Monday, 23 May 2016

Outsourcing - Broken promises and shabby excuses

On the 17th May, a Parish Assembly was held in St Helier to consider the following proposition -
to consider the merits of the proposition of Deputy Geoff Southern (P.29/2016 - Outsourcing) and to decide whether or not to express support for this projet and advise the Connétable, the ten Deputies and the eight Senators accordingly;
Around 100 members of the public came, with 52 ballots handed to St Helier residents in attendance, 51 of which were returned in favour of the proposition, with the remaining one ballot not being cast.

This unanimous vote was communicated by letter to all of the St Helier Deputies and Senators the next day.

Reform Jersey and Unite the Union called the Parish Assembly, evoking the Loi au sujet des Assemblées Paroissiales from 1804, to force St Helier to hold this meeting.

The next morning I went live on BBC Radio Jersey with the Minister for Infrastructure Deputy Eddie Noel to go head to head on the government's plans to privatise huge swathes of public services and make hundreds of workers redundant.

On a couple of occasions I was forced to use the word "lie" to describe what Deputy Noel was saying.

I consider it to be a huge shame that I have to do this, but there is no other word I can use when Deputy Noel chooses to mislead the public in the way he does. Since I would be expelled from the States Assembly by the unelected Bailiff if I used that word during a debate, I feel it is my duty to speak the truth outside the assembly where no such rules exist.

I want to go through some of the statements made by Deputy Noel in this BBC interview and demonstrate how they can be refuted. I did attempt to interject several times during the interview, however my microphone was turned down and it is difficult to hear the points I made.

At 2:57, on what consultations with the workers has taken place, Deputy Noel says -  "I have spoken to many people since my tenure at the Department of Infrastructure and prior to that when it was TTS. I do quarterly visits throughout Infrastructure. Deputy Mézec mentions that there hasn't been any consultation, but that simply isn't true."

A nice way of dodging the question. The BBC attempted to get a better answer from him and he reveals that his officers were in contact with the workers and you can hear me saying something in the background.

I was saying that Deputy Eddie Noel had not met with these workers' representatives once. That is a fact. It is confirmed in this written question I asked in the States -

He then lists the times that the DfI officers have met with the workers to "consult" with them.

Of course, because the Minister was not there these were not consultations in the true sense of the word. They have been described by the workers and union shop-stewards as being a complete sham. No discussion was taking place on the principle of outsourcing as only the Minister has the power to determine policy. It was the condemned being offered which method of execution they would prefer. Hardly a real consultation.

At 3:50 he says "we had this debate back in September last year when we had the first round of the MTFP".

Of course, this is not true. The MTFP decided the parameters of spending for each States department but (and the Council of Ministers were criticised heavily for this at the time) they contained no specific details on the substance of those cuts and which jobs and services would be outsourced.

There has been no States debate to endorse the Minister's outsourcing programme. To imply anything else is a straightforward lie.

At 4;00 he explains the make up of Jersey's deficit and this £145m blackhole. He says that an amount of this is for "investment" in public services.

Let's be clear, this investment is either a) covering for decades of neglect by previous ministers/ presidents who refused to spend money keeping our social housing, schools, hospital and other bits of infrastructure up to date because they didn't have the foresight to spend properly at the time, b) covering demographic changes because the Council of Ministers has an out of control population policy and we have larger numbers of children at school and people being treated in hospital than they had planned for, or c) is being paid for by cuts to support for pensioners and the disabled and cannot be described as being an improvement on those people's circumstances.

At 4:50 the BBC ask him if he made an election promise to protect jobs and he says "no I didn't make that promise to protect jobs".

Another straightforward lie.

The following quote is taken from the transcript of the election for Transport and Technical Services Minister on the 6th November 2014 where he was directly asked by Deputy Southern about redundancies -

Deputy G.P. Southern: Can I ask the specific question then? By how much does he expect to reduce his 500 workforce?
Deputy E.J. Noel: I do not intend to reduce that 500 workforce at all; in fact it is going to increase because I am going to put Property Holdings staff in with T.T.S. 

He couldn't have been clearer.

At 5:15 Deputy Noel explains why he believes it would be irresponsible to subject every outsourcing initiative to a States debate where workers would find out their fate potentially on the radio or on the news.

In the background you can hear me mutter "or an advert in the JEP".

This was a reference to the advert his department put in the Jersey Evening Post in February this year in which he put out an Opportunity to Tender for these exact jobs, before telling the workers themselves that their jobs were going to be put on the line.

Although I do have to enjoy the irony of Deputy Noel accusing Reform Jersey of being irresponsible towards these workers when we ourselves have consulted with them far more than he has and we had their overt support for this public meeting and proposition.

At 6:45 Deputy Noel (being caught with the quote from his broken election promise) backtracks with the epic "but since then, Deputy Mézec, the world has changed".

Nothing changed.

The public spending deficit (which was generated during Deputy Noel's time as Assistant Treasury Minister) was what it was both before and after Deputy Noel's election.

This is just a cover phrase to pretend that he change his mind when he saw the figures.

He just said what he thought he had to say to get the votes, with no intention of ever taking it into account.

So I lay this challenge to him - if it is true that he believed in keeping his promise but was forced to change by his ministerial colleagues once more figures came to light, then publish the minutes that demonstrate this.

At 8:13 he is asked why he wasn't at the Parish Assembly and he responds "it was a Parish meeting, it wasn't a public meeting".

Anybody was allowed to attend.

There were a good 60+ people in attendance who were not St Helier residents.

At 10:43 I handed Deputy Noel a piece of paper with the phone number of the union regional officer representing the workers and challenged him to call him to arrange a face to face meeting, something he had failed to do so far.

I am glad to say that as a result of me embarrassing him, he has agreed to meet the union representatives and hopefully progress can be made to avert strike action and protect workers' jobs.

This whole process has been poisoned from the start.

If you do not treat your workers with respect, you cannot expect to be treated with respect yourself.

Deputy Noel made an election promise he had no intention of keeping, he knew the state of our public finances at the time (because he'd been assistant minister for several years at that point) and refused to meet the workers face to face to discuss moving forward.

Their vote for strike action is therefore entirely justified.

I hope that tomorrow the States Assembly votes to accept the will of those who came to the Parish Assembly and approve our proposition to stop Deputy Noel from outsourcing services without a full impact assessment and vote in the States.

Episodes like this are what destroys the public's faith in politics. The sooner we are rid of ministers who behave this way, the better.


  1. Think you should be thinking of excluding companies with any connections to current or ex states members from tender list.

  2. Why are people against an Internet behavioral law when it's only bringing things up to date with other jurisdictions?

    1. Because the law isn't fit for purpose, doesn't tick any of the boxes that a proper anti-cyber bullying law should and appears to just be a whitewash that will let the government claim they've done something when they haven't really.

    2. I am confused.
      You say its a law that's not fit for purpose and the link says its a monstrous law that attacks freedom of speech.

    3. The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

  3. Sam.

    Video of Adrian Lynch's Last Reported known MOVEMENTS.

  4. You support Free Speech....You sure about that?

    1. You need to read some of the accusations against you made by Mark Proudfoot online and then answer the question again.

    2. I'm not really sure it's a good idea for him to make accusations when it will only result in his own track record being judged. I'd want to avoid that if I were him.

    3. Doubtful as he is a member of the Public and therefore unanswerable to anybody.

  5. One would have thought you have learnt from watching Syvret. He attacked people online who had no connections to anything and a number took him to court for breaking data protection law. At the end it was Syvret who ended up losing his reputation and ability to reapply for his job in the States for foolishly attacking members of the Public online and you seem to want to go the same way as him. Mark Proudfoot may not be everybody's cup of tea but at least try to avoid publicly condemning his views.

    1. No. I believe that standing up to racism is essential to eradicating discrimination in our society. I won't stand by and be silent as others express racist points of view.

      To paraphrase Muhammad Ali, the idea that tolerance will just trickle down is as mad as believing that wealth will just trickle down.

    2. Is it racism?
      Its getting to a stage were you should go out for teas and coffees with people you disagree with and lash it out in a formal way.

    3. It is racism and I don't share formal platforms with racists.

      I'm happy to have a pint with people of different political persuasions (I do it all the time), but I won't be having tea or a bike ride with people who are just fascists because it just legitimises them.

    4. You can be very nasty towards people.

    5. It makes me nasty because I stand up to racism? That's a pretty twisted point of view isn't it?

  6. Anonymous, I'm not stupid and can see exactly what you're trying to do.

    I would tell you to go do your research in this, but suspect you already have and have not been disturbed by what you've found, which means you are not someone I want to continue dialogue with (for reasons outlined above).

    1. It's not consistent to say I should be commenting on one member of the public and then ask me to comment on that person.

      You can do your own research, I have better things to spend my time on.

      But I stand by my position. I abhor racism and those who express racist points of view in Jersey will not get my respect or politeness.

    2. I don't particularly want this blog to become a "Is MP a racist or not" website. There's already dozens of those on the internet.

    3. You're capable of doing your own research. That's my final word on it as I have much better things to be doing with my time.

  7. Excuse me for writing on this blog on an unrelated matter, but can you explain why the Reform Jersey Party is against the concept of having a means-tested childcare?

    I would have thought that those able to pay for child care should pay for it, and not get benefits?

    The concept of the benefits system is based on the underlying principle that from those able to pay to those who are in need. I support this concept, which is what the Minister is trying to do, however your party via Deputy Tadier is not supporting the new proposal. It is coming across more like political point scoring than any coherent underlying philosophy based on what I once thought you stood for: From those according to their means, to those according to their needs?

    Yours Truly,

    Very Disappointed.

    1. It's an absolutely fair question and one which deserves a response.

      Reform Jersey believes that the wealthiest people in Jersey should contribute more so that we can have well funded public services which all of society, but especially the poor and the vulnerable, can rely on to have better lives.

      That's why have proposed in the States before, and will propose again, that the top tax rate is raised to bring in more revenue from these people.

      When it is a choice between raising progressive taxes or introducing means testing, we believe that raising tax is the preferable option for several reasons.

      Income tax can have progressive measures and allowances built into it to make sure the amount that people pay is based on their ability to pay, and not strict arbitrary criteria which don't consider their individual circumstances. i.e. two families on the same income, but one with 4 children who also care for the elderly grandparents and one with only one child and healthy grandparents, will not pay the same amount of tax. That is fair. Means-testing the tax system is the most progressive, efficient and fair way of making sure people are paying into the system.

      The means-testing proposed by the Education Minister had no progressive measures. It was an arbitrary cut off point which would likely have the impact of encouraging people (inevitably mostly women) who were just over the income threshold to give up work. How can it be right to support measures which actively discourage people from working?

      I took part in the Education Scrutiny Panel review of the proposal (which can be read here - The review concluded that the Minister had not thought through the proposals, had done no economic impact assessment and would likely only create a more elitist system in nursery education.

      I don't believe that it is right to inflict regressive (and frankly barbaric) cuts to the poorest and most vulnerable people in the Island and I will continue to vote against every single measure and propose alternatives that see the wealthiest people contribute more.

      But I don't think it is right ask them to pay more by introducing expensive bureaucracy and arbitrary means-testing, written up on the back of a fag packet.

      The happiest societies in the world (Scandinavia) ask their citizens to pay more tax and provide more universal benefits.

      They're happy, even though they have crap weather. Just imagine where Jersey could rank if we had a government which looked out for all of it's citizens.

    2. Scandinavia has the highest suicide levels in the world. They are not 'happy'!

      I agree, the arbitrary cutoff point is stupid, but means-testing is far better than giving the benefit top all?

      The problem is, people in the society are now questioning your approach, because to most of us that are annoyed about wealthy getting benefits, purely see you guys actually promoting this happening. The progressive tax proposal doesn't hit the light of day, btu your anti-means testing does, which means you are stopping the government from introducing a system that stops wealthy people getting benefits.

      I understand your approach, and have tried to argue it with friends, but unfortunately they dont' hear your policies, they just see what gets reported. And it isn't working in yoru favour.

    3. Some of those are good points.

      I don't, nor will I ever, alter my policies because of media coverage. The quality of some parts of Jersey's media is awful and that is just unfortunate, but I have no intention of letting the JEP ever influence how I react to political issues as they arise because of how they might choose to misrepresent it to sell papers.

      I've been all over the media the past few days complaining that the Health Tax will exempt the rich.

      We are not the party of the rich and I don't really believe that there is a real perception out there that we are.

    4. I don't think you are, but then I keep a close eye on politics. I don't think many regarded you as a party of the rich, nor do so now. But what has changed in the last few months amongst friends, is not that your party is a party of the rich (that would be ludicrous), but that your party is purely playing negative-destructive politics of a bygone era. The type of politics that I am noticing people turn off from, it is simple banging the government over the head, and that doesn't help your image, in fact creates problems for it. You are not coming across of positive, constructively holding the government to account. Most people who vote dont' read your blog, so dont' understand your argument about means-testing, this one has changed peoples perceptions dramatically, as they now look at Reform Jersey as a party purely intent on negativity - which is never a good thing in politics, creates un-electability. Sure would love to see you in power running the show, but unless you demonstrate a proactive/positive approach and UTILISE the media, you never will get more than a whiff of it by having yoru photo in the paper. That is about the extent of it unfortunately.

      Look at those great politicians who made change happen, particularly from the left: they were never perceived as negative, rather above the fray: Kennedy, Obama, and dare I say Blair in his early years when he was first elected. You owe it to your voters to be electable, rather than just simply being the protest party. At the moment, that's what it is.

    5. As I said, we were right to oppose meanstesting nursery places because the policy from the Education Minister was a shambles, it wasn't set to save money and was set to damage pre-school provision for all children. I have no regrets about opposing that policy.

      If we lose political credibility as a result of it, then so be it. I believe in doing what is right and I'm not prepared to sell my soul and play politics with children's lives.

      We talk about electability, but the public hate people who are sell outs who just do whatever they think they've got to do win votes. That's not me. I'd prefer to be authentic because it requires a lot less acting and the public actually like it more.

      I don't get my photo in the paper any more anyway. Given the unsightly people they are choosing to promote instead, I'm fine with that.

      On a final note, I reckon Tony Blair would have opposed cutting nursery provision in the way Rod Bryans has supported. The Labour Party spent years in the wilderness because it was a party which only cared about the poorest in society. Blair turned them into an electoral behemoth when he turned them into a party which looked out for the middle classes too.

  8. Of course - but here is a chance to bring about a fairer position and Reform Jersey are voting against it.

    Why would I bother voting again - I did when you guys came on the scene, but now with THIS - a chance to means-test an otherwise social benefit to people earning big bucks, and you are against it. I am annoyed with the Establishment, and I cant see you are any different. I first started voting in the election before last because of what seemed like a groundswell.

    Jersey only governs for the wealthy or those who come over for short term jobs to meet needs for less paid jobs (like I am in). I am moving my family to the UK, not because of wages, but because the only party who gave hope has now fizzled. You are now seen and are voting to ensure rich people get the same social benefits.

    Reform Jersey? Good name, pity about meeting expectations....

    You got me voting... why did I bother.

    Mr Disenranchised

    1. "here is a chance to bring about a fairer position and Reform Jersey are voting against it."

      Did you read my initial response?

      I was against the change because it wasn't fair.

      I'm totally fine with asking the richest people in society to contribute more. But families should be treated according to their wider circumstances, not just their incomes.

      I don't see it as fair to take away exactly the same level of support from a family with 4 kids and disabled grandparents, as a family with one child and no mortgage. To treat them both exactly the same because their income is the same is unfair.

      A fairer way to ask families with big income to contribute more is to increase their income tax. That way their individual circumstances can be subject to allowances. They will still pay more, but that process will be more efficient and effective.

      I find it amazing that anyone would consider us the same as the establishment. Check our voting records.

      We fought against the establishment's proposition to abolish the Pensioners Christmas Bonus and we lodged our own propositions to save it. We fought against the establishment's proposition to cut benefits for disabled people and lodged our own proposition to prevent this from happening. We supported another member's proposition to save free TV licences for the over-75s (it was a close vote and the proposition would have lost if we hadn't supported it). We won our proposition to introduce minimum housing standards, we have fought to introduce rent control and we fought against raising social housing rents. We supported extra funding to the child abuse inquiry (no matter now nervous the inquiry is making certain current and former States Members). We were the ones who forced gay marriage on the political agenda. We have fought every year to increase the minimum wage and fought against the establishment's plans to cut the minimum wage for under-25s.

      We have also fought to increase taxes on the richest people in the Island and we will be lodging more propositions later this year to do the same thing.

      You're entitled to use your vote however you wish to, but it's a real shame that it only takes one policy to break your confidence. You will never find any candidate or party who you agree with 100%, sometimes politics means compromising to get at least the best outcome available.

      We are the only political grouping in the States which has consistently fought to defend and improve the standard of living for the poorest people in Jersey and ask the richest to contribute more. That's why the establishment despise us. Just because on this one occasion we did not think the Education Minister had found a fair way to make the richest in society pay more does not mean we have somehow undermined our credentials as a progressive party.

      We are not the party of the rich and we never will be.

  9. Anon.
    Reform Jersey are not a messed up party with 3 jokers running a side show in the States.
    Look elsewhere.

    1. Jon, I've published this one only to show what a crap troll you are because you can't even post your inane abuse without screwing it up.

      Go lie down or something.

  10. Deputy Mezec here is a question for the future.

    Where does Reform Jersey stand on the re-introduction of prescription charges?
    Would the Party consider proposing an exemption on charges for pensioners and people on Income Support or Long Term Incapacity Benefit?

    1. We will fight against any attempt to re-introduce prescription charges.

      We believe everyone should have access to whatever healthcare provision or medicine they need, irrespective of their ability to pay for it.

      However, if it looks like we might lose the battle to oppose re-introduction outright, then we will indeed propose that pensioners, the poor and the long-term sick still receive it for free.

    2. Jacques do you have access to any of the material on the page you referenced in your comment (not going to publish for obvious reasons)? I haven't been able to see any of it and would be intrigued as to what is on it.

  11. As Mark Twain once said: What you do speaks so loud, I can't hear what you say. You are supporting the rich by trying to block the means-testing of benefits. That simple.

    You will never get to run the government in Jersey because us people below the minimum wage leave Jersey, the people who would be your key voters, but increasingly loosing faith. I am moving to the UK because I will be better off there, and will let JErsey be the place for the wealthy only.

    So many Jersey friends now live in the UK because of the inequality, and I am better off there than here. No politician is actually making a difference.

    I appreciate you talk about it, but talk is cheap.

    You are not making a difference at all, and now you argue for wealthy to retain benefits in child care.

    You might think you are making a difference, and whether you are or not, the perception is far from it if you are.

    UK Bound

    1. "You are supporting the rich by trying to block the means-testing of benefits. That simple."

      It isn't that simple at all.

      I don't know how many more ways I can phrase it.

      We've brought propositions to ask the wealthiest Islanders to pay more tax. How can anyone say we're supporting the rich? You just can't.

      "I appreciate you talk about it, but talk is cheap."

      We don't just talk, we do. Name any other politician who has been as active as we have trying to stop the government's worst austerity policies and proposing our own progressive alternatives. You won't be able to name any.

      "You are not making a difference at all"

      Wrong, and I've listed several of our achievements in my previous comment, but you've chosen to ignore them.

      Sadly, when you chose not to listen, you will never be happy.

      Nothing you have said is accurate and I've tried to explain why, but you aren't prepared to consider alternative points of view. That is a shame.

  12. I cannot be arsed talking about Reform Jersey on the JEP website anymore.
    As long as you behave, so will I.

    1. Nothing to do with your accounts being banned, obviously.

  13. Why have they deferred the Bailiff debate?
    Tuning in this morning and there is no States.....

    1. It's been deferred until first sitting in September.

      Annoyingly it's because the Council of Ministers are not adequately prepared for the debate (out of their own failure to get their act together).

      We're waiting for them to issue official comments and invite Lord Carswell to the Island to make the case for splitting the dual role of the Bailiff to the newer States Members.

      It's annoying (not least because I was up all night writing an 11 page speech for the debate!) but if we'd have gone ahead we'd have certainly lost. Waiting till September will increase our chances.

    2. Why can't they get rid of the Bailiff from the Assembly, get an independent speaker and move on? Thought Ozouf was against the dual role so its not a one sided objection.

    3. I agree. This isn't rocket science and is taking far too long for States Members to get to grips with it.

      Both Reform Jersey and the Chief Minister believe this is a necessary change, but there are several new members of the States who do not understand the issues and are currently unconvinced that the system needs to change.

      We are going to take the next two months to work on them and provide them with the info they need to understand the issues on the separation of powers so that we can just get on with it and make this essential step.

  14. WTF?

    Jonny Haworth shared ITV Channel TV's post.
    Yesterday at 12:18
    For once I actually agree that this tax rate of effectively going down after earnings exceed £164K sounds unfair.

    1. Not an endorsement I'm particularly glad about.

    2. There is more in the thread and not really an endorsement because he's attacked for it.

  15. Sam.

    Interview with Reform Jersey Chairman Deputy Sam Mezec after calling a meeting this Wednesday 6 July 7:30pm at St Helier Town Hall. AGAINST THE CUTS.

  16. The only people who are bothered about this are those in Unite who may lose their jobs so as for the rest of it concerned, employment is way up, tax take is sky high, tourism is booming, finance is booming and the housing market is very active.

    Come the next election this current COM is going to get a standing ovation.

    All this negativity you try to sell is weary and is impossible to even believe.

    1. I've published this mainly for comedy value because it's all rubbish.

      Firstly, Unite the Union members are human beings who work hard and deserve decent lives like everyone else. Don't be such an uncaring snob.

      Unemployment is not up. The Stats Unit last figures showed unemployment had gone up.

      Tax take was up last year because of one-off restructuring in several finance firms, which won't be repeated in future years. Anyone who bases spending plans taking a one-off occurrence to be a trend is an economically illiterate fool and should be nowhere near government.

      Tourism is not booming. Have you not seen how many hotels have closed over the past few years? A new advert does not mean the industry is booming.

      Finance is not booming. The Stats Unit released the figures last week, as it happens, which show that the finance industry shrunk last year.

      "the housing market is very active", yeah, active at ripping us all off.

      Usual Jersey Tory Party terminally optimistic rubbish. Sounds like you've been listening to Ozouf a little bit too much.

    2. I work in the Finance Industry and you are talking tosh and you must know this year has lifted off.
      Just try and present this rubbish at the next elections and see how far you go.

    3. Uh oh! Somebody has been on the Stella again. He doesn't work in the Finance Industry either.

    4. Clearly not. Otherwise he'd have read this.

    5. That's 2015, not 2016.

    6. Yes, 2016 isn't over yet, you might have noticed.

  17. "Facts have never been the Jersey Tory Party's strong point."

    Well one member of the COM has been shown your video at teatime and he says you are making things up. He in fact laughed at it.