Thursday, 10 December 2015

One Year On - Examining The Record - Part 2

Following my examination of the records of the Senators over this last year, taking on their own interpretations of what they have achieved, I'm now looking at the Constables.

As you might have guessed, this post will be much shorter than the others.

It is well known that the Constables contribute very little to States proceedings. All the statistics demonstrate this and anyone who denies it is issuing a politically motivated lie.

They make up almost 25% of the States and are not responsible for anything close to 25% of the questions, speeches or propositions.

I am totally against paying States Members different amounts, however the Constables presence in the States makes me question that point of view. They all admit in their contributions how much work they dedicate to their Parishes. That work is supposed to be honorary and all their honorary colleagues do not get paid for it. Yet they receive a wage for being States Members, despite dedicated much more time to the Parishes.

The time when the Constables cease to be ex officio members of the States cannot come soon enough.

I suspect that once the issue of the Bailiff in the States has been dealt with (will happen shortly after the next election I believe) it will pave the way for sorting out the Constables. That will be in time for the 2022 election.

Although that's just a prediction, don't hold me to it!

Here are the high/lowlights -

Being chair of both PPC and the Comité des Connétables has led the weird situation where Len has had occasions where he has had to write letters to himself in different capacities. I'm not making that up. Bizarre.

I don't agree when he says we have made progress on reform of the States. The substantive issues have not yet been debated. We've only held consultations with States Members in which many of them have demonstrated how utterly clueless and conflicted they are.

Some members genuinely believe that apportionment of Deputies should be done based on voter turn out, instead of population. You just can't reason with people like this.

Thankfully he and his colleagues are dealing with dog mess though. Thank goodness the big issues are being dealt with.

What exactly does Simon get for being so complementary about a Chief Minister who hasn't actually done a single damn thing for St Helier yet?

He's singing his praises for saying he'll support St Helier and will get the States to pay Parish Rates, yet nothing has tangibly changed yet.

Save your praise until positive change actually occurs. Until then it just looks weird.

The Future of St Helier group has demonstrated to me that it simply wants to tinker round the edges without any serious consideration about giving St Helier itself the powers and responsibilities it needs to deal with the issues we face ourselves without being told what we can and can't do by a Chief Minister from St Ouen and a Planning Minister from St Martin.

Lisa Simpson: You promised to take us to the lake.
Homer Simpson: I promise you kids lots of things. That's what makes me such a good father!
Lisa Simpson: Actually, keeping promises would make you a good father.
Homer Simpson: No, that would make me a great father.

I copy John Refault's statement for one reason only.

He mentions at the end that he is looking forward to his Parish senior citizens Christmas lunch.

Refault voted to abolish the Pensioners Christmas Bonus and next week will be voting against Reform Jersey's proposition to reinstate it on a means tested basis so poor pensioners still get it.

I hope they give him an absolute earful at the Christmas lunch. He deserves nothing less.

Having said that, I have nothing else to add to any other Constable's statement as very few of them actually attempt to answer the question they were asked.

Coming soon - St Helier Deputies.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

One Year On - Examining the Record - Part 1

The Jersey Evening Post has quite sportingly offered each States Member up to 200 words to be published on what we have been up to since the general election now almost 14 months ago.

The first instalment was published today and I thought I would produce some commentary on them given the total lack of any sort of concrete analysis of the political landscape today and how some members have just been plain dishonest with the public in what they have written.

Things should get even more interesting tomorrow when they publish the Constables responses. I'd be amazed if they managed to produce 200 words between them, let alone each!

I won't repeat this commentary for every States Member, but will just stick to the highlights.

"The first task of each new Council of Ministers is to develop a plan for Jsrsey, to consult with Islanders on the plan and to present it to the States Assembly."

In his very first sentence Senator Gorst has demonstrated already why he has no right to describe himself a democratic politician.

Developing a plan for Jersey should come before the election, not after it, like virtually every civilised democracy on the planet does it. Is he honestly suggesting that it is normal in a democracy for politicians to get elected with no plan, then make it up afterwards? That is the precise opposite of how it's meant to work.

The whole point of elections is that different political factions consult with the public, draw up plans and then put those plans to the public. The one who presents the most appealing plan will win the election and be able to crack on with implementing it.

In Jersey we instead elect people based on who seems like a good bloke, then let them waste hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money producing a plan over several months where our government operates with no overall strategy.

It's utter madness.

"Now we have proposed detailed tax and spending plans for 2016 in our budget."

They have also announced plans to extort £40m from you with a new Health Tax, £10m with a Waste Disposal Tax and who knows what else in userpays charges. So far they can't give us an ounce of detail on what form these taxes will take (some of them haven't even admitted they're actually taxes yet) and none of which they gave even a fleeting mention of in their election manifestos.

"I am proud that ministers are working together as a team [read as 'party'] to support out economy, protect the vulnerable and ensure Jersey is fit for a successful future."

Protect the vulnerable!? REALLY? Protecting them by forcing through £10m of benefits cuts to pensioners, the disabled and single parents without doing any research whatsoever on the effect on poverty levels this will have.

With that final sentence he has insulted the intelligence of every single Islander.

Not much to say here apart from providing the following link -

There isn't a huge amount to say on this. Much of it is very agreeable. We all support improving and modernising regulations to allow emerging industries to succeed and much of that legislative change would be happening regardless of who is in power.

The one point to make is that Senator Ozouf exercises an incredibly large amount on influence on the government's agenda, yet he is not accountable to the Assembly because he is merely an assistant minister. This is clearly unacceptable.

"It concerns me how difficult it is for politicians, workers and the general public to be heard by those in the executive and make a meaningful contribution."

Got it in one.

It sounds like Senator Routier is involved in a whole host of long running projects which so far all appear not to have amounted to anything. Maybe it's time someone else took up his role and started actually achieving tangible improvements.

"Meeting service users has improved our understanding of the needs of people with disabilities."

I wonder if they mentioned anything to Senator Routier about him breaking his election promise and voting against a proposition to secure a commitment to introduce free bus passes for disabled Islanders?

"We've agreed a workable Strategic Plan and set out in the Medium Term Financial Plan how we intend to fund our priorities - health, education, infrastructure, economic growth and St Helier."

Actually the MTFP did no such thing. It set out spending for 2016 and left us with no detail for the following years.

Of the little detail the MTFP actually revealed, it demonstrated an effective £250k cut in the education budget. My scrutiny panel lodged an amendment to restore that funding and avoid a cut this year, which he voted against. So much for supporting investment in education!

"We have identified an extra £20m over the next four years to allocate to new policy initiatives that aim to boost Jersey's economic performance."

He has also done no impact assessment whatsoever of the potential effect on economic growth that will be had by increasing taxes on middle earners (reducing their ability to spend in the economy) and increasing unemployment by sacking countless public sector workers, sticking them on the dole and therefore reducing their spending power.

"We are now seeing wages going up,"

This is simply not true.

"record levels of employment,"

Yes but only because we have a record high population. This is statistical sophistry.

"and economic growth of five percent in 2014."

Yes, which was acknowledged to be because of one-off changed to business structures in the finance industry. We are scheduled for 0% growth next year.

More dishonesty from one of our most senior ministers.

I like how his first listed achievement is the setting up of a quango (i.e. a body which will take responsibility away from him) and then lists all the new quangos he hopes to create.

The Island is in deep trouble if these people think the answer to everything is to just set up a new quango.

I'm also not sure he should be boasting about plans to create Film Jersey, given his predecessors record on this...

As usual though, there isn't an ounce of substance in any thing Senator Farnham has said. He literally has no policies whatsoever (apart from setting up quangos) and just got elected by saying "I'll support tourism" without saying how he'll support tourism. This is partially why the Island is in such a mess.

Interestingly Andrew makes no mention whatsoever of the fact he is about to land you all with a hefty bill for a new Health Tax.

Does anyone remember him mentioning this plan before the election? I don't.

He says he wants to raise £40m with this new tax. We don't have any detail whatsoever about what form this will take so we can't calculate exactly how much extra you'll be having to pay, but it equates to about £1,000 for every home. But then they can't force the poorest Islanders (who don't earn enough to pay tax anyway) to pay it, and they'll probably exempt their rich mates like they did with the Longterm Care Charge, so it will more likely be £2,000 for each middle class family.

Who here voted for Andrew Green so they could pay an extra £2,000 a year in tax?

Stay tuned for further instalments in this commentary over the coming days!