beginning. John Titmus- No. John Gollop- No. The GAP (Guernsey Alliance Party) taken as No comment.
Summary: No-10. Yes-3. No comment/not sure- 14

5.)Do you believe that the senior Guernsey authorities, especially the CCA ( Civil Contingencies Authority ) have not shared sufficient information to States Members and the general public, particularly about the policies of countries like Sweden and others, who did not institute lockdowns, and the ample availability of worldwide medical opinion advising on alternatives to lockdowns ?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment

Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- No. Simon Fairclough-No. Matt Falliaze-No. Diane Mitchell-No. Yves Lenormand-No. Victoria Oliver- No. Garry Collins-No comment. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- No-scare tactics from the news did not leave Dr. Brink much choice. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes. John Gollop-No but needed more international context. The GAP taken as No comment. Summary: No-9. Yes-4. No comment- 12.

6.) Do you believe that the CCA should be discontinued in its current role and that all authoritarian powers taken up by the Guernsey government should be abolished so that citizens have their freedoms back ?
(It is obviously accepted that Guernsey has ended lockdown and is much more free than many parts of the UK which are in lockdown, but the powers are still there).
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- No. Simon Fairclough-No. Matt Fallaize- No. Diane Mitchell- No, CCA needed changing anyway. Yves Lenormand- No. Victoria Oliver- No. Garry Collins- No. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- No. John Gollop- No, new body needed. The GAP taken as no comment.
Summary: No- 10. Yes -4. No comment-11.

Guernsey still has very strict quarantine and isolation rules subject to draconian penalties.
These , together with the testing and tracing policies, are very costly to implement, as well as damaging to the economy and to Guernsey’s reputation.
7.)Do you believe that these restrictions should be ended and Guernsey allowed to return to normal life?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young-Yes. Jennifer Merrett- No. Simon Fairclough-‘Yes’, until pandemic is managed. Matt Fallaize- No. Diane Mitchell- No. Yves Lenormand- No. Victoria Oliver- No, the new normal. Garry Collins- No. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young-Yes, but a lot of people are still scared. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- No, not yet. John Titmus- No. John Gollop- No. The GAP taken as No comment. Summary: No- 10. Yes-4. No comment- 11.

8.)Bearing in mind how serious the consequences of lockdown are, do you believe that there should not have been a lockdown without the consent of the Guernsey electorate, as none of the States Members had a mandate to bring in such draconian restrictions ?
Please put Yes, No or No comment Responses: Gordon Young- No. Jennifer Merrett- Not sure/no comment. Simon Fairclough- No, quick response needed. Matt Fallaize- No. Diane Mitchell- No. Yves Lenormand- No. Victoria Oliver- No. Garry Collins- No. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young Yes, based on information Deputies had at the time. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- No. John Gollop – No, but States should have been allowed to meet virtually in the first month. GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: No- 11. Yes- 2. No comment-12.

The Guernsey lockdown financially affected numerous people.
In some countries which brought about a lockdown policy, the politicians recognised that they should bear a similar financial pain to that which they inflicted on their own citizens. Thus New Zealand Ministers took a 20% pay cut for six months.
9.) Do you think senior and all Guernsey politicians should have shown the same example?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Response: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- No comment/not sure. Simon Fairclough- No. Matt Falaize- No. Diane Mitchell- Yes. Yves Lenormand- Yes, should have been considered. Victoria Oliver- Yes, and States Members did not take pay rise. Garry Collins- Yes. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes and also the executive Civil Servants. Marc Leadbeater- Yes. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes, they are paid too much. John Gollop –No, but maybe means testing. GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: Yes-10. No-3. No comment- 12.

With the imposition of emergency powers came a different approach from the majority of national and local media, which resulted in the absence of any intelligent debate about the alternatives to lockdown.
Only pro lockdown views were allowed, reminiscent of the sort of censorship countries only have during wartime.
The British government’s SAGE Committee’s minutes also reveal that they had a policy of creating a climate of fear to bring about compliance with the restrictions. The British government have been using the military and PR agencies to disrupt the presentation of facts which discredit their lockdown policy. This is all most disturbing.
10.) Do you believe that freedom of the media is vital and efforts should be put in place to protect such freedom?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment. Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- Yes. Simon Fairclough- No comment made. Matt Fallaize- Yes. Diane Mitchell- Not sure. Vyes Lenormand- the media put more fear in the community, taken as Yes. Victoria Oliver- Yes. Garry Collins- Yes. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes, mainstream media very biased and full of sensational scare tactics. Marc Leadbeater- Yes. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes. John Gollop- Yes. GAP taken as no comment.
Summary: Yes- 12. No- 0. No comment- 13.

It has been known right from the beginning of the covid-19 crisis who is most vulnerable.
Thus in Guernsey, despite the panic about infection rates, there have been 13 over 70’s who have sadly died in relation to covid-19. This does not justify shutting down the economy and disrupting the lives of the majority of the population.
The attention to infection rates is not merited because those not in the vulnerable category are effectively not at risk.
In fact Guernsey’s “Shield” policy for the vulnerable commenced on 26TH March, after the British government brought in their Shield policy on 22nd March.
11.)Do you believe that Guernsey should have targeted the protection of the vulnerable much earlier, as some jurisdictions like Gibraltar, have had no covid-19 related deaths?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- With hindsight. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- Yes. Diane Mitchell- No, acted as quickly as they could. Yves Lenormand- Yes. Victoria Oliver- Yes. Garry Collins- Yes. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes. Marc Leadbeater- Yes. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes. John Gollop- Yes. The GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: Yes-12. No-1. No comment- 11

12.) Do you believe that there should be FULL Scrutiny Committee investigation on all the actions of Guernsey’s Policy and Resources Committee and the CCA from the beginning of the covid-19 crisis, including access to all the minutes, and questioning of all the politicians and public servants concerned ?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- Scrutiny Committee did do some work on this. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- Yes. Diane Mitchell- Yes. Yves Lenormand- No but some scrutiny needed. Victoria Oliver- Yes, see where we can improve. Garry Collins- Yes, should review anyway. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes. Marc Leadbeater- Yes. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes. John Gollop- Yes. GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: Yes- 12. No-1. No comment 13

The costs of Guernsey dealing with this crisis have been horrendous.
Guernsey could have had free prescription charges, free ambulances, free A and E , free doctor’s appointments and a Reciprocal Health Agreement with the UK for the money spent on covid-19.
13.) Do you believe the authorities could have been more cautious with the expenditure of taxpayers’ money?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- Yes. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- No. Diane Mitchell- Yes. Yves Lenormand- they did what they thought was right at the time. Victoria Oliver- Yes, but they needed to help people right away. Garry Collins- Yes. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes, with hindsight. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes. John Gollop- No. The GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: Yes-10. No- 3. No Comment- 12.

Guernsey has a lot of expenditure commitments to maintain services, invest for the future and to pay back the extensive borrowing which has been incurred to pay for the covid-19 policy.
14.)Would you consider GST or VAT to bring in the money needed
(Please note that only five jurisdictions in the world do not have a sales type tax)
Please answer Yes, No or No comment Responses: Gordon Young- No, too much tax. Jennifer Merrett- No. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- Like to avoid if possible. Diane Mitchell- No, finance seems to be in full recovery and need to find other ways. Yves Lenormand- No, even though it may take longer to recover. Victoria Oliver- No. Garry Collins- No. Rob Gibson- No. Nicola Young- No. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- No. John Titmus- No. John Gollop- No. The GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: No- 13. Yes- 0. No comment 12.

Please also mention any recovery idea/s/plans you have and how you would provide the finances for them.

The Guernsey States has recently allowed for the fast tacking of a vaccine for covid-19.
This will bypass the regulatory framework of the MRHA, and doing this would be potentially dangerous.
It is not responsible to rely on the judgement of the Medical Officer of Health for such an important decision.
It will also not be possible for anyone who has the vaccine to sue the authorities or the manufacturers if they are harmed by it. This is highly unusual.
15.) Will you commit to only allowing a vaccine to be used with Guernsey people if it has had the full regulatory approval and has had extensive testing, which is the norm with vaccines?
Please put Yes, No or No comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- has been debated. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- Yes. Diane Mitchell- a personal decision. Yves Lenormand- a personal decision, will not personally be taking any vaccine. Victoria Oliver- States have agreed to, not comfortable with it. Garry Collins- No comment given. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes. John Gollop- No. The GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: Yes- 6. No-3. No comment-16

16.) Will you also commit to only allowing a covid-19 vaccine to be used in Guernsey if there is full disclosure as to exactly what is in it ?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merret- States debated this. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- No. Diane Mitchell- Not sure. Yves Lenormand- personal decision. Victoria Oliver- Yes. Garry Collins- No comment . Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- still be very wary. Marc Leadbeater- Yes. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- No. John Gollop- Yes. The GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: Yes- 6. No- 2. No comment/other- 17

17.) Will you commit to never having any vaccine in Guernsey made mandatory and that this is a decision to be made by individuals themselves?
Please put Yes, No or No comment. Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- Yes. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- Yes. Diane Mitchell- Yes, should have choice. Yves Lenormand- Yes. Victoria Oliver- Yes. Garry Collins- No comment. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes, would never consent to it being mandatory. Marc Leadbeater- No. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes. John Gollop- Yes. GAP taken as No comment.
Summary: Yes- 11. No-1. No comment- 13.

It is important for the public in Guernsey to have healthy immune systems as this is the best defence against viruses like covid-19.
Thus the promotion of healthy foods and drinks, a healthy lifestyle and access to natural remedies to help boost the immune system are vital.
18.)Will you commit to ensuring the Guernsey public have States advice and assistance in the provision of healthy foods, drinks, minerals, vitamins, supplements and natural remedies such as homeopathic ones?
Please put Yes, No or No Comment Responses: Gordon Young- Yes. Jennifer Merrett- Yes. Simon Fairclough- No comment given. Matt Fallaize- Yes. Diane Mitchell- this is a personal matter. Yves Lenormand- Yes. Victoria Oliver- Yes. Garry Collins- No comment. Rob Gibson- Yes. Nicola Young- Yes. Marc Leadbeater –Yes. Clint Gardner- Yes. John Titmus- Yes, individual decision to follow good advice. John Gollop- Yes. The GAP taken as No comment. Summary: Yes- 11. No- 0. No comment- 14.

Finally, if there are any more detailed comments you wish to make on any of the subject areas, please feel free to do so.
Simply reply using this email with your responses in each subject area, and at the end too if you wish.

Candidates further comments received:
The Guernsey Alliance Party sent some comments which are attached.
John Dyke of the Guernsey Party sent in some comments which are also attached.
Gordon Young stated that he wants Guernsey to become more self- sufficient, and grow more, such as organic produce.
Nicola Young stated that she wants to revive the growing industry with the producing of cannabis and industrial hemp, with hundreds of millions of pounds a year. This she stated would help the environment and create local jobs. She also wanted to decriminalise cannabis for recreational purposes and to regulate, tax and licence it.
John Gollop said he believed in freedom and that we ned more information about how different communities have dealt with covid-19. Believe Dr. Brink and team have done well though.

My own general comment:
I am grateful to those candidates who have replied and who have taken the trouble to complete the survey, in full or in part.
It does not matter what points of view the candidates have, what does matter is the preparedness to give such views to be open to discuss the varied issues covered by the survey.
Engagement on this issues is so important so that Guernsey gets policies right for the future ahead.
It is clear to me that Guernsey has done its best with the covid-19 and that, as some candidates stated, hindsight is a wonderful thing in retrospect.

However, it does seem that Guernsey does need to obtain far more information from places which have performed well without lockdown policies, as well as from other lockdown ones.
It would be a mistake to become complacent just because Guernsey came out of lockdown sooner than many places and because the situation in the UK appears to be so disastrous.
The issues of quarantine, and indeed track and trace, are in fact becoming more contentious and open minds are needed to make the right decisions for the future.
As one of the comments said, it appeared that the medical opinion was not sufficiently balanced by the economic one.
Guernsey has just gone by one medical school of thought and the jury is still out on whether the right courses of action have been taken.
There were some issues in the survey where there was a great deal unanimity from the candidates which is very positive.
Freedom of the press came out as very important, as did have personal choices on any covid-19 vaccine which may be available. It was significant too, that there was a groundswell of agreement on protecting the body’s immune system, as dealt with in question 18.
There seemed to be a feeling that freedoms for individuals are very important, too.
What is important is that these covid-19 issues are not swept under the carpet at this election by some people who wrongly believe they should not be debated.

Personally I am very concerned about Guernsey having a viable recovery and reconstruction plan.
On the issue of GST/VAT I am not surprised at election time that there is a reluctance to commit to this.
I could be wrong, but bearing in mind we are the only Crown Dependency without it, and the Isle of Man and Jersey receive substantial monies in from these taxes, I cannot see how Guernsey can avoid it without reducing services and benefits, borrowing more, selling off public assets and increasing other taxes and charges. The bottom line is this finance is needed.
All credit to those who have contributed, whatever their opinions, and as the saying goes “much respect to you,” is my appropriate thank you to them.
From my part I have carried out this survey as fairly as possible and if it is not perfect, I hope it can be seen that
I have done my best and that is all anyone can do.

Good luck with to those standing in the election.
All best wishes

Anthony ( Tony ) Webber
Independent Political Commentator
Former People’s Deputy and Island Wide Conseiller, 1991-2004
07824 444604
anthonywebber@cwgsy.net

Brexiteers must get their act together- fast !

What has happened to World Press Freedom Day ?

Posted on

World Press Freedom Day, Sunday 3RD May

Much of the mainstream media have ignored World Press Freedom Day.

The reason is the appalling lack of press freedom there is at the moment, especially during this covid-19 crisis. The very mention of press freedom would be an awkward reminder of how non- existent it is, so the way to deal with it is to pretend this special UN day does not exist.

That is a major cause for concern.

It is very apt to bear in mind a couple of the themes which World Press Freedom has this year:

“Journalism without fear or favour”

“Independent professional journalism free from political and commercial influence”

It is also so important to never forget the time honoured saying of John Philpot Curran, Thomas Jefferson, and many others: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

It is so relevant to remember the history of press freedom and where it went wrong.

As we witness the daily press conferences of the UK and indeed many other governments, which other country had daily Press Conferences using their national flag in the background?

It was in fact Nazi Germany, instigated by Joseph Goebbels, in 1933.

This article on press freedom focuses how those with a certain political view have high-jacked all semblance of press balance and impartiality to close down debate on any alternative viewpoints.

It covers the need to:

End the media lockdown of free speech on covid-19

Let those who oppose the lockdown speak !

Let the public have all statistics, not just the ones the government wants to be seen

All other issues relevant to covid-19

It also asks the question:

Will the lockdown policy lay the government open to billions of pounds of compensation claims?

And:

Other free press issues

This article is also about the concern anyone in journalism should have about the lack of honesty and accountability by the government on the issue of covid-19.

One glaring fact which cannot be ignored is that the government has had virtual total control of the media agenda from the very start of this crisis.

It is worth recalling, just a few weeks ago, before he was ill, Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, at one of his press conferences, concluded it by thanking “our media friends for their support.”

This was further epitomised by the BBC bosses asking their interviewees not to put government Ministers under too much pressure over the coronavirus crisis ( according to veteran broadcaster John Humphries in his Mail article on 11th April).

This summed up not just the BBC’s attitude, but what the whole mainstream media has been like throughout his crisis.

Every media organisation, editor and individual staff should be asking whether they could be improving free political expression on the anniversary of World Press Freedom day. And what they will be doing to change over the coming months?

Basically, the media has not been questioning and scrutinising policy detail as they should be, but only asking the most timid or the most superficial of questions, all fundamentally following the government’s line.

This has all resulted in the government carrying out a successful misinformation exercise, to the extent that the public have not been told the truth.

What the public deserves to know is why non- lockdown countries like Taiwan and South Korea have been so successful compared with the UK, and why those countries who have non-lockdown polices are barely mentioned as not having lockdowns.

The impression has been created that the whole world is in involved in lockdown policies and that economic and social lockdowns have been the only way to fight the covid-19 virus.

It is the height of dishonesty yet much of the media, far from questioning the medical merits of economic and social lockdowns, have been actively encouraging such policies.

Yet economic and social lockdown policies are already having frightening consequences on all fronts for the UK.

Who is criticising the government for not thinking about all these factors before they rushed into this disastrous lockdown, which has no proven medical merit ? Virtually no one !

This is letting the public down tremendously.

We now have a hysterical climate of fear amongst some of the public. This was never justified in the first place, but was started by the government, and then festered and fostered by much of the media.

Any thinking person knows that all of this media manipulation is just not right.

It is known that key government advisor Dominic Cummings wanted the shutdown.

Does his influence scare the media that so much that they feel they have to toe the line?

It is worth going back in history to 1933, when Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda Minister, assumed control over the style and content of the entire newspaper industry by holding daily press conferences. Journalists who failed to bring their reporting into line with official demands were threatened with banishment from the profession and persecution.

There are modern equivalents of how journalists can feel threatened and intimated, so such possibilities cannot be ignored.

In Nazi Germany, the government line was put forward under the banner of the national emblem.

The media put a gloss on German policies, and ignored the more unpleasant realities of their situation.

By 1940 the propaganda Ministry had even more control of what the media said.

In the UK, the daily press conferences, full of justification for government lockdown measures, are also under the emblem of the national flag. In the UK, the government has taken on authoritarian powers unsurpassed in peacetime. We do not even know what pressures have been put on the British media by the government, be it by a form of “D” notice or similar. But certainly something is not right.

One Editor remarked that there was a “D” notice on April Fool’s stories this year. That would sound a bizarre claim, yet this year it was necessary to go to online media to find them.

It is important to learn from the lessons of history and for British journalists to hold the government to account and not end up being the mouthpiece for government policy.

Thinking people know that the government have made an horrendous policy blunder on the economic and social lockdown, but rather than being honest and admitting it, the government are doing everything they can to exempt themselves from scrutiny, and to find an exit from it which saves their own credibility. In the meantime, they continue with their relentless brainwashing deception of the British public, who deserve much better. The truth would be a start, not just some of it !

The media should be calling the government to account, but they are not doing so as fully as they should be.

Even the many other policy blunders the government have made in relation to how they have dealt with covid-19, have not had the media attention they really merited. There have just been a scattering of exceptions to this.

Worse than this, any political or medical commentator, or indeed any reasonable intelligent person who does not agree with the government’s lockdown policy, is simply locked out because such no views which diverge from the government’s line are allowed. They are No plat-formed, a worrying trend in politics today to stifle informed debate.

The government knows that their lockdown policy will collapse if it is put up to any serious questioning, and this is why they simply want to avoid it.

The government are even not taken to task by the media when they thank the public for obeying their lockdown rules. The media know the public have no choice anyway. Non- compliance means fines or imprisonment. Why are media so silent on these fundamental issues.

The only government who have the moral right to thank their citizens are those who make requests to them which they comply with under their free will, such as the Swedish government, not a government which issues dictates which are the law !

We have draconian anti-libertarian rules, imposed by what has become an authoritarian state.

Why have the media been so meekly complicit in all this?

Why have the guardians of freedom, become the guardians of those who oppress freedom?

I am therefore hoping that more in the media who have integrity, will have the courage to question the lockdown policy in detail.

And there is so much more, why are the public denied so much information:

On day to day matters, are not the public entitled to know the daily and culmative deaths from all causes, rather than just the covid-19 related ones?

Are not the public entitled to the full picture on covid-19 deaths:

The ages, sexes, ethnicities of those who have died

The specific areas they have died

The underlying conditions they had, in each category, in addition to covid-19

And if they did not have the main vulnerable category medical conditions, did they have any other medical or mental conditions?

How many of them were smokers or ex- smokers

How many had had the flu vaccine ( as you probably know, a study in the USA has revealed that a high proportion of covid-19 deaths are those who have had this vaccine).

How many Care Homes have had covid-19 deaths as opposed to the number who have not

How many hospitals are treating covid-19 patients and how many are not?

What are the other hospitals doing

What is the daily and cumulative number of cancelled operations and medical appointments for other conditions

How many hospitals and A and E departments have not had the closures put on hold due to the crisis

Then there is the issue of when the covid-19 virus actually started.

Many people in the UK claim that they had it as far back as October/November 2019.

If the virus has been in the UK for much longer, it would throw many of the government’s theories into the bin. When are such people going to be offered anti-body tests to verify if they had covid-19?

Studies in the USA have also shown that many more people had the virus than was originally thought, and that most of those did not even show any symptoms. It follows that as most people are not that affected, that the non-lockdown policies of South Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Belarus and others have to have very strong merit, and that the UK lockdown policy has to be seriously questioned.

Then there is the issue of how individuals can protect and cure themselves.

The NHS website does have some good advice.

But government advice completely downplays the importance of the body’s immune system and the part natural and homeopathic remedies play in keeping this strong to fight off viruses.

It is crazy because they work for millions.

Those who advise on such healing methods are ignored by the media, which is not in line with two press freedom slogans for this year, which I referred to earlier.

The issue of do the big pharmaceutical companies have too much influence on government policies and bodies is also one which needs addressing ( and is spelt out in one of the World Press Freedom day themes).

Then there is the misinformation about vaccines, which the media do not question.

Why do the media not make it clear that vaccines do not cure, they only protect.

They also have many downsides and may be counter- productive in respect of a new virus which comes along.

It would also be very risky to bring out a vaccine which had been short cut to approval for use without normally accepted testing and verification programmes.

There is also no information about why a covid-19 vaccination would be necessary anyway, when the overwhelming majority of the public are not at any serious risk from it.

Why is there no questioning of how much money would be made by any producer of a vaccine and who would be vaccinated and whether the government intends to make vaccination compulsory?

Why is the media not questioning the government on their 5G policy?

The government maintains that the nationwide roll out of 5G does not affect the immune system and that it is “conspiracy theory nonsense” to suggest otherwise.

Any examination of the issue reveals that the tests carried out by Public Health England and others have been extremely limited in scope and that the authorities could be accused of dereliction of duty on the issue of public health safety. There have been no extensive tests on the short, medium and long term effects of 24/7 body immune systems to 5G radiation waves. These would take at least a few years. This has not happened and is why countries like Switzerland have called a halt on their 5G roll out.

The criticism of those who ask for public safety to paramount in respect of 5G is akin to the criticism of those who warned about the dangers to health of smoking. They, too, were accused of scare-mongering and spouting nonsense. With 5G it is a different potential health issue, but the same factors are at play, the government and big business interests trying to get their way for financial gain at the expense of public health.

It is a public health issue to find out if any of those who have died with a covid-19 connection, have lived in locations near to 5G roll out and 5G antennae. These questions need to be asked by the media.

It would be a relief if 5G was not a factor at all, but if it isn’t, why is the government ducking the issue and refusing to carry out the full and complete testing they should be doing?

Where is the media questioning of the detail about the consequences of the government’s lockdown policy:

About a week after the government’s economic and social lockdown policy, they admitted that they were in the process of working out the consequences of it in the many areas concerned.

These consequences are becoming more apparent on an almost daily basis. Rather than the media questioning this lockdown policy, it has been left to lesser mortals to challenge the legality of it, as is now happening with two pending Court actions against the government.

There is the major issue of what if the UK lockdown policy is proved to be a catastrophic blunder, does this lay the government open to legal damages claims by businesses and patients (who have not had operations and medical appointments), which could account to billions of pounds ?

This policy is not, however, wholly the fault of the government, as the opposition parties have all fallen into line and supported the lockdown policies, except on matters of compensation. The Labour party, at one point even advocated even more companies were shut down .

The media have also failed to castigate the opposition for not doing their job, that of holding the government to account, something they have in common with the media.

The stark reality is that there is a growing proportion of the British public who have never supported the lockdown policy, but no one gives them a voice, either in Parliament or in the media.

Even opinion polls on the subject are slanted, as with the latest YouGov one.

There is growing sense of unease which no government gloss and “we are in it together” sloganizing will dampen. “The Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Saves Lives,” dreamed up by a PR company after the start of the lockdown policy ,is wearing a bit thin. It is just patently a gross emotional misuse of the public’s love of the NHS, to promote their political lockdown policy. It is not even true anyway, yet where is the media questioning about whether this policy does not actually protect the NHS or save lives ?

What about the hypocrisy of the government and Parliament asking the nation to make financial sacrifices, yet any demand that British politicians do likewise has been squashed and censored by the media. MP’s took a pay rise on April 1st ( yes, April Fool’s day) and an increase in expenses, yet most of the public are suffering with pay cuts or even no jobs at all. The New Zealand Premier and her team took 20% pay cuts because they felt they could not impose cuts on others without doing so themselves.

The reason the media have not taken this up with the government is because the government know that doing so would open up debate on their lockdown policy, something they want to avoid at all costs.

There is also the issue of why is the mainstream media under the control of so few, compared with twenty years or so ago? Either control of global corporations, or, with government owned media, not having the freedom and impartiality they were supposed to have ?

There is much more which could be said on why the media should be doing more on World Press Freedom day. Every media outlet and every journalist knows what extra they could do for press freedom.

Please let them do it, not just on one day, but throughout the year and into the future.

Anthony Webber

Independent Political Commentator

www.anthonywebber.com

07824 444604