Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Electoral Commission – Muted REACTION in St Brelade

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

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.


  1. Hi

    Could you explain your poppy reference above? I wear one because I feel I owe a debt to hundreds of thousands of people who gave up their lives in the trenches, at sea etc. I don't recall joining any club?

  2. In 1996 I went canvassing in St Brelade. I visited Maison St Brelade, the care home for the elderly and there met a Yorkshire man who had worked at the Sun Works at First Tower for Lyons as an engineer. He was about 90 years old and his mind was absolutely clear even if his body was a little frail. He told me a story about his service in World War One in the infantry – the Yorkshire Regiment. He remembered the war well and its utter futility. He even offered me his medals (Pip, Squeek and Wilfred) since I was interested but I declined. With hindsight, I should have accepted as I would have cherished them in a way he never did, but for different reasons that some patriots might.

    This was the anecdote her recounted to explain what that futility meant. During basic training he was taught how to use a trench mortar. He witnessed some of his comrades being taught to load and fire. The mortar bomb was thrown down the tube of the mortar and hitting the bottom detonated on a firing pin, projecting its shell onto the would be enemy. On this one occasion an officer instructed two men of the mortar crew to put the shell down the tube. They did so but it did not go off. The officer instructed the two men to extract the mortar shell and try again. They did so. This time the shell exploded inside the mortar and all three were killed instantly. That for this St Brelade constituent and veteran of the Great War was an example of futile death. That war had nothing about it that was Great. He told me to remember the story. He had many others equally horrific.

    My grandmother came to Jersey also from Yorkshire in the 1920’s. She came with her brother to establish a jewelers called Lait. He was told Jersey would be good for his health – he had been gassed in the trenches. He was the lucky one as two of six brothers died fighting in the Yorkshire Regiment. I never thought to ask if my constituent might have remembered the boys Lait with whom he may well have served. I am sure he would have agreed their deaths were futile too.

  3. I understand the futility of war and that every death is tragic. I don't buy a poppy to celebrate war. I buy one because I feel for the young men, women and children from all sides who perished. I try and understand their fear and courage and I am grateful that I will probably never have to experience it first hand.

    I still don't understand why you refer to a 'club'?

  4. Are you actively engaged in opposing wars that are currently in progress or is that poppy just for show?The British Army is engaged in a futile war in Afhanistan with casualties on a weekly basis and no prospect of anything other that repeating the experience of the Red Army. Are you involved with the anti-war campaign?

  5. I am not sure why you are asking me that? I have explained why I wear a poppy.

    I am simply, and politely, asking you to explain why you have used the words "Red poppies announced their membership of the club". I am not sure what you mean by this and would be grateful if you would explain?

  6. Hi Nick

    I wonder if you would be kind enough to post my reply to the poppy thread above?

    Thank you.

  7. Who are you that writes anonymously and does not have the courage to use their own name?

    1. Hi Nick, I post anonymously for a reason that has nothing to do with courage. Happy to explain in person when the opportunity next arises.

  8. Hi

    I am not the original poster but I think you have the poppy subject wrong.
    Forgive me if I am wrong but some wars are thought to preserve the right for freedom and preserve democracy etc..
    Would you prefer a Nazi state as would have likely happened in 2nd world war if we refused to go to war.
    I may be wrong and current war in Afghanistan may be wrong but it may be preventing wide scale terrorism if allowed
    To grow and prosper in that area. I know that there are several cases of differing opinion but who can trually claim
    To know it all ?.