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.