Myself and Deputy Le Cornu just after being sworn in.
The Jersey Evening Post's coverage of my by-election victory states "He later celebrated with a wild fist pump when he heard that his friend and potential political ally, Nick Le Cornu, had been voted in as Deputy in St Helier No. 1" and they were absolutely right.
Whilst the vote count was going on at Springfield Stadium, I sat by myself and, in my head, forced myself to come to terms with my inevitable impending failure. I was planning how I should best react to defeat in such a way not to eliminate my chances of election in October. I did this because everything throughout the campaign had suggested right from the very beginning that I was going to win. My candidacy had had the best media coverage, people on the doorstep seemed genuinely enthusiastic about my age (which I had assumed would actually be used against me) and the opposing right-wing/ "Option B" vote was split. Things could not have been better. I worked damn hard on my campaign and never allowed myself to be overcome by complacency. But when the signs are good, certain thoughts inevitably end up creeping into your head. The greater I believed my chances of election were, the further I had to fall and be disappointed. Coping with that defeat would have been difficult, especially after investing so much time and energy into my campaign. I knew that if I accepted it before it happened, it would be the perfect emotional safety net.
So when it turned out that not only had I won, but that I'd won by such a big margin (52% of the vote, almost 3 times as much as my main opponent), I was obviously absolutely delighted.
But my real delight came shortly after I had done my first interview with the BBC and posed for a few photos, when another reporter just casually mentioned that Nick Le Cornu had won the by-election in St Helier No. 1.
I was so pre-occupied with my own election that I had almost forgotten that there was another election going on, so I was caught completely off guard by hearing that result too and I couldn't contain my delight and did indeed fist-pump!
Nick's election had been much harder to call. The "anti-establishment" vote was split three ways, with three veteran campaigners (one a former politician). The candidate of the political right had three advantages; 1. He was the only candidate representing his philosophy, 2. He was actually a very nice and pleasant person to talk to (so would come across well on the doorstep) and 3. He was hard working and ran an excellent campaign.
Nick ultimately won because he ran the best campaign he has ever run and, crucially, had the organisational support and infrastructure that made his campaign professional.
That is what made me so happy upon hearing about his victory. Had just I won, or just Nick won, it would have been something to be glad about. But the fact we both won made it a victory for something wider. It was a victory for common policies, not just a 'here today, gone tomorrow' populist personality. It was a victory for a different type of politics. That different type of politics is represented by Reform Jersey.
I have published on this blog before manifestos from the previous political parties that have existed in Jersey, namely the Jersey Progressive Party and the Jersey Democratic Movement.
The JPP was initially set up as a direct response to the JDM because they were seen as credible, organised and potential winners of the first post-war elections. As it happens, the JPP were able to out-manoeuvre them and became the winners of those elections. The JDM was then plagued by splits and it soon became clear that they were very unlikely to soon become a party of government (especially once the 1948 electoral reforms were passed which created the gerrymandered system that still plagues Jersey politics today). The JPP, then not facing a direct threat to their rule, dismantled, with it's members remaining in government for years to come, and even today's government still represents that brand of politics.
But something has changed now.
The past three elections in Jersey have been lost by the spiritual successors to the JPP. The "Option B" party was not strong enough to get the States to pass it into law. The Bailhache-nominated candidate in the Grouville Constable by-election lost badly. And now the political right has not been able to take two seats in St Helier away from the political left.
Jersey's political culture is maturing. Our undemocratic electoral and political system is no longer tolerable to the majority. Progressive and social democratic principles are being acknowledged as being desperately needed by most working class islanders (i.e. the 'living wage'). The agenda is no longer being set by those in charge.
He who sets the agenda, decides the terms of battle in politics.
The need for the right to organise itself into an official party once more will only occur when their hegemony in Jersey politics is threatened.
We know that there are moves afoot to set up a party. The working campaign group for Option B in the referendum was a starting point. It has not fully dismantled since the referendum was rejected. Deputy Sean Power has tweeted that he and some colleagues are interesting in setting up a political party. And they are lucky because the basic framework already exists. Senator Bailhache has told me that he believes parties are not only inevitable but we should be actively striving towards that system.
Only once we have this organised politics will Jersey begin to transition to a 21st Century style democracy in which people actually have a vote that counts for something.
The foot in the door that has been given to Deputy Le Cornu and I means that we are now in a position to dedicate every waking moment to contributing to building this 21st Century politics.
In fact, a matter of hours after Nick and I were sworn in as Deputies in the Royal Court, we had the first parliamentary party meeting of Reform Jersey in the States building. The nucleus is there, the members and activists are still there and highly motivated after seeing their hard work pay off.
Reform Jersey was set up originally to campaign solely to improve Jersey's electoral system. In fact we even boasted that we were "non-politically affiliated". But when you witness the effects of our gerrymandered electoral system on the economic and social policies, it becomes impossible to stay non-politically affiliated for long.
Over the next months we need to demonstrate as new States Members that a different type of politics is possible. One which is positive, constructive and engaging. We need to bring more candidates into the fold to contest the elections in October.
The agenda is being set by the progressive side at the moment, taking a lead (in my opinion at least) from the Labour Party in the UK.
The issues people are talking about are things like abuse of zero-hours contracts, the living wage, cost of living, population control etc.
These are things that the public is not satisfied with, and it is those with progressive politics have the right values to address these issues. We need to be seen as a force that is not only on ordinary peoples side, but that is worth coming out to vote for because we can make a difference.
That is the challenge for October and we hope you will join us.
Please follow Reform Jersey on Twitter and Facebook.
Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get in touch if you want to be a part of Reform Jersey!
Also thanks go to Team Voice for this interview with myself and Deputy Le Cornu -
Right now, I have to plan a way to firstly convey my gratitude to the people of St Helier No. 2 for electing me. I hope to try and do regular newsletters to keep voters up to date with what I am doing.
I am looking to try and hold a public meeting in the next month for voters to come and meet me and others in Reform Jersey to talk about how to take things forward and hear their views on important political issues.
The hard work begins now and I can't wait to get stuck in!
Deputy Sam Mézec
Thank You's -
My family, in particularly my parents, who were completely supportive from the moment I suggested that I was thinking of standing in the by-election. My dad even spent afternoons delivering leaflets and putting up posters. I hope he's ready for October!
Deputy Geoff Southern worked incredibly hard on my campaign. He didn't have to. He could have just offered me a few words of advice and carried on with his work in the States. But instead he dedicated a huge amount of time to my campaign, knocking on doors with me, going though literature and all of the background work.
Trevor and Shona Pitman for endorsing my election. Shona gave me very helpful advice about getting to know St Helier No. 2 and running an election campaign in it. When talking to people on the doorstep I actually came across no one who had anything other than sympathy for the pair of them and their situation. Shona was well liked in the district and was known to be hard working when it came to taking their case work.
All the other States Members, past and present, who sent me messages of support and advice. Deputy Tadier in particular for his help and friendship.
Citizens media for their work promoting the election online and providing us with a platform to get our message across exactly how we wanted. This helped distinguish us from other candidates and is certainly the way forward.
Unite the Union for their support and financial assistance.
My volunteers who helped distribute my leaflets, put up posters (and take them down again) and spread the word. You are essential to any movement, and I hope this experience has motivated you to stay on board, ready to do it all again in October. Special thanks to James Andrews for proposing me on the nomination night.
Andy Gordon of Propaganda Advertising and Design for his excellent leaflets. He definitely now has a loyal customer in me for future elections.
And most importantly...
Thank you to everyone who came out and voted for me!