How should I organise my time during the campaign period?

That depends on how much time you have got to dedicate to campaigning. A lot of candidates will still be working during the campaign period, and will be trying to juggle family responsibilities as well – it’s a lot!

I think you need a blend of face-to-face contact with voters and virtual campaigning (answering emails, being active on social media, responding to media enquiries – activities which reach a broader audience, but with less of a human connection). If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, then door-knocking is probably not much of a realistic option, but you can still manage face-to-face contact by going along to hustings, or even by standing in a public place with a banner identifying you as a candidate, and talking to people as they pass by.

Be careful with social media – it can really draw you in, and you can find you’re spending a lot of time on there, but only actually talking to a small pool of people. Be reasonably strict with yourself about how much time you’re going to give to social media, and how much time to answering emails and other virtual campaign activities.

Where you don’t have control over the timing of an event (hustings or presentations, for example) do get those in your diary nice and early.

Aside from that, I think it helps to have a plan for how you’re going to spend your time during the week ahead. You probably don’t want to plan much more than a week at a time, because it’s a really intense period and you want to give yourself enough flexibility to respond as things change! A plan isn’t a promise – don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to schedule – but it helps you to think through how much time you want to give to different campaign activities, and to make sure you’re balancing your time sensibly.

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Should I be issuing my own media releases?

Media releases are short pieces that you write to explain your view on a particular issue, or to bring people’s attention to something important. As Deputies, you will find it helpful to write the occasional media release on topics that you’re working on – you can send those out directly to the local media, and they will usually cover the story.

I am not sure whether any of the local media will run media releases from candidates now that the campaign period is in full swing – it is worth checking with them directly, before you invest a lot of time in writing things that won’t see the light of day!

Whether or not you want to write media releases during your campaign, if you want to make sure you are on the media’s radar, one helpful thing to do is to create a list for yourself with the main contact email addresses of each of the local news outlets. You’ll be able to find these on each media outlet’s website.

Then, when you publish your thoughts on an important issue – for example, if you write a blog, or put information out on your Facebook page – consider sending your media contacts the link, to bring it to their attention. I wouldn’t suggest doing this for every single thing you write about! You don’t want people to hear from you so often that your emails become background noise. But pick a few well-chosen issues and share those.

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How should I respond to questions from the media?

As with questions from voters, just try and answer honestly and to the best of your ability. Your answers are going to be read or heard by lots of different people – some will be excited to hear what you say, and others will be unimpressed. Don’t worry about that too much: you can’t please everyone, and it is better to be frank than to tie yourself in knots trying to do so.

Remember that the media are likely to be working to fairly tight deadlines, so try and respond promptly to questions if you can. There will be limits depending on the format – if you’re told you’ve got two minutes to record a message to voters, then draft a script for yourself and read it through to make sure it’s not longer than two minutes. If you are asked to reply to a question in 50 words or less, then stick to that word limit.

That way, you won’t run the risk of having the end of your last sentence cut off and looking a bit silly, and you won’t start off on the wrong foot with the people who are going to be covering the next four years of your political career!

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How will the media cover the Election?

That depends on the type of media. The broadcast media (radio and TV) are required to make sure their coverage is balanced. Since there are more than a hundred candidates, in practice this means that they won’t cover much that directly involves candidates – because it is very difficult to give so many people equal treatment. The print media is likely to go into Election coverage in a bit more depth.

In previous elections, most media outlets have done some kind of election special – a supplement in the Press, one-minute manifestos on the radio. If you are offered the opportunity to take part in those this time around, take it. It is a good way of reaching an engaged audience.

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Should I be worried about skeletons in my closet?

Well, that depends what they are. If you have done something actually Bad, then yes, the time you become a public figure might well be the time it comes back to haunt you. And probably deservedly so.

But I don’t think there are many people who fall into that category, and I very much doubt you’re one of them.

If you’ve sneaked a look at this question, I suspect you might be worried that embarrassing photos of you from student days, or from a boozy stag or hen do, might make their way into the Press; or political opinions you’ve long since grown out of might be dragged up from the depths of your social media account; or someone you’ve crossed at work might go public with a devastating character assassination of you … Something like that?

So, first things first. You don’t see that happen much over here, and that’s certainly not because we’re better behaved, as people, than politicians anywhere else in the world. We’re just very lucky not to have a gutter press of the kind you see in the UK.

Very early on in my political term, I joked with a journalist about being doorstepped, and they were quick (and kind) enough to point out that would only happen “if something went very badly wrong.” Thankfully, our media doesn’t usually waste its time taking pot-shots at people’s colourful pasts or private lives.

Of course it might all change in future. Sadly, if it does, I think it’s likely to be politician-led. If we see parties form on a similar model to the UK, we’ll probably see the same pattern, where almost as much effort is invested in gathering up mud to sling at one’s opponents, as it is in developing and delivering one’s own agenda.

All I can say is that it’s not like that right now. You can be grateful for your colourful past, because it’s shaped you, and because you’ve learnt (sometimes painful) lessons from it that you shouldn’t have to repeat in future. And you can be fairly sure that, here and now, it’s not likely to be weaponised against you – and long may that continue.

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What will it mean for my family?

If you have a spouse or partner, or children old enough to understand, this is a conversation well worth having (probably several times) in the run-up to the Election.

Here are some thoughts:

Your family life is not generally dragged into the public domain here – either by other politicians or by the media – but there are exceptions to that.

The worst exceptions, this term, have been the Education debates. I am struggling with what to tell you about those debates, and the atmosphere in and around them. I don’t have children, so I have been a bit of an onlooker, and can’t tell you the personal impact of those debates – I would strongly recommend talking to as many States Members with school-age families as you can, about their experience of Guernsey politics and what impact this has had on their children.

There have been some other debates where emotions have run high this term – especially the debates on assisted dying and, more recently, on abortion. These might not affect your children’s world in the same way – they are less likely to be topics of conversation at school – but if you’re getting angry letters or phone calls at home because of the debate, it might have an impact in a different way.

The same is true of one-to-one constituency work – you can get angry or obsessive constituents, and you want to be careful that they don’t have access to your personal life. If you want to keep work away from home entirely, you might want to think about having a separate work phone or even a PO Box for mail.

Political life is never without risks. In Guernsey, those risks tend to be milder than in most other places, but I would never pretend they don’t exist. You (and your family) can think through how you want to organise your working life and your home life so that you minimise those risks; you just need to give it some thought beforehand, and be prepared.

You might also want to think about the impact on your privacy:

As a States Member, you have to file an annual declaration of interests. You can see each Deputy’s declaration of interest on their profile page on

This means that some information about your financial affairs and property is in the public domain. It includes information about your immediate family’s interests, too. Of course, this is to make sure that you don’t abuse your public role to make decisions that will favour you (or your family) – but it can be a daunting step if you’re used to your privacy.

Apart from this, it’s up to you what you share about your family life. You might choose to be completely private, or you might occasionally talk about your own experiences in order to explain why you’re supporting a particular policy or course of action. If you’re going to talk about something your partner or children have been through, it’s wise to discuss it with them first, so that you only share what you know they are comfortable with.

And finally, you might want to think about how this will affect your time and attention:

The work of being a Deputy can completely eat up your days, and get its claws into your emotions. Your family can be your best safety net and support network, but there will also be some emotional impact for them. For example, they might see people badmouthing you on social media and be deeply hurt or outraged for you. Or they might watch you put weeks of effort into an important project, only for it to be rejected by the States or torn apart in the media, and feel upset for you and powerless to help.

None of this means you should throw out the idea of being a Deputy. I’m writing about this so that you can go into it with your eyes open, so that you can be prepared, and so that you can have open and honest conversations with your family from the start. That’s the best way to manage it. Politics is a kind of all-hours job, it can completely take over your home life and worry or preoccupy you even when you’re not actually working. That means it’s going to have an impact on anyone who lives with you, and it’s only right to acknowledge that and be ready for it.

P.S. Your loved ones are going to see you through some really rocky times, as well as some totally exciting ones. When the time comes, don’t forget to acknowledge and appreciate that, and to say thank you.

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Can I cope with the stresses?

Most of us get to the end of four years and find it has taken some toll on our weight, our general health, and our happiness. It helps to come into this knowing it’s not an easy job (whatever people may think), having a good support network in place, and making time to take care of yourself – I am writing a section on self-care, which I hope will be useful, too.

One really tough aspect of the role, and one that’s fairly unique to being a politician, is the fact that you become “public property”, and that it’s generally publicly acceptable for people to be rude or dismissive of the States, or individual Deputies, without necessarily being in possession of the full facts (or indeed any of them!).

One way or another, I’ve seen that hurt a lot of my colleagues, and I’ve been hurt by it myself. If you have a deeply-felt sense of honour, you’re going to be dismayed by the general public assumption that you, because you are a politician, are acting without integrity. If you take pride in doing a good job, you’ll be rattled by the view that we’re all careless and stupid. If you know you’ve been working your socks off for the good of the Island, you’ll be hurt by the nasty comments on some online forums. You’ll be astonished by how one-sided even traditional media coverage feels.

Those challenges aren’t insurmountable. Each of us learns to cope with them in our own way. But they’re real, and there aren’t many other jobs or life experiences that can prepare you for them, so you deserve to know about them at this stage, and to think about how you will deal with them in turn.

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