Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Privy Council is in London and the road is via Sark - PPC “press the button” on Referendum ‘Option B’ implementation

There was an atmosphere of expectation as the Policy and Procedures Committee (PPC) met Thursday afternoon in the Blampied room of the States building on the day after the Referendum on reform of the States Assembly. Given the inconclusive and contradictory nature of the result, would PPC seek to reconsider or give instruction to draft legislation?

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the results of the Referendum and whether to authorise the preparation of draft legislation to implement Option B. It was all theatre of course, as there was really no possibility that it would not receive approval, just as the Electoral Commission was never going to be independent and the referendum was anything more than a fig leaf of legitimacy on an illegitimate government fait accompli.

The committee voted to instruct the Greffier to draft legislation by 3 votes in favour and 2 abstentions from Deputies Montfort Tadier and Judy Martin, who attempted a desultory rear guard action.

It was Constable Len Norman who led the assault in calling for implementation. This is a sad irony at the end of a career, as he once upon a time supported the Clothier recommendations that there should be one category of States Member and agreed Constables should no longer automatically sit in the States. “Surely we are not going to say we are not going to not draft legislation” he exclaimed with vigor and indignation at years of stalling over reform. He went on to criticise “childish emails about percentages and how you work it out….our job is to implement the Referendum!”

With the objections swept away and being quorate, the meeting moved rapidly to a vote. Noticeable by his absence was another PPC member, Senator Bailhache, who had given his apologies at the commencement of the meeting that he would be late. To be sure, this was a mere excuse, as it would have been  beneath his dignity to be present during unseemly wrangling. He turned up 25 minutes into the meeting after matters had moved on. Anyway, his vote was unnecessary as there were a sufficient number of members to pass the motion. Accordinly, the Chair, Constable Simon Crowcroft, Senator Sarah Ferguson and Constable Len Norman gave approval with two recorded dissentions.

The Chairman, sidestepping all responsibility, had a bon mot for the historic occasion: “We are the midwife of this process and let the parents fight over the name of the child.” In other words the States Assembly will have the final say. We probably know the outcome in advance as the party whips will be out for loyalists to conform.

¡No Pasarán! - They shall not pass!

The Greffier earlier in the meeting had mentioned that there was a tight schedule if the legislation were to be implemented in time for the 2014 election and this gave the matter some urgency. He also mentioned in passing that this type of law would have to go to the Privy Council for final approval.

It is of course at the Privy Council that this legislation will founder.  Few in that meeting realised the road to London is via Sark. Senator Bailhache does and will already be smoothing the way in the corridors of power. Even so, the British government has already spoken and in spite of there being a Conservative government in power, the precedent for democratic reform of all the Channel Islands is à la mode de Serck. Kicking and screaming we will have democracy here, for 'Option B' is a gerrymander of historic proportions and cannot be allowed to pass.


  1. the meantime the Justice Select Committee is continuing with its Enquiry into Crown Dependencies developments since 2010 Report and invites submissions...PPC won't be advertising this and neither will the Greffe so you had all better Google and find out what to do and when -but bear in mind that time is running out.
    Your written submission should be max 3,000 words and 6 sides of A4 and sent or emailed to the Justice Committee, House of Commons, London SW1 P3JA or for more info or try 020 7219 4272 and if that is too complicated then best if you just sleep through the next decade....
    if you really care you could contact the Committee and ask that public meetings are held in Jersey so that proper discussions might take place with the plebs and so that we can discover what the |Committee actually is and what powers it has...
    and so that the Jersey government actually encourages engagement with the public rather than tries to pretend that the Committee does not exisist...
    its up to you...

  2. You won't let it go will you!
    Nick, what do you think would happen if PPC had ignored the will of the voters?

  3. Democratic Referendum legitimately won by Option B (Success is determined by those who vote, not those who don't, as you well know. Or perhaps you would rather that elections were only declared legitimate when the victor polled over 50% of the potential electorate ?)

    Democratic Vote of the PPC to draft legislation won by majority

    And yet it appears that neither of these democratic decisions is good enough for you ? In what kind of world do you believe that you, or your beloved Privy Council, should have the right to overturn the democratic will of the voting majority of this island, or indeed of a Government committee.

    What is it about democracy that so disturbs you, and, as you were asked but failed to answer by a previous commenter on another thread, would we even be hearing these objections and attempted re-interpretations if Option A had triumphed ?

    1. "In what kind of world do you believe that you, or your beloved Privy Council, should have the right to overturn the democratic will of the voting majority of this island, or indeed of a Government committee."

      Hate to break it to you, but the voting majority was actually against Option B. 16,628 came out to vote, Option B got 8,190 after 2nd preferences were counted. Get your calculator out and tell us if that is a majority.

      Facts tend to be handy in these sorts of discussions.

      Option A was a fair and democratic system. Option B is not. The fact that a referendum endorsed it (though actually the result was inconclusive) does not change the fact that it is an undemocratic system.

      Had Option A won, there would be no implications to worry about. Option B on the other hand, disenfranchises parts of the island. That is intolerable.

      You talk about democracy, but you evidently have no idea what it is if you think it is something that is confined to just doing what a majority votes for, rather than broader inalienable principles of "freedom", "choice" and "equality.

  4. It is fully recognised by all that Option B is not internationally compliant. The whole purpose of the Referendum was to legitimise the illegitimate. When the legislation reaches the Privy Council the Jersey government will be arguing that even though the scheme of two tier constituencies deliberately prevents a level playing field regardless of residence and two categories of Members is simply peculiar, it will be argued that the referendum has endorsed the plan. Jersey is a quaint place with ancient undemocratic institutions but they are loved by its quaint and ancient people (well 8000 odd out of 63,000), Time to modernise; Time to democratise.

  5. Thanks Sam. Interesting to read your version of democracy. It's not what the majority vote for, its what you say it is. I think that tells people all they need to know about what a world living under Sam would really be like. I take it that this would also be accompanied by your use of Social media to vent your feelings if your population failed to comply with your 'wishes' as occurred when the referendum didn't go the way you thought it would.

    With all due respect, it might be nice for both the voting majority of Jersey, and indeed yourself, if, post qualifying, you remained in the UK, where left-wing re-interpretations of the political process garner much greater acceptance, rather than face years of attempting to inflict your versions of 'democracy' locally.

    1. This Anonymous post betrays a number of traits of the undemocratic and authoritarian right.

      1. In true Jersey Way style it trys to shoot the messenger who has the courage to speak out, whilst remaining safely anonymous. Personality not issues shows the political backwardness of the writer and political culture in the island generally.

      2. Deep insecurity is displayed about the low turnout for the Referendum and the impact this has on the legitimacy of the outcome. Option B may have been the mathematical winner, but the political outcome is a disaster. It exposes that the hardcore voters for the government plan are such a small minority. 8000 was all they could muster. The government represents the few not the many. It will of course be railroaded through the States as Members are complicit in this historic gerrymander.

      3. The anti left-wing rant that reveals the true agenda. The reform embodied in Option A was neither radical nor revolutionary; it was a long overdue clean up and democratisation. Not unsurprisingly Option B will make worse the under representation of St Helier and other urban areas to ensure they cannot elect candidates to reflect their social and economic interests.

    2. Anonymous, it is evident that you are a beyond help. Though perhaps this is a good argument for not cutting education funding in Jersey.

      The fact your caricatures of my position weren't even vaguely creative and your sad attempt at turning an issue of fairness and democracy into a petty left v right battle (when will fools like you realise that there are plenty of nice conservatives?) show that you are not a serious contributor.

      Though I enjoyed the attempt to find a more respectful way of saying "there's a boat in the morning" (it didn't work, btw!).

    3. I'm beyond help
      I'm educationally challenged
      I'm a fool
      I'm uncreative
      I'm not serious

      Wow. Taken in conjunction with your recent performance on Facebook, about which interestingly you fail to answer questions on your own blog, ('Establishment Dickheads', 'Option B being fucking INSANE', People who chose not to vote or to spoil their papers being 'idiots')

      you're looking like a pretty insulting and unpleasant chap at the moment.

      But if you could just stop insulting people for a while, and refer back to you original message, Nick's objection to the election result was that, in his eyes, the result of the referendum was invalidated by the fact that an insufficient number of people had voted. My question was not whether A or B was the more democratic choice, but whether he would have viewed a victory by A as being equally invalidated by the low turnout. This is still not a question either you or he has answered.

      It's also interesting the manner in which you try and twist a victory by Option B as not being valid because the majority of voters did not vote for it. Again I therefore ask, do you believe that the result of any vote should only be valid if over 50% of the votes are garnered by 1 option ? A simple larger number of votes than any other option would be insufficient ?

      If you indeed believe this, are you also not admitting that had Option A 'won' by the same margin as 'B' actually did, that it would lack the mandate to carry out its reforms because it failed to garner an absolute majority ?

  6. Once again Nick, you attempt to confuse the courage to reveal somebody's identity, and the validity of their viewpoint. They are mutually exclusive. I may be a coward, but does that necessarily make me wrong ?

    There is also a strange irony in your criticism of somebody's courage and that their politics is backwards, whilst also objecting to the poster shooting the messenger.

    Also quite amusing is that fact that despite your accusation, it is actually yourself and Sam that are demonstrating insecurity about the low turnout for the referendum. From my perspective, the turnout was perfectly adequate to give a democratic result, whatever yourself of Sam's objections. It was actually 6,804 voters in the initial poll, and 8,190 in the second, or 222 (or 1,482) more than was needed to beat the 6,581 (or 6,707) 'hardcore' that Option A could muster.

    If you re-read my comment, and then compare it in style to Sam's, does it really read as a 'rant' ? I don't share Sam's avowed left wing politics, and judging from voting patterns at recent elections, nor do the majority of the electorate in this island. The UK on the other hand has a much broader support base for that political persuasion, and, as your own experiences will attest to, getting elected in Jersey as a left wing candidate is far from easy.

    I lack your political knowledge, so could you confirm that the UK also bases its representation at Westminster on population density of it constituencies ?

    As to my agenda, I'm glad Option B won. This is based largely on my experience of the behaviour, and (in)effectiveness, of some of the Deputies who have represented St Helier in recent Governments. The last thing this island needs in these difficult economic times is more of those.

    There seems to be some sort of misapprehension that politics which panders to disaffection or disharmony is in some way more 'democratic' than that which encourages and celebrates economic success and personal liberties. Fortunately, as this island has demonstrated in the last 50 years, the second option is far more likely to improve the lot of the first, rather than the other way around as some seem to believe.

    1. "As to my agenda, I'm glad Option B won. This is based largely on my experience of the behaviour, and (in)effectiveness, of some of the Deputies who have represented St Helier in recent Governments. The last thing this island needs in these difficult economic times is more of those. "

      In a single paragraph you adequately reveal to everyone that you are not a democrat.

      You wanted Option B because it would under-represent St Helier who elect Deputies that have different values to you. Not because it's a fair and democratic system.

      So please, no more lectures on democracy from yourself when you've acknowledged you don't care about it.

    2. This referendum is the first electoral event in recent Jersey history where the issue of voter turnout has had to be acknowledged, even if only to dismiss it immediately as unimportant. The discourse has changed from voter “apathy” to recognition of the phenomena of voter abstention. That term has yet to be adopted fully but it is coming. Anyone with smattering of political science understands the concept and its significance to the legitimacy of any electoral event.

      Ever the straight guy, even Adrian Lee on BBC Radio Jersey raised the issue of legitimacy of the Referendum when the turnout was so low. He used a polite euphemism by stating that the norm in Jersey politics is not to vote. This amounts in fact to a serious legitimacy crisis for government. It is fortunate that the sleeping giant is just that, sleeping.

      The media perform an excellent job of keeping people away from the polling stations, spreading cynicism about politics and the absence of change. This was the function of Matthew Price’s “Option D”. Elsewhere in Britain, all the political parties would have been down like the ton of bricks on a journalist, especially a BBC one, that promoted voter abstention. Not in Jersey. Why? Answers on a postcard.

      One issue that seemed to get stuck in the head of number of butterflies was that this was purely an advisory referendum. That somehow reinforced the mindset of “why bother, when they are going to ignore it anyway?” Such people were looking for an excuse to not vote and found one. Option B voters did not have that problem it seems even though they are only a minority. They understand that voting and voting for the right people, prevents change and keeps things as they are.

      Changing the norm and getting people out to vote is indeed a challenge.

  7. “We are the midwife of this process and let the parents fight over the name of the child.”

    Try: Bee the Bailhache B@stard ?