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!
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