Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Reply to ex-Senator Reg Jeune on the dual role of the Bailiff

I have written a letter to the JEP following a contribution to the debate on the dual role of the Bailiff from ex-Senator Reg Jeune, which can be read here - http://www.thisisjersey.com/news/comment/2013/12/17/stop-trying-to-change-the-roles-of-the-bailiff/

But before that, a brief comment on this editorial - http://www.thisisjersey.com/news/comment/2013/12/17/knowing-what-we-vote-for/

In particular the line - "It is also a fair bet that the worst elements of the blogging community will make it the dirtiest and most unpleasant election in memory."

This is probably one of the most desperate and ignorant comments in a JEP editorial I've seen since.... well, not that long ago, to be frank.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to suspect that Jersey bloggers will do anything other than provide their own commentary, which people may or may not agree with, and focus on issues that may not be of interest to everyone, but most importantly, they will make sure they scrutinise the mainstream media at every opportunity. They have not done anything so far to make anyone suspect they are ready to ruin an election.

I was out of the island during the whole of the 2011 election campaign. I had to vote by post and rely on whatever information I could find online to make up my mind on who to vote for.

The blogs in Jersey were far more useful than the Jersey Evening Post. Without them, I would have been left in the dark.

They provided video interviews with any candidate that was willing to do one. They videoed parts of the election hustings. They offered alternative ways of looking at things.

The JEP's role in the election was pretty much to make sure Philip Bailhache was on the front page of the JEP everyday. Of the articles of theirs I read online, it was Philip Bailhache who was almost always quoted, to the exclusion of other candidates.

Their coverage of the election was appallingly biased and they are in absolutely no position whatsoever to criticise other forums for their contributions.

Especially when they also said this - "Voters will be further confused by a polling day referendum on the future of the Constables"

Actually, the referendum on the Constables has been dismissed by PPC. The JEP should know this, but they didn't send any reporters to the PPC meeting a few weeks ago to find out (I know because I was there and was the only member of the public). The referendum will be on the Clothier reforms as a whole, which includes Deputies distributions and the future of the Senators.

The JEP getting their facts wrong again. Shock horror!



Dear Editor,

I write with reference to the letter from ex-Senator Reg Jeune titled ‘Stop trying to change the roles of the Bailiff”. In his letter he rather oddly claims that the dual role of the Bailiff is part of our shared Jersey heritage. I was born and raised in this Island and could not disagree more. It is not our archaic political institutions that make me feel a Jersey person. Jersey is defined by its culture, its people and its beautiful beaches and countryside. Politics will always be something that individuals disagree on.

The implication behind saying that the dual role of the Bailiff is an integral part of Jersey is that, if you believe in modernising our institutions, you are somehow “anti-Jersey”. Actually I and many others are in favour of modernising our Islands democracy precisely because we care about Jersey. We are not enemies of Jersey tradition.

Mr Jeune wants us to believe it is impossible for a Bailiff to be anything other than a paragon of virtue and cites his 34 years as a States Member as good qualification for saying so. Though it is odd that he seemingly suffers from amnesia when it comes to the late former Deputy Bailiff (and therefore Deputy President of the States of Jersey) Vernon Tomes who had to be sacked from his position for under-performing as Deputy Bailiff. He then went on to top the next Senatorial elections.

This makes the point quite nicely. It is entirely possible for an individual to make an excellent judge, but not a very good Speaker of the States, or vice versa.

Mr Jeune selectively cites the Kilbrandon Report. He neglects to tell the readers that the Kilbrandon Report was written over 40 years ago and had a very wide scope of things it was tasked with analysing, in which Jersey’s constitution was a very tiny part. Contrast this with the very recent Carswell Report, which had the very concise purpose of examining the role of the Crown Officers in Jersey. The Carswell Report very clearly stated that it is not appropriate practice in the 21st Century for a judge to also be speaker of a parliament. This was the same conclusion that the Clothier Report came to as well. The writing is on the wall.

Whilst Guernsey may also have a Bailiff who presides over their States, Mr Jeune did not tell the readers that our other sister island, Sark, has recently been compelled by the UK government to modernise and they have split the dual role of their Seneschal. Do we really want to have to wait for the UK to compel us too, when we are capable of making the change ourselves?

The Isle of Man and Gibraltar also have elected speakers, and their society has not crumbled before their eyes.

I'm reminded of the lyrics in Bob Dylan's classic The Times They Are a Changin' “you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone”. The world is totally different to what it was like when Reg Jeune was a politician. If Jersey is to remain an internationally respected and trusted jurisdiction, we should not only keep up with the times, but we should try to be ahead of the times. The dual role of the Bailiff cannot continue, and now is the time to modernise, as Sir Michael Birt is about to retire.

If Jersey traditions are so important for our heritage, why are some people so scared of creating new traditions?

Sam Mezec - Chairman of Reform Jersey

Thursday, 12 December 2013

More Powers for the Chief Minister? Think Again!

Following a speech the Chief Minister Ian Gorst gave today to the Institute of Directors, Channel TV have reported on a few of the things he has said -

"Jersey's Chief Minister is keen to push through a raft of changes to the format of government early in the new year. 
Senator Ian Gorst wants his position to have more power, and to be able to freely shuffle Ministers and portfolios around. 
He also said if Senator Philip Ozouf's proposition - to cut the number of States members to 44 and scrap Senators - isn't voted through, further action will need to be taken. 
"If that [Senator Ozouf's proposition] is not approved, then we need to consider how we're going to deliver electoral reform. It becomes apparent to me that actually, this is one of those times when we need to call for a Royal Commission." 
Senator Gorst also said he is "undecided" as to whether he will stand for election next year.
But, he said, if he does and is voted in, he will stand for Chief Minister once again."

I feel that these statements cannot be left without comment.

So let's go through them one at a time -

"Senator Ian Gorst wants his position to have more power, and to be able to freely shuffle Ministers and portfolios around."

In theory an excellent idea. If we want an effective cabinet style government, we need cabinets where all Ministers are on the same page as each and all put into the best positions to match their expertise, working towards a common goal that they all believe in.

A conglomeration cabinet (which is what we have now) will inevitably end up with certain members trying to pull in one direction where others go another.

When each Minister is elected individually, it's entirely possible for two Ministers to get elected who hold opposite views on a particular subject. The obvious example is a Housing Minister who wants to build houses in one particular place on the island to tackle a shortage there, and a Planning and Environment Minister who absolutely opposes houses being built there.

But hang on, who picked the Chief Minister? The States did. Not the people of Jersey. No Chief Minister we have ever had has also been the poll-topper in a Senatorial election, and Senators are likely to be abolished sometime son. So the electorate are entirely powerless when it comes to deciding who the Chief Minister is.

If the Chief Minister is to head a government of his or her choosing, to take the island in a direction in line with a particular vision, they absolutely must be endorsed by the public.

I cannot accept any enhancement of the Chief Minister's powers, without also an enhancement of his or her democratic mandate.

I'm suggesting that if the Chief Minister is to gain more power, it should be a directly elected position.

After the general election, the States Members should nominate their preferred candidates for Chief Minister, which then goes to a public vote after a month of campaigning. To get on the ballot, the States Member must be nominated by a majority of States Members, with States Members allowed to nominate more than once. That way the public will not be able to vote in a candidate who will not be able to command the support of the States Assembly and just lose a vote of no confidence at the first hurdle, leading to a constitutional crisis.

Ideally, I believe in a party system, whereby the leader of the biggest party after an election becomes Chief Minister. At the election, the public would vote for their local party candidate, knowing that it is not just a vote for the candidate, but also a vote for that party's leader to become Chief Minister.

But we don't have parties yet, so in the meantime I think that there should be a cabinet government, led by a Chief Minister elected in a sort of presidential style election.

"He also said if Senator Philip Ozouf's proposition - to cut the number of States members to 44 and scrap Senators - isn't voted through, further action will need to be taken."

Yes, very true. That action will be a referendum on the Clothier recommendations, as the States has already decided. Is his amnesia on this an indication that he will vote against the enabling legislation for the referendum? That's genuinely something to worry about.

" "If that [Senator Ozouf's proposition] is not approved, then we need to consider how we're going to deliver electoral reform. It becomes apparent to me that actually, this is one of those times when we need to call for a Royal Commission." "

You just couldn't make this sort of thing up.

Does he really think that a Royal Commission will come up with anything other than what has already been suggested in the past?

Any independent commission will just come up with either what the Clothier report suggested, or Option A.

On both occasions, the powers that be have rejected those. What will be different from a Royal Commission?

Senator Gorst supports keeping the Constables in the States. No Royal Commission would ever suggest keeping the Constables in the States. What will he do when a commission comes back with a suggestion that doesn't include the Constables? If he says he'll accept their findings, well why not just accept the findings we have already had from the Clothier commission?

Also, no Royal Commission will ever suggest anything that isn't in line with the Venice Commission's criteria. So whatever they suggest will not retain the overwhelming bias of the current system (and the proposed Option B) to the country Parishes at the expense of the urban ones. But if he is happy to accept their findings if they include this principle, why does he persistently vote against any proposition that tries to achieve fairness for St Helier? It's sheer hypocrisy, nothing less.

"Senator Gorst also said he is "undecided" as to whether he will stand for election next year. But, he said, if he does and is voted in, he will stand for Chief Minister once again."

It's a bit annoying that Jersey politicians always seem to be "undecided" about whether they will stand again. But I hope he does stand again. We've never had the chance to pass a verdict on the performance of a Chief Minister, and we need that opportunity.

I think Ian Gorst's premiership can be summed up in one word - weak.

Perhaps I'll go into more depth on why I think that in another blog post.

In the meantime, perhaps readers could leave comments with their verdict on Ian Gorst as a Chief Minister so far in this term?


Reply to my letter to the Chief Minister on his visit to Israel

Below is the letter I received back from the Chief Minister after I sent him this letter -

A few things - 

He does mention that Shimon Peres is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. This is true, but let's not forget that he was the co-recipient with General Yitzhak Rabin, who was responsible for the Sabra and Chatila massacre (Google it if you want to read something absolutely horrifying). And of course, President Obama is also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, despite him contributing absolutely nothing to world peace whatsoever. He still sends drones over Afghanistan and Pakistan that kill innocent people, he has not closed Guantanamo Bay and he has fanned the flames in Israel by making outrageous declarations that Israel should be able to keep Jerusalem in any peace settlement, despite this being a non-negotiable point for the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the Nobel Peace Prize has lost any credibility it may once have had.

I am also thinking it could be worth starting some sort of "Palestinian Solidarity" group, or even a branch of the UK Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

I have a lot on my plate at the moment though, so that may be something to think about in the new year.


Dear Sam

Thank you for your message.

Jersey’s external relations policy is aligned with the overall British foreign policy approach to Israel. This is a policy of constructive engagement, with the ultimate goal of securing a universally recognised Israel living alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state, achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.

Shimon Peres also supports this position, having stated recently that "the peace process with the Palestinians has an agreed beginning and an agreed solution: two states for two nations." As you may be aware, the Israeli President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create peace in the Middle East. He believes that peace is not just a strategic choice, but a moral call which stems from Israel’s heritage and that now is the time to renew the peace process.

Whilst the human rights situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories continues to be of concern, we support the British position of promoting security, prosperity and regional peace through partnership with Israel. These priorities are mutually supportive and the interests of Jersey and the UK are indivisible from our enduring values.

I trust that this response helps in understanding our overall approach.

Kind Regards

Senator Ian Gorst

Chief Minister of Jersey

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Open letter to the Chief Minister on his visit to Israel.

Dear Chief Minister,

I see from the news today that you are currently in Israel for a conference. A picture is circulating on Twitter of yourself shaking hands with President Shimon Peres.

This comes just a few days after you paid tribute to Nelson Mandela for fighting his entire life against Apartheid and racial discrimination.

I first just want to draw attention to a quote from Nelson Mandela, in a memo that he sent to the American journalist Thomas Friedman - "Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children."

Today Israel commits crimes against the Palestinian people which are almost identical (and in many cases much worse) to the crimes that were committed against non-whites in South Africa.

Israel occupies the West Bank and runs a blockade of the Gaza Strip which is almost universally condemned by the international community. Military operations are regularly conducted by Israel which almost always end up killing a significant and disproportional number of civilians. Israel is in breach of more United Nations resolutions than all of the other countries of the world combined.

I am sure you are not a supporter of any of these things.

Of course it is a positive thing for Jersey politicians to go around the world to encourage businesses in other countries to set up in Jersey, including Israeli businesses. But it is our duty as a society that values freedom, equality and democracy, not to enable other countries to commit crimes against humanity.

The reason why the Boycott Movement campaign was so important to South Africa, was because it forced the government to accept that the system was not sustainable in the long run and that it could not remain profitable so long as it was the cause of discouraging businesses to engage with South Africa.

Likewise, the BDS campaign for Israel is equally as important. So long as Israel's oppression and occupation of the Palestinians remains financially viable it will continue and crimes will keep on being committed. The occupation will crumble when it becomes both politically and financially unsustainable.

So I am concerned when I see politicians visiting Israel, and I want reassurance that absolutely nothing is being done that could risk Jersey engaging and, by extension, assisting with the occupation.

So I want to ask you; what precautions do you and your colleagues take when in Israel, to ensure that you are not encouraging any business that is either based on occupied territory, or profits from the occupation, to forge links with Jersey? When visiting Israel (and Arab countries with very poor human rights records) do Jersey politicians exercise any moral judgement when making decisions on who to speak to, and how to speak to them?

One specific example of something that I thought was unacceptable was when Senator Maclean visited Israel in March this year and met with the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a city which is half occupied, and it's occupation is one of the biggest obstacles to peace in the region because the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital. The occupation of Jerusalem is considered illegal under international law, and therefore the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem is an illegitimate position. Part of that role involves administering an illegal occupation which has seen thousands of Palestinians thrown out of their homes with no compensation, to be replaced by Jewish settlers.

Were I the Economic Development Minister, I would seriously have considered not meeting the Deputy Mayor.

I hope you will take the time to read this email and answer my questions on how you and your colleagues consider these factors when making decisions.

As long as Jersey is taking up more responsibilities for it's international identity, it is important for the government to take a moral stance on various issues and make it clear that Jersey will not inadvertently assist any government that is abusing human rights.

"Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." - Nelson Mandela

Kind Regards,
Sam Mézec

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Final Stand for the Gerrymander and an Opportunity on the Role of the Bailiff

This week is probably not the best of weeks to talk about electoral reform, given that the 2014 Budget is due to be debated, along with amendments. But it will be inescapable that once that is concluded, the States are set to move straight on to debating Senator Ozouf's reform option, and there has also been the interesting development of the Bailiff announcing his retirement.

Time for Carswell

The announcement that the Bailiff will retire on the 24th January 2015 presents the States with an opportunity.

So far there have been two independent reports done into Jersey's government, the Clothier and Carswell Reports, both headed by experienced judges. They both came to the conclusion that the Bailiff should not continue as President of the States of Jersey, but solely remain the head of the judiciary.

But as happens so often in Jersey, their recommendations have been kicked into the long grass, with many hoping they will simply be forgotten about. This won't happen. The principles in both reports are right and the shadow that is hanging over the States will not disappear until their reforms are enacted.

You can understand the difficulty to a degree. It is inevitable that if the Bailiff is to lose his role in the States, it will be seen as a judgement on how he, as an individual, was performing, and will inevitably be able to be argued against if the Bailiff at the time happens to be a good Speaker. Rightly or wrongly, the Bailiff is a position that is respected and revered in Jersey and so to seemingly want to tear the job apart isn't a politically easy point of view to have.

But the writing is on the wall, and most States Members know this. I even hear whispers that at the top levels of government there are people who accept it as inevitable but simply want to wait for the right time.

And what better time is there than at the end of a Bailiffs tenure?

For as little fuss as possible to be caused and to provide for a seamless transition, the most appropriate time to change the role of the Bailiff is going to be in January 2015. If Sir Michael can retire on the 24th January, then a new elected President of the States of Jersey can be sworn in on the 25th, and the new Bailiff can assume to responsibilities of head of the judiciary.

Sir Michael Birt will have only been Bailiff for 5 and a half years when he retires, which is actually a relatively short time compared to his predecessors. For all we know, his successor could be in office for well over a decade.

So now is an opportunity that must be grasped. I and Reform Jersey will be lobbying to encourage the States to set a timetable for this transition to having an elected President of the States of Jersey.

The Great Gerrymander

This is the last chance if there is to be any reform before the next election. By next year it will be too late to get all the changes implemented and the legislation amended. So it will be interesting to see if Philip Ozouf's reform proposal benefits from it being the last opportunity.

His reform proposal can be read here - http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2013/P.093-2013.pdf

It is essentially Option B, with the minor change of one extra Deputy for each St Helier district.

I've already dismantled Senator Ozouf's argument in this blog post - http://sammezec.blogspot.com/2013/07/senator-ozoufs-reform-proposal.html

It is clear that this reform proposal is an insult to the people of St Helier. Senator Ozouf has vaguely accepted that Option B was unfair to St Helier, so his attempt to address that is to give each district just one extra Deputy, which doesn't even come close to giving the Parish equality.

Anything less than equality is unacceptable.

His solution to a system that is very unfair to St Helier is offer a system that is just quite unfair, and it should be rejected as the pathetic gerrymander that it is.

It is strange that Senator Ozouf delayed his proposition until today when he acknowledged that it stood no chance of winning when the rest of the reform proposals were debated last month. But it has ended up being debated literally straight after the 2014 Budget, which presumably (and rightly) will have preoccupied Senator Ozouf's time over the past few weeks. It will be interesting to see how much preparation he has done for this proposal.

It would be absurd for the States to adopt this reform when they have already agreed to hold a referendum on the Clothier reforms next year. Hopefully a majority of States Members will see through this proposal for what it is - an attempt to consolidate power and keep St Helier on it's knees.

He will need 26 States Members to vote this through. I can't see it happening. Good riddance.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Party Manifestos of the 1945 Election

The new editor of the JEP, Andy Sibcy, made an interesting comment in yesterdays editorial.

He said -

"Even more importantly for the long term, there needs also to be grassroots action to develop a Jersey version of party politics which, by imposing quality control and clear mandates on candidates, can start to close the widening gap between the governing and the governed."

This is definitely a welcome shift in the JEP editorial line, which has normally been hostile to the idea of party politics.

In the past they have trotted out the line that you hear from time to time about how Jersey isn't suitable for parties. They often say how Jersey is too small for parties, despite how many smaller jurisdictions have healthy party systems, like Gibraltar or even Monaco which has a tiny population. They talk about how parties have failed in the past, despite the fact that in the last election contested by a party, they had a success rate of 80%. They also ignore the fact that Jersey has had a party system several times (though not since our current electoral system was devised).

So I thought now would be a good time to publish some more historical manifestos and get them on record.

I've also included a poll at the bottom, so readers can indicate how they would have voted back then. A pretty useless exercise, but why not?

The J.D.M Election Manfiesto

THE JERSEY DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT is a polical organisation whose determination it is to establish speedily in this Island a more progressive, democratic mode of life and administration.
Its adherents are not confined to any one class of society, yet, without doubt, it is pre-eminently working-class in sympathy and outlook. This is naturally the case, because it is among the lower wage-earners that progress to-day is most necessary and desirable. 
Human Society is like an organism, where, if normal progress be stopped at any point, either cancer or decay begins its ravage. Hence, if progress, whether industrial, social or political, comes to a standstill at the bottom, the higher ranks are more and more isolated, democracy becomes a mockery, and the class struggle is likely to be intensified.

The Workers before the War.
Here in Jersey, from the worker's point of view, we think of life as it was before the war; of those low wages and long working hours; of the high proportion of Rents to Wages; of the large number of working-class wives who were forced to work to augment the family income; of the almost complete lack of aids to technical and cultural development - in short, we think in terms of squalor and lack of opportunity.
We remember, moreover, that the workers had no true representation in the control of Island affairs, no voice in Parochial management, no freedom from fear in ill-health and old age, no compulsory compensation in case of accident - in short, we remember that life for many of us was lacking both in security and in the sense of responsibility.
Turning to the present, we note that the States have recently been compelled to extend the Franchise so as to bring within its scope all British subjects over the age of 21, and we are not unmindful that large numbers of workers are now being granted considerable increases in wages.
But concessions along these two lines are not sufficient. The deplorable conditions which existed in pre-war days still remain substantially the same.

Administrative Reforms.
In these circumstances we therefore propose the immediate supersession of the present States Assembly and its replacement by a House which shall more fully represent the communal will and shall be more amenable to public control.
More particularly, we are in favour of an Assembly from which Jurats, Rectors and Constables shall have been removed and which shall consist solely of 34 paid Deputies, viz., one for each 1,500 of the population in every Parish. Jurats shall remain as Magistrates only, in accorance with their Oath of Office.
In Parochial affairs also we stand for a more democratic system of administration. It is surely intolerable that the Honourary Officials elected by the people should immediately pass out of the control of these people into that of the Principaux. The general public thus has no further voice in the management of its own financial interests. We submit that control should remain either in the hands of the people as a whole or of their own elected representatives.

Social and Industrial Reforms.
Following the establishment in these ways of a more democratic form of government in Island and Parochial affairs, we place next in order of urgency that of lifting from the backs of the ages poor those burdens and anxieties which the community alone has the power and the duty to relieve, and relieve, moreover, in a sympathetic yet sensible manner. We stand for a Contributory Scheme of Old Age Pensions.
We declare that the care of home and children is work done for the community and is deserving of communal recompense. We therefore believe in, and will strive to introduce, Housing and Rent Controls, Family Allowances, a full Health Insurance Scheme (including Maternity Benefits), Compensation for industrial injury, and improves Educational facilities.
In the industrial field, we submit that the successes already achieved by the local Trades Unions must be consolidated and extended. We shall not be satisfied until every employer has accepted the principle of "a wage which shall always afford a decent and progressive standard of life" for all employees.
With respect to agriculture, we maintain that the only proper use of land is to assist in raising the standard of life of the whole community, and not merely to enlarge the banking accounts of a privileged few. As between farmer and consumer a reciprocal duty should exist. By and large, the only lasting security for the farmer lies in a guaranteed price. The community must help the farmer to achieve this. But then the farmer must acknowledge his duty to the people, including his own employees. The satisfaction of Island requirements, with, if necessary, control of production by a combined Farmer-States Committee, should precede any concern for his own interests.
In the realm of finance, we are wholeheartedly in favour of a Graduated Income Tax and Death, or Estate, Duties, together with an Equitable Rating Scheme.

A New Standard of Life.
These are our proposals in brief. They represent our first contribution towards a new standard of life in Jersey. We regard them as necessary, not only because of their own inherent rightness, but also to lift us nearer to the level of our fellows in other lands.

The Island has often been called "a Paradise." Is it not strange, then, that there should be lacking in our lives so many of those things which elsewhere are regarded as the very minimum essentials of the democratic way of life?
We demand to-day, therefore, the recognition of the rights of the common people. We demand the removal of everything that debars us from a free, healthy, and worthwhile existence. We demand vigour, intelligence, vision, and sound planning in the direction of our common affairs.

Our Appeal.
In the past, progressive thought and action in Jersey have been denied their rightful outlet. That is no longer the case. The J.D.M exists to secure the greatest possible unity among the progressive forces in the Island in the support of the aims set out above. It accordingly urges all those of progressive views to join its ranks in the realisation of these aims.
Finally, to the so-called Common people we would say: You whose lives have been so long restricted, whose development has been so much frustrated, now is your first big chance to choose your own representatives and to ensure for the first time that your wishes shall be voiced. Stand by the Movement which has already dome something for you, which has even stirred the States into a strange new semblance of life.
You know well that the renewed activities of the States are not based upon any real concern for you. Were this the case, your present representatives would have acted many years ago. You know rather that it is fear that is driving them into a struggle for self-preservation.

What You Must Do. 
Let your reply therefore be determined and to the point. Make it clear to the existing Members of the States that you are tired of their dilatory methods, that you are ashamed of those who are too timid or too fearful to express their views in the public sessions of the Assembly, and decide to give your votes to the J.D.M Candidates, the men who bring you a new hope and the promise of a future which shall be free both from insecurity and from fear.

The JDM manifesto ends with a brief statement about the JEP and their refusal to publish their manifesto. I may post that at a later date, along with the correspondence between the JDM and the JEP's editor.

Jersey Progressive Party


1. To reconstitute the States in such a way as will provide that those members who are elected directly by the people to act for them, namely Deputies, shall hold a fair majority of all the seats in the Assembly and this so as to make it reasonably probable that the will of the people shall at all times prevails. 
We should seek a newly constituted Assembly made up of:- 
Jurats - Twelve elected for a period of six years, subject to re-election. We regard it as a matter of principle that to the extent to which the Office of Jurat remains as an elective office for legislative purposes, the holders of that office should at intervals seek a renewal of public confidence by public re-election. A period of office of six years is considered to be the best maximum. The ultimate aim being a separation of the Judicial from the Legislative functions of the office of Jurat, this separation should be considered and decided upon prior to the end of a period of three years dating from the first assembly of the States after the 1945 election. 
Constables - Twelve as now. 
Deputies - Eleven to represent the eleven country Parishes, making no Change. Eighteen elected by the whole town to represent St. Helier, being an increase of twelve. 
Assembly - An Assembly of fifty-three members so allocated should provide a more workmanlike machine and be adequate to the needs of good Government. 
Administration - In view of the problems facing the Island some alteration in the Committee system will be inevitable. increasing the Deputies will involved that Deputies undertake a greater share of the work of administering Departments. This in turn places on the Electors the clear responsibility of scrutinising with greater care the qualifications of all who offer themselves as candidates and to elect only those of wide experience and proved ability.

2. To devote all efforts to restoring a prosperous Island. In particular:-
(i) To have all possible scientific and other assistance given to Agriculture, so that it may surmount its present serious difficulties and become again adequately profitable for Farmers. 
(ii) To encourage Residents who have always been a great, steady, and necessary asset; and 
(iii) To overhaul the existing machinery which seeks to develop the Island as a Tourist Resort and to have in mind that from that industry town and country alike may progressively benefit.

3. In recognising how much the future prosperity of all depends upon the Island's possession of an adequate labour force, to devote ourselves to the provision of steadily expanding schemes which aim at Social Security and betterment, and in particular to support at all times to provide Old Age Pensions and Health Insurance with Maternity Benefits on sound lines, and to continue to help, by giving special Family Allowances, those who earn wages which are not sufficient to enable themselves to provide for all the needs of growing children. A clinic for expectant mothers is another aim. Rent control is another.

4. To keep up to the highest possible levels our standards of Education and Training, so that our young people shall always have good chances in the world.

5. As regards the men and women returning to the Island after serving in H.M. Forces and the Merchant Navy, to make provision so that, for the first ten years at least, 75% of all future appointments in uniformed services, such as Paid Police and Prison Staff are filled by such men, and that in all institutional and Departmental non-technical jobs, controlled for the States by Departments, to see a preference is given to such men and women who deserve so well of their country.

Another piece of history.

Andy Sibcy is right in that the (re)introduction of party politics in Jersey will inevitably lead to better candidates being put forward and better and more comprehensive manifestos that contain realistic aspirations in them.

This is the way forward for Jersey politics and I hope people can look back at these manifestos and see that it is something that is more than capable of fitting in with Jersey culture.

Which party would you vote for?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Jersey Democratic Movement - Manifesto of 1943

I've recently been very kindly gifted by some friends a big file of paraphernalia from the Jersey Democratic Movement from the 1940s until shortly after Norman Le Brocq was first elected as Deputy for St Helier No. 2 in the late 1960s. This includes manifestos, newsletters and (most interestingly) correspondence between the party and the editor of the Jersey Evening Post.

My three passions are; history, politics and Jersey. So going through this file has had me excited as anything.

For those that aren't aware of the history here, the Jersey Democratic Movement was a sort of party/ coalition of politically progressive islanders that first got together during the Occupation to discus how Jersey should progress into a proper democratic state after the war and spread anti-German/ pro-democracy propaganda round the island. To form a political party during the war was a very serious crime. They had to work covertly and were officially banned by the Germans (though they continued to operate regardless).

After the war the JDM became one of the two main groupings vying for power in Jersey. The other group was the Jersey Progressive Party, which many regard to be the precursor to the current group that are in power in Jersey. It was a broadly conservative coalition that argued for very modest change in post-war Jersey, in contrast the JDM's "radical" (more on that later!) change was broadly leftist, ranging from the Jersey Communist Party to more moderate figures in the Jersey Labour Party.

Both parties campaigned in the 1945 elections after the war (the last held under the previous electoral system) and the JPP trounced the JDM. I don't want to surmise exactly why this happened, but it is important for readers to know that the JPP were far smarter than the JDM in deciding what seats they contested (they didn't bother putting candidates up in constituencies that already had a member seeking re-election who they knew were potential allies for the parties cause) meaning they were better able to focus their resources on the winnable areas, and they had the full support of the Jersey Evening Post.

The JEP overtly supported the JPP and encouraged their readers to vote for a particular set of candidates. The JDM asked for their manifesto to be published in the JEP, but were refused to even be allowed a paid advert. Not only that, but the JEP also ran several articles that misrepresented JDM policy, with the aim of portraying them as traitors (how ironic given that they were the most patriotic of islanders who actively resisted the Nazis) who sought to have Jersey incorporated into the UK as an English county.

What strikes me when I read the manifesto that the JDM illegally published and distributed in 1943 is that by today's standards virtually everything in it is totally uncontroversial and most of what they proposed has happened anyway.

To me I look back at the JDM as a group that were arguing for many things that were fundamentally morally right, yet were castigated, slandered and marginalised by those in power. The question you have to ask yourself when looking back at this is how has Jersey politics progressed since then?

My view is the same as it was when I first became politically aware at 16 years old - Jersey needs political parties that represent the various different political traditions. Only that will improve the standard of Jersey politics. It will take it away from being based on personalities rather than policies. It will improve the quality of policies because manifestos won't simply be written on the back of a fag packet by one person, but subject to consultation and discussion with industry and economic experts. It will improve the quality of candidate too because there will be a selection process and candidates will be briefed and have to get to grips with comprehensive manifestos and reports.

The choice for Jersey people at the ballot box will then be about what values do they want to vote for and what vision for the future of Jersey most resonates with them. Jersey politics at the moment is culturally backwards. When a majority of States Members can't even agree on the principle that voters in Jersey should have a vote that is broadly worth an equal amount, you know something is very very wrong indeed.

So I am publishing here the Jersey Democratic Movement manifesto of 1943 and want to ask readers to have a think about how this compares to modern progressive politics in the island.

I'm only 22 years old and so I never had the privilege of meeting Norman Le Brocq and talking with him about Jersey politics, but there may be readers here who have memories of him and his other fellow party members and want to share those thoughts. I would definitely be interested to hear them.

The Programme of the Jersey Democratic Movement in 1943

1. A plebiscite will be held to decide for or against incorporation as an English County. 
Should this result in a decision against incorporation, then we advocate the following: 

2. Reconstruction of States Assembly 
(a) Sole members to be deputies, each elected for three years, in the proportion of one for each 1,500 inhabitants. Property qualifications abolished for both candidates and electors. 
(b) A Council or Cabinet will be appointed, each member of which shall be in charge of a States Department. 
(c) Deputies to receive adequate remuneration. 
(d) Electorate shall have power of recall over deputies when two-thirds of the voting register shall demand their resignation. 
(e) Electorate to include all males and females over the age of 21, with the exception of (1) Foreigners; and (2) Citizens of the British Commonwealth with a local residence of less than one year. 
(f) Voting to be by the preferential method. 
(g)The Assembly shall be the only legislative body in the Island. Judicial power shall be vested in the Royal Court which shall be independent of the Assembly. The title of Bailiff shall be reserved for the Chief Magistrate. 
(h) A Permanent Committee of Constables shall be formed to watch over parochial affairs.

3. Political Measures 
(a) Nationalisation of gas, water and electric services and passenger transport. Compensation to shareholders to take the form of interest bearing State Bonds, redeemable within a stated period. 
(b) One uniform tax system to be introduced, to include a graduated income tax and death or estate duties.

4. Legal Measures 
(a) A modern, equitable Divorce Law shall be introduced. 
(b) All seigneural and rectoral rights, dues, tithes, and other feudal privileges shall be abolished. 
(c) All Rentes shall be commuted. 
(d) All obsolete laws, as also all anomalies of legal procedure shall be overhauled, remodelled, etc., in accordance with progressive, democratic though and practice. 
(e) An augmented paid Police Force shall act over the whole island.

5. Social Measures
(a) The economic rights or orphans, invalids, widows and the aged will be fully provided for. 
(b) Health Insurance to be on a compulsory, contributory basis between States, employer and employee, and to include Maternity Benefits. 
(c) Slum Clearance and extension of State Building Schemes to be continued until the whole population is adequately housed, coupled with a more rigorous State supervision of building. 
(d) Compulsory free education to the age of 16, with family allowances to obviate any consequent economic distress. 
(e) Technical Schools and Adult Education Schemes to be created with facilities for all to enter who wish to participate.

6. Industrial and Economic Measures 
(a) A maximum working week of 44 hours (48 hours for agricultural workers) with a fortnight's paid holiday each year, will be established, together with payment for all recognised public and bank holidays. 
(b) Recognition of the principle of "Equal pay for equal work" will be enforced. 
(c) A minimum wage based on a health and cost-of-living table will be fixed for all types of work. 
(d) Adequate unemployment allowances will be made. 
(e) Abolition of child labour will be enforced. 
(f) A genuine Workers' Compensation Bill will be introduced and the installation of efficient safety devices will be insisted upon. 
(g) A Rent Restriction Bill will be proposed.

7. Farming and Rural Measures 
(a) Rentals shall be based on assessed land values, viz., on the average annual return for the last five years. 
(b) There shall be security of tenure, and compensation for improvement made to land. 
(c) We advocate the extension of the principle of Co-operation throughout every phase of agriculture. Farmers should cut out middlemen by acting as own merchants and agents, through Co-operative Diaries, etc., or similar organisations. 
(d) Cold Storage facilities would be expanded. 
(e) Producers' and Consumer's Councils would arrange equitable prices and act as general advisory boards on all marketing problems.

8. Tourism
Full encouragement will be afforded all those concerned in the island's welfare as a holiday resort.

9. Financial Policy
In addition to those sources of revenue mentioned above, viz., graduated Income Tax and Death Dutues, we propose increased taxation in certain other cases, e.g., wines, spirits, beers, tobacco, petrol, etc.

There we have it. Too radical in 1945, and apparently some of it is even too radical for 2013!

Not quite as concise and catchy as the Bolshevik Parties manifesto of "Bread, Peace and Land", but pretty good none the less.

I have their 1945 manifesto too and can get access to all of the election results which I am tempted to do and publish also, as it's important that there is a historical record for these sorts of things that can be easily accessed by curious islanders.

What I am interested now is to see what "programmes" emerge for the elections next year and how they compare in quality to this one. I won't hold my breath!


Saturday, 16 November 2013

BBC complaints procedure is evidently not fit for purpose

Shortly after I posted my previous blog about the BBC and Matthew Price (which you can read HERE) I attempted to confront the editor Jon Gripton via their Facebook page to see if he was willing to publicly acknowledge that he messed up by promoting a hate-site.

Jon Gripton, for some reason, refuses to deal with members of the public that have a problem with the local BBC and he even goes as far as to block some that occasionally make complaints (despite the fact we are never abusive). So Gripton sent an employee to talk to me instead.

That person was Ryan Morrison. I have mentioned him on this blog before and I have a huge amount of respect for Ryan. I once had to complain to him about a programme that I felt wasn't be done properly, and he handled my complaint excellently. He was completely professional and made me feel as if I had genuinely been listened to and taken into consideration.

I was told that by attempting to challenge Gripton, I was being disruptive. That may well be true, though I can't be as disruptive as the fake accounts whose purpose is to attack victims of child abuse and their advocates, and the only reason I have to be disruptive is because Gripton refuses to allow himself to be accountable. If he would just answer the bloody questions, then we would avoid all of this.

I was told that he has now apologised to Deputy Shona Pitman for endorsing the hate-site. I am very pleased to hear that and she absolutely deserved that apology. But what about the members of the public who have been fobbed off by him? I complained about his actions and received a reply that said he had denied ever doing it! If he denies it, then surely he had nothing to apologise to Shona? His position is irreconcilable and he is making a mockery of the complaints procedure.

Which is why I have a problem when BBC employees ask me to go through the appropriate BBC complaints procedure. What is the point? Both Jon Gripton and now Matthew Price tell the complaints board something totally contradictory to what the truth actually is, the board just take the word for it and try and draw a line under it.

I lodged a complaint with them on the 7th of November about Matthew Price claiming to know "nothing" about the complaints that had been made about Jon Gripton and the hate-site.

Their response was this -
"Thank you for contacting us regarding BBC Radio Jersey. 
We appreciate your comments. 
Matthew Price wasn’t and isn’t aware of the specifics of the complaints Mr Pitman or you cite. During the programme he accordingly moved the discussion on to the point at hand, the threats of arson made against Sean Power. 
We have nothing further to add to our previous responses on Jon Gripton’s activity on Twitter.
Thanks again for contacting us.

Of course, I never suggested that Matthew Price knew anything about the "specifics" of the complaint. I said that he claimed to know "nothing" about the complaint, when I have evidence that he did know "something".

He has obviously made sure to choose his words carefully so that he isn't actually lying to the complaints board, but also isn't answering their question.

But the complaints board don't press him on the issue, they just accept his word for it, and that's that.

How can anyone have any faith in a complaints procedure when it clearly has no teeth and those being investigated are able to twist their words in such a way to get out of almost anything.

The reason I have posted this, is because I want my experience to be on the public record. The BBC complaints procedure is not fit for purpose and is being treated with contempt by our local BBC editors.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Referendum/ Referendums/ Referenda... What on Earth is going on?

My interview on the BBC on Thursday, with Russell Labey as the BBC guest in-studio -

An Account of Reform Tuesday in the States of Jersey

I sat in the public gallery of the States Chamber on Tuesday to watch the reform debate in its entirety. I could have listened to it on the radio, but actually being there in the room you are able to pick up on things that aren't immediately obvious over the airwaves.

I sat through reform proposition after reform proposition being rejected by members in overwhelming numbers (the Constable of St Mary's proposition got only 3 votes, still more than it deserved). I sat through the Machiavellian antics of Senator Ozouf, who purposely deferred his proposition to make sure it would be the last one to be debated, at a date when hopefully more of his political allies would be present.

I was certainly impressed when Deputy Southern's proposition to adopt the Clothier reforms managed to get quite an impressive 16 votes. Albeit 10 short of the 26 it needed, I was certainly chuffed to be able to identify which States Members were the ones that actually want Clothier. There were certainly some surprises there, with Senator Paul Routier and Constable Mezbourian voting in favour, but they are most welcome comrades for this cause.

I had, perhaps naively, hoped that PPC's interim reform proposals may have been able to just secure enough votes, being as their proposition was the most modest, yet (according to the two professors) the 2nd most significant in making the system fairer. But that proposition too only gathered 16 votes.

At this point I was feeling rather glum that there wasn't going to be even the tiniest silver lining the massive grey cloud of reform.

As the States voted on part 2 of PPC's proposition, to hold a referendum on the Clothier reforms, I literally stopped concentrating. I could predict the result before it was read out. As the Bailiff began to say "the proposition is..." I muttered "rejected" under my breath as he said "adopted!". I couldn't believe my ears and, by the sounds of it, neither could the States Members.

Finally, 13 years after the report was first published, the States of Jersey had finally agreed to hold the referendum we should have been given in the first place.

One of those that voted for the referendum was the newly elected Constable of Grouville John Le Maistre. I had backed John Le Maistre in the last days of his by-election campaign on the basis that he had said at the hustings that he believed "fairness" was one of the criterion for any reform. After the States was over for the day, I had to approach him to shake his hand and thank him for how he voted. I was glad that he had stuck to the principle he had espoused in his election campaign.

But whilst still recovering from the shock of the States agreeing to hold a referendum on the Clothier recommendations, I lowered my guard and so when shortly afterwards the States then voted to hold a referendum on the position of the Constables, my heart sunk.

The Great Contradiction

Why, after just voting to hold a referendum on Clothier (which said "the Constables should not be automatically in the States") would you then need to ask a separate question on the Constables? Surely it is superfluous?

Imagine the ballot papers -

  1. Should the composition of the States of Jersey be reformed according to the recommendations found in the Clothier Report? Yes/ No.
  2. Should the Constables continue to remain as members of the States of Jersey? Yes/ No.

Spot the problem?

What if the answer to both questions results in a "yes" vote?

The questions are contradictory.

Not only does it pose that very difficult problem, but it also makes it impossible to run a proper referendum campaign if there is more than one question.

When there was Options A, B and C, we could easily form defined campaigning groups and adopt logos and posters that were easily identifiable with our causes.

With two referendum questions, both with yes/ no answers, we can't form a "yes" campaign, because it won't be distinguishable from the "yes" campaign for the other question.

The situation is a bit of a mess.

The Path Forward

The States has agreed in principle that these referendums must take place and they have both been stipulated to occur on the day of the general election next year (15th October).

It is now PPC's job to bring forward the draft legislation to actually officially put it into law that the referendum should happen.

They will be put in an awkward position having to reconcile the contradictory decision of the States on Tuesday. It is their duty to come forward with what the States have told them too, but the States have done a silly.

I would argue that the most sensible and logical thing for the States to do would be to just bring forward the question on Clothier, as it is by it's nature, also a referendum on the Constables.

But this will of course leave them wide open to criticism for ignoring the States decision (stupid though it was), and even open the doors to a motion of no confidence.

Then, the States will have to vote for the legislation, and it is entirely possible that even though they have agreed to hold a referendum, they could still vote against the enacting legislation. There were notable States Members who weren't in the States on Tuesday (Senator's Bailhache and Maclean, Deputies Baker and Power, all of whom show no particular regard for fairness in electoral reform). So the referendum is still not guaranteed to happen yet.

The Chairman of PPC, Deputy Jeremy Maçon, has said that he will be looking to stipulate that the referendum must have a 40% turnout for it to be considered by the States. Given that the referendum will be on the same day as the general election (and therefore 40% is reasonably likely). I have no problem with this, despite it being a bit unnecessary given that Jersey law doesn't recognise the principle of a "binding" referendum.

The Case for Clothier

Assuming, best case scenario, that the referendum goes ahead next year on election day, and it is a single question on the Clothier reforms, why should we vote for it?

I wholeheartedly backed Option A in the referendum in April, and I continue to believe in the principles behind it. I believe that everyone should have an equal vote, no matter what. I also believe that multi-member constituencies are good for both voters and candidates to make sure we get a parliament that is genuinely representative of the people, both politically and demographically.

But Clothier falls short of Option A in several regards, some of which are outlined in this blog - http://jdacmb.blogspot.com/2013/11/clothier-think-twice.html

Clothier will make all constituencies have at least two members (except St Mary which will just have one), which isn't exactly ideal. Where before if you lived in a rural Parish, you could vote for 14 States Members (1 Deputy, 1 Constable and 12 Senators), you will now only be able to vote in two members.

But the principle of equal votes comes before the preference of voting for a large number of the States Members. If in future some of the smaller Parishes grew aggrieved by the fact some in a St Helier district would be able to vote for up to 5 or 6 States Members when they could only vote for 2, they might eventually decide that for elections to the States, it could be worth joining some Parishes together to even out the numbers a bit. After a few elections of only being able to vote for one member, St Mary might propose joining up with St John and Trinity so that they could share 5 States Members and therefore get more votes. There could even be a referendum to do so, held just in those Parishes. After all, why not? It would be their right.

Until recently the Isle of Man had a Clothier-esque system, with all their MPs elected in small constituencies, with 1, 2 or 3 members. But they had a boundaries commission to decide how to alter the system so that all voters could have the same number of votes. That could be an example to follow.

Clothier is certainly a step in the right direction. Once the principle of equal votes is won, it will be unstoppable and will never be able to be taken away.

I also think it is worth saying now, that with the end of the island-wide mandate, I think there is no longer any excuse for the Chief Minister not to be elected by the public.

There should be a Parish election period, 6 weeks before the general election, in which all Constable elections are contested at the same time and the media will be able to give it a bit of hype and the island can focus on Parish issues (something which doesn't at all happen now). Then the general election begins. As soon as those elected take their seats, their first job should be to nominate candidates for Chief Minister. Candidates should require a decent amount of nominations (say maybe 20), but States Members should be allowed to nominate more than once. So there could be 2 or 3 candidates, who must then go round the 12 Parishes and face a public election one month after the general election. It would be presidential in it's style, but the public would be able to have a direct say in who leads the government and give a mandate to the vision and direction that they propose.

That's the vision for the future and we should be optimistic about it.

But of course, the most important part of having a referendum on the same day as the election is that it will force candidates to work with each other for the referendum campaign. Much like the previous referendum in which campaign groups worked very effectively.

A stepping stone to parties, one can only hope!


P.s. I have no idea whether to use "referendums" or "referenda". Google tells me that the former is for multiple ballots on the same issue, with the latter on different issues. It isn't clear whether reform is one issue, so you can call them "referendums" or if each individual aspect of reform counts as a separate issue, so "referenda" is the right one.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The BBC digs even deeper. A memory failing from Matthew Price.

You cannot understand how irritating I find it that blog posts like this are even necessary, but here we go....

Another update on my complaints saga with the local BBC.

My last post on the subject can be found HERE. I have not edited this page since I published it, and regular readers will recognise the issues I bring up. It's probably best to read the previous post first before going through this one.

I was actually interviewed by the BBC live on air early this afternoon to talk about reform. The programme was, in my opinion, very good, very enjoyable to listen to and had a wide variety of points of view that were put across in an easily accessible way. The host, Sara Palmer, was also very good. So it is a shame that on the same day I have to post this blog.

Here is what has provoked me to write this new post -

(Thanks goes to http://thejerseyway.blogspot.com/ for recording this).

In this clip, Deputy Trevor Pitman at 01:38 brings up complaints that have been made to the national BBC about the editor of the local BBC, Jon Gripton, promoting a hate-site aimed at Deputy Shona Pitman. Matthew Price then alleges that he knew "absolutely nothing" about these complaints.

This is utterly false, and I have the evidence here to prove it.

But first, a brief summary of the complaint -

On the 5th of March, Jon Gripton posted a Tweet in which he endorsed and called the hate-site "amusing".

Several of us complained and Jon Gripton disappeared off Twitter for a few months. When he returned, there was no mention of why he had left, and those that had complained about him had been pre-emptively blocked so we couldn't complain again.

When the BBC investigated, Gripton denied having ever promoted the hate-site. As I proved on my last blog, this was utterly false.

In August the BBC ran a programme about cyber-bullying. On their Facebook page, I and several others pointed out their hypocrisy when their own editor promoted a cyber-bully and then refused to allow himself to be held accountable for it.

This was the comment I posted on it -

Matthew Price saw and read this comment, as can be verified by the fact he then left this comment in response to me -

Of course I refused to remove my comment because I knew full well that everything I was saying was true and that I had the evidence to prove it.

I then received this private message from Matthew Price, followed by my reply -

So here we have it. Evidence that Matthew Price knew full well exactly what Deputy Trevor Pitman was talking about.

A momentary memory meltdown, or mischievous misleading manoeuvring? You decide.


P.s. Tonight at 7.30pm, upstairs at the Post Horn, Reform Jersey are meeting to talk about the campaign for democracy moving forward. Feel free to join us. Always happy for new faces to show up.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Email to States Members on reform

My email to States Members in the run up to the reform debate next week.

Also, anyone who is free (which probably won't be many because of the timing), come join us in the Royal Square at 9am on Tuesday to lobby States Members as they go into the chamber that it's about time they put aside their self-interest and gave Jersey a proper democracy.

Obviously if the weather is as bad as it is now, the lobbying might have to take another form!


Dear States Members,

They say that hindsight is always 20/20, and after the past year and a half of attempting to reform the composition of the States of Jersey, there are few that would say that big mistakes have not been made along the way.

After the hijacking of the Electoral Commission followed by the referendum debacle, the electorate’s view on politics and politicians in general has probably never been lower. Jersey already suffers from terrible political apathy and the States now runs the serious risk of losing all credibility and legitimacy if nothing is done to restore confidence before the next elections.

Reform Jersey wishes to canvass members to vote in favour of introducing a fairer electoral system in time for the next elections, so that the next assembly will be more likely to reflect the views and values of the public and can hold their confidence.

Namely, this means voting for -

  1. P.98 to implement the Clothier reforms, or if you could not do that in all good conscience without holding a referendum first, you could alternatively vote for PPC’s P.116. 
  2. P.86 to change the voting system to STV and AV. 
  3. P.110 to improve the actual election process and make it easier for islanders to vote. 

No jurisdiction can claim to be a proper democracy unless all islanders have a vote that is of more or less equal value. That is the current system's major failing, and that is principally why the States was right to throw out Option B in July, because Option B did not even attempt to rectify that fatal shortcoming. Any reform of the system has to take steps to reduce this unfairness; otherwise it is not fit for purpose.

The report commissioned by PPC and written by two professors as a comparison of all of the reform proposals is dynamite. The conclusion it draws is very clear and that is that the best of all of the propositions, on all criteria, is Deputy Southern’s proposition to adopt the Clothier recommendations.

As well as being the fairest and most democratic in the judgement of those two professors, it also has the benefit of having been created by an independent panel of eminent locals plus an experienced judge, who dedicated much time and resources to it. This contrasts with the rest of the proposals (with the slight exception of PPC’s interim reforms) that have been created by a single States Member with no public consultation or resources.

It is the fairest, most democratic and only credible alternative to the current system that has been proposed and we urge States Members to adopt it. Had the States adopted it 10 years ago, then we would never have been in this position and the States could have spent all of that time tackling the issues that really matter to ordinary islanders.

If you cannot find it in you to adopt such a significant change without first asking the public, then we consider it a reasonable compromise for the States instead to adopt PPC’s proposal to pass some modest changes for the next election and hold a referendum on adopting the Clothier reforms.

The public are sick and tired of so much time and money being wasted on something that is not rocket science. This week you have an opportunity to end this sad chapter in Jersey's political history and turn the page to a States of Jersey that is fit for purpose in the 21st Century.

A vote for anything that perpetuates the inequalities that are found in the rest of the reform propositions is simply delaying the inevitable and will make the calls for reform louder, not quieter.

We hope you make the right decision next week.

Kind regards,
Sam Mézec - Reform Jersey

The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” Article 21(3), Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Note - Reform Jersey is a non-politically affiliated group of islanders, dedicated to campaigning for more democracy in Jersey.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Reform - Who do you trust: an Oxford professor or a JEP editor?

Just a short post to draw this to people's attention -


The Privileges and Procedures Committee commissioned Professor Iain McLean (University of Oxford) and Professor Ron Johnston (University of Bristol) to examine all of the current reform propositions due for debate in two weeks and work out how effectively each of them addresses the problem of over/ under-representation of voters across the island.

Unfortunately they have used a different method of working out the deviation rates than has been used by Dr Alan Renwick before, so it's not easy to compare them to the charts and graphs I had been using before. Though this is understandable because it's very difficult to come up with a formula that works for all systems given how some of the proposed districts vary in their nature (i.e. some based on single Parishes, super-constituencies, part of this Parish mixed with part of that Parish etc).

But regardless, it makes for interesting reading and the conclusions are incredibly obvious.

On all of the criteria that they use to measure the proposed systems, Deputy Southern's proposition to adopt the Clothier reforms ranks number 1.

Coming in 2nd place is PPC's proposed interim reforms (which will precede a referendum on the Clothier reforms). That's those reforms that the (thankfully) departing editor of our esteemed JEP told you were "an insult to islanders intelligence". I think I'll go with the professors on this one.

So it's incredibly clear how the States should vote in two weeks. They should vote to adopt Deputy Southern's proposal, and if they can't bring themselves to do that, they should vote for PPC's interim reforms and proposal for a referendum on the Clothier reforms. Anything less than that will be an insult to islanders who deserve a proper democracy.

But of course, we know what will happen. It will be turkeys and Christmas as usual (none more so than the Constable of St Mary who really has gone to some extreme lengths to keep her safe seat in the States with her.... ummm.... imaginative proposal).

It is quite apt that these reforms will begin to be debated on the 5th of November. If anyone is free to help me load the gunpowder into the States basement, please let me know!

But on a more serious note, since the debates are unlikely to lead to any change, the planning for the next elections needs to begin now.

Once I have a venue confirmed, I will post details about a meeting in a couple of weeks for people to discuss that very matter.


Friday, 27 September 2013

A Rebuttal to JEP Propaganda 4 Re Reform

[EDIT - 30/09/2013 - I have added the letter I sent to the JEP regarding this editorial at the end of this blog post]

Just when you thought the JEP couldn't stoop to new lows, they surpass our expectations again.

Perhaps the most absurd editorial I have yet to read -


This comes after a few weeks where the JEP has actually done some excellent reports about the catastrophic failings in Jersey's mental health service with countless islanders who are incredibly vulnerable being totally let down by the system.

This is the sort of the thing the JEP should stick to, not these absurd editorials written by people who are clearly paid too much.

But here we go, one bit at a time -

"In essence, the 47-Member structure now on the table would, if approved, consist of six Senators, 12 Constables and 29 Deputies. However, the allocation of Deputies among the parishes would be changed to increase St Helier’s quota while – and this beggars belief – depriving St John, Trinity and St Mary of this category of representation"

It only beggars belief if you're totally ignorant on the subject. Though in fairness, that is probably a fair excuse for the JEP's editors.

I'm sorry but "category of representation" means nothing. What matters is just that second word - representation.

When in the States, Deputies and Constables do exactly the same thing. Their roles are identical. In most Parishes cases, they even represent exactly the same land mass.

In the small Parishes without many people living there, a second representative is superfluous.

"But if the idea of depriving three parishes of representation were not idiotic enough, the committee’s proposition goes further"

This is the part that annoys me the most.

No Parish is being deprived of representation.

The editor of the JEP is misleading the public of Jersey.

The Parishes will still keep their Constable. That is representation.

What he means by "depriving three Parishes of representation" is "depriving three Parishes of their unearned and undeserved privileged status".

What this editorial completely ignores is that in a proper democracy there is meant to be a correlation between representation and population. The fact is St Mary has one States Member for every 876 people, whereas St Helier has one for every 3,047 people.

If St Mary wants to keep a Deputy and a Constable, then to achieve equality St Helier would need 38 Deputies. I cannot for one moment imagine anyone thinking that is feasible or desirable.

So since St Mary wants to keep their Constable, they must sacrifice their Deputy. It is only fair.

How on Earth can we expect to have a sensible and informed debate in Jersey when the editor of our only newspaper peddles such nonsense? He was just being misleading, plain and simple, and he should retract it.

One final point on this I will make is that it is strange witnessing the editors indignation when he himself lives in Trinity which is a rotten borough that doesn't have contested elections for either Constable or Deputy on a regular basis. 

"Given the fiasco of the last referendum on States reform, the idea that there should be another will set jaws dropping in every corner of the Island."

Just because one referendum was a fiasco, doesn't mean all referendums are doomed to be fiascos. That's just illogical.

There are several key differences between the new referendum and the last one -

1. The last referendum was based on a biased report made by people with a financial and political interest in a particular outcome. The next referendum is based on a report that was written by independent people.

2. An option on the last referendum was objectively and quantifiably unfair, the next referendum option will be a fair system.

3. The last referendum was held on it's own and had a terrible turn out. The next referendum will be held on general election day and will be guaranteed to have a higher turn out.

4. The last referendum used a new voting system that made it harder to get a clear answer of what the will of the people was. The next referendum will be a simple yes/ no question that will lead to an unambiguous answer.

Of these factors combined makes this next referendum the referendum we should have always had from the start.

"As those jaws drop, their owners will very likely be thinking thoughts along these lines – they took no notice of what people said last time, so why on earth should the process be repeated?"

Again, the editor is being misleading. They did take notice. They took notice of the fact that most islanders weren't interested, they took notice of the fact that the majority who voted did not vote for Option B and they listened to the concerns of those that had legitimately opposed Option B on the grounds of unjustifiable unfairness.

The States voted the same way the public did. A majority against Option B. That's just a fact, but it's obviously beyond the JEP to understand it.

"The argument that the issue should be consigned to the background until there is enough breathing space to return afresh to the whole matter and start again from scratch is compelling. Only that radical approach offers the prospect of delivering realistic and acceptable results"

How very convenient for those that benefit from the current system.

The fact is, St Helier's under-representation is in dire need of being corrected. They need more Deputies to give constituents the attention they need and the louder voice they deserve to get the issues that affect them addressed. The current system doesn't do that.

PPC's proposal gives a short term fix, with a pathway to fixing it long term. How could anyone oppose that?

The current system is broken and we all know it is. The answer is not to sit back and allow it to perpetuate itself for more years.

But finally, the last part I'll address is the first paragraph of the editorial -

"The latest proposals for reforming the structure of the States Assembly, put forward by the Privileges and Procedures Committee, can be described very simply – they are an insult to Islanders’ intelligence."

No. The only insult to islanders' intelligence is this pathetic editorial piece, filled with illogical vitriol and downright untruths.

It is the JEP that is taking islanders for fools and feeding them this garbage expecting them to believe it.

But since they have hegemony of the printed media, it is up to us ordinary islanders to spread the truth by word of mouth. So I urge any one reading this to make sure they bring the points home when talking to their friends and colleagues about these issues.

I regularly get strangers wanting to talk to me about topical issues, and when they get all of their information from the JEP, it is normally incredibly easy to change their opinions in just 30 seconds by politely giving them an alternative point of view they hadn't considered before. Unfortunately there are a lot of people on the island so it takes more than just one kid with a blog to make a difference.

I intend on writing to the JEP and will publish the letter when it is done.

In the meantime, I better get ready for my gig tonight!


Letter to the Editor of the JEP -

Dear Editor,

I read the JEP’s editorial comment article “Reform: Piling farce upon fiasco” on Thursday with disbelief. I have not read such an ill informed and mischievous editorial for quite some time in the JEP and I had, perhaps misguidedly, thought those days might be passed us, given how good and balanced the JEP’s coverage of all sides of the referendum debate was.


What PPC have proposed for the States is a masterstroke. Everybody on this island knows that our electoral system is utterly broken. It is too complicated, it encourages voter apathy, and (worst of all) it is unfair. To go into the next election with this system unaltered would be unconscionable, but it has to be recognised that there just isn’t enough time to come up with a comprehensive reform in time for 2014.


Instead, PPC have proposed to go into the next election with the current system, however the Deputies seats will be reallocated to take into account the huge changes in population there have been since 1948 to make sure they are spread around fairly, whilst keeping the Constables in the States. It is simply illogical to argue that a system made in 1948 should be kept intact for 2014.


Fairness is what PPC is trying to take a step towards, so it is very disconcerting to see the JEP opposing it. You make the outrageous statement that somehow St Mary, St John and Trinity are being “deprived of representation”. This is utterly ridiculous. The role of the Constable in the States is identical to that of a Deputy. In small Parishes having a Deputy as well as a Constable is simply superfluous. They will still be represented; the difference is that they will be represented to a degree that is more in line with their population.


The population of St Mary is 1,752, meaning they have one States Member for every 876 people. Contrast this with St Helier with a population of 33,522 meaning they have one States Member for every 3,047 people. How anyone could argue in the 21st Century that this is fair is beyond me. Any proposal that doesn’t make some steps to redressing the under-representation of St Helier is doomed to failure. But PPC has accepted this point and said that any progress must be on that basis. Contrary to your column, that is not idiotic, it is common sense.


Under their interim reform, St Mary will have one States Member for every 1,752 people and St Helier will have one for every 2,394 people. No matter how the JEP attempts to spin it in your editorial columns, that is progress.


The reform process has been an absolute sham ever since Senator Bailhache hijacked the Electoral Commission which was originally supposed to be independent of States Members and therefore able to reach conclusions without worrying about their own financial and political interests. We’ve already had an independent electoral commission; it was called the Clothier Panel and it’s about time we were offered a say on that. I look forward to voting “yes” next year in the referendum we should have been given 10 years ago.


PPC’s proposals represent the best way forward for democracy in Jersey. It is the JEP’s editorial column that insults islanders’ intelligence, not PPC.

Samuel Mézec
4 Le Jardin a Pommier
La Rue de Patier
St Saviour