Monday, 14 November 2011

L'Étranger - Face in the mud

How did an Englishman, the outsider, get elected as Chief Minister? How did Bailhache, the JEP favourite and "Patriot", fall at the last hurdle? He said all the right things, he had the JEP to run his campaign, he topped the poll in the election and yet the laurels of victory were denied. The vote was close – 24 to 27. So, I can’t pick the winner even in a two horse race. 

I understand the existential dilemma that one Deputy faced when he said the choice was between John Major and Margaret Thatcher. I myself wished Senator Gorst good luck moments before he went into the States Chamber for the Chief Minister vote. I meant it.  Now that he is elected I can say that I am genuinely relieved by the outcome. Gorst strikes me as a straight Tory, rightwing, but straight. In the land of crooked government, where the “Old Corruption” is rife, that is a blessing. No more cover ups? Let’s hope so.

Gorst has a social conscience I assume. There is the Christian thing which he takes seriously. Having been social security Minister, he probably genuinely has some awareness of the polarised society that Jersey is becoming and the existence of poverty. The policies he ultimately pursues may reflect these concerns. Perhaps he will encourage diversification of the economy, create jobs and address unemployment. Whilst the affairs of state floundered under Senator Terry Le Sueur, the new incumbent is well aware that action by government is necessary on a whole range of pressing issues.

I'll huff and i'll puff and i'll blow your house down

Ultimately Jersey’s rulers have no real options – it’s a rudderless ship in turbulent seas – so it makes no real difference to the final outcome as to which personality rules. Bailhache said it all with his set piece answer on the collapse of fulfillment; a planted question by Senator Ozouf. He could only but fulminate against the British government for a purely political act designed to appease domestic small business interests whose gripe was really with the internet and not with the Channel Islands. These sudden changes came in defiance of a memorandum of understanding in place ten years that made fulfillment “neither illegal nor immoral”. The sad reality is that by April next year fulfillment will be closed and the redundancy notices going out before Christmas. None will admit, but its the sacrificial lamb whilst the real game continues.

I was asked in advance by a visiting German TV crew what my reaction would be if Philip Bailhache were to be elected, to which I replied “Its Berlin 1933”. They smiled. It was rhetorical of course, but they knew what I meant.

One of the benefits of Deputy Trevor Pitman’s successful proposition on the vote for Chief Minister is that we get to see which way States Members voted. No cover up and secrecy, just accountability and public awareness. Needless to say, our “other Deputy” in St Helier No.1, James Baker, voted for Bailhache, just as he said he would at the Hustings. Curiously, his sponsor, Senator Routier, voted for the other candidate. Were they hedging their bets in No.1?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

District No.1 Election RECOUNTED – No Regrets

The integrity of the count in the District No.1 election was confirmed today following a recount. An application by Deputy Paul Le Claire before the Royal Court this morning was granted after lunch at 2.30pm with the recount conducted immediately thereafter in the Town Hall.

The Court heard representations from Deputy Le Claire, the Attorney General and the candidates. I suspect that what made the difference was an Affidavit I prepared setting out a number of anomalies and perceived sloppiness on the part of counters on the night. My arguments added flesh and muscle to give Deputy Le Claire’s application some substance. I suspect that without my observations there would not have been sufficient “grounds” for a recount. There is no automatic right to a recount by a candidate or other party under the Jersey law. It remains in the discretion of the Autorise/Jurat conducting the count on the night. The Royal Court gave its decision today with written reasons to follow in due course.

One likely reform that will come out of the Application will be in the way the result of the vote is announced.  This will probably change to follow the UK model whereby the Returning Officer discloses the result in private to the candidates, enabling them to raise queries or request a recount, before a formal public announcement. This was the only issue of real substance in support of Deputy Le Claire's action. He claimed the result had come as a complete shock to him, given that he had topped the poll in two previous elections, he did not have the presence of mind to request a recount. The margin of difference between Deputy Le Claire and Deputy Judy Martin was 17 votes.

Needless to say, Deputy Martin is much relieved by the final outcome and as he embarks on a new career, Paul Le Claire will not have to live with the thought “What if I had never asked?”

Below is an interview I conducted once it was clear the result of the election would be unchanged.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

ELECTION RECOUNT! – District 1 St Helier election results to be recounted by Royal Court

Deputy Paul Le Claire has submitted an application to the Royal Court for a recount of the votes cast in the District No.1 St Helier election held on 19th October, at which he “just missed out” by 17 votes to Deputy Judy Martin. The Royal Court will hear the matter on Tuesday 8th November at 10 a.m. Candidates may attend if they wish. I shall be there and intend to speak.

As stated in his Affidavit in support of the application, Deputy Le Claire believes “the count may have been inaccurate and given the small number of votes between me and the next candidate [Judy Martin], even a small discrepancy could make a significant difference to the final result.”

He further states that following the announcement of the results on the night in the Town Hall he went into a state of shock and did not have the requisite presence of mind to call for an immediate recount.

He complains that the Jurat in charge did not offer a recount and did not mention the number of postal votes or pre poll votes.

A recount is unlikely to save Deputy Le Claire’s career. Some will present it as a last desperate act. I have no objection to a recount as it will hopefully verify aspects of the counting that I was personally not able or allowed to witness at the count.

“Its not who casts the votes, but who counts them” (old Irish saying)

I was the only candidate to be present during the poll and at the count. I have often criticized candidates for their lack of concern about the mechanism by which the result is arrived at. None of the other seven candidates cared to be present at the count or to appoint an agent on their behalf.

I was told by the Jurat that there were 15 postal votes, of which there were 2 spoilt and 286 pre-poll ballots. It was announced that 1810 people voted out of 5059 on the electoral register giving a 36.09% turnout. 18 ballots were deemed spoilt.

I was not shown the eighteen spoilt ballot papers, of which two were presumably discounted postal votes. I was shown one ballot paper which had scrawled across its face the words “none of the above”.

Initial check

The initial check taken on the evening was to open separately the ballot boxes for the Senatorial and Deputy elections in District 1 and remove any ballots [Senatorial – white; Deputies – yellow] that may have been placed in the wrong box. This ensured that all ballots were in the correct boxes ready for counting.

The Deputies’ ballot box was emptied for a second time and the count begun. Counters took wads of 25 ballots and with a partner began the count, recording the result on a designated counting sheet.

Pairs of counters counting 25 ballots

I was able to observe three separate pairs of counters and mistakes were made in my presence. One couple got confused in the counting and votes were not accurately recorded on the sheet, resulting in a new sheet having to be started.  The same pair also had to add a new totaling line to the sheet because they had mis-recorded the votes of one ballot and in making corrections made the column illegible.

I personally saw one spoilt ballot where the voter had used four votes instead of the maximum number of three. This ballot was removed to the Jurat and a replacement given to the counters to make up their 25. Ticks instead of crosses were deemed acceptable, as the intention was clear.

One counter complained to me that my presence was putting her off, to which I replied it was precisely why I was there and to witness if errors were made.

As the counter with ballot called out the name of the candidate/s that had received a vote, the partner marked the record sheet with a diagonal mark against that individual’s name. The process was then reversed with the previous counter calling out the names and the partner completing a further diagonal mark on the sheet to make a cross. This was repeated for each of the 25 ballots. This meant there was a double check. The number of votes cast for each candidate was totaled and tallied on the counting sheet.

The counting sheet with the ballots wrapped inside was then taken away to the Jurat for tallying. This was done by a computer operator on a spread sheet.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Jersey lurches to the Right – so stop whinging and get organised to fight back

ESTABLISHMENT GRANDEES AND CANDIDATES -  Town Hall, Oct 19th 2011.Pierre Horsfal, James Baker, Sir Philip Bailhache and Mary O'Keefe Burgher (left to right).
The October 2011 elections saw the Jersey electorate lurch to the political Right. It was a repetition of 2008 when economic uncertainty saw a flight to safety and toward those that offered a modicum of stability. With the economy in deeper recession than 2008 that feature was repeated.

Frightened by the social polarization that was impelling forward a number of vocal and capable critics as States Members, the business class and wealthy organised a political revaunche.

The need by the Elite for a saviour saw the election of Philip Bailhache on an agenda of cleansing the States of representatives of the working classes and anyone else that challenged their interest. Under the banner of pseudo Reform a series of measures will be implemented to block the further entry of dissent

Deputy Bob Hill in St Martin, a moderate, capable and essentially straight politician fell to the fear factor, being replaced by an unthreatening traditionalist. Elsewhere the organisation factor saw the election of Rod Bryans and Phil Rondel, both loyalists of the Ozouf Right. A well run campaign mobilised the vote, with behind the scenes use of networks.

St Helier District No.1 – “The very model of a modern Ozoufite candidate”

The success of organisation propelled the official Ozoufite candidate James Baker into top position in St Helier District No.1 to the surprise of all except his backers.

Minimum wage labour erected posters and delivered leaflets and letters. Having no previous political credentials and living in a Country Parish was little impediment to a business candidate. At the Hustings there was no evident oratorical skill. Measured and rehearsed opinions echoed the official party line of the Establishment with an audacious and telling assertion of Bailhache for Chief Minister.

The election literature was slick and deceptive. Many of the gullible might even have believed that he was against GST, so well drafted were the statements of intent. Clearly this was a product designed by others. Image triumphed.

I have yet to meet anyone that claims to have had James Baker nock on their door, whereas I acquired the reputation for having made up to three visits in certain areas. Since no one has actually had a conversation with James Baker, it must remain open how he will perform when not managed. Mastering the intricacies of the Social Security System and Income support may prove challenging. Perhaps requests for help in those areas will be redirected to the other two Deputies in the District.

It is to be feared that District No.1 will be ill served by James Baker during the next three years. No real commitment will be demonstrated. If there are skills of use to the Elite, there might be a fast tracking to the position of Senator, otherwise the function of “blocking pawn” will suffice to keep out a third non-Establishment Deputy in 2014.

A consequences of the success of James Baker was to displace one of the three non-Establishment sitting Deputies. It happened to be Paul Le Claire, but it could easily have been Judy Martin. Le Claire was already demoralized by an absence of preferment to minor office, based primarily on a perceived absence of ability. The Establishment will shed no tears at the loss and they probably hope it is the end of his political career, most of which has been spent as a mild but annoying irritant.

Trevor Pitman showed that valiant and principled politics can meet with success. He was only four votes less than James Baker. A socially polarised island is reflected in the two to one split of Deputies in District No1.

1,810 vote out of 5,059 – improvement?

Jersey is blighted by low voter turnout in the urban areas; St Helier in particular. At the Senatorial by-election in 2010, 872 voted out of an electorate of 4324, a 20.16% turnout or shocking 80% abstention!

Compared with the Deputy election in 2008 voter abstention fell in 2011 from 75% to 64%. The usual and abysmal 25.5% turnout on that previous occasion experienced a dramatic improvement to 36.09% this time. In 2008 1172 voted out of a registered electorate of 4,413. An additional 600 people voted in 2011.

With low worker turnout, District No.1 is always vulnerable to the success of a business class candidate. Albeit numerically inferior in absolute terms, their voters are more motivated to present at elections.

Who were the extra 600 people; why and how did they vote?

As I canvassed, I discovered a lot of intended first time voters and a number of returnees who had given up expecting anything to change. Deteriorating economic circumstances and a number of government scandals aroused sufficient anxiety to seek an honest and transparent government responsive to the interests of working people. I think I can claim credit for part of the succees in having canvassed widely. Judy Martin, Trevor Pitman and Keith Shaw all got out on the knocker to win support.

"Try again, fail again, fail better"

What of my own achievement? My 571 votes put me in 5th position and significantly 100 votes below the fourth position candidate. Four months of active campaigning amongst “the Third Estate” was not enough to overcome the inertia that sitting candidates retain. Low turnouts at election time reflect the disconnectedness of the working people that live in the district.

Many workers remain “voting virgins” even after having been in the island thirty or forty years, as do the indigenous. Amongst immigrant groups, such as the Portuguese, living as a community within a community, the levels of abstention are very high. Social exclusion is compounded by poor education and abysmal English language skills, even after decades of residence. By contrast, motivated Polish immigrants perfect their language skills quite quickly.

The reason given for not voting is that “nothing changes in Jersey” or that the system is “rotten and corrupt”. It is perceived that participation would render legitimacy and that somehow by not being involved the system is punished in so doing. Encrypted in these words is the acknowledgement that little is done for their interests by governing elites. With voter disengagement so high, it compounds the fact that they play no part in their own destiny. The Establishment has always had an unacknowledged slogan in respect of electoral participation -“the fewer, the better”.

Workers are resigned to their lot; content with the conventional solace afforded by nominal but regular wages. This is changing as wages fall though competition and growing unemployment. Resentment at increased exploitation has yet to find a political expression, other than the xenophobia that blames “immigrants” for all their ills.

I am always amazed by official media journalists who fail to understand my motivation for standing in elections. They cannot comprehend what it is to be a political activist. They are used to political butterflies whose ambition is driven by ego rather than ideology. The absence of immediate electoral success puts off these egoists, who then go away and never return.

As I watched the counters count the ballots, I was particularly gratified that my campaigning had produced a significant number of single votes for me rather than as one of three. This reflects the growing understanding amongst those voters that if qualitatively different politics are to prevail then something has to be done differently. Clearly I had persuaded a number of individuals that my politics was superior. This loyalty is something upon which to build. It is the beginning of a new consciousness. The next step will be organisation. If the Establishment can do it and succeed so can we. The time for bickering has surely passed.

As a final word, can I thank the 571 individuals who showed me their support with their votes - it was not misplaced. There will be battles in the future and they can be certain of my continued commitment to a democratic Jersey and honest government that does not ignore working people.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Hustings Speech - Nick Le Cornu

Here is the speech I gave at the Hustings for District No1 St Helier last night in the Town Hall. Overall I was pleased with the delivery, albeit I ran out of time to communicate in full everything that I had prepared.

The emphasis of the speech, as intended, was to reflect the reality and issues of those that live in this part of St Helier. It is diverse sociologically. There can be and Advocate (voting for me he says) in one street and in the next, minimum wage workers and the unemployed (also voting for me). As far as I can determine the issues are low wages, no pay rises, unemployment, arbitrary social benefits delivery and poor housing. Speeding and parking do come up but most discussions have ended up with the iniquities of GST.

The eight candidates were serenaded for the first half hour before the Hustings began by an Irish Folk Band provided by Gino Risoli.

I suspect that had we taken a poll there would have been very few people in the hall that actually lived in District No.1 and even fewer, if any, who were not attached to one or other candidate. All in all I would suggest it was an unrepresentative audience of the real sociology of the area. Present were the “political class”; insiders and professionals of politics. That said it was an excellent opportunity to see the candidates perform in battle conditions.

There were a number of big guns from the Establishment present, presumably to see perform their darlings Mary O’Keefe Burgher and James Baker. They can hope that perhaps Castle Quay will fill up with multi millionaires and new arrival “One One K’s” who might provide a few extra votes for Establishment candidates, which might get one elected. Vain optimism I would suggest in the ever polarising society that it Jersey. My impression was that, apart from the Marina side penthouses, the inhabitants of that complex were all respectable middle class people worried, like everyone else, about job security, rising prices and GST. I got a good reception when I canvassed and had some delightful and enlightening discussions with Asian accountants, some of whom had been colleagues in the past.

Senator Philip Ozouf was present in the audience and I did notice that Pierre Horsfall kept giving me looks that would kill. Perhaps those looks were equally aimed at Trevor Pitman. Trevor and I shared a few jokes. Decorum prevented us from laughing out loud at some of the more absurd or outrageous comments of other candidates. I suspect others were equally laughing at us.

I had one heckler who came out with “Rubbish” or words to that effect, when I was discussing the failures of the 0/10 policy. He did not make specific what it was that exasperated him. That I annoyed him gives me exquisite pleasure. I must have hit the spot with a bull’s-eye. Naturally, I stick by what I said.

I have to say I was disappointed that Judy Martin’s speech mentioned immigration in a negative context with such frequency. It’s an issue, but surely anyone with a concern for social justice would have put forward solutions that were not limited to closing the border and beginning the deportations ( I parody here for effect).

Immigration is a real issue on the lips of many working people who experience competition for the few low paid jobs that remain and even those ever more casualised. Immigrants have served business well by providing a source of skilled cheap labour. What is needed is that the minimum wage be increased along with improvements of terms and conditions for ALL workers, indigenous and immigrant. We cannot allow this issue to divide working people.

The open border policy is a legacy of New Labour. Jersey is a part of the UK immigration policies that opened the labour market to immigrants from Eastern Europe before they became full members of the EU. We live with the consequences and must now fight to improve the conditions of all working people.

With fulfilment about to collapse in the very near future, this will mean increased unemployment. Many immigrants will leave the island for better opportunities elswhere in Europe. This will leave a large number of unskilled indigenous workers with no work and the indignity of seeking social security support.

Here are the speeches of two other candidates Keith Shaw and Gino Risolli.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Single Mothers - Scroungers on benefits - debunking the stereotypes

Single mums on benefits are stereotyped as scroungers who are unable to control their fertility and prefer a life of indolence. Here Rebecca, a single mother on benefits, refutes the prejudices of society and states the case for mothers who genuinely wish their circumstances were other than they are.

I have been attempting to reflect the social reality in contemporary Jersey for working people.  I am particularly pleased to have met Rebecca and thank her for such forthright views. It takes courage to speak out and many are now finding that courage. 

I will be using her case in my Hustings speech tomorrow at the Town Hall at 7.30. If you are free come along and hear the candidates and see how they perform in a pressurised situation. I am looking forward to the event.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pre-Poll irregularities? First time voters confused and influenced by Judicial Greffe staff.

How can six unconnected individuals intending to vote for a single candidate in the Deputy election come away from polling having voted for four candidates as Senator and three candidates as Deputy? The answer has to be undue influence on the frail and inexperienced.

I consider that I have been unduly prejudiced by Pre-Poll polling methods used by the Judicial Greffe at the Pre-Poll office at St Paul’s Gate, New Street. My competitors have gained votes at my expense through their behaviour. Is this policy or incompetence?

Here is an interview with Rebecca. She is a highly credible and self confident woman. I will be running a separate interview with her on the stereotyping of single mums surviving on welfare benefits. She explains exactly what is wrong with the current pre-poll system, which serves only to intimidate and confuse first time voters. Is it any wonder that vast numbers of working class people do not vote when this is what they have to contend with?

Set out beneath is my letter of complaint sent to the Assistant Judicial Greffier, Advocate Paul Matthews and copied to Constable Julliet Gallichan, chair of the Policies and Procedures Committee.

I fully expect the Jersey media to ignore this issue. I advised BBC Radio Jersey some time ago of the potential problems and to date it has not been mentioned. A short report on today’s morning news programme covering pre-polling merely reported “all was well”. I wait to see if this issue is now taken seriously.

“Dear Paul,

Further to our various meetings you have asked me to submit in writing the nature of my concerns as to the advice being given to voters that seek to pre-poll.

I have since spoken with the Constable of St Mary, the chair of PPC and have copied her in to this correspondence.

I had to reflect before sending this letter. I had hoped that our informal meeting and discussion would have resulted in new instructions being issued to the staff sufficient to prevent a repetition. Clearly nothing has changed and no new procedures have been implemented. I now have two further examples of individuals that voted last Friday and this morning that have been influenced and confused by the staff at the pre poll vote.

My concern is based on several unconnected examples which tend to suggest there is a systemic problem. These cases suggest that influence by the staff at the poll and those collecting votes by home visits, are inducing voters to:

  1. cast more votes than they might otherwise and/or
  2. vote in an election (Senators) of which they have no knowledge and/or
  3. vote for candidates about which they know nothing

In particular I would refer you to the interview with Miss Rebecca [A] on my blogsite She lives at [ ]  and is an elector in District No.1 St Helier. Here she explains in most lucid terms the nature of the influence of which I complain.

I canvassed Rebecca on Sunday 9th October. She agreed to be interviewed on the treatment of single mothers and stereotyping, which can also be viewed on my blog. I interviewed her this Monday. Having finished the interview and as I was in the process of leaving her flat, she declared she had voted that morning. She explains how she went to St Paul’s centre with the intention of voting exclusively for me. She left having cast votes for four candidates in the Senatorial election and three for Deputy in St Helier No.1. This was all brought about by the influence and confusion caused by the staff in dealing with a first time voter.

On Friday, Mrs [B] of [ ]  went to vote exclusively for me in the Deputy elections and left having voted in both Senatorial elections for four candidates and three candidates in the St Helier District No.1 Mrs [B] freely volunteered all information to me and agrees that it be divulged.

Mrs [B] is a Russian. English is her second language but she has a good command. She is a British citizen.

She states that she voted for four Senatorial candidates and three Deputy candidates because she felt pressurized by the pre-poll staff.

She cast her four votes in the Senatorial election in a random fashion, precisely because she knows none of the candidates. She picked four names at random. She voted for four because she felt under pressure to do so. Prior to attending she had no idea about the Senatorial election or the maximum number of candidates she might vote for. Likewise in the Deputy election she did not know the maximum number of votes that might be cast.

When it came to voting in the Deputy election she says she agonized to find three people to vote for. She voted for me as that was her intention at inception. She interpreted the instructions of the staff as a command that she must vote for three candidates. She therefore felt she had to find another two names. She chose Paul Le Claire because she knows he has a Russian wife, albeit she had no intention to vote for him and does not agree with the policies he has expressed as reported in the Jersey Evening Post newspaper. Her third vote was for James Baker. She chose him because he was “a handsome young man”. Apparently there is a board in the Pre Poll rooms with pictures of the candidates and some information.

Directional advice

In question is the directional advice by staff that voters may “vote for up to 4 candidates” in the Senatorial and “up to 3 candidates” in the Deputy Election in District No.1 St Helier. The voters in my three examples set out below all took this language of direction or instruction to mean that they MUST vote for four or three candidates respectively. Even those who understood they need not vote for the maximum but could vote for fewer, still felt under an obligation to vote for a least one candidate.

The issue here is a psychological one. Some people with no experience of voting are susceptible to influence by staff members as they represent “authority” figures. In an unfamiliar environment people tend to obey or at least be deferential to those that exercise power. It is therefore extremely important for electors not to be disadvantaged and/or prejudiced and to understand the precise meaning of the Instructions/Directions given to voters.

Example 1: First time voter; single mother and Portuguese

Miss [C] and Mrs [D] live in [District No.1 St Helier]. Following canvassing and having convinced both that I would assist single mothers and the Portuguese community, they determined they would vote for me. Neither have voted either in Jersey or their native Portugal. I arranged a time and date to drive them to the pre-poll.

Before they polled I ascertained that neither wished to vote in the Senatorial election and that they knew none of the candidates. One woman had vaguely heard of Stuart Syvret. I did not wish to trouble them with explaining about the Senatorial election. They were content to vote for me. One wrote my name on the back of her hand to ensure she did not forget my name.

I drove both to St Paul’s gate and indicated where they should go. They returned to the car and freely volunteered how they voted in both the Deputy election and that for Senators.

They say that they were given the ballot for both Senatorial and Deputy elections. They cast their votes in the booth set aside for private voting. They found the name “Le Cornu” on the Deputy ballot and duly cast a vote. However, when it came to the Senatorial ballot they were expecting to find my name but it was not there. They then became perplexed and confused. This is not surprising as I am not a candidate for Senator.

Miss [C] cast four votes in the Senatorial election putting crosses in the top four boxes on the ballot and Mrs [D] cast only one vote in the Senatorial by placing a cross in the third box from the bottom. Neither have any knowledge of the candidates for whom they voted in the Senatorial election. Neither realised that there was such a thing as a Senatorial election.

Mrs [D] indicates to me that she felt under a certain unacceptable/unreasonable degree of pressure to cast a vote on the Senatorial ballot. She realised that my name did not appear and that there was no one who she knew to vote for. However, she had the presence of mind to put one cross in a box as she realised this would satisfy the staff and she could then leave. Had the electoral staff not given instructions to her to vote for the Senatorial elections – she would not have felt under a sense of duress and thus seeming intimidation.

The most important point was that at NO point whilst the electors at the Polling Station was it explained by the staff that they did not have to vote for anyone in the Senatorial election and that they could simply strike through the part in relation to Senators.

Both intelligent electors told me that they were confused by the white Senatorial ballot as they expected to find my name and did not. The electoral staff were telling them as in INSTRUCTING them very firmly “You may vote for up to 4 (four) candidates in the Senatorial election and up to 3 (three) in the Deputy election.” Both felt under severe pressure to cast a vote.  Mrs [D] understood that she did not know any of the candidates and simply put one cross randomly on the ballot and thus, as she perceived it, satisfying the electoral staff that they had completed the ballot. Ms [C] says that she likewise did not know any of the candidates, but because she was expected to do something with the ballot, she put four crosses randomly starting at the top of the form. [As if she was completing some form in a Sovereign State Lottery!]

Clearly, based on the evidence, both electors were induced and felt compelled to vote in an election of which they did not realise existed and for candidates of which they knew nothing.

Example 4: Neighbour and first time voter

[Mr E] is a neighbour in the block of flats where I live. […..].

I asked [Mr E]  to vote for me at the commencement of the campaign and advised him about pre-polling facilities. He indicated he was happy to vote for me alone, as I was a neighbour and had helped him in the past. [Mr E]  is a first time voter.

On Monday 19th September 2011, he went independently to St Paul’s Gate to pre-poll. He did not have photo ID and was denied the right to vote. He was told he would be sent “a postal vote”. He told me this on Tuesday. Hearing me in the corridor of our flat he came out especially to tell me the news of his abortive voting attempt. I do not understand why he was simply not told to return with the correct ID. You may wish to investigate this issue.

In the afternoon of Wednesday 20th September I happened to be riding my bicycle through the car park at the back of my block of flats when I saw a small black Mercedes car parked awkwardly in the middle of the area. I spotted my neighbour [Mr E] who hailed me. He was in the process of casting his vote.

He told me later that he had been telephoned by a woman taking pre-poll votes and drove her motor car into the car park, in which she waited. She had checked his driving licence which he proffered as identity.

I rode up on my bicycle at the very moment she was passing through the open car window a clip board and the ballot for Deputy Elections in St Helier No.1. [Mr E]  engaged me in conversation and I was able to see and hear all that transpired. I did not in any way seek to influence the outcome and only later introduced myself to the woman.

As the clip board and ballot were passed through the window of the car, the woman asked [Mr E]  “You didn’t want to vote in the Senatorial election, you only asked for the Deputy election?” This was said in a way that had he indicated he wished to vote in the Senatorial election, he would have been there and then provided with the Senatorial Ballot. [Mr E]  said firmly that he only wanted the ballot for Deputy.

I saw [Mr E] complete the ballot for Deputy, but did not see who he voted for. I suspected he had voted for one candidate only, as he completed the action very rapidly and with the confidence and certainty that he knew exactly for whom he was voting. The woman saw him vote for only one candidate and said to him “you may vote for up to 3 (three) candidates”. At this point [Mr E]  began struggling mentally. He hesitated and from his reactions it was clear to me that he was obliged to start thinking deeply as to what this meant. The question clearly caused him some confusion. He could not understand why he was being asked to vote for more candidates. He paused and said to the woman that he only wanted to vote for one person and handed back the clip board. I think I recall the woman asking him to put the ballot in the envelope provided.

Had [Mr E]  been less resolute, he might have accepted a ballot for the Senatorial election and he might have voted for more than one candidate for Deputy. He clearly felt under some sort of obligation to do as he was commanded by the woman. In my opinion, although jolly and polite, she spoke with authority, dominant as if her voice was communicating words of command.

Example 5: Elderly experienced voters

On my way to canvas Maison La Corderie, a residential home for the elderly in Rope Walk in the electoral constituency of St Helier No. 1, I met two residents aged at what I estimated to be in their seventies sitting outside, enjoying the sun. I engaged them in conversation and ascertained that one [Mrs F] had applied for a pre-poll sick visit, but had missed out in casting her vote the previous day when 10 (ten) others in the home had been polled, by virtue of she being off the premises at the time. The second woman [Mrs G] had not applied to pre-poll. Both had voted in the past and were keen to vote. I offered to take them to St Pauls Gate to vote and they readily agreed.

Before we left, I sought to ascertain their level of political awareness. I asked if they would be voting in the Senatorial election. They said firmly “No”. I asked them if they had ever heard of Stuart Syvret; neither had. I presumed that they would not be voting in the Senatorial election if they had never heard of this famous Jersey politician.

As regards the Deputy election in St Helier No.1, I ascertained that both were registered at Maison La Corderie and both were eligible to vote. I explained the essence of my politics and they were broadly in agreement, sufficient to vote for me. I handed them an enlarged version of the ballot paper listing the names of the eight candidates so that they might see who was standing. They both scrutinized the list to see if there was anyone they knew. [Mrs F] had vaguely heard of Mr Pitman, but on further enquiry the person she knew was a former senior civil servant, now deceased. Essentially, they had no preferred candidate for Deputy other than me.

We duly arrived at St Paul’s Gate where they made their way to the polling office on the first floor. Having voted, they returned to my car and freely recounted their voting adventure. Both had voted in the Senatorial election for four candidates and for three candidates in the Deputy election.

On arrival in the voting office they had been asked “Do you wish to vote in both the senatorial and deputy election?” They said yes. What they should have said was that they wished to vote only in the Deputy election. They probably did not realise that by answering in the affirmative to the specific question they would receive both ballots.

The staff advised them that they could vote for “up to four candidates” in the Senatorial and “up to three” in the Deputy elections. This advice was repeated several times by various people including a male member of electoral staff.

When I asked them subsequently why they had voted in the Senatorial election, they replied that they did not know why. I asked them if they knew who they had voted for. Neither could remember, but they had voted for four candidates each. They were not being coy or reticent. Nor were they being secretive, as is their prerogative. They did not remember because the candidate’s names meant nothing.

When I asked them why they had voted for three candidates in the Deputy election [Mrs G] said that she had voted for three candidates but had only really wanted to vote for one and that person was me. When I pressed her as to why if she only wished to vote for one person she had in fact voted for three, she could not explain. She continued to repeat, “I wish I had only voted for one”.

Both women were placed in a situation where they felt obliged to follow the authoritative command of the staff and vote for three and four candidates respectively in Senatorial and Deputy elections. They knew nothing of the candidates for Senator yet voted for four. They only knew about myself and [Mrs F] had vaguely heard of Mr Pitman, yet both voted for three candidates for Deputy. They did not comprehend the words “you may vote for up to …” as simple non-directional advice; they perceived it as a command, an order they must obey.


I feel convinced that based on the directional instructional form of words communicated to several electors within the constituency in which I am standing, St Helier No. 1, that I was personally disadvantaged, prejudiced, discriminated against, so that electors who had previously declared a clear and unequivocal intention to support me and no other candidates found themselves swayed to change their voting intention by the electoral staff who misrepresented and/or misdirected the electorate by not communicating the fact that it was possible to vote for one person in the Deputy or Senator elections or none at all. I consider that votes cast exclusively for my candidature were thereby diluted by the votes for other candidates – thereby prejudicing and discriminating against the number of votes returned for my candidacy in these elections for Deputy within my constituency.   

I reserve my position in relation to these above mentioned votes should it become an issue in the final count.”

Friday, 7 October 2011

Jersey’s Overseas Aid – the Mongolian Office

There are those who would cut Jersey’s Overseas Aid budget. There have been voices to that effect during the Senatorial Hustings. They are misguided. Jersey is not the centre of the universe. There are poor people in Jersey, but not half as poor as those that live in the sewers of Mongolia’s capital. These are the forgotten ones in the post Soviet space.

Whilst Jersey Finance Limited sets up new offices in the Far East to cater for the former Communist Bureaucrats and new rulers of countries like Mongolia dispose of the proceeds of mineral asset sales, another part of the Jersey state is assisting the poor to buy bricks and build schools, which those same rulers care not to provide.

Here we interview Jersey women Jilly Spruyt  and Ann Dove about their activities in Mongolia assisting the poor in projects funded by Jersey’s Overseas Aid budget.

This is the interview and another video made by Jilly in Mongolia.

Life expectancy for men in Mongolia is low primarily because of cigarettes and vodka.

For photographs by Richard Wainright taken in Mongolia see

I forgot to ask Jilly about elections and voter registration in Mongolia, but such democratic niceties can no doubt the enquired about on another occasion.  Interestingly the 2008 Legislative elections in Mongolia achieved a 74% turnout. This is impressive. It almost matches inversely Jersey's voter abstention. I wonder which one is the corrupt, oligarchic and authoritarian state?

Sandra's District No.1 Kitchen - "It's the squeaky wheel that gets oiled"

Sandra's kitchen is much improved now that the refurb is finished. She is grateful - but it's not perfect by a long way.

What can we expect from "social housing" and public provision for those in need? It's certainly a theme that occurs all the time at the hustings and on the doorstep.

This is a nice kitchen that many would be only too happy to have but it does not suit Sandra's disabled needs entirely and the new fan is very noisy and so far from the cooker. Why should this be? Whether the window is to be replaced is not clear and Sandra says that somebody tried to break in from the street through this one.

Some people would manage without a dishwasher and so will Sandra if necessary but her life would be so much easier if one was fitted. However she has only £67 spending money per week to buy food and pay her bills. What is it reasonable to expect in the circumstances?

She would like to move to a more accessible flat on the ground floor somewhere. We watched her climb the steps from the road to the front door - they are extremely dangerous for any user but especially so with her lack of mobility. Is it right to complain or should Sandra just put up with this until she or somebody falls and sustains a serious injury?

She has been promised a mobility scooter but how to use this here and where to store it? A full OT audit is needed of Sandra's needs. Will this be done? Shall the bathroom be upgraded?

Sandra's daughter complains that her bedroom is damp through condensation. We looked for defects but the ceiling light keeps fusing and we were in the dark - but the flank wall with the hallway is solid block and very cool. This could well be improved through insulation at minimal cost by the housing maintenance team. How should this flat be heated in the winter and at what cost?

There is no man here in this family. Sandra feels very frustrated at not being able herself to patch up paintwork and fix things. Her daughter provides care for her and attends college but there are severe income shortages.

We are in touch with the Ministers for Social Security, Housing and Education. There are also Health Dept implications but who should really coordinate all the services that are needed here?

How many others are in a similar position in Jersey? It does not require much to make Sandra's lilfe so much better. How can that be achieved?

Missing from the electoral roll? Did the Town Hall “lose” the form you never really sent?

I am getting exasperated! I have been acting for a number of residents in St Helier No.1 District who “swear blind” as the expression goes, that they filled in their voter registration form and returned it to the Town Hall in person, yet are not currently registered to vote. If the Town Hall says they did not receive one’s voter registration form what does one do?

The answer is not very much. How can one prove that a form was delivered? I am not talking here about something lost in the post. This is hand delivered and passed across the counter to the clerk. The answer remains, not very much.

I have a personal anecdote from my own canvassing back in June of this year when I visited a housing estate and received a very sympathetic hearing from one man who said that both he and his daughters would be completing their pink coloured voter registration form (i.e. the one sent by the Parish to the occupier of each unit of accommodation) that very night, with a view to voting in October. When I checked the register of voters in late August I noted that this gentleman and his daughters were not registered. I found it so odd, especially as I had such positive indications from the man that he would be registering, that I went back his home. I arrived just as he was pulling up into the drive in his van. I questioned him and he confirmed that he had indeed filled the form in, got the daughters to sign and returned it to the Town Hall in person himself the following day or at least a few days later.

I told him he was not registered and naturally he was perplexed. I told him not to get furious but to complete a new form, get the daughters to sign it and that I would return it to the Town Hall for processing. That is precisely what happened and he and his daughters are registered to vote.

I also have several examples of cases where forms I submitted on behalf of those registered as part of general voter registration drives were simply not processed. Fortunately, I had retained photocopies as evidence. These copies were then duly processed.

So what is the lesson to be learnt? There must be a fundamental review of the process by which parishes register individuals to vote. If they cannot do the job efficiently then the States must centralise the process and appoint an island wide electoral registrar with adequate resources. That organ could then run democracy awareness programmes amongst islanders, including the mass registration of 16 year olds at school.

In St Helier No.1 District there are around 5000 registered to vote. I know from canvassing that at least a further 20% to 30% are not registered. This means between one or two thousand people are missing from the electoral roll. Working class housing estates, especially social housing, suffer most. Some households may well be ineligible, not having the requisite two years residence, but my experience indicates these are few. Examples would be those occupying premises under “J” category licences. The majority are working class people for whom politics and politicians is a matter of indifference or total exasperation. The latter category is by far the largest.

I spoke to the Portuguese lady who runs a nearby newsagents and she just exploded when I mentioned voting in elections in Jersey. Having been in the island for 36 years she was angry beyond discussion. I did not get a chance to ask her if she was registered to vote as she had no intention of legitimising by her vote something she considered a cesspit of excrement. The indifference of government and long unmet needs of the working class leads to disaffection.

No one takes seriously the high levels of voter abstention in the island and the implications this has for the legitimacy of governments and democracy generally. The decrepit and ancient methods must be reformed root and branch. It must be a priority for the immediate post election period. It might be my first Proposition to the States!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

La Colomberie - a Nigthingale sings - End of Empire?

“Fourteen cabaret shows; now there are none!”

Yesterday I took a walk up to La Colomberie to investigate the relative economic decline of the area. What can be done to reverse this trend?

It is not the first time I have been there. I did a little impromptu speech on my soap box last week. It attracted one of shopkeepers who heard that I was a solicitor by profession. I was able to give a little directional advice about employment law.

Here I interview Tony who has run a shop in the area for many years. He laments the decline of tourism. We live the contradictions of hosting the offshore financial centre and its domination of the economy. Tourism and agriculture struggle.

I caught Tony as he cleared his shop and surrendered the lease. He will continue to work from home with a loyal, but reduced, clientele.

No one likes to be pessimistic, but one has to be realistic and speak the truth. This is the reality of Jersey today and it will probably get worse in the short term.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mould or Mold? - Liberation Court – La vie en rose

Canvassing yesterday evening I knocked on a door and entered a veritable adventure.

I realised there was an important story to be told about the reality of life in contemporary Jersey. This is the invisible world that the four media entities care to ignore. Within twenty minutes my cameraman was in attendance to record an interview. This enabled me to nip across the corridor and speak to the neighbors who will be voting. The issues they raised were precisely the same as every pensioner – surviving on a fixed income in the face of inflationary prices and oh yes, a dysfunctional government of millionaires.

Sandra has emphysema. Her kitchen is being replaced. The original dates from 1995 when the building was constructed.  There is dust all over the kitchen and in the flat. No thought has been given to its potentially detrimental effect on her health. Why? We know why stupid.

Her bathroom suffers from mold on a regular basis. This seems to be a lack of ventilation. The bathroom is internal and relies on a fan to remove steamy air.

When the lights went out following an all island power cut, none of the emergency lighting in the corridor worked. In other parts of the building it did. This would be extremely dangerous for a disabled person evacuating the building, say if there were a fire, especially as the exit is down several narrow steps to the road.

Sandra is a disabled person and this is supposed to be a ground floor flat but is accessed via eight steep steps which are not to modern safety standards and she has fallen down them.

She has been cared for by her daughter for years who is now attending Highlands College on a vocational training course for which the widowed mother has borrowed money from a  money lender to pay the fees - if the daughter had just signed on at SS as unemployed she would receive about £90 per week but receives nothing apparently because she is training at Highlands.

The financial burden is great upon this widowed mother. Family photos show the young English born deceased husband as a handsome - fit young man but he was for years incapacitated through illness and their young son also died.

This is a family that knows tragedy and hardship - even when the proper order is restored to this flat and it is all re-decorated - across the road the old Wesley chapel site is being redeveloped and there will be 18 months of noise and dust ahead.

When the island-wide power cut doused the lighting the mother went searching for the electricity meter in the pitch dark but found that it was already loaded with money ---this is the measure of poverty in modern Jersey where electricity can only be afforded by the meter full....what will happen when the cold of January and February hits this struggling family?

PS. I actually discovered a use for Mary O’Keefe-Burgher’s four page manifesto – I found a copy that was lying on the floor beside the letter boxes in a discarded pile of others and rolled it up to keep open an external building door that would otherwise have locked behind me. Everything has a use value and not necessarily its original purpose - it just requires a little imagination.

Mary has the following paragraph in her Manifesto and this may explain why so many copies had been discarded on the floor by tenants. I am not sure if I would tolerate such patronising snobbery either.

"The number of people wishing for social housing has risen. The Government needs to help people to understand that social housing is not a right but rather encourage independence of States (sic) benefit. Understanding that this is an extreme fall back position in exceptional circumstances and should not be an automatic domestic ambition."

Having watched this video I wonder if Mary now considers the reality of social housing less aspirational and more a deterrent?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Soapbox in the Royal Square - Report from the campaign front

Here are two videos. One is an assessment of the campaign so far, the difficulties I face and the successes. As I note the other 7 candidates in this election in No.1 St Helier are not the enemy, they are just competitors, the real enemy is voter abstention.

We know statistically that 75% of St Helier No.1 district does not vote. These are mainly working people, whose standard of living and jobs are degrading on a daily basis and will get worse under the new government being formed by Ozouf, Le Marquand, Bailhache. The Cuts and austerity plans will bite.

The second video was recorded in the Royal Square at lunchtime today as I mounted my soapbox to discuss the implications of the Corporate Services Scrutiny sub Panel Report on Lime Grove House. It should be debated on the Senatorial Hustings as it is an indictment of the reckless amateurs that will be mis-managing  the island during an unprecedented economic crisis.

The gentleman in the background who was gesticulating behind my back whilst eating in the Cock and Bottle complemented me on the performance. He lives in St Ouen. I wonder if his Deputy and Constable candidates will be practicising their oratorical skills in a central location somewhere near the Parish Hall?

Deputy Trevor Pitman, a fellow candidate in the No.1 District election, his wife and supporters were in the square having lunch in Le Petit Greek and I challenged him to join me in a debate on any issue he chose. He declined. All looked on with a mixture of insecurity and bemusement. Clearly Mr Le Cornu is fearless and formidable. So he will be in the States.


Rough seas ahead

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Green Street Barracks Saga Part VI - Lime Grove House + Treasury Minister = TOAST?

“This is far too serious for playing political games” Deputy Egré BBC Radio Jersey, Morning Show 22.09.2011
It looks serious. The Head Girl, Senator Sarah Ferguson, has referred her Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel Report on Lime Grove House to a very senior Prefect for further consideration. A caning (Human Rights compliant) by the Headmaster or even expulsion from the school could be on the cards for OV and Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf.

However, none of this is likely. Senator Ferguson wants a Ministerial position in the forthcoming Bailhache-Ozouf government and consequently has not stuck the knife in. It has conveniently been referred for a further report which will gather dust in the fullness of time.

The Report leaves lots of questions hanging. All of them point to the competence of the Treasury Minister and his CEO John Richardson. We all know there is no accountability in the Jersey political scene. In fact this is quite acceptable to the wealthy, as all they want is stability. Stay in power and keep your hands on the tiller whilst we carry on making money. Hence they will all vote Bailhache and nothing will change. Elections are merely an occasions for elites to shuffle round the chairs and someone new gets to sit on the throne.


The bit that appealed to me as a feral lawyer was the allegation that the Treasury department had “weeded” their files before handing them over to Scrutiny.  Surely not!
We were dismayed, however, that correspondence between various parties appears to have been omitted. We have also been unable to find documentary evidence of the rationale of the offer final offer price and the instructions to the external negotiator [Chairman’s Forward p5]
Weeding is a technical term for taking out of a file and destroying any inconvenient or incriminating letters, drafts, bits of paper and notes. It’s an art form because it has to be done in such a way as to leave no obvious breaks. These lacunae are often covered over with replacement letters, “final” drafts, bits of paper and notes etc that have conveniently been found in the bottom draw of a desk or earlier misfiled and rediscovered. Fortunately, this is something that only happens in the “real world” of wicked business deals and not the irreproachable public service.

The Ego has landed

“…all parties to the transaction, except for the Minister for Treasury and Resources, were anxious to proceed” (p9)
What appears to have happened is that Senator Ozouf, based on discussion with shadow advisers, who were not property experts, decided to personally take over the purchase negotiations. This is where things went wrong. An attempt to shave £500k off the price was initially successful; the vendors reluctantly accepted but were clearly resentful. It was a high risk act and it worked. However, the vendor's dissatisfaction was compounded by significant delays in completing the deal. The result was that when a new potential purchaser turned up in the shape of State Street, they accepted offers to lease the builing and blew out the States.

This is all egg on the Treasury Minister’s face for being too clever. He is not a property developer or speculator, but, as he keeps telling us, guardian of the public purse. So why take such risks? It was a gamble and it failed. Exit casino with just enough loose change for the taxi home.

The losses caused by this failure have yet to be quantified. It is certainly £1m per year for every year of delay in finding new offices for the Police. There are also reputational considerations.

Like all gamblers they will be back as soon as they can. Meanwhile there is an election. My money is riding on 26 Black.

There are many issues in this matter that should be of concern to the public as to the way that the leading group in the government operate. It needs to be put on the agenda during the Senatorial elections and the candidates must be required to comment. The future Bailhache-Cohen-Gorst-Le Marquand-Ozouf Counicl of Ministers will be doing the same time and again as they seek to sell off public assets cheaply to their mates with the same reckless abandon. This is why "progressive" candidates should stop dreaming of being a Minister or Assistant Minister and get on with building an organisation that warrents the name Opposition.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Sir Philip “CROMWELL” – takes the stage

On the way to re-establishing a Feudal Bailiwick with Sir Philip as its Crown Prince, there will be an election. Last night was the first Senatorial Hustings.

Senatorial Candidate David Richardson described Sir Philip Bailhache as a “Cromwell” – our Man of Men. He was perceptive. The ever timid ruling class in this island is frightened by the unprecedented discontent boiling on the streets and want a saviour. Step in the New Leader, former Old Leader, in a new democratic style.

It is clear from the JEP of tonight, with its front page photograph of Sir Philip, who they are backing. This is no surprise. They want him for Chief Minister. Philip Ozouf can go fry in the ruins of Lime Grove House, sidelined to a future of ignominy.

Likening Sir Philip to an English historical personality may not be to his taste, given his ambiguous loyalty to the British State. More apposite and appealing might be a comparison with France’s Bonaparte or his nephew Louis Napoleon, Napoleon III, especially if long lost Norman roots could be discovered.

Louis Napoleon came to power in a military coup d’etat following a democratic election in which he became President of a republic. He remained there ruling autocratically and crushing the French Left until the Prussians beat him at Sedan (1870). This “man on horseback” has been a recurring theme in French history, as evidenced by De Gaulle. He gave the necessary leadership to the French Bourgeoisie to begin a new period of economic expansion.  

Confidence is low on the Jersey Establishment side. Faced by economic and political challenges of the most unprecedented order since the end of the Second World War, there is a sense of crisis and a lack of clear leadership. Step in Sir Philip the New Saviour.

Bailhache’s reactionary talk is wrapped in pseudo progressive and reform language. Whatever he says he means the opposite. He talks of Reform, but does not mean the Clothier or Carswell reports, both of which he has publicly rejected. Instead he means reducing the number of States Member by a few, but not Constables. If the States are held in disrespect it is because he and the the Council of Ministers have created the situation. How can anyone with any sense of credibility believe such kant? 

Those who vote for the Establishment do so for good reason, to protect property and privilege, but do us a favour Sir Philip and put it in a cogent intellectual framework. Stop pulling the wool over the eyes of the People. That of course is precisely what our rulers have been doing for years. And, sadly, many remain gullible.

"Napoléon le Petit" (Victor Hugo)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Political Pogroms in St Helier No.2

I like political trials. I would have loved to have been at the trial in Paris in 1926 of the assassin Sholom Schwartzbad who shot Simon Petlura five times and was acquitted. Instead, this morning, I attended the mock re-trial of Deputy Geoff Southern before the Royal Court on a representation by Senatorial candidate Darius Pearce. Apparently there is some bad blood and political differences between the two. Both are thoroughly nice chaps.

Petlura was the leader of the Ukrainian government during its short history of independence between 1918 and 1921. His crime in the eyes of his Jewish assassin was that he instigated various pogroms against Jews. Pogroms were a form of Ukrainian sport at that time. The Jury agreed that Petlura was a thoroughly bad fellow and responsible for much trouble and decided that his assassin was right to have fired those shots. To Ukrainian nationalists today, Petlura remains a thoroughly nice chap and indeed something of a hero, especially as he was not a nasty Russian Bolshevick.

The representation in the Royal Court was all about whether or not Deputy Southern had or had not made an appropriate declaration during his nomination as Deputy in District No.2 St Helier. There was embarrassment all round.

No one had any evidence if Deputy Southern’s Proposer had read out the declaration correctly. The BBC and CTV had all switched off their cameras at the time or the audio quality was impossible. Everyone had amnesia.

The Connetable was embarrassed because the Comite Des Connetables had been following the wrong procedure, none having ever read the Electoral Law. The Jersey Way of make it up as you go and doing whatever is most convenient had triumphed again. Smack wrist, but otherwise business as usual and don’t do it next time.

Darius we were all reminded in Court had a number of convictions himself for upsetting his father in law whilst doing a Romeo and Juliet impression around at the old man’s house.

The whole world, including residents of No2 St Helier all know now, in case they did not already, that Deputy Southern has convictions in relation to assisting widows and orphans to complete postal voting applications forms, contrary to every Article of the Lets Get Geoff and Shona (Jersey) Law 2008.

William Bailhache , brother of the Senatorial candidate, gave judgment that was predictably political. In turfing out Darius with a flea in his ear, it was an opportunity to tell everyone and no doubt the JEP reporter present that, yes, Deputy Southern has convictions. Smack wrist and next time make sure its all video recorded and everything is Kosher according to the Law. In 2014 we will all have to listen to list of twenty convictions being read out for roughly the same offence. After that five minute sleep break, we will hear Deputy Southern’s Proposer give a speech telling us he is, yes, a thoroughly nice chap.

If I were a voter in No.2 St Helier, I would not be voting for Senator Terry Le Main as the next Deputy, even though, unlike the wicked Deputy Southern, he has no convictions of any sort, shape or colour.

Where is my water pistol; I have a Petlura feeling coming on?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Pre-abstention begins - ai vida!

Pre polling began today at St Paul’s Gate, New Street to a fanfare of …..nothing. Far from there being vast queues waiting for the doors to open enabling them to exercise their democratic right, there was only one person - Senatorial candidate Darius Pearce and a “friend” (can I have her telephone number – for political science research purposes only of course?).

There was no CTV, Radio 103, BBC Radio Jersey or JEP photographer to record the historic moment when nothing happened. There wasn’t even a sign outside saying “open for business”.

Darius quipped that he, at 10.15 am had “an early lead” (by two votes presumably). His friend advised us that she had voted in her Deputy election for “none of the above” and thus effectively spoiling her vote. Fortunately she does not live in District No.1 St Helier (I did ascertain that much at least)

Confused first time voters

In an earlier blog I mentioned that three ladies would be conveyed to the pre polling this morning to cast the first ever vote in their lives. In the end two joined me on journey and both come from the Jersey Portuguese community.

Duly briefed that they would be well advised to vote for a very nice man called LE CORNU who would be fighting in the States against all forms of discrimination and the interest of single mums, they entered St Paul’s Gate to cast their vote.

They came back confused. They had been handed a white ballot slip which did not have the name LE CORNU written on it. They had also received a yellow ballot which fortunately did have the name LE CORNU written on it and they had duly put a small cross in the box next to this man’s name.

So, what was the white ballot? It was the ballot for the Senatorial election; that for Deputy in St Helier No.1 is yellow. However, neither were aware that there was a Senatorial election occurring. The question arises how did they get given the Senatorial ballot for an election of which they knew nothing?

Confused? They certainly were and did not know what on earth to do with the white ballot. Since it did not contain the name LE CORNU what were they supposed to do? Well, it appears the staff told them they could vote for up to three candidates in the Deputy election and up to four candidates in the Senatorial election. They duly voted in the Senatorials, an election of which they knew nothing and whose candidates were equally unknown.

Under pressure of the circumstances, of authority and subordination, these ladies felt compelled to cast their vote. For whom did they vote you ask? One voted for the third one up from the bottom – Mr Richardson, and the other put four crosses in the boxes against names she did not know and cannot remember.

Having driven the ladies home, I returned to Town to discuss the matter with the Assistant Judicial Greffier. The votes stand apparently. Perhaps if there is a tie between candidates the issue could be re-examined?

That said, I trust that there are now new rules in place that ……

There are those who say none of this matters. Perhaps it’s the feral Lawyer in me that thinks something is not quite right. Then maybe I am wrong.

Working people spend their lives being lied to, cheated and exploited and perhaps its no different when they go to vote. These women were abused and conjolled into voting into something they knew nothing about. I had won their confidence sufficiently that they were prepared to support me. It was very fragile and at any moment they could have said no I do not wish to vote. One word misspoken and the ice thin veneer of respect and trust could have been lost. Oh how our rulers abuse us! Why do I feel they were done a great injustice; why do others have such difficulty seeing this? Why is inertia the default postion. Can those that are exploited not see that their salvation lies in their own hands. That is freedom.

I will be watching, I will be waiting, I will be probing, just as are they.

Perhaps this is all a pious hope. The majority, in fact 75% of the registered voters, or 6000 people, in No.1 St Helier know that the whole thing is charade. Nothing changes. Pre-abstention has begun – 19 more days left.

If you want to cry in despair – don’t  - listen to some fado and enjoy.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Every vote counts!


Yesterday I returned home to discover that my stepson’s postal ballot had arrived at my home. This was surprising because albeit registered here, he is studying in the UK. Upon enquiry he confirmed he had completed the application form so that the ballot should be sent to his current London address.

Having returned the envelope and all contents to the Judicial Greffe this afternoon, I was reassured everything would be sent to the London address.

It seems that an administrative mistake had been made or at least ambiguity caused confusion. Had I been permitted to "assist" my stepson on how to complete the appliction ACCURATELY all would have been well. Unfortunately, had I done so I would have commited a criminal offence and risked a fine, like Deputy Southern, of £10,000. Absurd!

AN OPEN BALLOT FOR CHIEF MINISTER - a major political Victory; MOBILE PHONES IN THE STATES – a small triumph over make it up as you go petty rules


Yesterday in the States I achieved a minor personal victory over petty fogging rules. When I arrived to go up to the balcony, I was searched in the usual way. However there was a novelty – mobile phones were no longer permitted to be taken into the States Chamber by members of the public.

I was advised by the security guard (nice guy, minimum wage, sub-contracted job) that I must leave my mobile at the entrance and would be issued with a receipt. I surrendered my mobile, having removed the chip (no chaps I am not that stupid to leave it in!) and duly received the receipt from a stubby Receipt Book. I enquired about the source of the new rules and was advised they were “the New Rules”.

During the break by the States for lunch, I accosted a number of sympathetic Deputies about the complete stupidity of the New Rules. No, I do not take photos from the gallery and I do not record the session using my mobile phone, both of which are long established rules of the House for the general public. Yes I do send texts.

I have Deputy Daniel Wimberly to thank for personally asking the Bailiff if there was a prohibition, under standing orders, for a member of the public to enter the gallery with a mobile phone in their possession. The Bailiff indicated there was no such prohibition. So where did these “New Rules” come from and who made them up?

No one in Mourier House was taking responsibility for issuing these rules. A friend inquired of the staff and it was ascertained that such rules existed, but he could not get them to tell him who had issued them and under what authority and produce a written authority. No one would take responsibility for their actions.

When I went back in just before the afternoon session, the stubby Recipt Book had disappeared as has the New Rules. Mobiles could be taken into the States Chamber, however they had to be kept switched off at all times.

These New Rules are all about staying in control and exercising power. Rule 1 “We make the rules and you plebs obey”. The States of Jersey is our “Best Gentleman’s Club in Town”. It provided refreshments, but got rid of the tea lady to save money; it used to provide sandwiches at lunch time until the issue got out of hand and they were abolished. However, unlike other Clubs, it does not provide sleeping accommodation for tired executives, as Deputy Tadier discovered. Like all Clubs there are sensible and there are arcane rules (Port bottle to be passed to the left only and not to touch the table).

The power holders are getting their knickers in a twist about new technology and the way it erodes their authority to control and limit public involvement in their everyday workings. We the ruled are not to question why and how this happens. Authority demands that we simply obey.

Bloggers have had problems in the past about bringing their cameras into the States Building to film Scrutiny meetings, so this little bit of harassment over mobile phones is all part of an on going war of attrition.