Sunday, 12 January 2014

“Back Door” Boys - Right Slate victory in District No1 St Helier – 1954 a good year for organised “Independents”

Organised politics is what wins elections, or so it seems was the case in the Deputy elections for December 1954. Will the same be true in 5th March 2014 by-election?

The Jersey Progressive Party, the party of the Right, had won the elections in 1948 and dissolved itself when the poltical forces of the working class were defeated. The Right did not disappear, it merely changed, in the absence of an organised opposition, to a group of “Independents”, nevertheless still organised. 

An advert in the Evening Post placed by four candidates rather gives the lie to the idea that they were in any way “independents”. 

The name not receiving a cross is that of the dapper Mr Thomas George Pryor, former President of the Jersey Guest House Association, a guest house proprietor in Portinfer, St Ouen. 

The slate of four for the four seats in District No1 St Helier were Deputy John Le Marquand, Deputy Pirouet, Edwin Hettich a jeweler and George Candlin. Only Hettich lived in St Helier at Edgehill, First Tower the others in St Peter, then a “Country Parish”.

The outcome of the election was fairly predictable. Like today, St Helier is a back door to the States for aspiring members of the economic elite keen to join the political class. Needless to say none had much interest in the social and economic interests of those that lived in the area, essentially a working class area then.

There was a 36% turnout in District No1 with 1306 people voting out of 3544 on the electoral roll. As is the case today, the turnout was the lowest of the St Helier Districts; No 2 achieving  54.8%  and No3 58.9%.

The results for the four Deputy seats in the 8th December 1954 election held in La Motte Street Boys School from 11am to 8pm was as follows:

Le Marquand 1025 votes

Pirouet            905

Candlin           833

Hettich            783

Pryor              544


That 1954 election also saw a 34 year old solicitor stand as a candidate in No2 District St Helier.  Mr R.R. Jeune ”just missed out” as the JEP now says today of all unsuccessful “Establishment” candidates. He fared better in subsequent elections and followed a long political career building the Finance Centre. He continues to play a part in politics; his most recent letter in the JEP called for the preservation of the dual role of the Bailiff as chief judge and chairman of the States Assembly.

As District No1 St Helier prepares itself for a by-election to replace its “Progressive” Deputy Trevor Pitman on 5th March 2014, we will see if the voters, sixty years later, are content with electing individuals indifferent to their social and economic interests, using their constituency as a “back door” to the best gentleman’s club in Town.

“back door” boys

In 2011 Deputy James Baker “topped the poll” in District No1 St Helier by virtue of his impeccable pedigree – the son of a former Constable. The “Man from Mars” took six months to make a maiden speech, has brought no Propositions and asked no questions in the House. One wonders if the electors are still satisfied with their choice, or do they recognise he is another “back door” boy?

We can only speculate who the “Establishment” will have on the stocks to shoe-in to the seat left by ousted Deputy Trevor Pitman on the 5th March. The dogs on the street tell me the candidate has a modest annual income of £250k per annum – clearly someone who will have a natural affinity with residents; many unemployed, the claimants of social security and employees struggling to make ends meets with salaries and wages barely more than they were earning 15 years ago, at a time when prices have doubled.

Those same dogs also tell me many District No.1 residents, fed up with being ignored, are organising to resist the “back door” boys …and girls, when they come knocking.


  1. Are you going to stand for Deputy?
    It would be good if you did.

  2. I truly hope that they show the door to the est. party members when they coming knocking on the doors to try and get the people to vote for them. I would hope that they would give them a mouthful too. They must obviously agree with child abuse see that they support the est. party and their chief bailhache and co.