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OPINION: Basket cases floating in the Channel?

OPINION: Basket cases floating in the Channel?

Thursday 11 January 2024

OPINION: Basket cases floating in the Channel?

Thursday 11 January 2024

Is there any hope of the islands truly working well with each other, or are the Bailiwicks resigned to being basket cases this decade?

A cursory glance at government marketing materials promoting relocation to the islands for high-net-worth individuals and businesses shows emphasis is placed on centuries-long political and economic stability.

Those looking to leave the UK in pursuit of our sandy shores could provide several good reasons why to get out of dodge.

A government that has felt perpetually in chaos for several years, a lack of strategic direction on issues such as housing, and eye-watering bills soon to rack up for essential public services with little hope of making them sustainable without issuing deeply unpopular tax or fee increases.

Ring any bells? 

Guernsey and Jersey appeared to have a prime opportunity to play on those fears and scrape off the cream, but recent events will make any prospective resident who’s taken the time to read local news feel as if the Channel Islands are a delayed Britain in disguise.

An historic move last month saw Guernsey’s top political committee sacked in a vote of no confidence, with the new membership – elected on thin margins still – only just finding their feet and trawling through bundles.

They were lucky that their election came just before Christmas. A time to regroup when everything else wound down for a time. But soon it will be centre stage grappling with all the difficult decisions, divisions, and public disquiet that did well not to tank the previous committee sooner.

And over in Jersey the New Year roared in with notification that the Chief Minister would face a confidence of her own, with accusations of dishonesty and bullying, and that could happen as soon as next week. 

While it’s only a vote in Deputy Kristina Moore’s position, a cascade of ill-feeling and disruption is inevitable whether it succeeds or not. 

Rather than tunnelling together, it feels more like the islands are drifting apart. Rather, the above does little to otherwise suggest that the respective governments are failing to work together.


Pictured: Motion's of no confidence can bring change but usually with reputational damage.

And how are these dual debacles viewed from the most northerly isle? Alderney Representative Steve Roberts captured the mood on X at the start of the year.

“Are these islands going stir crazy?” he said. “Look at what we have? We are now becoming ungovernable. Value each other no matter the political view. Without that you betray your electorate”. 

The States of Guernsey are even under resolution to consider partnership or joint working wherever possible if economic and other practicalities line up. 

Would you know it?

They assured once in 2022, once in 2023, that “joint-working” basket would continue to grow.

It’s hard to see where it is. Others will simply say these things have been promised for years but fail to get far. 

There are instances of collaboration, certainly, but often these are resigned to the reactive and relatively small. 

On the big ticket, visionary, long-term stuff it's few and far between.

Some tried – for better or for worse – to turn it on with some cuddling over electricity, but when this was floated to Guernsey’s States it sparked more fear of electrocutions than lit-up horizons.

Dirty laundry still clutching a whiff of regrets was aired - that if Jersey can ever have our lunch and eat it, they will.  

In 2024, is there a glimmer of change? For starters both Bailiwick’s could be enjoying the early sprouts of fresh leadership in a few weeks.

But even that is unable to stop the work churn that’s been humming in the background. What suggestions will the machine spit out next?

A strategic report from Jersey Ports suggests its airport should aim to be the air travel hub of our islands. Not exactly radical, and some in Guernsey are known to be warm to this idea.

But then we’re told that our fledgling tourism body will imminently publish its own strategy.

What will it say? Have they picked up the phone to one another?

Perhaps all we can do is take a leaf out of Steve’s book.

Pictured top: An aerial view of the Channel Islands. (Copernicus Sentinel-2, ESA/Wiki)

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