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.