It feels wretched being the subject of a complaint as a Deputy, because you feel like you are completely on show. It is very different to a workplace disciplinary, which usually happens behind closed doors. It feels much more like a trial, with the whole of the public (or at least those who are active on social media, or who write to the letters page of the Press) as your jury, and where you have very little opportunity to explain what actually happened.
Of course it is important that there is a formal complaints process. There needs to be a mechanism to hold Deputies accountable for outrageous behaviour – and there is certainly plenty of that. But it has so far been very difficult to establish a complaints process that is felt to be fair, and that isn’t capable of being used maliciously or vexatiously.
At the last States Meeting of the last term, a very important paper on updating the Code of Conduct and the complaints process was nodded through – it will be the responsibility of this term’s SACC to implement it. I really hope that they will follow through.
At this point, I have probably thoroughly depressed you about the complaints process, and left you feeling that your name will be mud. To balance that, I should say that Deputies who are subject to a formal complaint are not usually marked by it outside the States. It can be a hellish process while you’re going through it, but it doesn’t have to be the thing that defines your term.
P.S. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t taken a sterner tone, it’s been my experience that, as with so many things in politics, the complaints process is used – well, politically. It isn’t often used to address outrageous behaviour, because it isn’t actually a very effective tool for doing that, so most of that just goes untouched. It is far more often used, by politicians themselves, to throw mud at political opponents. This post is written on the basis that you are more likely to be worried about an ill-founded complaint (on the basis that, if you are a decent person, you are likely to accept that a genuine complaint ought to have consequences), and to try and explain how that might play out.