Can I make a career out of this?

Yes and no.

You will often hear “career politician” used as an insult in Guernsey. But the truth is that Guernsey needs experienced politicians. Politics isn’t just about knowing what outcomes might be good for our Island – it’s about knowing how to deliver those outcomes. You need a unique set of professional skills to be effective as a States Member. You can’t get that training anywhere else; you can only really learn by experience.

We also need organisational memory – for want of a better expression – to be effective as a government. We need to know what has been tried in the past, what worked (and what didn’t), and why.

If there are too many Deputies saying “we tried that in the past and it didn’t work”, the States will be paralysed with inaction. But if there aren’t any Deputies who can say “we tried that in the past and it didn’t work – so here’s what we need to try differently this time”, then we’ll be like lemmings in a nightmare, throwing ourselves off the same cliff again and again.

Where would you go to get the ‘story’ of Guernsey politics over the last twenty or thirty years? You don’t really get that depth of political knowledge from the media or think tanks over here, as you might in a bigger jurisdiction. You don’t get it from party organisations, because they don’t really exist. You might be able to find it in the civil service, if you know where to look. Or you might find it by asking those who’ve lived it – experienced politicians (and, sometimes, campaigners).

Guernsey’s States can’t be ‘born new’ every four years. It needs experience to make progress. There is no shame in wanting to be part of that.

But at the same time, a political career is a hugely unpredictable one. You are up for re-election every four years. There are no guarantees that you will succeed. You can be highly respected and valued by your States’ colleagues, but barely known outside the Assembly.

Long service is not a bad thing of itself – it really depends on the attitude you bring to work, and the reasons why you are choosing to stay – but it is never guaranteed. You need to be prepared for that unpredictability, so that you have a back-up plan for life outside politics, in the event you can’t stay around for as long as you might have hoped.

Go back to Getting Into Guernsey Politics
Go back to Section 1.1: Making the Decision
Register to Vote

Will I be able to keep working?

I stopped working for my previous employer early on in the States term, because there was a lot of overlap between my States’ responsibilities and my other work, and I didn’t want to run into any conflicts of interest. That’s one thing you might need to take into account.

If you currently work for the States, as a civil servant or other public sector employee, you will be obliged to resign from your employed role as soon as you are elected.

But otherwise, it’s really down to you. A fair number of Deputies have continued to work on a part-time basis in their previous professional role, throughout their time in the States. I’d recommend talking to them about how they manage it.

I think a commitment of about 10 hours per week tends to be the maximum most people can fit in, but of course it varies enormously, depending on what kind of Committee work you have, how flexibly your employer is prepared to let you work, and so on.

If you’re only planning on doing one or two terms as a Deputy, it’s a great idea to keep in touch with your professional world. It may even give you some more security in terms of what happens afterwards, which can help you have the courage to take this step.

Continuing to work part-time doesn’t mean you’re any less committed to your role as a States Member – the working-age Deputies who’ve done so this term are also among the most committed and hard-working politicians we’re lucky to have.

Go back to Getting Into Guernsey Politics
Go back to Section 1.1: Making the Decision
Register to Vote