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.
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