Saturday, 18 January 2014

Two Deputies down – will St Helier recover?

Sympathy is in short supply nowadays when it comes to holders of public office, certainly by the media and especially in respect of a certain couple that had the temerity to take one of them, the JEP in their case, to court for defamation. 

Much has been said already about whether the decision to take on Broadlands and Pravda was indeed a wise one, but less has been said about the gap that will now be left in the States Chamber, and for the constituents who voted Deputies Pitman into office in the first place. 

Deputy Shona Pitman was first elected in 2005, when she topped the poll, and her husband, Trevor was elected twice in St Helier no.1, in 2008 and again in 2011. Both had different styles of politics. It is fair to say that Trevor relished question time, was quick on his feet when it came to holding Ministers to account and did not stand for any nonsense. Shona tended to be a politician of fewer words, but was equally diligent, and stood up for social justice and fairness, even when doing so upset the middle-class complacency of the Old Boys Network (which I am told has now started admitting girls too - of a certain breeding, you understand).

I know from speaking to fellow States members, that they worked hard  - even with bankruptcy looming, ongoing casework for abuse survivors, (whose claims were not being recognised and paperwork destroyed) and other housing and social security cases. They regularly took on cases for those who did not live in their constituencies, but such is the fate of St Helier Deputies, since most Country Deputies or Constables are indifferent.

Answers need to be given - and it has been put to PPC - as to what is the rationale between being bankrupt and not being able to hold political office. That is an issue for another day (see HERE). In the meantime, a hole has opened up in the States. The loss of the Pitmans will certainly be felt by the many individuals who they helped over the years. 

More tangibly, their presence will be missed this coming Wednesday, when the States debate the fate of Deputy Duhamel. It is tipped as being 'very close'.

Senator Gorst already starts with a two vote advantage. Deputies Pitman would have certainly voted against the Chief Minister's spurious proposition, which the politically literate see as having the hallmarks of the Machiavellian Ozouf, who wins either way. All the risk is being borne by the naive Chief Minister. If its Heads, then Prince Ozouf slots his compliant protegé into office, consolidating power. Tails, and Deputy Duhamel stays in post - Gorst is severely weakened, and despite his bluff, would surely no longer be able to stay in office as Chief Minister.

So next time you hear the usual cynical comment - all these politicians are a waste of time, make sure you understand, that things will only change when there are more politicians in there with the back-bone and moral compass of the Pitmans.

I wish them well. I am sure their political days are not over. In the meantime, I trust that the electorate of Districts 1 and 2 will find worthy successors to fill their shoes and carry on the good work.



  1. I am glad to hear that 2 new people are already standing in St Helier Number 1 and if against you that will make them joint favourites.

    1. Whoever they are, they can comfort themselves that the experience of inevitable failure is one from which they can take positive lessons.

  2. Also two votes down when it comes to voting on Ozouf's gerrymandering proposition next week. The Prince is playing a blinder.

    1. Ozouf's "Option B with two extra fairies for St Helier" will go to its doom, if only for the reason that the cull of Members will get the Turkeys out to vote against Christmas.

      How anyone has the audacity to present this gross gerrymander as any form of advance it beyond me. Such is the ignorance with which we must deal.

  3. Have you considered standing again Nick?, I think your chances would be good, most of the people who voted for the unfortunate Pitman would turn to someone with similar politics, namely yourself.

  4. If the population of Jersey is 100 000 then 99% of them must belong to one family - Anonymous. There must be something terribly wrong with your island if so many people are two scared to come into the open with their views on blogs etc. You're in a sick society of secrets.