Mr Parker needs some back-up and you should realise he’s on your side

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Yes, disappearing on holiday for three weeks after being elected as chief minister’s probably not the brightest of moves but maybe, you know, he wasn’t expecting to get the job and so made his vacation plans accordingly.

A few years ago we had a chief minister who was famously laid back, to the point where senior officials had to visit him at home and ask if he was coming into the office at all, because it would probably be quite a good thing if he did.

I’m all in favour of politicians who don’t do much. Those with ‘plans’ and ‘visions’ and ‘strategies’ generally make life worse and more burdensome for the rest of us. Rather like our Environment and Infrastructure Committee, which wants to reduce speed limits for no good reason other than to frustrate people out of their cars and on to pedal cycles.

Laughable, I know, but these people exist and believe they’re doing a good job at our expense. So Chief Minister John Le Fondré not (allegedly) having a plan could actually be seen as A Good Thing.

As it happens, it’s baloney. The poor Senator has more plans than you or I could decently shake a stick at, including supervising the expenditure of £168m on capital projects up to the end of next year.

Just have a glance at the Medium Term Financial Plan and you’ll see what I mean. There’s no time for slouching there, with or without a Le Fondré Plan, and that’s before ministers turn their attention to how to make your mini-boom manageable and long-lasting.

If he had a priority, however, I’d suggest it should be getting the rat pack off Charlie Parker, your newish chief executive, who’s trying to transform Jersey’s public sector and, finally, make it fit for purpose.

Agreed, being granted full residential status up front looks a bit odd but the old J-Cats were never that hard to get and, anyway, whether Mr Parker works for the States of Jersey or a private company, he’s always going to be an asset to the Island.

Which is why ministers really ought to be supporting him a bit more, because I don’t think folk appreciate just what it is he’s doing on your behalf – or how tough implementing truly transformational change really is.

For an individual (plus his hand-picked team) to overturn decades of institutional sclerosis, cosy silo-based self-interest and a chummy civil service more interested in looking after its own than the people of Jersey is a huge task.

Read his six-month account of what’s been achieved to date and you’ll wonder how he finds time to sleep. I don’t know the chap but the pace of change to date has been extraordinary and has confirmed what we’ve all suspected. Civil servants (in general, there are exceptions) are over-promoted, over-protected and under-performing.

These are not popular things to say. They also reflect poorly on past politicians and ministers who allowed this pretty sorry state of affairs to develop. It’s the same in Guernsey, of course, where we have our own transformational plan in place, albeit in slow-motion and with less bloodshed.

So Mr Parker needs some back-up and I’d further suggest that Islanders recognise that he’s on their side, for all that public opinion appears to be turning against him.

Firstly, and vividly, he says: ‘…the public service, and the Island, are still failing children and these systemic failures must be addressed with a commitment and an urgency that has been lacking until now.’

Secondly, his long-term approach focused on the economy, customers, people, services and place will make Jersey a better Island, more resilient and more successful in the future, and that’s not to be under-estimated. As he put it in February: ‘I don’t think that staff fully understand the size of the impact of government on the Island’s economy.’

Before you ask, yes, I am envious that this is happening in Jersey rather than in Guernsey. Our softly-softly approach may be dictated by rather more restrictive staff contracts but your focus on the economy is long overdue in our bailiwick.

So in Senator Le Fondré’s shoes, I’d be supporting Mr Parker and his colleagues like billyoh and dealing with any fallout from the breakneck transformation process.

Why? Because the benefits from it should be many and long-lasting. Handled properly, a regular flow of milestone achievements will generate benign headlines and a warm and fuzzy feeling among Islanders that, finally, ‘the States’ knows what it’s doing and has a Chief Minister who’s in control for once.

Rather sounds like a plan to me.

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