Evidence won over the emotion
Friday 1st November 2013, 4:00PM GMT.
NOW that the schools closure debate has drawn to a close it is clear that a significant number of deputies have problems making what they regard as difficult decisions – irrespective of the evidence in front of them.
For islanders, while that is troubling, yesterday’s majority in favour of shutting both schools was greater than might have been supposed.
Closing St Andrew’s Primary and St Sampson’s Infants was the right thing to do but nevertheless required some courage.
Vociferous and well organised lobby groups, especially with understandable passion and conviction about them, are not comfortable things to face, as Education members well know.
That deputies concentrated on the substance of Education’s case rather than the inevitable emotion is heartening given some of the other issues the Assembly still has to face.
It actually bodes well when it comes to staring down the public sector next year as – belatedly and with little sign of conviction – the Policy Council will ask them to end the gold-plated, final salary pension arrangements.
Much was made at the time of the general election about new politics and a Sarnian Spring but without much to date to support that contention.
Yesterday’s decision is, however, evidence that this Assembly is more prepared to do what islanders instinctively know is right if uncomfortable than their predecessors were.
But while closure was a correct and inevitable outcome – anything else would have led to a new board going over the same ground and coming to the same conclusion – it is not without consequences.
For parents and children at the schools it is a shattering blow and they were right to campaign as they did for what they hold dear.
It is also a reminder that Guernsey politics isn’t just about clubby and anodyne debates. It is also about taking decisions for the greater good that unfortunately impact on significant numbers of others.
While members will not, for obvious reasons, congratulate themselves on a job well done, islanders should perhaps do so.
A significant step has been taken that is a good omen for the more difficult decisions that lie ahead.