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Key lessons of 2020 from Jersey's politicians

Key lessons of 2020 from Jersey's politicians

Thursday 31 December 2020

Key lessons of 2020 from Jersey's politicians


A global pandemic, electoral reform, and a vote of no confidence - 2020 has certainly not been a slow year for politics in Jersey.

A number of politicians from around the island have shared with Express the key lessons they learned in this wholly 'unprecedented' year...

Chief Minister - Senator John Le Fondré

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"This year, the most important lesson I’ve learnt is how our community pulls together in a crisis.

"I’ve always known, and been proud, that Jersey’s strength lies in its community, but to see our island come together has been heartening in this difficult year.

"We’ve received thousands of volunteer requests and worked with community groups to support vulnerable Islanders; the overwhelming majority of islanders have followed the healthcare guidance; and we’ve been able draw on a wealth of public expertise and talent both in our healthcare and economic responses to this crisis.

"Furthermore, I’ve been impressed by those in both the public and private sectors who, whilst often going underappreciated, have demonstrated their ability to meet and adapt to this moment of challenge."

"One key concern is how we deal with the negativity that we see in social media, which can rapidly become opinion based before fact has a chance of even being expressed, let alone being heard.

"A quote which I think sums up our experience of the last few months is: 'It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.'"

Deputy Inna Gardiner

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“Our world is best seen as a world of humans not a world of things. The people are the most valuable asset we have, economically, culturally, and personally they make anything worth having or worth doing.

"I got through this year with the help of my family, friends, and colleagues and whatever happens in 2021, whatever economic ups and downs as kind as I still have them everything will work out.”

Constable Philip Le Sueur

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“The key lesson is ‘expect the unexpected.’ In January 2020, who would have believed that by March the pandemic would descend the World into turmoil with such disastrous consequences?

"At a local level it highlighted the strength of community that is ever-present in the parishes.”

Senator Kristina Moore

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“Vision and values are essential, it isn’t possible to make progress by working alone, to truly step forward it is necessary and much more powerful to bring people together.”

Constable John Le Maistre

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“This year I have learned more than ever how our twelve local Parishes communities, working with Government, can pull together to help the vulnerable and those in need at what is the darkest time in our history since the occupation (the virus is still around and we are still there for you).

“I have also learned what the world can achieve when it works together. It has been an amazing feat for scientists to produce safe and effective vaccines that will protect us from covid-19.  I also learned not to believe much of what you read on social media, especially from the anti-vaccinators.

“The polio vaccine all but eliminated polio and the covid-19 vaccines will hopefully do the same for covid-19. I also learned of the joy that wearing a Christmas jumper can bring to others.

“My little toddler grandchild’s eyes shone with delight as he pointed out the Christmas tree, reindeer, snowflakes and colour on mine. His face was a picture when he put his head on my shoulder to feel how soft it was. Other grandchildren are available at different outlets!”

Deputy Hugh Raymond

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“[As] probably the only person in the States Assembly that has been in politics before, in the sense that I was a member of a Borough Council in the UK for some years holding the position of running the department of ESC, I thought becoming a member of the Jersey Assembly would be the same but have to confess with covid as well it is totally different.

“I still find it difficult to comprehend how personally 49 members all having a view which they can change weekly, even daily sometimes, whereas you know the UK is all about policies and parties. So I am coming to the conclusion that if Jersey is going to get itself out of all the issues it faces then members have to work more closely together, or I fear we will have to go down the party route.

“Finally I will use the phrase - how can five or six members call themselves the opposition when all of us could say as an individual, 'I am the opposition?' I am afraid times are a' changing!”

Deputy Mary Le Hegarat

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“It has highlighted the importance of personal relationships, flexibility and ability to innovate.”

Deputy Carolyn Labey

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"The main thing I have learnt this year is the importance of family, friends and colleagues. Being able to see, socialise and visit them is so important and should never be taken for granted. I say that from a position of having to spend the first Christmas ever away from my two sons who are in London. Luckily my daughter is in the island.

"Other things I have learnt include the importance of the community network and support, pulling together and looking out for one another. We are so blessed to have so many fantastic people in this Island willing to volunteer their time.

"Lastly; the importance of being able to see a smile."

Constable Karen Shenton-Stone

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“2020 has not been a kind year for many people, but one of the great positives that I can take away from it, and my key lesson from this year, is the kindness and necessity of our island communities, particularly our Parish communities.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have been able to coordinate volunteers in the Parishes to provide food and essential supplies to those at risk, and support those in need however we can. The work and dedication that everyone has put in throughout this year has been exemplary, and I could not be prouder to be Constable of such a wonderful Parish.

“Parish communities have played an indisputably key role in helping so many through this year, and I believe that both they - and the arguments to preserve them - have emerged even stronger as a result. 

“In turn, this lesson has highlighted for me how it is important it is to use the influence that we have in the States to make sure that the services and institutions that are so vital to the Island and Islanders are maintained and given the care they need.

“My campaigns to keep the Assisted Reproduction Unit open, improve environmental restrictions for Les Ecrehous, and work on electoral and campaign finance reform have all stemmed from this, and I hope to continue building on this lesson in 2021.”

Deputy Rob Ward

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“We have clearly seen the importance of public services. They are the foundations to our day to day lives and long term well being. 

“People adapt to difficult situations in a remarkable way. We should be proud of having a community that will support each other. 

“The need to address the underlying inequalities that exist has been laid bare by the pandemic, particularly in housing, access to health care and in education. As we build a future, we cannot leave these inequalities unaddressed (you may word this better than me). 

“On a personal note, having a dog is the best thing in a pandemic. Gets you out to exercise and always there when you need someone. 

Deputy Louise Doublet

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“My overriding thought at the end of 2020 is feeling very lucky to be alive.  As a humanist, I believe that there is no life after death and that this is the one and only life that I will have. 

“This realisation drives me to make the most of my days on this planet through helping others and serving my community.  I know this belief and feeling of gratitude is shared by many other islanders whether they call themselves humanists or not, and especially so when we are in the midst of a global pandemic. 

“I have seen this realisation borne out through islanders’ incredible compassion demonstrated for fellow humans – whether they are friends, family, neighbours and sometimes complete strangers. 

“So my lesson for 2020 would be to hold on to those feelings of compassion for other humans, and that feeling of being lucky to be living the one life we have - and to plan for better times ahead.”

Deputy David Johnson

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“The last year has replenished in me my faith in the strength of our island community in facing the challenges posed by the covid pandemic.

“This stems in part from my own covid experience where I witnessed first-hand the collective efforts of both the medical profession and others providing essential services; however, it goes well beyond that and extends to the community at large anxious to seek out and assist those less fortunate themselves; also to my political colleagues and officers who, at what was then perceived as the height of the pandemic, worked tirelessly (and again collectively) to introduce measures designed to provide relief to those most affected.

“And whilst it is galling that, for whatever reason, we find ourselves subject to new restrictions at this time of the year, I suggest we need to maintain some perspective; I have before me the Princess Mary Christmas Box given to my great uncle in 1914 as a serving soldier and we should perhaps reflect that, difficult as some of our individual circumstances might be at this time, this will not be the first occasion that some have had cause to cancel Christmas.”

Deputy Kirsten Morel

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“Jersey is a wonderful community but it is at a crossroads, one caused by enormous population growth and the all-encompassing information machine that is the Internet. 

“Our community is in danger of fracturing, as a result, we now lack confidence in ourselves as an island and so don't realise the enormous depth of resources that we have here. 

“Covid has brought this into sharp focus, highlighting the need for us all to begin speaking to each other again, learning from each other and believing in each other. This needs to start with government and its leaders.

“The failure to communicate effectively and empathetically has been clear to us all. More than ever before Jersey needs leaders who connect with people and aren't just there to manage the island but to chart a clear course into the future. 

“To make a success of the 21st century, Jersey needs great leadership built on a foundation of clear and open communication.”

Deputy Russell Labey

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“The biggest surprise for me of this lousy year was just how fast were felt the beneficial impacts on the planet of lockdown. Within months of a reduction in human activity, orca were returning to the fjords of Vancouver, flamingos to the lakes of Mumbai, fish were seen in the canals of Venice and thousands more hedgehogs survived crossing the road.

“The upside of a cleaner global environment is no compensation for the tragic personal losses suffered by so many who remain uppermost in our thoughts. My point is the green debate is often so nebulous; we’re impatient; want results; is my trudge to the parish recycling depot really going to make a difference in my lifetime?

“This year I learnt that it can. I’ve not sat in an airplane for a year, no big deal as it turns out and I’m determined to fly less in future. This year we also learnt the iconic 1937 Jersey Airport terminal is not a safety hazard. My quest to have this historic building preserved and future investment in new facilities specific to a Jersey scale and character are meeting with resistance. Depressingly, no surprises there.”

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