There have been surprises for me during my first term. Not the workload, I knew it would be heavy. Not the working relationships with colleagues, human nature is such some relationships will gel and some won’t. Not even the work itself, coming from a finance sector background it is familiar to me.
The surprises have in fact come from being asked to represent Guernsey at various events off-island related to the British Irish Council and at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
The British Irish Council was born out of the Good Friday Agreement. It is an organisation made up of 8 members from smallest to largest: Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Wales, Northern Ireland, Southern Island, Scotland and England.
The Council meets frequently and work on agreed themes, the progress of which is shared at the meetings. The purpose of my attendance was as the lead for Digital policy to provide an update on Guernsey’s progress in this area. One event in the Isle of Man co-incided with our Budget Meeting and I ended up attending alone and delivering the Chief Minister’s statement and attending a meeting in his place.
The Council meetings and summits provide an excellent opportunity for us to promote Guernsey and to raise awareness of our economy, culture and identity. We can bust myths and make valuable contacts amongst the Parliaments of the other member jurisdictions. These connections come in very handy when dealing with external opportunities and threats!
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association traces its’ roots back to 1911. Today there are 193 member states, of which Guernsey is of the smallest.
Good governance is the mainstay of work of the organisation and for me this is a top priority for any government. An area for which Guernsey needs to set a standard for and do better at.
For Guernsey, notable organisations are the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Small Branches and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians. All Deputies are by default are included in the first and female Deputies only in the latter group.
All Deputies have the opportunity to apply to attend the various events and I have attended one CWP Conference in London back in 2018 and a main Conference in Uganda in 2019.
You can read my report here for the Ugandan Conference.
Perhaps you can now understand why these events have taken me by surprise. I had no idea when I stood in 2016 that within the term as a new politician, I would be representing our island and sitting alongside leading Parliamentarians from all over the world. Of course it has been nerve wracking, but also very exciting and a huge privilege.