Monday, 18 August 2014

Candidates for Change - Reform Jersey announces three new candidates




Today Reform Jersey officially revealed three of our new candidates who will be standing in the general election on the 15th October.

We still have more candidates to announce but we wanted to get the ball rolling with these three.

I'm very excited about taking part in their personal election campaigns, as well as helping to co-ordinate our island-wide party campaign.

Something feels different this time. There is momentum. Whenever we meet ordinary voters on the doorstep, our message seems to be connecting better than ever.

We have three excellent, intelligent and articulate women candidates who have come forward. I have always believed that one of the benefits of party politics is that a party will be able to encourage people with talent to come forward, who otherwise might not be as interested in doing so as an independent. Jersey democracy will be far better when that is the norm.

It is clear that people in Jersey want change. This time the vote for change will be placed inside the box on the ballot paper next to the words 'Reform Jersey'.

More to be announced in the coming weeks...



Laura Millen - St Helier No. 3/4


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Laura is 34 years old and was born and educated in Jersey.

She studied Journalism at John Moores University before returning to the island to work in banking and insurance. She has been a recruitment manager for the past 4 years and so have a very in depth understanding of unemployment, how it affects people and how those people can be assisted back into work.

I think that Laura represents something we need more of in Jersey politics. She's young, she's educated, she's very professional but, most importantly, she has the right values to stand up for ordinary Jersey residents.

She took part in the Equal Marriage Rally earlier this year and was inspired by the collective action she witnessed and will be a welcome addition to the Reform Jersey team in the States.


She says -

"I am concerned how often I hear of salaries that barely cover rental and food costs and particularly concern about the rise in the use of zero-hours contracts where individuals are put under serious stress, not knowing whether they can pay their rent at the end of the week. I listen to mothers desperate to return to work and get off income support but who are unable to secure employment due to the lack of part-time roles coupled with extremely high childcare costs. Having heard these stories on a weekly basis over the past four years, I realise that there insufficient support and protection in place to help those that want to work and support themselves and their families and make a positive contribution to society.

I believe that standing as a Reform Jersey party candidate will enable me to work as part of a team to bring about positive change. We are united in agreement that Jersey can no longer continue to ignore increasing numbers of our fellow islanders who are barely surviving. We cannot ignore that we are failing victims of sexual assault, failing with our mental health provision, failing to provide adequate housing, and failing prospective mothers. These matters need to be addressed by coherent social and economic policies on a wide front, including promotion of a living wage for Jersey and the introduction of 26 weeks statutory maternity leave as soon as possible.

If the government is to be more representative of the population then we need more young people and women in the States."


Debbie Hardisty - St Peter


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Debbie is a 55 year old mother of three who has lived in St Peter for 14 years.

She has worked primarily in the finance and care sectors, including at Les Quennevais School. She now works for the Channel Islands Cooperative Society where she is an active member of the society's Focus Group.

Debbie has already been knocking on doors in St Peter to begin to canvass for votes and has been getting a really good response.

At the last election in St Peter, just over half of those eligible to vote chose not to. I believe Debbie will have the ability to reverse that because she is providing voters in St Peter with a real choice for the first time. She does not represent the Business As Usual Party, she represents something different. The message of Reform Jersey will hopefully resonate most with those who have never voted before in St Peter because they have never seen a candidate they feel would represent them properly.


She says -

"As your Deputy, if elected, I will seek to fully understand your needs in order to best represent your interests in the States Assembly and elsewhere. My door will always be open. I am particularly keen to assist those on low and fixed incomes, both young and old. I will promote the provision of stable, sustainable job opportunities vital for our young people, without which we cannot support our elderly residents.

I will work to establish a kerbside recycling scheme, preserve our green/agricultural areas and maintain the community spirit we rightly enjoy within our parish.


For the island as a whole, I will support any proposition to:

  • End zero-hour contracts except where they are essential.
  • Stop any rise in GST. I will actively campaign and vote for the removal of GST on essential foods and domestic fuels.
  • Radically improve the advance to work scheme so that there are more people being taken on for long term, sustainable employment instead of being used as cheap, temporary labour.
  • Re-introduce free milk for pre-school and primary school pupils.
  • Improve the prompt assessment and provision of help for those with mental health issues.
  • Ensure that all islanders are treated with respect, equal rights, opportunities and fair justice.



Anne Southern - Senator

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Anne will already be a familiar face to many islanders having been a teacher in Jersey for 36 years. In fact she taught me English Language when I was a student at Hautlieu!

She was the head of the English Department at Hautlieu School for 10 years and was President of the Jersey Teacher's Association for 7 years, meaning she has a lot of experience at dealing with States departments/ officers on behalf of the people she represented to fight for the best deal for them.

Anne is well placed to stand for Senator because of her background and experience, and she is well placed to be a candidate for Reform Jersey because of her commitment to social and economic justice.

She'll be a strong advocate for our policies at the senatorial hustings across the island and I hope that she'll be seen as the candidates that stands out, not just by virtue of her being a party candidate, but by the coherent and articulate way she will be able to get her message across.


She says -

"I have been encouraged to enter politics following the formation of Reform Jersey, where I can enjoy the support of a group of people who have a coherent economic policy that will promote greater levels of fairness in our society. Taxpayers’ money can be saved if employers are encouraged to give their employees a living wage, and avoid the abuse of zero-hours contracts. This will mean that working families will not have to claim income support. Similarly, taxpayers’ money can be saved on rent rebates if rent controls are introduced. It is vital to maintain public services on which we all depend, and in a fair and decent society all should benefit from a good education and health service. In a society that depends on women as a significant proportion of the workforce, there must be an entitlement to at least 6 months paid maternity leave. If taxes need to be raised to balance the books, these should be progressive and fall on those who are most able to pay. I would work tirelessly to reduce poverty, finding it unacceptable that in a society with so many wealthy residents there are those who rely on food banks.

As a founder member of the Board of Visitors for looked after children, I applaud the measures that have been taken to improve children’s services, which has led to a reduction in youth crime, and would work to support these and further initiatives."

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Press Release - UK Justice Minister Visit to Jersey

Note - Since the time of writing, States Members have been offered a group meeting with the Justice Minister. Such a meeting falls well short of what is desirable and is essentially just a token gesture. It is formatted in such a way so no concerns can be brought up in a constructive way in confidence.


Press Release – For Immediate Release

Deputy Criticises Exclusion of States Members from UK Justice Minister Visit

Deputy Sam Mézec has raised concerns about the accessibility of UK government ministers to ordinary States Members when they visit the Island on official business.

On 4th August, the United Kingdom Minister for Justice, Lord Faulks, will be visiting Jersey to discuss, amongst other things, the progress made following a UK Justice Select Committee report into the relationship between the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Dependencies.

Deputy Mézec said “there are 51 States Members, not all of whom are members of the Council of Ministers, who have a variety of views on issues of good governance in Jersey and we are side-lined from meeting UK government representatives when they visit Jersey.”

States Members were only informed of Lord Faulks visit to Jersey a matter of days before it is due to take place and Deputy Mézec said that they were not offered the opportunity to discuss matters that might concern them to do with the issues the Minister is here to investigate.

It is standard practice in most jurisdictions that when a foreign government representative makes an official visit, he or she will also make an effort to meet representatives of opposition parties, so as to not just hear a one-sided story. The Lieutenant-Governor, Bailiff and Chief Minister all have a self-interest in leaving the Justice Minister with the impression that they are doing a fantastic job, despite that not being the view of many Jersey residents and politicians.

One issue that some States Members have concerns with is the dual role of the Bailiff, which some members believe is not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights. Lord Faulks will be meeting with the Bailiff when he visits, who has a self-interest in arguing that his role is human rights compliant, but the Minister will not be offered a chance to meet elected members of the States who will offer an alternative view on something that the UK government is legally obliged to consider.”

Deputy Mike Higgins, who is not a member of the Council of Ministers, made an important written submission to the Justice Select Committee which made a number of criticisms of the Jersey government, but has not been invited to meet the Justice Minister when he visits.

This is just another occasion of the government of Jersey subverting democratic good practice to side-line those who have alternative points of view to them. It is not good for democracy and it is not good for Jersey” said Deputy Mézec.

This will be Lord Faulks first visit to Jersey since becoming Justice Minister. It follows a visit last year by the Justice Select Committee, who were met with an expensive reception at the Atlantic Hotel by the Bailiff and senior ministers which caused a minor controversy at the time.

Deputy Mézec has written and asked that some members (including Reform Jersey member Deputy Montfort Tadier and Deputy Mike Higgins who is not a member of Reform Jersey) are invited to meet the Minister, to offer their concerns. No meeting has yet been offered at the time of writing.

For further comment or to arrange an interview, please contact Deputy Mézec on 07797 811130 or s.mezec@gov.je

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Business As Usual v Reform Jersey. The real choice in October.


As the October general election looms, States Members appear to be in a state of frenzy.

The media has reported anouncements of candidates (some sitting members) intention to stand for (re)election, with many of them announcing not a single policy of theirs, but simply who they are. Personality politics is obviously far more important than the vacuous inanity of policy debates.

Some States Members who are frustrated with how things have gone over the past electoral term have formed a political alliance (definitely not a party). They're meeting regularly, discussing policy positions, potential ministerial posts to aspire to and scope for collaboration. But, as I've said, it's definitely not a party, that would be ridiculous. Such an alliance sees members on the left of Jersey politics siding with others on the libertarian far-right in a very confused conglomeration. Oh, by the way, it's definitely not a party! (Get the point yet?)

Most curiously, the Treasury Minister, Senator Philip Ozouf, has been out of the island since the Budget revealed a potential deficit of £95m over 3 years, and barely a peep has been heard from him since. He's gone to France, presumably to get some economics lessons from the Francois Hollande government.

They're even turning on each other in St Mary, where Deputy Le Bailly (who can't seem to workout whether he is a parliamentarian or a glorified councillor) has announced he is to challenge Constable Juliette Gallichan for her job.

Rumours are being shared every day in the States building and there is certainly a tension in the air.


Throughout all of this, Reform Jersey are ploughing along and things couldn't be better for us.

Our Equality Parade was a humongous success. At it's peak around 500 people coming together, in one of the largest demonstrations in years, to support a cause that is at the heart of what most decent ordinary Jersey men and women want for their island.

By running stalls in town and knocking on doors in our constituencies we've signed up hundreds of people to the electoral register. St Helier, I am told, has never had more people registered to vote.

We are currently organising our candidates for an announcement in the next few weeks. We have a really interesting and diverse bunch with a variety of backgrounds, but all of whom are committed to making Jersey politics work better for the people of Jersey and with the passion for principles of social and economic justice that has been sorely missing from government policy for too long.

As a result of being the most overtly organised force in Jersey politics (there are more organised groupings, but they do so covertly, and therefore undemocratically) Reform Jersey is now facing further scrutiny. Some of which is justified, some of which is motivated by fear and some is just to antagonise us.

We have not produced a manifesto yet, as we haven't hit the election yet, but our first leaflet has announced some of our key policies -

  • Ending abuse of zero-hours contracts
  • Introduction of a 'living wage'
  • Free GP visits
  • Updating out employment protection law to a 21st Century standard
  • Ending rampant population growth
  • Fairer Income Tax system where high earners contribute more
  • Lifting the Social Security cap on high earners so they pay the same rate as everyone else
  • Opposing increases in GST
  • Reforming the States electoral system to have one type of elected member in equal sized constituencies.
  • Reforming the justice system to improve access to legal aid and introduce an independent prosecution service.

Is this as comprehensive as it needs to be? Absolutely not. But it's not a manifesto. More detail will be published closer to the election.

A criticism we have gotten by the usual right-wing detractors is that we're typical barking mad Trotskyites who promise outragous things (like saying sick people shouldn't have to pay to see a doctor like 65m people get in the UK) without a word on how to pay for it. I've even been accused of being a Communist by Grouville's John Dix twice, which I take as a sign we are doing something right.

This, of course, disregards two of our bullet points that very clearly show that we have targeted areas to raise revenue.

The meat is not on the bones yet, but it will be.

Our members have demonstrated that they have the initiative to put together packages to achieve this end. An example of a previous attempt by Deputy Southern can be read here - http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2011/28055-14746-1422011.pdf#search=p.23/2011

(Note - this is simply what has been suggested before as a way forward and will not necessarily be exactly the figures that Reform Jersey suggests)

The exact figures aren't on the table right now, but when have voters ever been given a fully costed and comprehensive policy guide at all, let alone over two months before the election?

As a geeky politico, I read every election manifesto in 2011 and our leaflet (which isn't a manifesto remember) contains more substance than probably 70% of those and certainly far more substance than anything put out by declared candidates in the upcoming election so far, who are simply hoping to bank on their name counting for something. So of all declared candidates so far, Reform Jersey has clearly demonstrated itself to be the most credible and it is the other candidates that should be interrogated hardest.


It has never been clearer that something in Jersey politics needs to change and a different approach to government is needed.

Despite the current state of our finances, Senator Ozouf was able to magic up £3.5m to buy Plémont. This proves something I have said in the States several times now that many of the things we do not get in Jersey, that citizens of other civilised countries are given as of right, is not out of finantial necessity but out of political choice.

We have a government that does not have as it's top priority to provide services to islanders to make their quality of life better.

Whilst the Chamber of Commerce and some business commentators want the government to slash public spending (despite the fact that this wil do nothing to help the economy grow and may actually cause greater unemployment) and offer fewer services to Islanders, there is another way.

In today's JEP, Peter Body made the point very well -



Well said Peter!




A fews day ago myself and Deputy Tadier wondered into the Farmers Inn in St Ouen for a couple of drinks (as one must do from time to time to discover the new and innovative ways the St Ouennais are driving the island forward).

After we'd managed to convince one local there that we aren't gay (apparently if you stand up for gay rights, that must make you gay), we had a really good conversation with the other locals there who were actualy quite excited about Reform Jersey and the different ideas we are putting forward.

I felt quite bad for them that they won't have a choice for a local Reform Jersey candidate in St Ouen because we aren't targetting that constituency, but they will still have their Senatorial candidates.

Jersey is not the conservative society that some suggest. We are broadly a progressive and social democratic comunity, but without a government that reflects it.


In October the people of this island have a choice - it's Reform Jersey or the Business As Usual Party.

The choice could not be more obvious.


Sam

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

March for Equality!




The 8th of July 2014 could be remembered in Jersey political history as the day the States of Jersey disgraced itself by failing to stand up for equality for all islanders because they didn't have the courage to oppose those motivated by homophobic tendencies, or it could go down as the day that islanders realised that nothing will change here unless they mobilise and organise.

The lesson that must be learnt from yesterday's shameful events in the States is that we have a collection of politicians who are completely out of touch with reality, but that situation is completely down to the fact that too many good Jersey men and women just don't go out to vote.

In October we have an opportunity to completely overhaul the membership of the States and replace those that were too cowardly to back equality with members with more integrity.

Not voting is not an act of protest, it is an act of surrender.

Reform Jersey has pledged to hold a rally and march this Saturday for those that believe in equality for the LGBT community. We'll be gathering at the Royal Square at 12pm before marching to Liberation Square at 12.20pm to hear from guest speakers and campaigners on what Jersey people can do to make sure from October we have a States that will have the courage to drag Jersey into the 21st century.

We hope you will join us.



In the meantime, here is a list of all the States Members (plus email addresses) who were too scared to do what was right, and instead kicked this into the long grass.

There are names on this list that I am incredibly disappointed to see there. They are not homophobes, but they naively backed an amendment that was fuelled by homophobia, having been duped by the more reasonable (although totally phony) elements of their argument.

But most disappointing of all is our so-called Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst who has demonstrated that he is not the Chief Minister of the islands LGBT community. He could have followed the admirable example of the Prime Minister David Cameron who (in my opinion with complete sincerity) pushed for equal marriage, even though it would be difficult to reconcile with large parts of his political and electoral support basis.

Instead, he put it off to another day and refused to stand up and tell gay and lesbian islanders that he is a Chief Minister who will represent them and stand up for their rights.

For this alone, he does not deserve a second term as Chief Minister and I will not be voting for him.


Votes for delaying an in principle decision on equal marriage -

Senator Sarah Ferguson - s.ferguson@gov.je
Senator Ian Le Marquand - i.lemarquand@gov.je
Senator Francis Le Gresley - f.legresley@gov.je
Senator Ian Gorst - i.gorst@gov.je

Trinity

Constable John Gallichan - j.lesueurgallichan@gov.je
Deputy Anne Pryke - a.pryke@gov.je

St Clement

Constable Len Norman - l.norman@gov.je
Deputy Gerard Baudains - g.baudains@gov.je
Deputy Susie Pinel - s.pinel@gov.je

St Peter

Constable John Refault - j.refault@gov.je

St Lawrence

Constable Deidre Mezbourian - d.mezbourian@gov.je
Deputy John Le Fondré - j.lef@gov.je

St John

Constable Phill Rondel - p.rondel@gov.je

St Ouen

Constable Michael Paddock - m.paddock@gov.je
Deputy James Reed - j.reed@gov.je

St Saviour 

Constable Sadie Rennard - s.rennard@gov.je
Deputy Rob Duhamel - r.duhamel@gov.je

Grouville

Constable John Le Maistre - j.lemaistre@gov.je

St Helier

Deputy Jackie Hilton - j.hilton@gov.je
Deputy Richard Rondel - r.rondel@gov.je
Deputy Mike Higgins - mr.higgins@gov.je

St Brelade

Deputy Sean Power - sp.power@gov.je
Deputy John Young - j.young@gov.je

St Mary

Deputy John Le Bailly - j.lebailly@gov.je

Friday, 4 July 2014

Crunch time for Equal Marriage - How can you help?


We now have a time and date for the Equal Marriage debate in the States of Jersey.

On Tuesday 8th July at 9.30am we will crack straight into the debate which could take several hours before it culminates in a vote.

Victory is by no means predetermined.

States Members have received all sorts of correspondence from all sides of the argument.

Needless to say, the opposition to it is noticeably the least articulate and logical, but we have had more against than for so far.

We have a perfect opportunity to take a huge step towards equality for a previously marginalised group. If this fails, it will be a sad day for Jersey.


So what can you do to help?

The simplest thing would be to contact States Members and lobby them to vote for "the P.102/2014 proposition on same-sex marriage". I've copied their email addresses at the bottom of this post. You can

They are YOUR States Members and you have every right to email them and ask them to vote in favour of this. Believe me, the people who are asking us to vote against it have not needed prompting on this point!

Write them an email asking them to vote for it. It can be as long or as short as you want. It will have an effect. States Members love to reject decent propositions with the nonsensical argument of "ah, well I've not had any Parishioners contact me asking me to support this!" so don't give them that amunition.

If you are free, you are also more than entitled to come and stand in the Royal Square as members are walking into the States building (from 8.30am - 9.30am) and try and stop them for a chat to lobby them. Obviously that sort of thing requires a bit of confidence, but some people have a real knack for that and can be very persuasive, so if that's your thing, give it a try.

Finally, States proceedings are open to the public. Most weeks the public gallery is completely empty, but sometimes a specific proposition can enthuse enough people to see it packed. The presence of the public in the room does have an effect. It means members are extra careful about what they say and know that they are dealing with an important subject matter.

The entrance to the public viewing gallery is at the end of Halkett Place, opposite the entrance to Morier House. You will be scanned with a metal detector as you go in and your bags will be checked (to make sure there's no hand grenades or anything in them...). If you have difficulties with getting up stairs, there is no lift through this entrance, so you would have to go in via the Royal Court entrance and they should show you where to go.

So if you aren't working, come down and watch it. It's sure to be an enlightening event!


You have until Tuesday morning, so get emailing!!





Senators

p.routier@gov.je
p.ozouf@gov.je
a.breckon@gov.je
s.ferguson@gov.je
a.maclean@gov.je
i.lemarquand@gov.je
f.legresley@gov.je
i.gorst@gov.je
l.farnham@gov.je
p.bailhache@gov.je


Constables

s.crowcroft@gov.je
j.lesueurgallichan@gov.je
l.norman@gov.je
j.refault@gov.je
d.mezbourian@gov.je
jg.gallichan@gov.je
p.rondel@gov.je
m.paddock@gov.je
s.pallett@gov.je
m.letroquer@gov.je
s.rennard@gov.je
j.lemaistre@gov.je

Deputies

r.duhamel@gov.je
r.leherissier@gov.je
ju.martin@gov.je
g.southern@gov.je
j.reed@gov.je
c.labey@gov.je
j.hilton@gov.je
j.lef@gov.je
a.pryke@gov.je
sp.power@gov.je
k.lewis@gov.je
m.tadier@gov.je
e.noel@gov.je
t.vallois@gov.je
mr.higgins@gov.je
a.green@gov.je
j.macon@gov.je
g.baudains@gov.je
p.ryan@gov.je
j.baker@gov.je
j.young@gov.je
s.pinel@gov.je
j.lebailly@gov.je
s.luce@gov.je
r.bryans@gov.je
k.moore2@gov.je
richard.rondel@gov.je 
n.lecornu@gov.je
s.mezec@gov.je

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Reform Jersey Press Release


PRESS RELEASE ON BEHALF OF REFORM JERSEY
FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
02 JULY 2014

REFORM JERSEY TO BECOME OFFICIAL POLITICAL PARTY THIS WEEK

Jersey will have a new political party this week. The application of Reform Jersey will be processed in the Royal Court on Friday, at which point the party will be officially recognised.

Speaking on behalf of Reform Jersey, Party Chairman, Deputy Mézec said: ‘We are delighted to now be at the point of having official recognition as a Party.

We believe that voting for a party with a clear manifesto is the only way to connect one’s vote to the delivery of policies in the States.

Our first objective is to make sure people are registered to vote and know how to vote. We have already started our voter registration campaign and we have been encouraged by the positive response we have received.’

Members, friends and supporters are invited to join us in the Royal Square at 09:45am on Friday and join us in the Royal Court at 10am.

Anyone wishing more information can contact Deputy Mézec on 07797 811130 or by email: chairman@reformjersey.je

-          ENDS-

For Interviews, please contact Deputy Mézec above.
We would be delighted to see any members of the media at 09:45 for a photograph and for comment.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Electoral Reform - a chance to take a huge step forward





Here we have the proposed referendum that the people of Jersey should have been asked 10 years ago.

We are finally being offered our say on whether the recommendations of the Clothier Report on the composition of the States of Jersey should be implemented.

The review into the machinery of government in Jersey, led by Sir Cecil Clothier in 2000, proposed many far reaching reforms into how Jersey is governed. Since then, the States of Jersey has accepted all of it's proposals that concentrated power further into the hands of the senior elite in the States, without accepting the parts that proposed enhancing the democratic accountability of all politicians to the public that elect them.

Self interest prevailed, and I think that the majority of the public now lament that decision greatly.

Last years referendum did not help.

The moment the States decided to backtrack on it's decision that States Members should not be on the Electoral Commission, the outcome was doomed.

Self-interest took over once more and we all know how that turned out!

Here we have an opportunity for a legitimate referendum, with a legitimate question on a legitimate electoral system. Last time round, we had nothing but illegitimacy in the process.

If the States agree to put this question to the public (as they have tentatively already agreed to do so, however there is still one final vote to be had), then I, and Reform Jersey, will be campaigning hard for a "yes" vote on the 15th October, alongside our own personal elections.


The distribution of seats would be -



An independent boundary commission would be established to decide on the exact distribution, as well as setting the boundaries for the internal Parish districts in the larger Parishes.

It isn't perfect, but it's a heck of a step in the right direction.

Compared to what we have now, this is how it works out. The bars going down demonstrate over-representation, and the bars going up show under-representation -
This will eliminate the historic under-representation of the town. I would be committing treason against my electorate if I did anything other than support more representation for St Helier.

But the States still has a final vote coming up at the end of July to accept this referendum question, and I can already see the anti-democrats amongst my colleagues desperately scrambling for straws to clutch at, to find reasons why they should chicken out of asking the people for their say.


In the meantime, Reform Jersey presses on and is well on the road to preparing for this years elections.

If you want to find out more about the party and get involved, please contact me on chairman@reformjersey.je