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 - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_United_Arab_Emirates

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!


  1. Sam.

    This article might be of interest to you and your readers published in THE GUARDIAN.

  2. Excellent observations Sam, and every damned one of them true!