Monday, 18 August 2014

Candidates for Change - Reform Jersey announces three new candidates

Today Reform Jersey officially revealed three of our new candidates who will be standing in the general election on the 15th October.

We still have more candidates to announce but we wanted to get the ball rolling with these three.

I'm very excited about taking part in their personal election campaigns, as well as helping to co-ordinate our island-wide party campaign.

Something feels different this time. There is momentum. Whenever we meet ordinary voters on the doorstep, our message seems to be connecting better than ever.

We have three excellent, intelligent and articulate women candidates who have come forward. I have always believed that one of the benefits of party politics is that a party will be able to encourage people with talent to come forward, who otherwise might not be as interested in doing so as an independent. Jersey democracy will be far better when that is the norm.

It is clear that people in Jersey want change. This time the vote for change will be placed inside the box on the ballot paper next to the words 'Reform Jersey'.

More to be announced in the coming weeks...

Laura Millen - St Helier No. 3/4

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Laura is 34 years old and was born and educated in Jersey.

She studied Journalism at John Moores University before returning to the island to work in banking and insurance. She has been a recruitment manager for the past 4 years and so have a very in depth understanding of unemployment, how it affects people and how those people can be assisted back into work.

I think that Laura represents something we need more of in Jersey politics. She's young, she's educated, she's very professional but, most importantly, she has the right values to stand up for ordinary Jersey residents.

She took part in the Equal Marriage Rally earlier this year and was inspired by the collective action she witnessed and will be a welcome addition to the Reform Jersey team in the States.

She says -

"I am concerned how often I hear of salaries that barely cover rental and food costs and particularly concern about the rise in the use of zero-hours contracts where individuals are put under serious stress, not knowing whether they can pay their rent at the end of the week. I listen to mothers desperate to return to work and get off income support but who are unable to secure employment due to the lack of part-time roles coupled with extremely high childcare costs. Having heard these stories on a weekly basis over the past four years, I realise that there insufficient support and protection in place to help those that want to work and support themselves and their families and make a positive contribution to society.

I believe that standing as a Reform Jersey party candidate will enable me to work as part of a team to bring about positive change. We are united in agreement that Jersey can no longer continue to ignore increasing numbers of our fellow islanders who are barely surviving. We cannot ignore that we are failing victims of sexual assault, failing with our mental health provision, failing to provide adequate housing, and failing prospective mothers. These matters need to be addressed by coherent social and economic policies on a wide front, including promotion of a living wage for Jersey and the introduction of 26 weeks statutory maternity leave as soon as possible.

If the government is to be more representative of the population then we need more young people and women in the States."

Debbie Hardisty - St Peter

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Debbie is a 55 year old mother of three who has lived in St Peter for 14 years.

She has worked primarily in the finance and care sectors, including at Les Quennevais School. She now works for the Channel Islands Cooperative Society where she is an active member of the society's Focus Group.

Debbie has already been knocking on doors in St Peter to begin to canvass for votes and has been getting a really good response.

At the last election in St Peter, just over half of those eligible to vote chose not to. I believe Debbie will have the ability to reverse that because she is providing voters in St Peter with a real choice for the first time. She does not represent the Business As Usual Party, she represents something different. The message of Reform Jersey will hopefully resonate most with those who have never voted before in St Peter because they have never seen a candidate they feel would represent them properly.

She says -

"As your Deputy, if elected, I will seek to fully understand your needs in order to best represent your interests in the States Assembly and elsewhere. My door will always be open. I am particularly keen to assist those on low and fixed incomes, both young and old. I will promote the provision of stable, sustainable job opportunities vital for our young people, without which we cannot support our elderly residents.

I will work to establish a kerbside recycling scheme, preserve our green/agricultural areas and maintain the community spirit we rightly enjoy within our parish.

For the island as a whole, I will support any proposition to:

  • End zero-hour contracts except where they are essential.
  • Stop any rise in GST. I will actively campaign and vote for the removal of GST on essential foods and domestic fuels.
  • Radically improve the advance to work scheme so that there are more people being taken on for long term, sustainable employment instead of being used as cheap, temporary labour.
  • Re-introduce free milk for pre-school and primary school pupils.
  • Improve the prompt assessment and provision of help for those with mental health issues.
  • Ensure that all islanders are treated with respect, equal rights, opportunities and fair justice.

Anne Southern - Senator

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Anne will already be a familiar face to many islanders having been a teacher in Jersey for 36 years. In fact she taught me English Language when I was a student at Hautlieu!

She was the head of the English Department at Hautlieu School for 10 years and was President of the Jersey Teacher's Association for 7 years, meaning she has a lot of experience at dealing with States departments/ officers on behalf of the people she represented to fight for the best deal for them.

Anne is well placed to stand for Senator because of her background and experience, and she is well placed to be a candidate for Reform Jersey because of her commitment to social and economic justice.

She'll be a strong advocate for our policies at the senatorial hustings across the island and I hope that she'll be seen as the candidates that stands out, not just by virtue of her being a party candidate, but by the coherent and articulate way she will be able to get her message across.

She says -

"I have been encouraged to enter politics following the formation of Reform Jersey, where I can enjoy the support of a group of people who have a coherent economic policy that will promote greater levels of fairness in our society. Taxpayers’ money can be saved if employers are encouraged to give their employees a living wage, and avoid the abuse of zero-hours contracts. This will mean that working families will not have to claim income support. Similarly, taxpayers’ money can be saved on rent rebates if rent controls are introduced. It is vital to maintain public services on which we all depend, and in a fair and decent society all should benefit from a good education and health service. In a society that depends on women as a significant proportion of the workforce, there must be an entitlement to at least 6 months paid maternity leave. If taxes need to be raised to balance the books, these should be progressive and fall on those who are most able to pay. I would work tirelessly to reduce poverty, finding it unacceptable that in a society with so many wealthy residents there are those who rely on food banks.

As a founder member of the Board of Visitors for looked after children, I applaud the measures that have been taken to improve children’s services, which has led to a reduction in youth crime, and would work to support these and further initiatives."

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Press Release - UK Justice Minister Visit to Jersey

Note - Since the time of writing, States Members have been offered a group meeting with the Justice Minister. Such a meeting falls well short of what is desirable and is essentially just a token gesture. It is formatted in such a way so no concerns can be brought up in a constructive way in confidence.

Press Release – For Immediate Release

Deputy Criticises Exclusion of States Members from UK Justice Minister Visit

Deputy Sam Mézec has raised concerns about the accessibility of UK government ministers to ordinary States Members when they visit the Island on official business.

On 4th August, the United Kingdom Minister for Justice, Lord Faulks, will be visiting Jersey to discuss, amongst other things, the progress made following a UK Justice Select Committee report into the relationship between the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Dependencies.

Deputy Mézec said “there are 51 States Members, not all of whom are members of the Council of Ministers, who have a variety of views on issues of good governance in Jersey and we are side-lined from meeting UK government representatives when they visit Jersey.”

States Members were only informed of Lord Faulks visit to Jersey a matter of days before it is due to take place and Deputy Mézec said that they were not offered the opportunity to discuss matters that might concern them to do with the issues the Minister is here to investigate.

It is standard practice in most jurisdictions that when a foreign government representative makes an official visit, he or she will also make an effort to meet representatives of opposition parties, so as to not just hear a one-sided story. The Lieutenant-Governor, Bailiff and Chief Minister all have a self-interest in leaving the Justice Minister with the impression that they are doing a fantastic job, despite that not being the view of many Jersey residents and politicians.

One issue that some States Members have concerns with is the dual role of the Bailiff, which some members believe is not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights. Lord Faulks will be meeting with the Bailiff when he visits, who has a self-interest in arguing that his role is human rights compliant, but the Minister will not be offered a chance to meet elected members of the States who will offer an alternative view on something that the UK government is legally obliged to consider.”

Deputy Mike Higgins, who is not a member of the Council of Ministers, made an important written submission to the Justice Select Committee which made a number of criticisms of the Jersey government, but has not been invited to meet the Justice Minister when he visits.

This is just another occasion of the government of Jersey subverting democratic good practice to side-line those who have alternative points of view to them. It is not good for democracy and it is not good for Jersey” said Deputy Mézec.

This will be Lord Faulks first visit to Jersey since becoming Justice Minister. It follows a visit last year by the Justice Select Committee, who were met with an expensive reception at the Atlantic Hotel by the Bailiff and senior ministers which caused a minor controversy at the time.

Deputy Mézec has written and asked that some members (including Reform Jersey member Deputy Montfort Tadier and Deputy Mike Higgins who is not a member of Reform Jersey) are invited to meet the Minister, to offer their concerns. No meeting has yet been offered at the time of writing.

For further comment or to arrange an interview, please contact Deputy Mézec on 07797 811130 or