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 -,094,098,116,117Com.pdf

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.



  1. Jersey's own commemorative "Reform Day" passed by without a single flag being raised on 28 September this year. Next week children and adults will be burning Guy Fawkes in effigy all over the Island because of an attempted attempt to blow up the London Parliament in 1605.
    What does political history mean in this Island? Does it have any significance and can "Reform" mean anything at all without an understanding of how the "present" came to be....? See you all in the square on 5 November?

  2. Actually, Sam, there's a typo error in the table. (Why did I spot it, and not the States staff?). Column 5 - the Green proposal - reads:

    Most overrepresented 2.03
    Most underrepresented 0.77
    Range 2.26

    If the most overrepresented is a typo for 3.03, that's not a problem. If the 2.26 is a typo for 1.26, that changes the ranking on page 8 such that Green comes up to 9th - leaving PPC Rejected and Default as the bottom two options.

    It doesn't affect the general contention that Clothier is the best answer, but it does make you wonder about the calibre of States staff that they can't do simple arithmetic...

    1. Well spotted. I don't think it is the most over-represented that would be the typo, since it is written as 2.03 on the St Mary part of the chart (which is about right I would have thought), so it must be the range that is wrong.

      I'll email the States Greffe and see what he says. I did think it was odd how poorly Green's one ranked.

    2. James, the States Greffe has got back to me and let me know that it was an accidental miscalculation which has now been corrected and the ranks have been listed as they should be. Well done for spotting it.

  3. I just love the new PPC; they are such witty chaps. First they introduce a Proposition for Reform that removes the Deputies in three Country Parish (St John, St Mary, Trinity) because they are currently over represented. Then they get academics to critique all the Propositions that will be debated on 5th November on the basis of their proportionality. This exposes the ones that are completely wanting.

    What lies exposed is the gross gerrymandering that wishes to perpetuate the dominance of sparsely populated Country Parishes to the disadvantage of St Helier and other urban areas. Gerrymandering the system keeps those currently in power there for another generation – that is their hope – but their little game has been exposed.

    Clearly the political class is incapable of creating an electoral system that is fair by international standards. It’s time for States Members to refresh their memories about “the underlying principles of Europe’s electoral heritage” embodied in the Venice Commission Code of good practice in electoral matters.

    The good old boys must be fuming. The Constable of St Mary's little slight of hand is beauty - dilute the urban vote by dividing it up and joining it organically with safe Country Parishes. Needles to say, there are no figures or graphs about that ticklish subject of proportionality in her proposition.