Saturday, 2 January 2010

Reflections on the Noughties - An International Statesman?

When Frank Walker was elected Senator for the last time, it was on a campaign that he would be taking over from Pierre Horsfall as President of Policy and Resources, and then as Chief Minister, as the one local politician with the ability to represent Jersey on the international stage. My uncle voted for him on the basis of that campaign, and it was a very convincing campaign. Who else had attended Anglo-Irish talks, and been alongside Pierre Horsfall with photographs of them alongside the like of Tony Blair?

Even I was convinced enough to deliver a few leaflets for his election campaign, although by the time it came to vote, I had changed my mind, as a result of reflection, and cogent arguments by close friends that this was flim-flam. So I was in a strange position of having offered to deliver leaflets by an acquaintance, and having done so, and then not giving a vote, because by then I did not believe the leaflets! Why did I believe it in the first case. It was a every convincing campaign, I knew people and respected supporting him, and at the time he seemed the only individual with experience in the field. Why did I change my mind? Largely because I became convinced that G.K. Chesterton was right in thinking pretty well all politicians to be indispensible, that if one went, another would be instantly available spouting the same form of words, which didn't really translate well into action; also how it would, in fact, be relatively easy for a bright local politician without experience to gain that experience, and there were enough alternative candidates on that score.  With that removed from the equation, there just was not enough left for my vote, as he was certainly too authoritarian for my liking.

Recently, although disclaiming any desire for such a position for himself - but not perhaps for his younger wife - Frank Walker has raised the notion of a Foreign Affairs Minister in Jersey's States., able to react quickly at a moment's notice to sudden crises.  The irony of this is that the singular test of Frank Walker's time as Chief Minister on the International Stage, when he faced the big guns of the BBC, he delivered one of the worst gaffes on record, and never apologised for it - unlike the Guernsey politician, who did apologise when his own joke about Obama went down badly. Instead he proudly maintained it:

"You are seeking to shaft Jersey internationally."  I maintain that comment

I was a little surprised that didn't feature in his speech, as an example of how not to react quickly to a sudden crisis!

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