Distribution of the June District No.1 Newletter to all households in District No.1 is nearly completed. If you have come to the blog having followed the link, then thank you. There may have been something in the leaflet that stirred some interest, so let me know what it was.
As I and supporters have been going around delivering those leaflets, we have sought to engage residents in political discussion with a view to winning a vote in the October elections. There have been some fruitful discussions and many have appreciated that I gave them the courtesy of a personal visit, even this early in the electoral campaign. Thanks to the two gentlemen in Pier Road who gave me an ice cold lager one hot June Thursday.
One couple were off to Canada on holiday from August through to October (yes, lucky them!) and I advised how they could download a Postal Vote request from the St Helier Parish internet site soon after the nominations for Deputy on 7th September. The request for a postal ballot will have to be sent signed, direct to the Judicial Greffe in the Royal Square, and for them to send out the ballot form. The six weeks between the nominations on 7th September and election on 19th October should be enough for them to complete the process. The completed ballot must arrive a few days before the election date to be valid. Cut-off dates and times will, no doubt, be printed on the form.
The big enemy in this election is not other candidates – I don’t take them too seriously – it’s the fact that eighty percent of the electorate abstain from voting. Everywhere I go, I encounter the same cry about the political class – “They don’t listen to us”; “They don’t do anything for people like us”; “They say one thing at election time and once elected do the opposite”. I hear all these comments and then set about trying to sort out the complexity and confusion that lies hidden in these sentiments. Most of the time, I do not succeed, but at least I try. I tell them I follow an old Socialist slogan, yes remember Socialism, and that slogan is “Pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will”. What does it mean? It means even though the task may seem impossible, it is human action that can find a solution through the very act of doing. Even though so few vote, I do not give up on trying to engage everyone. Essentially its a political issue that I cannot address on my own. It will require sustained education by those committed to democracy and social justice.
Voter abstention is not because the electorate is somehow basically content. Quite the contrary, there is deep anger at the conduct of the government, as personified by Senators Le Sueur and Ozouf. That sullen resentment is not as yet mobilised into political action. I try to explain that disengagement of the individual voter is precisely what the Establishment want. They have no desire for working people to get out and vote for candidates that express their social and economic interests. Better they stay at home on election day and remain frustrated and passive. I see my task as giving potential voters sufficient confidence that change is possible.
Voter abstention is ignored by government, politicians and the media. Both government and elected politicians got there with the existing electorate and for them that is enough. Over the coming weeks I hope to do some video blogs and examine the arguments that are used. They will be familiar ones and I want to deconstruct the malaise that affects potential voters. I work from the basic premise that bad governments are elected because good people don’t vote.