JILL GRACIA

Dignity and Compassion;

A Lesson to All Politicians.

Many readers in Jersey will have seen tonight’s local television news, an unusually large part of which was devoted to an important subject; namely our Health Minister, Jimmy Perchard, who tells people to commit suicide.

The piece consisted of some introductory background information and a live studio interview with Jimmy.

Halfway through his interview, CTV played their recorded interview with Jill Gracia – who so movingly explained her experiences and feelings in respect of self-harm to us in comments she made under the previous posting.

It took a great deal of courage by Jill to publicly recount her experiences, and we should all be grateful that she did. CTV read the comment and I was able to put them in touch with Jill.

Thanks to her bravery, this most difficult and distressing of subjects now has a far higher place in public consciousness.

Can the same be said of political consciousness?

Strangely enough, I actually think it can. God knows I have my differences of opinion with most States members, but so manifestly beyond the pale is telling a person to kill themselves, that most States members generally are appalled at such comments.

Perhaps there’s hope for the States, even yet?

But what of Jimmy – the politician who – above all others – as Health Minister – should exhibit compassion and sensitivity towards those who have experience of self-harm?

Watching the CTV interview, I honestly felt sorry for him.

He looked a wreck. And it was painfully obvious that this is a man trying to punch way above his weight; a man simply out-of-his-depth.

I hope this episode doesn’t affect his health – and that if Jimmy himself can’t face facts, his family will encourage him to take a more realistic assessment of his ambitions.

In fact, the most striking feature of the CTV piece was the stark contrast between Jimmy – and Jill.

He was plainly a man all-at-sea – who had obviously devoted little, if any, in-depth thought to the issues his job requires him to wrestle with.

Jill – by way of contrast – is a human being of an altogether higher calibre.

Compassionate, calm, dignified, thoughtful.

Watching her was a humbling experience; I hope I can develop some of her attributes.

All decent people owe Jill our thanks.

But, returning to Jimmy’s performance, regrettably, I have to – again – put the record straight. I don’t wish to dwell on this subject, but for as long as he persists in his attempts to imply that I was not being honest when I quoted his remarks in the States, I will have to carry on defending myself.

In the States chamber he advised me, at least twice in rapid succession, perhaps three times, to “go and top yourself”. A fact I would happily attest to under oath in a court of law.

The supposed “provocations” Jimmy relies upon in an attempt to defend the indefensible were, and are, nothing more than the rough and tumble of the political environment.

The fact that he cannot deal or cope with such things, again must make one come to the conclusion that here we have a man badly overreaching himself.

Let us hope for Jimmy’s sake that he learn his limitations.

For an indication of the extent of those limitations – just compare Jimmy’s appearance and stature with that of Jill; her compassion and thoughtfulness.

As I said – I hope to develop such attributes.

Stuart.

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