There is a lie at the heart of our political system. That deceit concerns party politics.
Today, the Council of Ministers lodged a proposition entitled Code of Conduct for Ministers and Assistant Ministers. It might well have been called the Ministerial Rubber Stamp (Jersey) Law.
This draft piece of legislation starts well, setting out the seven principles of public life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
As maligned as they are, those rise to the top of the greasy pole of Island politics - and indeed those who sit on the backbenches - generally do so because they want to make a positive difference to Jersey.
Some, however, seem to struggle with the fifth virtue, openness.
As ministers become caught up in the civil service machine, a bureaucracy prone to secrecy, they run the risk of forgetting that they serve the public and that they are custodians of information owned by all of us.
But that is not why the proposition sounds alarm bells.
It spells out how collective responsibility should work. Ministers will speak publicly with one voice and assistant ministers will not against their minister when that minister tables a proposition.
The reality is likely to be that assistant ministers will support the Council on the majority of issues, giving Senator Gorst a potential block vote of 21. Add the usually compliant Constables to the mix and the Chief Minister, who now has the authority to sack his ministers, sits at the head of a very powerful political party.
It has never been more important that Scrutiny, the media and, increasingly, Islanders on social media to hold ministerial government to account.
There is no doubt that we have a party of ministers, a corporation on whose board senior civil servants sit as non-executive directors. Reform Jersey, the three-man left-of-centre group, is not the only party in the States.
For years, candidates, including many ministers, have argued at the hustings for our system of independent Members who have the freedom to say what they think and truly represent their electors.
There are many women an men of great integrity and duty who serve Jersey as ministers and assistant ministers. Voters elected them and others to speak their minds on a whole host of matters, not simply those which are deemed 'issues of conscience' by the Chief Minister and his whips.
Not my words, but the words of the editor of the Jersey Evening Post Andy Sibcy (who kindly gave his permission for me to display it on my website).
There is virtually not a single word of this that I don't agree with, and I think it adumbrates the situation in Jersey politics very accurately.
When "independent" politicians are constitutionally bound to align themselves in the way that our new collective responsibility doctrine enforces them to, then we no longer have independent politicians.
They become, if only for the duration of the term, members of the Chief Minister's party. This despite many of them being elected on manifestos which will have had differences of policy.
There was one candidate at the previous election who was standing with the overt intention to then stand for Social Security Minister, yet his manifesto included pledges to support taking GST off of food. Had he been elected and become a minister, he would have been banned from supporting any proposition (no matter how well argued) to do so, because the Chief Minister would not have wanted it to happen in line with his policy vision.
So we end up with candidates standing making disingenuous promises.
When we have a voter turnout of just 32%, the last thing we need is a system which actually encourages more broken promises like this.
To that end, we have a party system in Jersey already (even more blatant than was the case before collective responsibility was introduced) where Senator Gorst leads a Jersey Conservative Party with a very strong whip system and loyal backbenches to secure his parliamentary majority.
But the problem is, because the lie that they are 'independents' is insincerely persisted, we have actually ended up with a very inefficient party system which leads to us ending up with the worst of both worlds.
The obvious example there is that we vote for candidates in an election without a definitive declaration of what party or grouping they would tend to align themselves with once elected. So voters can inadvertently vote for somebody, thinking they would side with those with social democratic views, but once elected realise that they were actually a staunch Jersey Tory (or vice versa) who just knew how to use their words smoothly. This ultimately puts voters off politics, makes our system over-complicated and is, in my view, responsible for our embarrassingly low voter turnouts.
But an example on a more practical level -
A few weeks ago we saw the Council of Minister unveil their Strategic Priorities Document, outlining what they want to focus on in this term and what they want to achieve.
There was absolutely no detail at all on how they would achieve what they wanted to achieve.
We saw this tax-payer funded nauseating party political broadcast - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0SOTmZUnjM
Our election was on the 15th of October, yet we don't actually get to see any definitive statement on what the government wants to focus on until almost 4 months later. We won't get a vote in the States to endorse this until 6 months into the term.
If we want efficient and effective government, this should be considered totally unacceptable.
In a party system, all of this work would be done before the general election, and would be done as an extra-parliamentary engagement (i.e. not funded by tax payers), with party grassroots involvement and wider public consultation. This would then be presented either before the election, or directly after it, so that the newly formed government can crack on with it straight away (they may even have the draft legislation ready to go) without wasting so many months.
Instead, you and I and funded the Jersey Conservative Party coming up with this document and we have so far had no say whatsoever in what the document contains.
There will now be a public consultation, but we know how much of a waste of time that will really be when the Ministers have already set out their key visions, they won't be backing down on them.
When you compare this, in terms of timeline, level of detail, and mandate, our system fails to deliver on all counts.
Contrast this with the party political system of Gibraltar which saw a multi-party election in 2011 fought by 4 parties, the governing Gibraltar Social Democrats fighting for another consecutive victory, against the opposition Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (in coalition with the Gibraltar Liberal Party), and the new Gibraltar Progressive Democratic Party giving it a shot.
Here are their manifestos, just to give you an idea of how credible the options for government are there -
Gibraltar Socialist Labour/ Liberal Parties
Gibraltar Social Democratic Party
Gibraltar Progressive Democratic Party
In that election, the people of Gibraltar turned out in huge numbers (81%) and voted to kick out the GSD in favour of the GSLP/Liberal alliance.
How in Jersey are we able to do such a thing? It is impossible without an overt party system.
One criticism that is sometimes (unfairly) labelled at Reform Jersey is that a party is an artificial construct. But nothing could be more further from the truth. The party was simply a gathering of individuals who were already like-minded, shared the same set of political values and who realised that working independently would be far more ineffective than officially working as a team to try and get our values featured in the laws of Jersey. That is exactly what the Council of Minsiters is, they just aren't open about it.
Mr Sibcy calls us "left-of-centre". I am comfortable with that description.
Reform Jersey's constitution does not assign ourselves any party ideology, but does commit us to a set of progressive values which are, I think, relevant to anyone who might consider themselves a liberal, a social democrat, a green, a democratic socialist, or progressive independent.
Senator Gorst's party is a Jersey Conservative Party which does not appeal to the politically disengaged Jersey people. Our challenge as a party is to spend the next few years showing that we can operate effectively together to demonstrate that there are more ways to politics than just toeing the Establishment line.