Time for the States to grow up

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Deputy Wimberley failed to live up to parliamentary standards by being absent when he should have been asking tabled questions and by being late when it came to presenting his case against the incinerator. Such conduct was certainly irresponsible, but it can be explained — although not excused — on the grounds of gross naivety born, perhaps, of unfamiliarity with the norms of the House.

Yesterday’s unacceptable behaviour was of a different order entirely. It was at once juvenile but also extremely serious because of the background against which it must be viewed. In essence, the first incident, which interrupted question time, was about name-calling, but its origins go far deeper than the use of unparliamentary language.

Senator Stuart Syvret and Senator Jimmy Perchard were the principal protagonists, with the former accusing the latter of whispering obscenities in his ear. Senator Perchard denied this, and Mr Birt, unable to untangle the wrongdoer from the wronged, issued only a general warning, making it clear that the manners of the bearpit will not be tolerated in the Assembly.

In spite of this, the mood of bitter petulance came to the surface again later when Deputy Shona Pitman and her husband, Deputy Trevor Pitman, both attacked Senator Terry Le Main’s integrity.

Poisonous attitudes and personal animosity might have come to the fore in the public forum of the States but, as anyone with any knowledge of the present political climate will know, it is also seething on the internet and being whipped up through the medium of e-mail.

Senator Syvret, for example, is entitled to take severe umbrage if anyone whispers obscenities to him in the States Chamber or anywhere else, but he must also put his own house in order by ceasing to make defamatory, unsubstantiated and utterly vicious attacks on individuals through his blog.

Equally, the dispiritingly large number of the current crop of politicians who are inclined to play e-mail ping-pong with communications which range from the ridiculous to the deeply insulting and on to the downright defamatory must stop their idiotic game. To say the very least, this childishness is not the way for a politician to demonstrate that he or she is worth £40,000 a year of public money.

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