St Brelade has grown old and even the die hards that I remember from standing for election in 1996 have realised that defence of the status quo is no longer tenable. Reform is in the air, even if acceptance is reluctant. Conservatives have unconsciously realised the import of the old paradox “for things to remain the same, things must change”.
Hanging on to Constables may no longer be the way to retain power for the group around the Council of Ministers. Sacrifices may have to be made and Constables will be the ones to go, given their retention makes the system unworkable and unacceptable in terms of appearance. Whatever scheme is devised, it has to pass muster with the British Government through the Privy Council. Jersey remains a British possession and the UK government is ultimately responsible for good government. No one wants a repetition of the Sark fiasco with reluctant feudalists being dragged into 21st century standards of democratic government. Reduction in the numbers of Deputies, to a States of 42, will ensure the Center Right “trouble makers” are confined to a few in St Helier.
The Last Hurrah
The Parish Hall in St Brelade was reasonably full on Tuesday evening with the usual suspects. Most were elderly save for a few of the guilded youth, smart in their business coats acknowledging each other as they took their seats. Red poppies announced their membership of the club. The Old-Guard were there as well, but clearly age has tempered their ardor.
The Constable of St Brelade was ill with flu and could not introduce the meeting which was left to Deputy Power. That absence had significance. It was symbolic that the Constables cannot orchestrate the response to this Electoral Commission’s proposals, in the same way that they were able to organise parish roadshows to head off Clothier’s recommendations a decade ago.
That change in temperament was apparent when Enid Quenault, former Deputy of St Brelade and twelve years Constable of the Parish, sought an opportunity to address the meeting. We knew what she was going to say, that was inevitable, an unapologetic defence of Constables in the States and the Parish system. Despite persistent efforts she could not raise her arm sufficiently high to attract the attention of the Chairman of the Commission, Senator Bailhache, seated in the other corner of the room. Only following gesticulation by her entourage and pointing fingers did they catch the Senator’s eye. He knew who she was of course and introduced her formally as “Mrs Quenault”. That frailty may not have been noticed by others, but it was a sign of political weakness; that an era was passing. What has changed? Why has the old order lost its confidence? Mrs Quenault’s speech appears below and is a tribute to what was once. As it was delivered, few will have realised that it represented the last hurrah of the old order.
The video is cut short for technical reasons and apologies are offered in advance.
My own 5 minutes of infamy
My own 5 minutes of infamy
Tonight the Electoral Commission are in the parishes of Trinity and St Helier. It should be lively in the Town Hall this evening. The meeting starts at 7pm.