I have written a fair amount about risks in the sections on family and health. The trouble with risks is that you often don’t know you’re taking one until something goes wrong – so I can’t give you a comprehensive list of all the risks associated with political life (because I don’t know what they are) but I will try and talk about it in general terms.
This is an area where it would be particularly helpful to speak with as many Deputies as possible, and perhaps also with other people working in the public sector, who will be able to tell you what they themselves have struggled with, or what keeps them up at night. This might help you to build up a more comprehensive picture than I can give you by myself.
Generally speaking, I think most risks fall into one of two categories. First, there are risks that arise simply because you are a public figure – the whole gamut of insults, slurs and misinformation about you on social media, threatening emails or phonecalls, attacks on your reputation, threats to your safety.
I haven’t yet felt unsafe myself, but some of us have, and with reason – especially people who are more publicly visible, because they’re Presidents, or associated with an unpopular policy.
And then there are risks that relate to the general and specific responsibilities you’ve taken on in the States. This includes things like data protection, challenges under the Code of Conduct, and any legal responsibilities you have as a result of your Committee duties.
You will be introduced to these responsibilities as part of your induction as a Deputy – but it will probably feel like a lot of information all at once, so don’t be afraid to go back and ask for a recap once you’re ready to take it in. In Committee, you will benefit from the knowledge, resources and support of the civil service; but the rest of the time, you are on your own – and that can be pretty frightening.
Of course it’s right that we are held to high standards – we have an almost unique power to make decisions that can affect people’s liberty, their livelihoods, sometimes even life itself. But we don’t have any of the infrastructure, from personal assistants to party advisers, which politicians elsewhere benefit from, so it can be very lonely and very vulnerable.
Your best support will probably be trusted colleagues – current Deputies, or those who have recently retired, who may have been through something similar, or who can help you to get the advice or assistance you need. If you have people you can confide in, don’t be afraid to ask them for help.
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