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.
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!