Advertisement

Blog: Ozouf's last stand

Senator Philip Ozouf says he's the victim of a witch hunt

For a senior government figure to claim, publicly, that he's the victim of bullying and a concerted witch-hunt is extraordinary and unprecedented. But the level of personal criticism Senator Philip Ozouf is facing is also extraordinary and unprecedented.

I fully expect to be writing a political obituary of the current Assistant Minister with responsibility for finance and digital tomorrow. Monday is, arguably, the most significant single day of his career.

It's less than a month since he returned to the Council of Ministers, after months of self-exile in the wake of the Jersey Innovation Fund scandal.

Whether hundreds of thousands of pounds disappeared, and a total of £1.4 million of taxpayers' money was at risk, on Senator Ozouf's watch is a moot point. He says he takes responsibility, but he says he is not to blame. Since his return, the efforts to oust him from power has been like nothing I've seen before.

Ozouf has seen a highly personal online campaign against him

Senior, very senior, figures have been briefing against him. The Jersey Action Group, a collective made up of various named and unnamed figures including former politician Sean Power, have waged a highly personal online campaign against him. It includes the 'Ozouf Dossier' which links a catalogue of failings and errors in recent years to Senator Ozouf.

Much of it is based on rumour, inference and supposition, rather than hard fact, but that doesn't mean it's all untrue. What I'm clear about is that it's all part of an effort to demonstrate that there's no smoke without fire.

Senator Ozouf has promoted Jersey's digital sector globally

So here's what I do know:

Senator Ozouf is seen by many in the finance and digital sectors as being singularly the most skilful and effective political figure when it comes to representing their industries both within government and the civil service, in the corridors of power in Whitehall, and on key stages across the world including the Middle East and multiple emerging markets in Africa.

But there are also those who hail these talents who also see the other side of Senator Ozouf which is, I suspect, at the root of a lot of his problems: he's not the easiest person to work with.

His strong and single-minded approach can be seen as threatening and bullying. The very thing he's now accusing others of.

He's known regularly to 'meddle' in other ministerial briefs which, while arguably could be seen as someone with expertise helping others, is actually seen as undermining and destabilising.

A vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister will happen in the States this week

It's often said the things we dislike in others are the very traits we actually possess ourselves. So when Senator Ozouf, in his highly emotional blog post, talks of "shadowy figures" and "bullying", the irony is not lost on me.

I have been on the receiving end of the tougher sides of his personality but - and this is important to state - I've always seen it as part of the fair cut and thrust of the dynamic of a politician and a journalist, especially when what I'm reporting isn't necessarily painting him or his actions in a positive way.

But back to today. Senator Ozouf is either making a last ditch bid to save his job, or he's starting to write his own political legacy and control the narrative before it all comes crashing down.

On Tuesday, the Chief Minister faces a Vote of No Confidence. It is not in doubt that having Senator Ozouf out of the way will shore up Senator Ian Gorst's position. But is it right that he ousts Ozouf to save himself?