GUERNSEY’S Chief Minister this week took a novel – and perhaps brave – approach to communication by putting himself in the one place many politicians fear to tread… a Facebook forum.
Apparently undeterred by social media’s reputation as the Wild West of political debate, Deputy Peter Ferbrache popped up on the Guernsey People Have Your Say! page to encourage islanders to ask him questions… as long as they bore with his ‘innocence’ and were polite.
And although he appeared to get his wish, the Facebook novice soon discovered that his promise to respond to islanders’ queries may have been somewhat ambitious – as he was inundated with more than 650 comments.
Announcing his arrival on the forum, which has more than 21,000 members, the Deputy wrote: ‘I am opening myself to contact. I hope everyone is going to be polite. I will and if you are rude to me I will ignore you.’
He continued: ‘I am keen to answer as many questions as I can about States tax proposals infrastructure and other things. Social media is not my usual bag so bear with my innocence please.
‘I cannot because of other commitments spend all day responding but I will as regularly as I can respond.’
The Deputy started replying to the many questions – which largely focused on GST, housing and the cost-of-living – but then had to log out of Facebook as he had meetings to attend.
Speaking to reporters later in the day, Deputy Ferbrache said he was pleased with his foray into Facebook, having previously been dismissive of some of the comments shared on social media.
‘I’ve never minded people doing it constructively, but some people are real keyboard warriors and all they can be is negative and everything is wrong and everything is terrible, Guernsey is an awful place and it’s dreadful, dreadful, dreadful, everything is negative and there’s nothing constructive.
‘They’re never acknowledging that people are trying to do their best.’
Deputy Ferbrache also stressed that he had never promised to reply to everyone who posted a question.
‘I made it very clear in my introductory statement that I’m not going to be able to respond to everybody and that’s no disrespect to anybody, and that doesn’t mean that I’m dismissive of their views or their comments. It’s just I’ve got other things to do.
‘I’ve got a life to lead like everybody else and I can only devote so much time to it.’