Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Electoral Commission – Grouville – “Dead rude”

I have to say I was shocked and genuinely saddened by the ignorance and intolerance of the audience in Grouville this evening attending the Electoral Commission parish roadshow to discuss its Interim Report on reform of the States Assembly.

It was quite clear the audience did not understand the proposals and were visceral in their opposition to any form of change. With that realisation in mind, I saved my rhetoric and sought to make my own contribution from the floor a gentle combination of enlightenment and reassurance, but I ended up getting shouted down nonetheless. Not that I cared; it was water off the ducks back. One man left saying I had ruined his evening and I naturally wished him a pleasant night of what remained. Clearly the audience did not wish to listen to any opinion that was not in defence of the status quo and retention of Constables.


Whilst rudeness and intolerance abounded, the meeting had its moments of comedy as when one speaker described the Vice Chairman Colin Storm as being of “immigrant stock”, even though he had been born in the island. The Vice Chairman must be regretting the return to his island of birth and its evident madness.

The petty parochialism came out in the great fear that the new super constituency of which the parish would form a part, along with St Martin and St Clement, could be represented by Deputies living entirely in a parish other than Grouville. Worse, without a restriction on residential requirements to stand in the new super constituency, there might be Deputies elected that lived in St Ouen.  On this point it was noticeable that Commission member James Baker remained silent about the fact that he lived in St Martin yet was Deputy for my own beloved District No.1 St Helier. His silence continued when a speaker from the floor alleged that the present proposals resulted in over representation of St Helier. He made no attempt to correct the man who clearly had no grasp of the statistics that were before him in the Interim Report leaflet he held in his hand during the speech.

Overall it was an evening of futility. The audience had made no effort to understand why change was necessary and were intolerant towards any suggestion otherwise.

There appeared to be little main stream media presence. The JEP photographer turned up late as did its journalist. One suspects the focus of attention in the newspaper report will be on St Mary, the parish where the other half of the Electoral Commission was presenting that evening. Since nothing intelligible came out of the meeting in Grouville, one has to hope there was more sense and sanity expressed in the smallest parish.

The Commission will have to mug up on the Single Transferable Vote as none of the three members present tonight could explain how it worked when asked from the floor.

Quote of the evening has to be the one suggesting that without Constables “Jersey won't be Jersey, it will be Hampshire”. That presumably is a fate on a par with being represented in the States by a Deputy living in St Ouen.


  1. The government you deserve, Jersey :)

  2. From the Vice Chair's opening speech we learnt that the levels of voter abstention are worse than we thought. Only 30% of the potential eligible electorate actually vote. Thus we have 70% voter abstention. No wonder we get a Right government representing a minority of Jersey Society.

    1. You're assuming that the 70% that don't vote would vote differently to the 30% that do. Is that assumption based on anything or is it just convenient?

    2. Guernsey has high voter turnout for its elections under a reformed system and they have an essentially conservative government, so you might be right to assume that the same would occur in Jersey.Note that there are no active political blogs in Guernsey and seemingly no dissent.

      However,Jersey's 60-70% voter abstention could be said to go directly to the legitimacy of government and that those abstaining do so out of dissatisfaction. Go in any working mans pub and ask why they do not vote. You will hear the same response that nothing changes in Jersey and that it never will. These are the ones that do not presently vote. Clearly this disillusionment hides a desire for alternative policies and representation in government of the interest of working people.

      The 30% that vote are not identical in political opinion to those that abstain. Remember under the present system the electorate has no policy choice presented to it and the Chief Minister is chosen by an electoral college rather than some mechanism that reflects the popular will. Only "insiders" vote since for the others a pesonalised political system has no meaning. Further it tends to be "old Jersey" that does the voting. The Portuguese community for example is virtually passive.

    3. My own experience is that many people don't vote in Jersey because they are generally satisfied with most things and are busy living their lives. These people would only vote if something threatened their way of life. Let's face it, Jersey has a very high proportion of people who simply don't need to vote because their way of life is safe.

    4. "My own experience" being the operative words.

      My own experience shows me that most people don't vote because they don't see the point, nothing changes and because they see a system that is specifically built to make change much harder. "What's the point? It won't change anything" is what I hear when I ask people if they vote.

      But it doesn't follow that people don't vote because they are happy, when at each election time the same government is returned. So that must mean, by your logic, that those voting are also happy too (otherwise they'd have voted for other people), but then what makes those happy people different from the happy people that aren't voting?

  3. Quote of the evening has to be the one suggesting that without Constables “Jersey won't be Jersey, it will be Hampshire”.

    Frankly, a lot of people would say this would be no bad thing, and they'd be right.

  4. Why do we get a Right government simply because of a 70% voter abstention ? I (along with a number of last night's audience by the sounds of it) fail to follow you logic, unless you're saying that only the 'Right' vote, which is obviously nonsense.

  5. Property and privilege will always seek to protect its interest.

  6. And the left will always be driven by jealousy and class hatred, but that has about as much to do with the voting turnout as your comment. Absolutely nothing and you well know it, but don't let that cloud your inbuilt prejudices. Seriously Nick, if people get up and walk out when you talk, that has to start telling you something. Maybe it's not everyone else ?

    1. Those that walked out clearly were not there to listen and perhaps be better informed as to the issues. They wanted confirmation of deeply held opinions which once exposed as untenable or at least were challenged, could not handle the emotional consequences.In one word it is intolerance.

      The public I believe want to see genuine democratic reform and have been waiting too long for its delivery. Mustering a few rednecks in a Parish Hall to cheer in unison for all things past is not difficult. This tactic was successful ten years ago to discredit Clothier, Today it has less traction in the middle of an economic crisis, growing unemployment and business failures. Public opinion has surely grown tired of such antics. The Constables are the weak link in the States. No amount of special pleading can justify the over representation of a few Country districts and the interests that live there. Other States members comment how lazy many Constables are and how they simply do not pull their weight in government, on Scrutiny or in terms of independent propositions brought.

    2. Intolerance is definitely the heart of the problem, however it would seem to be more your own intolerance of others , or the validity of alternative viewpoints, as usual.

      Wholly demonstrative of that is your dismissal of others as 'rednecks', or accusing others of not being there to listen. They were there to listen, but not to be brow beaten by one of your rambling, strident monologues.

      You have the effrontery to claim to speak for 'the public' but you do nothing of the sort. You and your opinions (for that is all they are) have been rejected by the wider public at numerous elections in the past, so you have no public mandate at all.

      Your view (or again, others for whom you claim to speak) of the constables role is just that, a view. Using the term 'Other States members comment how lazy many constables are' as some sort of justification for their removal actually shows the paucity of much of this argument. Or perhaps you would equally believe that criticism of some deputies by a number of constables would be justification for removing Deputies en masse from the States ?

    3. Thank you for the forthright but polite comment. I am happy to reply

      Jersey does not do irony; hence the redneck comment would never be appreciated. Audiences do not normally walk out of political meetings to which they have come to be entertained. Poor Colin Storm being accused of being of “immigrant stock” was pure comedy. Stay at home if you want to keep safe.

      The reference to lazy Constables came directly from a States Member sitting close to me at the back of hall; it was not an invention. However that Deputy would not get up to repeat the remark. Former Deputy of St Mary, Daniel Wimberly has published a lot of material on the Commission web site illustrating the point- few in Scrutiny, few private member Propositions, few questions to Ministers, none a Minister. A career directing traffic can never be the finest recommendation for high office, yet the Constable of St Helier is a poet, so collective description has to be a broad brush statement.

      That straightforward democratic notions have little traction merely illustrates the harshness of the political climate in the Channel Islands. Sark had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the world of modern democratic government. Why exactly do 70% of the electorate abstain from voting for the government? Might it be they realise they have no real choice and do not wish to legitimise the one that will inevitably be formed to continue identical policies to that of its predecessor?

      As for electoral success, remember only 30% of eligible voters vote, otherwise how could the Man from Mars be elected in a St Helier district with high social needs? Working people do not vote. As for being “rejected by the wider public at numerous elections in the past” take a look at the results in 2011- 31% of the vote (571 votes). Just look at the intellectual caliber of the dead wood that does get elected.

      How many States Members have blogs on which they will let you scribble anonymously? We know they hate accountability and few can yet read and write.

      As the saying goes – from defeat, to defeat until final victory.

  7. The Guernsey Press, does an excellent job in holding officials to account, its acts as the general public's voice to the annoyance of some Deputies from time to time. Although owned by the same shareholders as the JEP, its standards appear to be in a different class.

    Perhaps the JEP ought to 'man-up' and tell it as it! Allowing Constables auto rights as a States Member is undemocratic and unfair.

  8. Nick,

    Looks like you're the victim again of Pravda propaganda.

    I'll be doing a blog post disseminating this rather ridiculous article.


    1. Thanks for the solidarity. Yes its shoddy journalism probably written late at night without due reflection, or is that being generous? Its their job to humiliate those telling the truth. As we know there is no truth in Pravda. Only the gullible believe this stuff.

    2. Sam, maybe you could disseminate this blog especially comments like

      "How many States Members have blogs on which they will let you scribble anonymously? We know they hate accountability and few can yet read and write."