Reform Jersey
Reform Jersey
States Chamber

Being a politician is a pretty surreal experience on the best of days. It's never dull and even in Jersey we often find ourselves lucky enough to enjoy a political theatre that matches up to the excitement of other jurisdictions (or at least it does if you're a geek like me). Today was strange.

Once again, our Chief Minister has gone abroad to represent the Island and meet representatives of other governments to promote Jersey. I have no problem with that.

Again, he has met with representatives of countries which have human rights records that are less than impressive. I also have no problem with that.

But what I can't get my head around is Senator Gorst's choice of words.

After meeting with Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa (the Finance Minister of Bahrain), he tweeted a picture of the two of them together with a caption saying he was "honoured" to meet him.


The Chief Minister has met some interesting people in his line of work. Whether they be Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, or even ordinary Jersey folk who have done extraordinary things. How does Sheikh Al-Khalifa match up to them?

He is not a democratic politician. He is a member of the ruling family of Bahrain which has been in charge for hundreds of years, ruling with an iron fist and having zero-tolerance for opposition.

Torture is widespread. Since the 2011 Arab Spring protests, a hundred dissidents have been murdered and thousands have been wounded. They even called in the Wahabist and ISIS-backing Saudi Arabian military to help them brutally put down these protests.

Basically, these people are really nasty.

Why is it an honour to meet someone like him? Why was this word necessary?

I get that part of diplomacy and politics means that you have to meet with people you disagree with. Sometimes it means meeting with nasty people if it's for the greater good. But what is the benefit of cosying up to people and inflating their ego by acting as if there isn't something fundamentally wrong with their agenda?

Sheikh Al-Khalifa and his tyrannical family have blood on their hands. It's not an honour to meet them. At best, it's just business.

But things got even stranger when States Members received an advance copy of a press release on this subject.

Here is the relevant bit

  • The Chief Minister has also met with His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, who has been Minister of Finance in the Kingdom of Bahrain since January 2005. Minister Al Khalifa is also a member of the Development Committee of the World Bank Group and IMF.
  • Jersey and Bahrain have a long-standing relationship and the Chief Minister will be making an official visit to Bahrain later this year to enhance Jersey’s commercial and political links with the Kingdom.
  • Senator Gorst commented: “We place great importance on the Island’s positive relationship with the Kingdom of Bahrain, and I was pleased to be able to meet with His Excellency to discuss future opportunities for partnership between our jurisdictions.

Apparently Jersey has a long-standing relationship with Bahrain.

Did you know that? I didn't.

Jersey does not have any people from Bahrain living in Jersey at all, according to the last census. I doubt many Jersey people live in Bahrain.

We have a long-standing relationship with France. We don't have one with Bahrain. It's just silly to say we do.

These comments just aren't serious.

Is it too much to ask that our leaders speak plainly and cut this sort of unnecessary BS? It just looks a bit silly.