Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Donald Perrier – “The Ronald Reagan of Jersey politics”

You will recognise Donald’s voice – you will remember him from the BBC Radio Jersey lunchtime phone-in (before it was suppressed nine months in advance of an election for fear of too many dissenting voices) or a Town Hall political meeting; but who is he?

Donald Perrier is one of the characters of Jersey politics; always opinionated and sure to offend someone. As we know, he is not afraid to speak his mind. I interviewed him this morning in the overgrown garden of the now closed La Follie Pub next to French Harbour. He lives not far away, but the location symbolises the failure of imagination that has resulted in beautiful dockland being turned into a wasteland of missed opportunity and indifference.

Donald is just about to turn 83. He was born into a poor Jersey family living in Trinity. When it came to installing electricity in 1936 into their rented house, his father walked to St Ouen to see the landlord, a mean Jersey Farmer, to ask if he would share the cost of installation. The landlord refused, knowing full well that Mr Perrier senior needed electricity and would pay the cost himself in its entirety. Electricity improved the Perrier family lifestyle, enabling them to run a couple of light bulbs and, through a single socket, power a radio that did away with wet batteries that had to be replaced weekly.

Donald has many anecdotes from pre and immediate post war Jersey. His father was a first class gardener and a man of little ambition. For many years he worked part time for a Jersey lady, Madame Gruchy that lived in Don Road. At her death in 1964 she left the father in her will the sum of £1 for each year of service. He had worked there for 31 years and four months. Advocate Crill, the executor of the will, announced that the legal profession did not deal in small change, so he would receive the sum of £31 precisely

I hope that candidates for election in District No.1 St Helier take the trouble to visit Donald – to have their ear bent. However, I suggest you do not mention that you support GST or are a candidate of the Establishment Party (clue - the ones whose election colours are black and white).

Donald is quite perceptive as to the failure to establish an effective opposition party, much heralded after the last elections. He also recognises that the 2011 elections will be a battle between the Country Party versus the Town Party - an old, old divide with new sociological content.

Part I

Part II

Part III


  1. I love listening to the old boys, I cant respect them enough. But I am middle aged and have that respect and love for the older generation. I dont have the same anymore for the younger generation and I reckon you should make an effort to engage them as well. Its a great interview but you need to engage the younger people as well.

    You cant rely on the older vote for too long as much as it hurts me to say it, they wont be around much longer. Make the effort to bring the younger people into making a vote and understanding how their vote counts.

  2. Fair comment. Engaging "Youth" is difficult. The acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of one's actions can occur at 16 or 36. Political engagement often only happens when individuals acquire property or start families.

    There has been something of an awakening of Students in the UK over tuition fees which has politicised the generation. I know of one young person who was considering joining the Police, but in the end did not precisely because of their experience of the institution during a student demonstration.

    It is curious that with such high youth unemployment in the island there is not more discontent and associated activity politically. That said, the recent UK Riots, were manifestations by youth in the most deprived layers of British society, yet there were no overt political demands.

    I recall a demonstration by unemployed youth in about 1985 from the then Social Security building to the Royal Square. They had a degree of sympathetic mainstream media coverage, but nothing further developed in terms of organisation.

  3. http://st-ouennais.livejournal.com/142277.html A small but positive step should it happen.