Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Referendum Reflections

Apologies for not blogging sooner after the referendum. As well as having been busy with various other things, it was important to take a step back to consider and evaluate things as well as speak to various other parties to work out what was the best position to take from now on.

Having invested as much time as I had in the Option A campaign, I found myself waking up on the morning after the result was announced and felt surprisingly fine about it. I had a few phone calls from friends and family members to commiserate me, but I could only tell them that it wasn't necessary because of how good about the whole thing I actually felt.

I'm incredibly proud of the campaign we ran. Despite the slander attempts by those with no intelligent argument to make, we had genuinely been a broad coalition of people from all backgrounds and all political persuasions. We were the group that had virtually no States Members taking part (Deputy Tadier was the one exception). We were the only group with a dedicated group of young people out canvassing. We were the only group that actively engaged with the Portuguese and Polish communities.

There are too many specific names to mention for thank you's, so I won't attempt to do so here. But Christine Vibert who was our General Secretary did a fantastic job throughout and has to be commended for working as hard as she did and for keeping us well organised.

Dirty tactics from Option B

Option A won the intellectual argument hands down. This was a debate on democracy and we sometimes went through entire debates in which the Option B representatives did not even use the word "democracy" once. I sometimes sat with a notepad ready to count, and didn't have to get my pen out once. Our argument was based on democratic principle and fairness, and we were lucky by the fact we had facts on our side.

For Option B it was all about creating a "leaner, fitter States", as if the problem of institutional unfairness in our current system did not exist. They totally missed the whole point of this exercise and instead based it on the unprovable allegation that somehow the Parishes will die if we democratise the States of Jersey.

Throughout the campaign I witnessed an Option B group that was simply incapable of being truthful when trying to get votes.

This stretched from blatant lies from Option B supporters Ben Shenton and Deputy Moore, who claimed that Option B was compatible with the Venice Commission (for goodness sake, even Senator Bailhache admitted it wasn't!), to scaremongering from Philip Ozouf at the gates of St Saviours Parish Hall on voting day.

On voting day I was having a chat with some voters outside the parish hall who just wanted to ask a couple of questions about what would happen to the role of the Constable if they weren't in the States, would they get paid and would their rates bills go up. So I rehearsed the usual arguments about it being an honorary position, the Parishes could pay if they want, but rates don't have to rise because it could come out of existing budgets etc etc, before Philip Ozouf interrupted to say "well yes, OF COURSE your rates will go up!" pretty definitively given that there is not a shred of evidence to back it up, and when I attempted to interject to put forward some evidence to the contrary, I was interrupted with "Mr Mézec, how many years experience do you have in the honorary system?", to which I replied "none Philip, I'm 22 years old, I have no experience in anything, but that was pretty patronising." That is the sort of standard of argument that the democrats had to put up with.

I said towards the end of the campaign that I had found Philip Ozouf had been a poison on the whole campaign because of his lies and I stand by that. At least Senator Bailhache had the decency to admit that Option B was less democratic than what we currently have and didn't try and mislead people by coming up with some ridiculous spin.

He claimed that he was a democrat and that Option B was democratic because of the fair distribution of Deputies seats, completely ignoring that the good that creating districts did was totally undone by the inclusion of the Constables, and that this was a matter of indisputable fact. He knew this, but said it anyway because it sounded credible coming from him and would get a few extra votes.

His principle argument against Option A was that the candidates who won in 6th and 7th place would not have much legitimacy because currently in the Senatorial elections people don't use all of their votes. This totally ignored the fact that we are swapping to the STV system of voting, so actually all candidates elected will be legitimate. He knew this, but pursued his line of argument regardless.

When you combine all of this with the fact that every household was sent a booklet that said reform was being proposed guided by 4 principles of democracy, even though one of those reform options didn't encompass a single one of those principles, I don't think it is too strong to say that the public of Jersey were absolutely shafted by those supporting Option B, who lied and misled the public at every point.

A few things

Now that the campaign is over and the vote has been done, there are things I can say that I wouldn't have said during the campaign for fear of demotivating potential voters.

The first is that as a matter of principle, I think referendums are totally unnecessary on clear cut objective matters of democracy. In fact they can be inhibitory.

Take a look at Switzerland for example. This is a country that is often cited as a great example of direct democracy. But a little known fact is that Switzerland didn't eradicate electoral discrimination on the basis of gender until 1991! The reason was that any changes to the rules on who could vote had to be approved by public referendums, in which only men could vote, who rejected extending the franchise to women on several occasions. This is evidence that referendums are not the best mechanism for advancing democratic principle.

It is currently Labour Party policy to hold a referendum on democratising the House of Lords... Why? What a waste of time and money. Just do it, there is no need for a referendum on something so objectively better. Same goes for adopting proportional representation.

Guernsey has a fair democratic system that was a significant overhaul from what they had before, but they had no referendum to implement it because it was seen as just common sense.

After Jersey had the Clothier Report, it should have just all been implemented and we should never have gone down this road that led to a referendum.

The second point is that I always knew that Option A would lose the referendum. Those with power are terrified of losing that power and it was clear that those in power in Jersey would not have allowed Option A to even be on the ballot if they weren't confident of winning. It was just a question of how badly, and what arguments would be used in the campaign. Depending on where in the island I was, my view on what would happen fluctuated. When debating in St Helier or speaking to people on the streets, it felt like Option A could well win, but on the day of the referendum I actually was worried that we could be seriously embarrassed in some Parishes and maybe even end up coming last.

You can imagine my delight when there was only a couple of hundred votes between A and B in the first round and that we won in my home Parish (was glad that all my leafleting in the rain wasn't wasted!).

The third point is that I never truly believed that Option A was the end game for reform in Jersey. I didn't like the idea of 42 members and would much rather have had 48 members (though not because of the Troy Rule which I knew would be safe under 42 members, but because I thought constituency work would suffer), and the first thing I would have done after Option A was passed would have been to argue for more members. But I saw winning the principle of equal votes as being of such paramount importance that it had to be fought as a battle on it's own.

I've also moved to the view that I didn't previously hold, that there is no longer any excuse whatsoever for the Chief Minister to not be elected directly by the public of Jersey. With Senators gone and further powers for the Chief Minister being proposed, the connection between power and the ballot box is too far away for me to think that the position holds any legitimacy any more. Campaigning for a public vote on who becomes Chief Minister will be one of the next steps to be taken in the next few years.

The final point is that the referendum process itself was always totally flawed, to the point where frankly the whole thing was pretty absurd.

The fact there were no spending limits or requirements to publish accounts from the campaign groups was totally unacceptable, the registration process was totally inadequate, and the schools engagement with young people was utterly appalling.

PPC had 2 years notice to prepare for the referendum and they fundamentally failed. Lessons need to be learnt from this process.

If we ever end up having a referendum on whether Jersey becomes an independent country or not (which I am totally against) then we cannot have it under the same framework we have now.

Analysing the results

The first thing to say was that the results in the first round were incredibly close. Only 223 votes between Option's A and B in the first round show how divided those that bothered to vote were.

That being said, the number that did choose to vote was pitiful. 26.24% of the registered electorate is appalling.

Of those that did vote, only 48.8% voted for Option B (after 2nd preference votes had been counted), meaning only 12.81% of the registered electorate backed it.

Also notable is how low the turnout was especially in St Helier (only 16.91%), but those that did vote were overwhelmingly in favour of the option that came 2nd.

All referendums end up with a result because they are prescribed rules to make sure of it, but more important than the result is the answer. It is important to distinguish between a "result" and an "answer" for they are different things.

A referendum will always have a result, with one option beating another, but there is a difference between a result on a high turnout with a large majority in favour of one option, compared to a low turnout with a marginal difference. The first can easily be spun into a public endorsement, the latter cannot.

Jersey's referendum was the latter.

There is no way that anyone can spin this referendum result into having been an answer to the public desire for a particular electoral system. It is nothing but a rejection of it all (and I include Option A in that, which I accept is now dead).

Moving forward

Throughout the campaign when faced with the illogical proposition that if Option B won "it would be democratic", I often replied by saying that if there had been a referendum on taking the vote away from left-handed people that was won, it wouldn't be democratic just because it had been endorsed in a vote.

Why? Because there is such a thing as unqualified and inalienable human rights. One of those is equality before the law and our right to take part in a free and fair democratic system. No one can take those rights away, especially not one part of the electorate. An electoral system that does not give everyone an equal vote is illegitimate and the majority have no right whatsoever to vote to take away the inalienable rights of other people.

It is on that basis that I consistently said that I would not accept a referendum victory for Option B as being legitimate. I said this before Option B won, so I can't be accused of kicking my toys out of the pram.

Option B is an undemocratic system that discriminates against islanders depending on where they live. That is unacceptable, and it certainly is not legitimised by our sad excuse of a referendum in which tiny number of islanders endorsed it.

The obvious criticism that will be made of me here will be "oh well, you wouldn't be saying that if Option A had won", and the honest answer to that is, yes, quite right I wouldn't.

Option A was a fair and democratic system that had no further complications to consider. Frankly, if we had a States made up of democrats, they wouldn't have bothered with the referendum and would have just passed it, like they were good enough to do in Guernsey. Instead we have the result of politicians with no democratic tradition and an instinct for self-serving protectionism.

The referendum has given no clear endorsement for the States to pursue implementing a system that is nothing more than an unapologetic, old-fashioned gerrymandering of the highest order.

It is on this basis that Option B should not become law in Jersey and all democrats should oppose it's introduction.

A blog post will follow to explain how opposition can be mounted and justified.



  1. Don't waste too much time on it Sam. Move on.
    By all means make electoral reform part of a political platform - but not the primary issue.
    It is just one problem - there are dozens more to be dealt with.
    Please, please use your energies in forming a comprehensive answer to the entrenched establishment free market, users pays, tax haven based economy with 19th century social values...

  2. Hmmm. Roll back the clock. Senator Syvret triumphs in the Senatorials; Frank Walker comes 5th (if I remember). So Senator Syvret is Chief Minister. That's the same kind of situation as a Chief Minister elected on an Island wide mandate; not perfect, but close enough.

    But the trouble is that the majority of the States don't want to serve under him, and don't think he'll be a good choice. That can be seen in the fact that they didn't vote for him. So he has a very minority government, with only those who voted willing to serve under him, and might not even manage enough assistant ministers. And most of what he wants can be blocked. And then someone raises a vote of no confidence, and (say, as in the election of CM), he loses. Where do we go from there?

    1. I actually agree with most of that, which was why until very recently I didn't believe that the Chief Minister should be elected directly by the public.

      My ideal situation would be that we had party politics and the leader of the biggest party becomes Chief Minister. But that's not likely to happen any time soon.

      I think the safeguard against ending up with a Chief Minister that doesn't command the support of the States should be to have the States decide who the candidates for Chief Minister are in the public election.

      Say, after the general election, at the States first meeting they nominate their 2/3 preferred candidates for Chief Minister, and you can only get on the ballot if you can get a significant number of nominations. Maybe States Members could be allowed to nominate more than one candidate as well. Then it goes to a public vote, automatically scheduled to be perhaps 3 weeks after the general election, giving enough time for public debates etc.

      That way both the public and the States will have had their say.

      I just think it is unconscionable to give the Chief Minister the power to sack his ministers or decide who does what job without his own position becoming more accountable to the people.

  3. Sadly stage two of the hijacked referendum has swung into top gear. It is reported that everything must be ready at the next election to bring in option B. Well done Sam, you are correct in that Senator Bailhache agreed that option B was not compatible with the Venice commission but still supported it. He was also aware that A was far more democratic, they all did.

    I disagree with you when you state " the Troy Rule which I knew would be safe under 42 members." The Government can change any rule at any time or not bring in laws to suit themselves like the freedom of information law, voted on and passed as needed but never actually made law. Yet the Data Protection laws, passed to enact secret hearings behind closed doors are relatively new.

    If they cheated and hijacked the committee by not giving the islanders a fair and honourable referendum ( which they did ) and then as you write above carried on a campaign of dirty tricks and untruths, the question I suggest that needs answering is, what does this actually say about the quality and integrity of Senator's Bailhache ,Ozouf and the Chief Minister Gorst as political leaders ? Because in reality they and other puppet politicians followers, have let democracy, the island and its people down, endorsing weird multi-questions, despicable tactics and working to a private secret agenda.


    1. "what does this actually say about the quality and integrity of Senator's Bailhache ,Ozouf and the Chief Minister Gorst as political leaders ?"

      I think that is the question that all islanders need to ask themselves.

      We have a trio of leaders who aren't democrats. We should find that very worrying.

    2. Mark has a useful analysis of the voting and a record of votes parish by parish. It sort of answers what would have happened if St Helier turned up to vote.
      Not as clear cut as it appears

  4. I can only read sour grapes in this post and you are wasting your time anyway.

    1. Certainly is, I'm very sour about this disgusting attempt to take away our democratic rights. After all, how many thousands have fought and died for our human rights and rights for democracy?

      If there is something to be sour about, I think that's it.

      Am I wasting my time? We'll see. I'll happily bet you £50 now that Option B will not become law.

    2. Option B has been approved by the voting Public and you cannot ignore that and you have to also think about all the Parishes on not just St Helier. I imagine B being adopted but with amendments of perhaps 44 or even 46 States Members in total.

    3. "Option B has been approved by the voting Public"

      No it has not. You clearly didn't read the blog.

      16,779 people voted.

      Option B got 8,190 votes.

      Get out your calculator and tell if that works out as a majority.

      I think the States probably will just about pass Option B, but then it will go to the Privy Council, which is where the important battle will be.

    4. Look I am not here to argue, Option B won, Option A came second and the Privy Council will not reject it. You will eventually have to eat humble pie.

  5. Until the Privy Council stops Option B all your claims are hearsay.

    1. Thankfully it's a position backed up with a huge amount of logic. I won't divulge anything substantial just yet, but we are being encouraged by people who know far more about these matters than either you or I to pursue a Privy Council appeal.

    2. We have heard the same thing from people who reject the idea that the privy council can stop it, so I do not think many Option B supporters will be losing much sleep over this.

  6. Sam you going to stand in the 2014 elections?

    1. I'd like to, but it's impossible to give a definite yes because I don't know what my life circumstances will be then. For all I know I might have graduated and have a decent job with good prospects that would be more worth pursuing. I'll have to wait and see.

      If there were a by-election tomorrow in my area I would stand.

    2. Say if you did stand in 2014 would this be in St. Saviour or St. Helier?

    3. Depends on where I live then and what electoral system we have. If I live where I currently do (in St Saviour) and the electoral system doesn't change, then probably St Saviour No. 3.

      Regardless of where I live, if Option B becomes the system, I'd stand in St Helier because St Helier is totally screwed under Option B and would need representatives who were weren't willing to put up with it.

    4. Thanks for your honesty and good luck.

  7. There is an invitation from the UK Ministry of Justice Select Committee to submit observations on the merits or otherwise of the Crown Dependencies. If you have not already done so - I suggest you write to them ASAP. I have already done so.
    Of course there is a contradiction in making submissions to organs of the UK Government in which we in Jersey have no elected representation at all.
    Thus the resort to the Privy Council to complain about Jersey's defective electoral system while the Privy Council itself is just another wholly undemocratic body, is especially absurd.
    I have petitioned the Privy Council on several occasions and as I suggested to the Electoral Commission, it is Jersey's ancient second chamber with a long stop reviewing function. But that does not make it OK.
    We have to make use of existing institutions as beset as we can until we - or somebdy else - manages to reform them and there are just so many things to improve...

  8. I have just put a couple of comments on

    Trivia from the Troll-Zoo #1

    the concerted campaign against more liberal States Members is in full swing at the JEP''s thisistrollzoo website.

    The address given for the letter in the JEP, 17B Marrett Court, apparently does not exist and the thread is being heavily trolled, possibly even by the fake letter writer himself.

    The JEP has effectively put itself in COLLUSION with the trolls and astroturfers by CENSORING any direct comment on their activity.


    CENSORED: May 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm Viva Option Goebbels
    Jimmy 2013-05-15 9:53 says:
    "The address and writer is irrelevant and you are using it as a minor side track to get away from the debate ...."

    The address is a FACT ...
    so FACTS are irrelevant ?

    Can I use the FACT that you can't remember your own name "as a minor side track" to put the "debate" in perspective ?

    errrrrr.... "Jason" the TWOB

    TWOB: A Total Waste of Bandwidth
    amongst other things.

  9. Trivia from the Troll-Zoo #2

    The JEP has puts itself in COLLUSION with the trolls and astroturfers by CENSORING anyone directly identifying their activity.

    In reply to *Jason* #8 [highlighting the use of this avatar for a multitude of names]

    CENSORED May 15, 2013 at 9:06 am Sound advice genuinely given ?

    At last someone talking sense.

    Everybody listen to *Jason*.

    NO ! ... Everybody listen to
    "Good, at last. Now perhaps the Pitmans can get on with more worthwhile things, like running the Island maybe?"

    NO ! ... Everybody listen to
    "JP this abuse happened over 20 years ago. How can any current states member or serving police officer be held accountable? I don’t blame the States refusing to take the blame, I mean, why should they?"

    - No "Sara" not all of it happened over 20 years ago - but why should ANYONE be held to account or 'learn lessons' ?
    Didn't Le Gresley recently quote liberally from that very same Christmas Speech you so feared repeating.

    NO ! ... Everybody listen to


    Funny how the same assortment of critters (some with the same, & some with randomised avatars) come out whenever there is a liberal politician needing to be criticised or a child abuse investigation needing undermining.

    Welcome to an inverted world of information and morals where everything on our beautiful island is ... A-OK !!!

    Ask no questions and you will not have to deal with any lies.
    Your trust must be unconditional and everything will be fine. You just need to spend your entire life "moving on" and not "wasting time" .......

    1. Sorry anonymous but these comments aren't formatted very well, I haven't got a clue what in it is what you are saying, what is a comment, what was censored etc.

  10. Lol.
    What I noticed it that this follows a pattern we see on a lot of blogs when Sam says this will be taken to the Pricy Council. It reminds me of 'this will be taken to London or 'the European Court of Human Rights', which we have seen elsewhere. The Blogs these days seem to be saying they are doing a lot of things but not really getting very far with them!

    1. That may have something to do with the fact that the legislation hasn't been passed yet, so there is nothing to take anywhere just yet.

      The ECtHR is a mess. It takes years for anything to get done, costs a shed load of money and you have to have exhausted all local appeals before going there. The problem Jersey often has is that people will have a case in Jersey, be unhappy with the process of how it went (e.g. having a conflicted judge), so they write to the UK to ask to use their courts instead, and the UK responds saying that they should appeal it in Jersey, totally ignoring the fact that they are telling them to appeal it to the people that they are complaining about! The UK Ministry of Justice is not even coming close to acting within it's legal responsibilities for Jersey there.

      But you're wrong on the Privy Council. People often have petitioned on something or other to them and they have stepped in. But it's never normally a big deal, they just quietly tell the Jersey government behind the scenes to sort the legislation out then resubmit it.

  11. The lesson you should take from this is that 'democracy' and 'fairness' in and of themselves is not a compelling enough argument for the electorate to vote. The majority vote out of self interest and the reality was Option B spoke louder in those terms for the majority of people (as it was more closely connected to the mainstream political views of the island). You fought the good fight but to win you needed to make Option A more tangible

    1. How sad for Jersey that "democracy" isn't considered tangible in our island.

      Part of how Option B was able to do what they did was by lying. Had they been more honest I think the result may well have been different.

      The point you make about the majority voting for self-interest is an interesting point, and the results back that up by how the over-represented Parishes voted for maintaining that over-representation and the under-represented Parishes vote much more for equality.

      We decided early on in the campaign that to win we needed votes from all parts of the island and that it would be bad to run a campaign that isolated the rural Parishes by focusing too much on St Helier. With hindsight, that might have been the wrong thing to do. Had we galvanised St Helier, St Brelade, St Clement and St Saviour more, the result might have been different.

      That all being said, the war isn't over.

    2. I wouldn't make this a 'jersey problem'. In all situations to majority of people vote for what they see as tangible outcomes as opposed to lofty ideals. History teaches us that democracy for all it's positives can very easily slip away when the populace no longer see its immediate value. As soon as the referendum became a right vs left issue; it was lost as people associated option B with the option for which they have most faith in the outcomes (as represented by their usual voting patterns).

  12. I know this isn't an original observation, but I think it was extremely naive to participate in a referendum that was so clearly hijacked by Bailhache and his retainers. Regardless of which option 'won', democracy was the inevitable loser. The parameters of the referendum were carefully controlled to prevent the possibility of reform that was not palatable to the Dear Leader. Why was there no 'senators only' option? Such an obvious alternative to the current system - and yet mysteriously missing.

    So why did you give your consent to this corrupted process by campaigning for what your were allowed?

    1. Good question.

      The first point I'll make is that there was nothing "mysterious" about the omission of a "Senators only" option because such a system would be totally impractical. Jersey people just need to get over that fact. We aren't ever going to have a States of just Senators. No independent commission would have suggested that either. Instead, Option A was offered which was intended to be as close to "Senators only" as is practically possible. Jersey will never get any better than that because we are just too big for it to work.

      It may only one day be feasible if we had a full party system where voters all across the island just voted for a party, and the party is given x number of seats depending on the percentage of votes they got. (i.e, we have 50 States Members and if Party Y gets 10% of the vote, they get 5 seats, Party X gets 50%, they get 25 seats, etc)

      Personally, I'd love that, but it's not going to happen and frankly we would all do better to just forget about it and focus on what is achievable so we can actually make progress rather than staying stuck in a rut.

      On why we still engaged with the commission -

      I don't agree that regardless of which option won, democracy would lose.

      Option A was an excellent system. It was totally democratic and Jersey would have been propelled into the 21st Century if it had been adopted. I don't share the cynicism that many had that because Option A was created by Senator Bailhache's commission it must be corrupt. It wasn't.

      If we hadn't engaged with the process, then Option A would never have even existed, Option B would have been the single option proposed and would have won the referendum by a landslide. Then when the democrats appealed it to the Privy Council, the Privy Council would say "yes, it may be a bad system, but look, it was endorsed by a huge majority of the public, we don't have a mandate to overturn it".

      Instead, our engagement helped produce a sensible reform option for Jersey, that a large number of those that voted backed. We totally split the vote and ruined Option B's chance of being able to say that it has resounding support from the public. It is because of us that the Privy Council will be able to look at the result (and the process) and say that Option B is overturnable.

      The alternative would have seen us do nothing other than shouting from the sidelines for us to be inevitably ignored. I'm not in this game to be ignored.

      I also have to say this - those well intentioned progressives and/ or democrats that either voted for Option C or didn't vote at all did nothing but help Option B win.

      It was totally possible that Option A could have won the referendum. If more people had voted for A, it would have won, and that despite the multi-option question. Plus, the States would have had to vote it through, because Senator Bailhache's political credibility would be on the line.

      It's worth pointing out that the creator of the Electoral Commission, former Daniel Wimberley engaged with the commission whilst making all the points about it being hijacked. Even former Senator Stuart Syvret actually backed Option A (with C as 2nd preference) and encouraged people to vote in it. This was because they both knew that boycotting it would do nothing but help the establishment.

    2. Sam, you state that the option of 'Senators only' would be totally impractical, but you fail to say why. I'm not sure what fact us Jersey people 'need to get over'. Are you saying that our political masters have made a decision and we should just now accept that like good little serfs? That we are only entitled to as much political reform as we are allowed to have by the handful of people who run the island?

      What helps the Establishment is having enough people on this island who agree to play the game by the rules they devise, thus giving them an air of legitimacy. Do you think any electoral reform devised by an Electoral Commission headed-up by David Cameron would be considered acceptable by people in the UK? No. So why would anybody who values their dignity agree to participate in such a process in Jersey?

    3. With respect, I did say why. I said Jersey is too big.

      If we were a small jurisdiction of only 30,000, with only 15 MPs, and party politics (like Gibraltar), it could work. But we aren't.

      An election with over 100 independent candidates pulling in different directions, unable to all debate in one go, asking the people for one of their 45 odd votes, on a ballot paper several feet long, would be utter chaos. The candidates coming in 44th and 45th place would have no legitimacy whatsoever having got in potentially with just a few hundred votes compared to the poll topper getting 10s of thousands.

      If you can explain to me how it can be done, I'll be happy to hear it, but so far no one has even attempted to say how. Not a single submission to the Electoral Commission adumbrated any way at all that it could be done, so don't be surprised when the commission didn't offer it as an option. You can't suggest something without explaining how it can be done. You're just not being constructive.

      You can shout from the sidelines as much as you like, but the only persons rules I'm playing by is my own. The Establishment hate me (as some private correspondence between States Members that I was shown proves), so to say I'm playing by their rules is utterly ridiculous. I've spent the past few months giving them a serious run for their money, and have ruined their chances of solidifying their grip on power by denying them what they wanted, which was a resounding victory. They didn't get one, and it is because of people like myself, Daniel Wimberley, Monty Tadier, Ted Vibert, and lots of good conservatives like Christine Vibert and Hugh Gill.

      You talk of a hypothetical situation where David Cameron devises an electoral system. There is no need to talk about hypotheticals, because politicians in the UK are constantly suggesting electoral reform. David Cameron put forward a bill to rearrange the electoral boundaries in the UK and I supported it. I supported it (despite the Labour Party opposing it) because it was a good system that would make the UK more democratic.

      I hate David Cameron and everything he stands for, but if he says black is black I'm not stupid enough to say "no, it's white!" just because it's David Cameron. I also hate Nick Clegg and everything he stands for, but I happily voted "yes" in the AV referendum two years ago, despite him suggesting it, because it was the right thing to do. No doubt you'd have boycotted it because a politician suggested it.

      Progressives and democrats in Jersey are capable of winning, but unfortunately we have too many people who have no interest in engaging with a process and creating a clear line to victory, but would rather just have a protest and shout "conspiracy!" and are on a totally different planet from most ordinary islanders. That is why we lose.

  13. Sam, thanks for the response. I will deal with your comments about David Cameron's attempt at electoral reform first. David Cameron wanted to reduce the number of constituencies, and rebalance their sizes. This work would have been undertaken by the Boundary Commission, not by the Conservative Party. You are smart enough to understand the fundamental difference between policy and execution (or if you prefer, legislature and executive) in this area.

    Turning to the main theme - i.e. having all politicians in Jersey elected on an island-wide mandate - you say it wouldn't work for an island the size of Jersey. You say it would lead to chaos, with the top candidates having thousands of votes, and the bottom candidates a few hundred.

    Why would this cause chaos? You will have to explain where the chaos will come from. Or do you think that mature adults are unable to tick a few boxes if there are more than, say, 10 names on the ballot paper?

    Why would the candidates with fewest votes have no legitimacy? Think about it. Under any constituency-based system, it may transpire that most candidates will get in with just a few hundred votes. Does this mean none of them will have legitimacy?

    A constituency-based system allows candidates who have no island-wide popularity to shelter within an electoral 'ghetto'. Take, for example, Geoff Southern. The great majority of the electorate do not want him in the States - that much has been made clear when he has stood on an island-wide mandate. Yet he retains his seat and can pontificate on all-island issues, because a few hundred people in St Helier No.2 stymied the wishes of the island as a whole.

    1. The Boundaries Commission would sit down and do the nitty gritty stuff with their maps, pencils and rulers out, but they would be doing in on the instruction of parliament who would be telling them to cut the number of constituencies by 50, knowing full well that the inevitable result of that would be cutting the number of safe Labour seats. The Boundaries Commission doesn't decide anything on principle, it just does what it's told, so I don't see the difference in execution being particularly important there. Those making the important decisions were politically partisan. The Boundaries Commission's role was menial in comparison.

      I said the election process would be chaos. There wouldn't be able to be any proper hustings, voters would likely have over 100 manifestos to digest (most people can't be bothered to read more than 3 or 4), most people won't be able to pick more than 10 candidates to vote for if they are lucky and the candidates themselves would not be able to run proper campaigns.

      Having constituencies may make it easier for some to get elected by just focusing on one part of the electorate, but then having all island-wide would make it impossible for certain groups to get representation. All island-wide would mean that everyone that was elected would just be a duplication of what the majority wanted to the exclusion of the minority. It would be much less likely to end up being proportionally representative. Southern may well have a majority against him, but there is a significant minority that do want him. They shouldn't be denied representation, and a proportional system would give them a voice.

      I think the best solution is a balance, whereby we keep constituencies so we can get some sort of proportional representation of each group in our society, whilst also making elections much tougher for candidates by making those constituencies much bigger, meaning they have to get a bigger mandate. That's the best of both worlds. Guernsey has shown that it works and at their last election only 3 candidates got in with fewer than 1,000 votes.

  14. Hi,

    I have recently had several hard hitting (but totally reasonable) comments unpublished (i.e. CENSORED) by the JEP on its website so I thought it was worth sharing this one here (& perhaps elsewhere) in anticipation of it too being censored.

    in reply to "Polly"

    SUBMITTED May 23, 2013 at 9:55 am by "Joseph Goebbels"

    No "Polly" my chosen pseudonym (right-wing Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister)
    ..... is a warning from history.

    RE the selection of Goebbels quotes given at

    When Goebbels was not busy telling filthy lies ...... he spoke some deep but disturbing truths to his co-conspirators
    ..... some which remain as true and as acutely relevant in our age.

    People are people "Polly".
    Jersey people of the 2010's are (probably) more sophisticated than German people of the 1930's but they are still just as vulnerable to propaganda and opinion management. In a democracy we like to think that we, (the voters, logically, calmly & on full information) choose the election winners.
    On a superficial level this is partly true (we should be grateful for this right) and we all like to think of ourselves as invulnerable to unbalanced influence but a concurrent reality is that the media and the size of campaign budgets choose the winners of elections.
    I hope that this additional level to reality is not getting too sophisticated for you, Polly.

    Even 'liberal democracy' is not perfect but it is the best system available, which is why it is worth defending.

    We have a democracy of sorts in Jersey but it is not a functioning 'liberal democracy'. It was already a skewed democracy and with the successful 13% minority vote for Option B it is now an overtly gerrymandered democracy.
    'Liberal democracy' respects other people's democratic rights. The gerrymandered Option B further consolidates our capital town dwellers into an underrepresented "electoral ghetto".

    This is wrong and aggrieved town dwellers have a right to take appropriate action. Realistically, any action they take would be ignored unless it was something like withholding tax (perhaps a % in proportion to their disenfranchisement) from the government that is disenfranchising them. This would be guaranteed to get the attention of the authorities ..... but the authorities carry a big (initially legal) stick which they would use to full effect on tax protesters unless the numbers were too large.
    Obviously many people on low income only pay tax in the form of GST on whatever they buy on the Island - which cannot be witheld - so they would have to be even more inventive in making their disenfranchisement felt.

    Jersey does not have a strong democratic tradition or a strong tradition of protest and I hope that Jersey never becomes "militant".

    If Jersey ever becomes "militant" it seems most likely that it will militancy of the right.

    Hence the "warning from history" as the further disenfranchisement of our capital town dwellers is a real and significant step in that direction via a hijacked democratic process (viz. Germany 1933 ?)

    ....... be it a "goose step" or otherwise ..... brought to us by our [assistant] Chief Minister of Silly Walks in the Wrong Direction.

  15. aggrieved town dwellers have a right to take appropriate action. Realistically, any action they take would be ignored unless it was something like withholding tax from the government that is disenfranchising them.

    Yes would be guaranteed to get their attention

  16. Still you moan about the result!
    Get used to it Sammy boy, its the result that was chosen by the whole Island.

    1. Nice try Troll! You obviously didn't read a word of the blog ;)

    2. Waste of time when its all the same old sour grapes.
      P.S. an opinion is not trolling, silly boy :-)

    3. Thanks for the admission you didn't read it. Proving my point quite nicely. I reckon an arsey comment on a blog you didn't read would come under most definitions of trolling. Adios!

  17. You can say the same about people who don't bother voting in elections Sam.
    Its their choice and then people complain when Deputies get in with a few hundred votes.
    Its the way the cookie crumbles.

    1. Quite right. We have a terrible election system that I think needs radical overhaul.

  18. recent JEP cutting available at:


    Senators Le Marquand, Farnaham & Deputy Le Fondre are also amongst those pointing out that there is insufficient madate for Option B.

    B for for the 1000 year Bellyache