Iselin Jones: Behind the scenes with Jersey's Chief Minister

Credit ITV Channel TV
Credit: ITV Channel TV

We all know that Covid and the official handling of it has been both controversial and divisive.

When Jersey's figures skyrocketed a couple of weeks back, I had exclusive access behind the scenes of the Chief Minister's office.

It was something we'd planned to do for weeks, but the fact it coincided with one of the most difficult weeks in months, was not.

In many ways I suppose it gave us an even more intense insight into what must have been a pretty stressful week, for him.

Yet his calm and collected demeanour, did not change. That I think has been much to the frustration of many islanders who have longed to see more feeling and emotion from the man in charge of the island's pandemic response.

He does hammer on about vaccination rates and testing rates, then again those are the facts around which decisions are made, whether we like it or not. And he likes facts.

He admits there are and have been times where decisions are made based on wider considerations than just health, but always and only ever with the best long-term interest of islanders in mind.

He makes a distinction between the 'health side' and the 'wellbeing side', and the need to balance the overall impact on the island.

Even if "500 people are screaming in a corner, because it impacts them in such and such a way, you've really got to think about the other 100,000 plus who might be impacted in a different way", he told me.

He does admit he has taken a rational approach, which as an accountant is probably the approach that comes most naturally to him, although it doesn't mean decisions have been easy.

Whilst he accepts that may sound like a 'cold decision', he says it is not. Rather he says, it is 'a bloody hard decision.'

He's not a stranger to public perception. Indeed on one of our filming days, he was accosted in the Royal Square by a man who was, let's say 'less impressed' with where the island was at that point.

He shrugged it off, and we carried on with our interview. Believe it or not, though, he said that was a first. A sign perhaps of quite how much emotion people channel into social media, which he steers clear of.

When I asked him if the role of Chief Minister has felt like a thankless task in the last 18 months, he told me there were tough times in the job.

So what did I make of spending a bit more time with him, and seeing a bit more of him?

Well, part of me thinks we have probably been lucky to have someone at the top who is not so led by emotion, knee jerk reactions, and panic mode.

Would others have done better? Or communicated better? Maybe. At the end of the day, the States Members we have are the ones we voted in.

Whether anyone else would have been better leading us through it, we won't know. But what we do know is it's much harder at the coal face than it is sitting in the wings.

What I would say is that he is not without emotion, as many people suspect. He is fiercely protective of his family.

And it was in fact my description of his wife waiting for him in the Royal Square after the vote of no confidence in a blog back in March, that entrusted me to him in the first place.

But he doesn't want them to have to play a part in his public role. In fact he wants them to be able to live as privately as possible, which indeed they do.

Another thing I learnt is that he works hard, crazy hours. He sleeps on average five hours per night, spends about five to ten minutes a day with his family, and hopes to have a few hours with them on a Sunday morning, if he's lucky.

Other than that he works, and paces himself 'almost like a marathon' (except the fact he is always late means we are not talking Olympic speed!).

Whether he'll win a gold medal for his efforts, well, like with all leaders, history will be the judge of that!

  • WATCH: Part One

  • WATCH: Part Two