The Chief Minister has hit back at comments from a Guernsey politician suggesting Jersey’s government are “a bunch of bumbling idiots”, slamming them as “emotional and ill-informed”.
Stressing that Deputy Peter Ferbrache's remarks do not reflect the "good working relationship" between the two islands, Senator John Le Fondré went on to admit that he had taken up the matter himself with his opposite number in Guernsey, Deputy Gavin St. Pier.
The firm rebuke came during a virtual press briefing this afternoon when Express asked how the Chief Minister would repair the seemingly fractured relationship with its sibling island.
The two islands have in recent weeks gone their separate ways with regards to competition regulation, and adopted separate and somewhat conflicting strategies in response to the threat of covid-19.
Video: The Chief Minister addressed Deputy Ferbrache's comments and his relationship with backbenchers during a virtual media briefing.
Comparing these strategies during a Guernsey States Assembly debate last month, Deputy Peter Ferbrache said his island was “in the World Cup" for how it had dealt with the virus, before going on to remark: “Compare it with our neighbours 20 miles away, where people In have been speaking to on legal matters and other matters that I’m involved in call them a bunch of bumbling idiots compared with us.
“They compare our Chief Minister with theirs, and ours wins quite favourably. They compare our Health President with theirs, and she compares admirably.”
Senator John Le Fondré dismissed the comments this afternoon.
“We don’t tend to base the status of the relationship between Jersey and Guernsey, which I would say is very good, on the somewhat emotional and ill-informed comments of an individual member of the Guernsey Assembly,” he said.
He then went on to say, “It did cause...” before interrupting himself and adding: “Anyway, I have discussed it with the Chief Minister of Guernsey. We have a very good working relationship and that continues."
He acknowledged that each island may have been following slightly different routes, but that their objectives are always the same, and that they continue to work together "very closely”.
Pictured: Guernsey Deputy, Peter Ferbrache.
Later in the briefing, the Chief Minister turned from the Government’s inter-island relationships to those closer to home.
Earlier this week, several States Members accused the government of working against rather than with them, with Deputy Kirsten Morel slamming Ministers over an apparent attempt to wreck a vote in favour of supporting local businesses, with a last-minute amendment.
“We have moved mountains for the government… is this how I am repaid?” he said.
The Deputy went on to say the Government lacked respect for individual States members, as well as Scrutiny members, whom he said have “always worked on the Government’s timetable”.
He urged fellow members to “stand up” for themselves and request the Government to show respect for non-executive members.
“We all need to say enough is enough… The Government’s treatment of us must finish,” he added.
Pictured: Deputy Morel said the Government lacked respect for individual States members, as well as Scrutiny members.
Asked by Express how the government would gain and retain the trust and support of States Members to pass important legislation in future in light of this fracture in the Assembly, the Chief Minister decried 'personality politics' as he maintained that his approach had always been to work with backbenchers “as much as we possibly can”.
“Some absolutely recognise that, and some people don't, but that's the way it goes and it depends on the individual circumstances,” Senator Le Fondré said. “And sometimes people get very passionate and then they come back and you know, and then it's all fine.
“And that's the nature of politics, it's about actually trying to find agreement with as many people as we can, on the individualities we deal with it and try and avoid personality.
“You try and focus on the issue, do constructive criticism, try and work where you can and agree where you can and agree to disagree when you need to as well, and that's all for me about democracy.”
The Chief Minister went on to say that while he accepts constructive criticism of what he, and other Ministers, do, the criticism should not become personal.
“For me you deal with the issues, but you try and take the personality out of it and I’ll reiterate, there'll be lots of times when we do have to go back and look and see what we could have done better, no question, and there will be things that we could have done better.
“Politics as long as it's constructive criticism, I’m always up for it when it starts getting personal, that’s not politics. Well, it is politics but a different type of politics, which I try not to get involved in.”
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When it comes to an overriding requirement to use deodorant, sometimes you have to rely on "your best friend" to tell you - to mangle an ancient television commercial - and Deputy Peter Ferbrache was merely reporting what his high level contacts in Jersey had told him.
When the comprehensive details of CoronaVirus 19 progression into Jersey finally emerges, a number of highly placed individuals in Jersey's Government would be more than happy to hide behind the rather non-threatening description of "bumbling idiots".
As the Island appears to make progress against this contagious and deadly virus, local residents are beginning to reflect upon the nature of its arrival.
Appallingly, this is not looking like decisions made by "bumbling idiots" but a deliberate strategy to place Jersey's economy ahead of the public health of local residents. I have described the impact on our community as "deceitful collateral damage", which likely includes fatalities.
Instead of shutting down our Island's Airport and Harbour, travel arrivals continued as normal, then leaflets were offered, then requests for two weeks isolation (apparently unenforceable and unsupervised) and, belatedly, questions on travel transit points prior to arrival - some investigations being put to travellers a day after passing through our border controls.
I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to determine who decided not to have early health checks and quarantine measures at our Airport and Harbour, when we were aware that the deadly virus had transferred to Europe.
It should have taken a day or two to establish an answer, but a couple of weeks later - still nothing. I wonder if B'Express readers have a view as to why there is a bit of a delay in response??
Guy de Faye