Thursday, 6 September 2012

A rebuttal to JEP propaganda - Re the Constables.





Since I don't get the JEP I had to have it pointed out to me the, frankly, astounding opinion piece from the JEPs editor Chris Bright on Monday.

It can be viewed online here - http://www.thisisjersey.com/news/comment/2012/09/03/democracy-not-just-efficiency-2/

It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that this sort of rubbish is capable of being published unchecked, because we only have one newspaper!

Aside from the obvious questions to be asked about why Senator Bailhache is leaking bits and pieces like this presumably before the commission has agreed it's final proposition, someone has to produce a counter argument.

[EDIT - Senator Bailhache has posted a statement on the Electoral Commission website saying that despite media speculation, the commission has not yet decided on any of it's recommendations.]

So lets de-construct this bit by bit.

"Despite the insistence of a vociferous minority, there is no evidence of any public demand for the removal of the Constables and no compelling reason why there should be."

Surely the fact there is a "vociferous minority" is evidence that there is some public demand, it's just not a majority, so this quote doesn't even make sense.

But what is unique about the cause for the removal of the Constables (which if Bright took the time to read the ECs submissions he would see is actually a MAJORITY held view!) is how broad a spectrum of people hold that view!

It's often said that because the Constables are generally conservative that opposition to their position comes only from pesky self interested lefties (which is an argument I don't accept because there is nothing stopping a left-wing Constable from being elected), but this is not the case at all.

By no stretch of the English language could people like Constable Len Norman or former Senator Pierre Horsfall be considered left-wingers and lumped in with this "vociferous minority" group. And what does he mean by "vociferous" anyway? If he means people that have put forward articulate, intelligent and logical propositions that have clear links to philosophical principles of democracy, then yes they certainly have been "vociferous" but that can't be a bad thing. But anyway, the argument isn't about numbers, it's about the argument and who puts forward the better case, and the anti-Constable side wins clearly on both counts.

Pierre Horsfall even used his submission to put forward his idea of a "democracy test" which, by his own admission, led him to believe with a heavy heart that the Constables had to leave the States. Constable Norman said that his fundamental principle was that people should have a "choice" and it was all about "democratic principle" (which I told him afterwards was a phrase that virtually all States Members that have submitted something have not used). These comments are not ones that can be shunned aside with a "vociferous minority". These are the thoughts of sensible people (whom I and my comrades have many political disagreements with) who have put a clear, coherent and principled position forward that resonates with many people on the island.

All you need to do is have a read through some of the submissions that have recommended keeping the Constables and see what democratic reasons they give for that position. You won't find any. People like our Chief Minister didn't even talk about democracy and how the Constables provide it. Then we had people like Deputy Sean Power who's submission was just laughable (I quote "I can't understand why people think having the Constables in the States is undemocratic", try looking at the numbers Sean...). Their argument for keeping the Constables in the States is NOT based on democracy. And why should our Electoral Commission even be considering arguments that aren't based on democracy?

But anyway, what does it matter if there is majority public support for or against the Constables remaining in the States? That's not the point. There are plenty of things that there is probably majority public support for (e.g. capital punishment, banning burqas, etc), but we don't accept those things because they are not compatible with the broader principles of democracy. Democracy isn't about just doing what the majority wants every time, because that leads to a dictatorship of the majority against the minority. Democracy is about everyone being equal and nobody being oppressed.

The fact is, having Constables is undemocratic and oppressive. The worst part of Brights comments is "and no compelling reason why there should be." Obviously Bright doesn't consider democracy to be a compelling reason. After all, it's not like hundreds of thousands of men and woman have fought and died for our freedom and democracy, hardly compelling at all!

All sarcasm aside, it really does not take a genius to realise that Jerseys system is far from democratic in a way that would be considered acceptable in the western world. It is undemocratic for a Constable who represents 1,600 people to have the same say as one who represents 30,000 people. One of those fundamental principles of democracy is the concept that everyone's vote should be equal and that is just not possible with the Constables in the States because their mandates vary too much. That is a compelling reason for their removal, and it would take a very strong counter-argument to that point to necessitate it's compromise.

So what arguments does he offer?

"Each of the 12 parish heads is uniquely well placed to understand and act upon the views and needs of the local communities he or she serves."

Well no, there is nothing "unique" about it because each Parish also has a Deputy. And that Deputies primary job is to reflect the views of their constituents in the States Chamber, whereas that is the Constables secondary job. So it's not a unique position, and anyway, who says they do that effectively? The Constables have constantly voted in favour of GST and against exemptions etc. If they were listening to their communities they would have voted the opposite way because it is a tax that hurts the least well off amongst us. The main opposition to things like GST comes from the ranks of the Deputies who will do the bulk of constituent work.

"Moreover, the life experience and general common sense of the Constables provide an important balancing factor"

Whether the Constables have general common sense is entirely debatable and to proclaim it as some sort of accepted orthodoxy is just ridiculous. The Constables are mere mortals like anyone else and are totally capable of being utter morons (not saying they are of course!). They're not exempt by virtue of their office.

"their removal would probably deal an ultimately fatal blow to the parish structure on which so much of Jersey’s special identity and community spirit depends."

I just don't get this point. If the Parish system is so fragile that it can't exist without being put on life support by the States, how can it be something that's worth keeping?

My answer to that is that it isn't fragile and people like Bright clearly have no faith in the Parish system, whereas I have tonnes of it. The Parish system will exist as long as people want it to. Do they honestly think that people are going to say "oh, my Constable isn't in the States any more? Well now I can't be bothered to go help volunteer with our Battle of Flowers float!". Of course the Parish system will survive. It will survive because the system itself has significant merit.

In fact, there is everything to suggest that the Parish system would be strengthened by that cut from central government. It would fundamentally change the role of the Constable into a non-political one, which would do wonders for the position! More people would come forward for the role and they wouldn't split opinions by having to vote on controversial States matters.

Okay, it's an honorary position without pay, but maybe we should get over that and let them take remuneration from the Parish rates? That seems only fair to me.

And finally -

"If the key question, then, is how well the Constables serve and reflect their electorates, the answer must be: very."

Nonsense.

Last week former Deputy Daniel Wimberly published his research that he had done into the work that each category of States Member does (remember that? That's the research that you and I asked the EC to do, but they said no). The media has, in my opinion, done a poor job at reporting it and has given significant time to his opposers whom haven't actually read his research and have been caricaturing his position in their rebuttals without those interviewing them catching them up on it.

His research was dynamite.

It proved what we all knew from the start - the Constables do very little in the States.

In terms of contributions to debates, questions asked, propositions lodged etc, the Constables do very little. This is irrefutable fact (http://www.electoralcommission.je/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Wimberley-Daniel-3-Appendix-1.pdf) that cannot be denied.

I had a small part in helping Daniel compile his research and statistics and it became very apparent to me very quickly as I was going through States records that I was very rarely scrolling up to put a tick next to a Constables name when I found a proposition one had put forward.

Now this isn't actually a criticism of the Constables. Who am I to tell them they don't work hard? It isn't my place to suggest such a thing. I'm sure they do work very hard. But if they do, it's in their Parishes, not the States Chamber (and that is entirely appropriate). All the more reason for us to sever the link and allow them to focus on their important Parish work.

In terms of value for money as States Members, we do not get our moneys worth from the Constables.

Do they represent their electorates? Well in each Parish, they may well do. But for the island, by definition they can't, because the level of representation is skewed. So it is just factually inaccurate to say they are representative of Jersey. And since it is the Parliament of Jersey we are talking about, it is Jersey we should be focusing on, not a collection of 12 Parishes.

So please folks, don't fall for the propaganda of the JEP. Read alternative points of view (Deputy Tadiers video statement), read the facts (Daniels research) and make up your own mind!



I'll end with sharing something that I found really interesting. Did you know that in the States of Guernsey only 4 members were elected with less than 1,000 votes, and not a single one was elected without fighting an election? In our States, 28 (that's more than half!) were elected with less than 1,000 votes, 11 of them without facing an election at all.


I think that says enough.


Also, I recently hit a landmark in my "view counts" since starting this blog which has made me reflect on how this whole experiment has gone this year. I just want to make the point that I really am grateful for all the support that many of you offer me, for all the people that stop me in the street to say nice things, and also for those that offer genuine and thoughtful constructive criticism which I do try to take on board!

It really means a lot!

Cheers :)
Sam




Daniels research -

Plus two excel spreadsheets that can be downloaded by scrolling to 25th August. They're appendixes 2,3 and 5. - http://www.electoralcommission.je/current-submissions/


Also, I wrote to the JEP based on this blog post -

I write following the astounding article by Chris Bright on the 3rd September (ironically titled "Democracy, not just efficiency") in which the editor informed us of some things we can expect to see in the Electoral Commissions proposition. Since Senator Bailhache (on the Electoral Commission website) and Colin Storm (at an Electoral Commission hearing) have both dismissed the article and said that nothing has been discussed by the commission yet, does the editor wish to apologise to the public of Jersey for writing a misleading article on a false premise, or would he instead defend his article and condemn Senator Bailhache and Colin Storm for being untruthful?

But on the subject of the article itself, the assertion that opposition to the Constables comes from a vociferous minority is simply untrue. If one takes the time to examine the submissions on the Electoral Commissions website, you will very quickly find that actually a clear majority of submitters wish for the Constables to leave the States. And those arguments saying such, are distinct from all other submissions in that they are the most articulate, the most considered and uniquely led by a clear philosophy of thought and principle of democracy (unlike our Chief Ministers submission).

The article also said there was no "compelling reason" for the removal of the Constables. But I think most in the island would consider Democracy to be a compelling reason, given the fact countless brave men and women have fought and died for democracy, which includes the fundamental principle of each vote being equal (something that is impossible if the Constables remain in the States).

It's often said (by those with an agenda) that the opposition to the Constables just comes from self interested "Lefties". But what is quite unusual about the cause for the removal of the Constables is that support actually comes from all sides of the political spectrum. Former Senator Horsfall and current Constable Norman have both put excellent and principled arguments against the Constables in the States, and neither of them can possibly be dismissed as part of a "vociferous minority" with the Left. Horsfall talked about a "democracy test" and Constable Norman repeatedly used the phrase "democratic principle". And they are joined in their view by Ed Le Quesne and John Hemming, who are both staunch supporters of the Parish system (thus doing away with the argument that somehow it would be the end of the Parish system if the Constables weren't distracted from their Parishes by the States).

Instead of propagandistically dismissing these people's legitimate opinions, can we not have a media that does it's job by effectively by putting both arguments across properly?

Sam Mézec

41 comments:

  1. Well done Sam. Great blog: Articulate, logical and Statesman-like

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  2. Mr. Bright has made his own submission, except it is not his own. It is on Guiton paper and clearly reads from the editorial team there. Mr. Bright is entitled to his personal view of course, but his newspaper is owned by a UK company so I rather imagine it pays no tax in Jersey. Of course it has no vote, only people have votes. So why on earth is it allowed even to make a submission to the EC about our States?

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  3. Sam.

    One can only hope the JEP's readers are not as daft as they (the JEP) think they are. When it comes to the State Media all being "on message" involving "Operation Save The Constables" the BBC are up there with the rest of THEM

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    1. There does need to bwe some sort of inquiry into the way the island is served by the media here. I think trevor tried for one and got precisely nowhere. Your revelations on your link are indeed shocking.

      We all should file away instances of bias / misleading reports / omissions / etc. for someone one day to pull it all together.

      Oh, and well done for taking the time to challenge them!

      Delete
  4. "Did you know that in the States of Guernsey only 4 members were elected with less than 1,000 votes, and not a single one was elected without fighting an election? In our States, 28 (that's more than half!) were elected with less than 1,000 votes, 11 of them without facing an election at all."

    That is shocking, when you consider that the number of States members is much the same whereas the population is approx J 100,000 and G 65,000.

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  5. You're saying that even if the majority of people want the constables in then that's not a good enough reason to keep them in. I agree with that, but I also think that the same applies to GST. The majority might not want it but that's not a good enough reason to get rid of it. If the Constables vote gave us GST then I'd rather keep the constables and GST.

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    1. That may well be right, and I certainly take the point. But would not a better situation be one in which our States is actually representative of the people and can tackle issues like GST in a way that is in line with the values of the public (which may well mean keeping it)?

      Delete
  6. Sir,

    "the anti-Constable side wins clearly on both counts".

    It clearly doesn't.

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    1. What's 'clear' to you is not 'clear' to the pro-constable side.

      Delete
    2. I think for many of them it is clear. The difference is that their priorities are different.

      Delete
  7. Constables are often accused of being right wing because they tend to vote with the majority. This is just because they are generally chosen from a larger pool of voters than deputies and so the majority view is more likely to prevail.

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    1. But the thing is, even if they were all left wing, that would still not change anything.

      As for them coming from a larger pool of voters. Well, even in many of the Parishes where the Constable was elected unopposed, the Deputy still faced election, and so is it therefore safer to say that the Deputies will represent the voters more?

      And whilst the 12 Constables are collectively chosen by the whole island, the borders in which they are chosen are highly irregular and give the country 8 seats, despite St Helier having a greater proportion of the voters.

      So they can't really be described as an accurate representation of public opinion outside their Parish.

      Delete
    2. I'm just saying that a politician voted in by 3000 people is statistically much more likely to vote with the majority than one voted in by 290 people.

      Also, if the so-called 'right-wing' politicians tend to do better out of town (as the Senatorial elections suggest) then 11 out of 12 constables are more likely to vote with the majority.

      To me this is a better explanation than the popular 'right-wing conspiracy theory' one.

      Delete
    3. That maybe true but it ignored the fact that the constituencies are not equal. It's gerrymandering to artificially increase the representation of certain groups of society.

      Delete
  8. The function of the JEP, as its editors know well, is to reassure the faithful and dupe the gullible. That it comes out in defence of the status quo on all things surprises none – that is its function – to prevent change at all cost. Constables are a part of the baroque structure of government that has functioned to preserve a political system and prevents change. Lauded under the guise of “stability” it is a system that ensures there can never be any serious challenge to the island operating as an offshore financial centre. That is what the game is all about really. Democracy threatens markets.

    The use of expressions like “vociferous minority” is a way of delegitimising the significant body of opinion that considers the present composition of the States Assembly and electoral system do not pass muster democratically. The submissions on the web site of the Electoral Commission are evidence of that. This is why a boycott of the Commission was never sensible. Whatever the Commission publishes and whether it was in Bailhache’s back pocket all along, will lack credibility unless it comes up with recommendations that essentially echo Clothier. Indeed Clothier remains the only sensible democratic way to proceed. It is becoming clear that the Commission is not going to recommend anything that will extend democracy and encourage participation. Lacking essential independence meant it was always going to be fatally flawed.

    The referendum is sure to be manipulated and here the JEP will play its organising role to support a vote for the status quo. This can then be used as an indication that the public like and prefer their ancient and undemocratic system, making it difficult for external forces to argue otherwise. The fear of outside scrutiny is the real worry, not a little bit of domestic dissent.

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    1. You're right that the referendum will be very tricky.

      If it loses, it'll be spun as an endorsement of the current system.

      If it wins, it'll be spun as an endorsement of the new system, even though many of us will likely vote for it only because we see it as a small improvement.

      It's lose - lose for the democrats amongst us.

      Delete
  9. In Guernsey the following Parishes (pop. historic) are all one electoral district known as West:-

    Forest - 1,549
    St. Pierre du Bois - 2,188
    St Saviour - 2,696
    Torteval - 973

    Prior to 2004 the Douzaine, the office of parish Constable (or “Connetable”) had an automatic right to sit in the States, one for Forest .... Torteval etc..

    Guernsey did away with that undemocratic right, why can't Jersey!!!

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    1. Totally right.

      The argument that is put forward is that what happened in Guernsey helped diminish their Parish system. But it doesn't stack up when you consider that Guernseys Parish system was much weaker than Jerseys to start with.

      Delete
  10. How interesting! On the Electoral Commissions website is a statement from Senator Bailhache saying -

    "Contrary to the impression that may have been given in some recent media reports I can reassure islanders that the Commission has not even started considering its recommendations yet and has certainly not reached any conclusions."

    Nice one Chris Bright, even Bailhache is now calling you a liar.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe he was referring to your blog :-)

      Delete
  11. For anyone interested, I was on BBC Radio Jersey this evening to talk about the Chief Ministers proposal to allow him to pick the Council of Ministers, in light of the Prime Ministers latest reshuffle.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00xf2yn/Simon_Jupp_06_09_2012/

    It's at 1 hour and 14 minutes in.

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  12. Some points:

    A
    Sam writes:
    “Their argument for keeping the Constables in the States is NOT based on democracy. And why should our Electoral Commission even be considering arguments that aren't based on democracy?”
    and
    “Obviously Bright doesn't consider democracy to be a compelling reason.”

    However, Lewis Baston has written a report for Advocate Mark Renouf which is now up on the Commission’s website – see here: http://www.electoralcommission.je/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Renouf-Advocate-Mark-Report-by-Mr-Lewis-Baston.pdf

    I have googled him and he is a serious academic. He questions this line of argument, mainly by pointing out that if you take the TOTAL representation each elector gets in jersey’s unusual (or is that “unique”?) electoral system then maybe the unfairness in representation are not that great. I have NOT had time to check his paper out carefully. Jersey’s situation is indeed complex, and he may have a point.

    But the Constables still cannot be in the States for three other reasons at least:

    1 the amount of work they do. Sam has given the link to the work I commissioned on this
    2 the fact that they are mostly unelected, in the normal sense of the word, and
    3 their uneven mandates. The unproportionality can possibly be fixed by having correspondingly unequal deputy districts, but the unequal mandates cannot. As Sam says:
    “One of those fundamental principles of democracy is the concept that everyone's vote should be equal and that is just not possible with the Constables in the States because their mandates vary too much”

    B

    Sam writes:
    “Do they represent their electorates? Well in each Parish, they may well do.”

    No they do not. Readers should take a look at the first submission by the Constable of St. Peter. (Submission 192, 31st July). I copy below what I wrote to the Commission about this

    “Thirdly, the submission by John Refault, Constable of St. Peter to your Commission is a case in point. It says:

    SUBMISSION TO ELECTORAL COMMISSION
    Submission No: 192
    From: Connétable John Refault on behalf of the parishioners of St. Peter
    Dated: 31 July 2012

    Submission: The Parish of St Peter held a meeting of Parishioners to get a broad selection of views from them on the Electoral Reform. The results were as follows:- Retain the 12 Connétable - have 12 Deputies, one for each Parish and a further number of Senators with no agreement on number with Island wide representation. . . . . .

    Note that it says quite explicitly that it is “on behalf of the parishioners of St. Peter” And yet there is no mention, crucially, of the number of those attending, nor of the date, venue, or arrangements for the meeting, in particular for publicising it. Curiously it appears that there was no disagreement whatever on a truly bizarre set of proposals.

    This complete blindness to the very basics of accountability shows that this Constable at least is unable to convey the “views of the parish” to the States.

    In fact, thinking that the views of a handful of people are the “views of the parish” is precisely the kind of thinking that has led to the disaffection of large slices of the electorate from the political process of Jersey. They get the impression that it is nothing to do with them, and they are right.”

    I have since been informed that the number attending this meeting was “approximately 20” – the Constable’s own words.

    So those 20 parishioners were passed off by the Constable of St. Peter as the “parishioners of St. Peter” Am I critical of parish democracy”? You bet.

    C

    Sam writes:
    “It would fundamentally change the role of the Constable into a non-political one, which would do wonders for the position! More people would come forward for the role” – “It” being them not being automatically in the States.

    I think Sam is spot on in this, and it is a very important point. And, as he says, payment for this job could be arranged.

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  13. I reckon you'd find, if there was a poll, most people don't give a monkey's so long as their cushy life carries on as before.

    And most people regard politicians as odd slimey creatures akin to lawyers and estate agents, no respect due. At least the constables are doing work in their parishes and know all that goes on, how the other half live. People think that the parish leaders have the 'big picture' more than the well-to-do Deputies and Senators who have mostly led sheltered lives and are out of touch with the common man.

    That's the way I see it, and I suspect most others do.
    I believe you'd be better off focussing on specific social injustices rather than worrying about the 'machinery of government'.

    Applied Pressure upon specific issues often works well, whereas trying to reform the States will get you nowhere. Priorities, priorities, priorities!

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    1. To say most people don't give a monkeys and to then say people think the Parish leaders have the big picture is contradictory.

      But I've been recommended I focus on other issues before and I'll repeat myself. There is no public commission on the other issues. Only electoral reform has a commission, so how is it out of line to focus on it for the moment?

      Anyway, I believe that part of the reason we have those problems in Jersey is because we have a government that does not reflect the values of the people of Jersey. Jersey will always have problems, but if we have a representative government at least they will try and tackle those issues in line with the values of the public.

      Oh, and one last thing, go to the top of this page and have a read of my article "the Economic Dictatorship". I've also blogged on things like LVCR and the 2012 Budget. So I don't think it's fair to think I don't dedicate plenty of time to talking about those sorts of issues.

      Delete
  14. Parish democracy is ossified and virtually non existent. The Parish and the Honorary Police act like clubs. Parish meetings are attended by few, even at important ones setting the annual rates and tend to be dominated by a number of individuals. This is not democracy and it explains why 8 of 12 Constables did not fight a contested election to hold their post. St Ouen had not had a contested election for Constable prior to 2011 for 108 years.

    Keeping Constables in the States is an article of faith for the Establishment as they recognise these members constitute a group that can be relied upon to support the Council of Ministers and their policies. Without them life would be more contentious and outcomes uncertain.

    Reading the many submissions from the Establishment on the Electoral Commission website reveals how fearful they are of the possibility of change. They fear the electorate and dream up ever more convoluted schemes to ensure a tame Assembly via a complex electoral system designed to exclude participation.

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  15. Still remarkably little discussion of the 10% "rule" on the blogs in spite of the fact that it has revealed Bailhache's vulnerabilty to "international obligations".
    It should ensure the demise of the Constables in the States at a stroke - I suggest you raise the game on this issue rather than endless dialogue about lesser matters in the JEP letters column.

    Presumably also that publishing business enjoys some rights to vote in Constables' elections as a ratepayer? How and where might the mighty X be wielded by all the so called "accredited media" in Jersey?

    And why do we still allow the establishment to describe these organs as "accredited". There is certainly no accreditation body within Jersey and those in the UK are all more or less discredited as a result of one press scandal after another - and the removal of the largest selling newspaper of them all (the News of the World).

    We all give these business and their political servants much too easy a ride because we are so badly organised and still playing at being prima donnas whereas the political stage is simply not large enough for this cult of the individual. We need to establish our OWN and collective agenda.

    On 28 September 1769 the people of Jersey were prepared to unite in sufficient numbers under a common banner - at the real risk of execution or transportation - and achieved the greatest democratic reform so far in Jersey's history. We should remember them and all others who have fought over the centuries this year - on Friday 28 September - under the common banner of JERSEY REFORM DAY and we can bring all our voices to bear upon this SHARED celebration. What are YOU ALL so afraid of?

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  16. Certainly no need to be afraid of the Constables.
    Steve Pallett - formerly a "progressive" in the Jersy political scene - is interviewed on my tomgruchy.blogspot.com - but like the 10% "rule" is attracting very little interest.
    If we are not interested in such important matters as international standards or the words that our Constables actually utter - then what is the motivation for REFORM actually built upon?

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  17. I think all the bloggers in the channel islands ought to create a panel, set a criteria guideline to sign up to and then produce a list of those who abide to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", at least you can be assured that non of the 'controlled accrediated media" would sign up.

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    1. Like a "Bloggers Code of Conduct"? Not a bad idea!

      Delete
    2. This is a good idea.

      An association of independent journalists can also publish a policy of examining "contrary" facts presented by readers, thus finding a better way of avoiding the trolling under the guise of debate, unless it provides a well reasoned basis in factual evidence. That would eliminate the distraction of troll name calling and topic hijacking, and support more logical debate and informed discussion.

      It might be fun to examine the lofty wording of the various statements of purpose, codes of conduct, and ethics mission blather each state media outlet professes to adhere to.

      Delete
  18. Just wrote a letter to the JEP for publication. I'm in the UK so can't get the JEP here, so if someone sees that it is published, could they let me know?

    I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't published, but only because it was quite recent that I last wrote to them, so they could fairly say others deserve a chance ahead of me. So we'll see anyway!

    Here it is -

    I write following the astounding article by Chris Bright on the 3rd September (ironically titled "Democracy, not just efficiency") in which the editor informed us of some things we can expect to see in the Electoral Commissions proposition. Since Senator Bailhache (on the Electoral Commission website) and Colin Storm (at an Electoral Commission hearing) have both dismissed the article and said that nothing has been discussed by the commission yet, does the editor wish to apologise to the public of Jersey for writing a misleading article on a false premise, or would he instead defend his article and condemn Senator Bailhache and Colin Storm for being untruthful?

    But on the subject of the article itself, the assertion that opposition to the Constables comes from a vociferous minority is simply untrue. If one takes the time to examine the submissions on the Electoral Commissions website, you will very quickly find that actually a clear majority of submitters wish for the Constables to leave the States. And those arguments saying such, are distinct from all other submissions in that they are the most articulate, the most considered and uniquely led by a clear philosophy of thought and principle of democracy (unlike our Chief Ministers submission).

    The article also said there was no "compelling reason" for the removal of the Constables. But I think most in the island would consider Democracy to be a compelling reason, given the fact countless brave men and women have fought and died for democracy, which includes the fundamental principle of each vote being equal (something that is impossible if the Constables remain in the States).

    It's often said (by those with an agenda) that the opposition to the Constables just comes from self interested "Lefties". But what is quite unusual about the cause for the removal of the Constables is that support actually comes from all sides of the political spectrum. Former Senator Horsfall and current Constable Norman have both put excellent and principled arguments against the Constables in the States, and neither of them can possibly be dismissed as part of a "vociferous minority" with the Left. Horsfall talked about a "democracy test" and Constable Norman repeatedly used the phrase "democratic principle". And they are joined in their view by Ed Le Quesne and John Hemming, who are both staunch supporters of the Parish system (thus doing away with the argument that somehow it would be the end of the Parish system if the Constables weren't distracted from their Parishes by the States).

    Instead of propagandistically dismissing these people's legitimate opinions, can we not have a media that does it's job by effectively by putting both arguments across properly?

    Sam Mézec

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  19. "And they are joined in their view by Ed Le Quesne and John Hemming, who are both staunch supporters of the Parish system (thus doing away with the argument that somehow it would be the end of the Parish system if the Constables weren't distracted from their Parishes by the States)."

    Not sure that this does away with the argument. Bit flippant.

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    1. Supporters of the Parish system aren't likely to support a move that will see it's inevitable demise.

      The JEPs argument was that the removal of the constables was certain to end the parish system, when no such thing is certain at all, it's (at the very least) something that is debatable.

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  20. I haven't counted myself but another JEP correspondent puts the pro/anti constable submissions at around 50/50?

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    1. I have counted. They're wrong.

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    2. Just checked my note book to get the exact figures for you -

      Total number of submissions - 299
      Full removal of Constables from the Chamber - 142
      Full retention of Constables - 111
      Retention of Constables without voting rights - 13
      Constables in a second chamber - 4

      Many submissions were either ambiguous or expressed no view at all.

      So of total submissions, those wanting the constables gone falls slightly below 50% (though is over 50% if you include those wanting their voting rights removed).

      But of all the submissions that expressed an opinion, it is over 50%.

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  21. Hi Sam.

    Keep up your good work. I just put up some questions from yesterdays States Meeting, you & your Reader's can Listen HERE

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  22. Hi,I wondered if Sam could do a blog somewhere at sometime for people like me who just don't get the Political scene in Jersey,especially about the Constables.I think that Sam could make a big difference to voters by educating them in the form of posts on a blog.He seems a very bright young man with a promising future ahead and I hope that he will come back to Jersey with Political ambitions.

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    1. Hi Anonymous, good idea! If I get the time that is definitely something I'm interested in doing. I have a lot of friends who are interested in politics as an idea, but in terms of pragmatically what it means in Jersey and understanding the system, they don't know a lot and so find it hard to turn their interest into action.

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