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How do I set realistic expectations?

Step one is to be realistic with yourself, before you are realistic with the public.

A few things you need to know:

  • Things will always move more slowly and meet more resistance than you expect
  • The States is about teamwork – you’ve got to be willing to work with others
  • Significant change is possible, but it will cost you far more time and effort than you can imagine right now

You need to know that it won’t be possible to fix every flaw and injustice you find. You need to pick your battles. At various points during my term, I would do a kind of “stock take”, and work out what I needed to prioritise. That didn’t stop me being dragged onto other things, but it did help to keep me focused and make more progress than I otherwise would have done.

When you hear people talking about how government could be improved, you could be forgiven for believing there’s a great big button labelled “Fix Everything”, and the only reason no one has pushed it is because politicians and civil servants have stood shoulder-to-shoulder around it so that no one can get through. A lot of candidates seem to believe that, if only they could get in there and shake things up, everything would suddenly be a whole lot better.

The reality is that making change takes hard work. On a personal level, you need to be willing to do your own research, push for progress at Committee level or in the States, use every tool in the box to try and make things happen. You also need to work together with others and build a consensus for change. If you have great ideas but you don’t put in the work to make them a reality, you’re not going to get anywhere.

Don’t let any of this put you off. Talk to voters about what you plan to achieve – give them something to be excited about! But be honest with yourself, and with them, about the barriers you expect to face, and what it’s going to cost in terms of time and effort, to actually achieve those things.

Of course, you don’t have to be honest about any of this. You can play into the myth that your great ideas would have been achieved if only the whole establishment wasn’t conspiring to keep you away from the “Fix Everything” button.

Politicians do that, here and elsewhere, and it’s often a quite successful election technique. I owe it to you to acknowledge that. But I can’t promote it, because I hate it and think it is deeply irresponsible. It works well as a selfish and short-term tactic – it fuels public distrust in government, and lifts up those who claim to want to “shake things up”. But that is exactly the problem. It is a dull axe blow to the roots of our democracy, every time. It alienates the people you are meant to serve and actually makes it less likely that government can work effectively in future. Good for you, bad for the Island.

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Guernsey’s iconic women of the future?

Thank you for nominating a young woman or girl for our future iconic Guernsey women campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day!

Nominations close on Sunday 6 March at 17.00.

Please fill in the details below.


Miriam Makeba - South Africa

Nominated by: Christine James

Zenzile Miriam Makeba (1932 to 2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa. In 2020 she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 women of the century. 

South Africa is ranked 12th in the world for percentage of women in national parliament: 45.8% (source: 

Are you from South Africa? Please email if there is a social or cultural group for people from South Africa in Guernsey.

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The original image “The Hague Jazz 2008 – Miriam Makeba” by Haags Uitburo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. 


Jacinda Ardern - New Zealand

Nominated by: Martin Lock

Jacinda Ardern (born 1980) has served as prime minister of New Zealand and leader of the Labour Party since 2017. In 2019, she led the country through the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings, rapidly introducing strict gun laws in response, and throughout 2020 she directed the country’s widely praised response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ardern was the world’s second elected head of government to give birth in office when her daughter was born in 2018. ‘An inspiring Prime Minister who brought a nation together with true leadership, empathy and compassion.’

New Zealand is ranked 4th in the world for percentage of women in national parliament: 48.3% (source: 

Other iconic women: Dame Whina Cooper, nominated by Claire Fisher, and Kate Sheppard, nominated by Anna Cooper.

Are you from New Zealand? You may be interested in joining the ANZACs in Guernsey Facebook group

Want to learn more about public office vacancies in Guernsey? 

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