The aftermath

Congratulations to all the candidates in the recent election.  It is the candidates who create the choices for electors, and without that there is no possibility of democracy.

Thank you to each of the 10% of the voters across the island that cast a vote for my decidedly green platform. By Jersey standards my manifesto would be considered radical but elsewhere it might well be judged modestly progressive. Recent electoral history demonstrates quite well that the Jersey electorate dislike letting politics and political debate influence elections.  Name recognition and perception of the candidate’s persona (rightly or wrongly) seems to weigh much more heavily.

If that sounds too strong or unbelievable, look at the evidence. Of the 28,218 who voted in the senatorial elections, 17,538 voted for Mr Bailhache and 14,981 for Mr Le Gresley. Therefore at least 4,301 people must have voted for both, despite quite considerable differences in their manifestos and political position.  A similar exercise could be done with Mr Gorst, who’s voting record can be compared with Mr Le Gresley’s in Hansard. At least 2,377 must have voted for both.

Anecdotally I had people from the campaign teams of all four of the successful senatorial candidates approach me to say they thought I had done very well on the hustings, my leaflet was very informative, the issues were really important that they would vote for me. The problem of course is that only a couple of thousand people maximum attend the senatorial hustings, and many of them are already committed to candidates or for particular political views, so the number of people who can be influenced is probably less than a thousand.

I also got asked a number of times why I did not stand for deputy. That is of course a well trodden path - and several of our current senators and ministers started as deputies in St Helier.  The question is predicated of course on the assumption that the campaign was about getting elected. I would have been delighted to have been elected and be able to use that platform to argue my case. However I think it is more important at this stage to explain the very difficult situation we are facing and the necessary measures to deal with them to as wide an audience as I can reach. That meant standing for Senator, doing the 14 hustings, and issuing a leaflet to every household in the Island.  And it looks like it had some impact.

Since the election I have had a number of calls and e-mails from former and newly elected States members, and by no means all progressive members.  It is clear they grasp that I am arguing something important but not easy to follow. That is because it is a different paradigm.  The sort of view I am arguing for is not an optional add-on to business as usual economics and politics.  It requires a wholly different way of looking at the world and the drivers that make thing happen and hence how to respond to the problems we have.  I find it no coincidence that I was almost the only person on the platform to predict significant food and fuel price rises and explain why that was inevitable. And just 2 days ago we saw the actual figures: food up 8% and fuel and light up 13%.

Perhaps those figures do not worry you, but they sure concern me.  Now I invite you to think back how you voted and what exactly your selected candidates espoused as their economic policy, if indeed they even had one.  If you don’t know, write and ask them - they are your representatives and you are more than entitled to do so.

Clearly policies on such fundamental issues as economics and the price of essentials such as food and fuel are not as meaningful to the electorate as the eternal discussion of the constitution of the States, and how polite people should be in the chamber.  From my perspective no amount of tinkering with the States structure will help. The only help will come from  electing people who understand the issues and their causes and can derive a prescription, even if unpalatable, to deal with the problems. And as for politeness, it is desirable, but I really do not care if the person sticking the stiletto in my guts is smiling nicely or screaming obscenities.

Now back to image, profile and name recognition. If you are still unconvinced, you might like to read a bit about how Derren Brown manipulates the choice of people on his shows, thereby enabling him to predict their behaviour. See

And a final note. If I am correct that image and name recognition count hugely for the chances for election, at least in senatorial elections, then the central role of the media must be recognised. The decision by editors to publish or not publish letters, to refer to people by their successes or their failures, to label people or not is a critical influence on our government.

How many senatorial votes to cast?

You can cast up to 4 votes in the senatorial  election, but you do not have to use them all.  So the question is how many to use?  Generally you should try to use all 4 votes if possible as that keeps out those you do not want.  However that does not work if you really want one or two , but are not fussed about the others. My recommended approach is this.

Put your four candidates in order from most preferred to least. If you would be comfortable to find  your first choice lost out by one vote to your last choice, cast all the votes on your list.  However if you would be very unhappy to find  your first choice lost out by one vote to your last choice, remove your last choice.   Repeat the whole for the new shorter list until you have a list where you are happy for any to be elected ahead of any other on it.

This would be a much easier operation for the electorate  if we had single transferable voting (STV).

Behind the scenes

I have been out putting up posters, and then dealing with various election related e-mails and messages that have piled up during the week. One item I had not expected to have to deal with was the anger that has arisen concerning the filming of the St Helier hustings tomorrow evening. As a result I did an interview that is now posted up  here.

As to how the election is going, it is very hard to say. My impression is that things are rather more muted than in previous elections in Jersey. That may be because of the single election day meaning many of the politically active people are spread even more thinly that in previous years. I also get a sense that people are less certain about their voting intentions than was apparent in previous elections. Sure many have their first preference sorted out, but the other options are uncertain, and there is little sense that people are intending to vote simply 'progressives' or 'establishment'. My instinct, and that is all it is, is that people want something different, but cannot quite articulate or identify what that different thing is. I suspect those standing on a platform of constitutional change will be beneficiaries of that, though I think the electorate will be disappointed if they get in. Reform of the States will not of itself do anything for the economy, the environment, food and fuel prices, or almost anything people recognise to be making their lives more difficult day to day.

Amongst those dozen or so people who have been around Jersey politics a while and are prepared to comment to me, the consensus is it is all too close to call. Mr Bailhache and Mr Gorst are front runners, but not by much as the factors are too many and too interrelated for anyone to be prepared to call it. Will Portelet drag Mr Cohen's vote down significantly (rightly or wrongly)? If Mr Syvret's vote holds up well will that be to the detriment of Mr Le Gresley who benefited from an anti-Syvret vote in the bye election? Are people riled up enough by the change in number of Senators to come out for Mr Farnham? Will the increase in registered voters in St Helier indicate a bigger turnout there, and what effect will that have? With just one hustings meeting to go, and barring some surprise campaigning tactic or faux pas, there are 7 candidates who have some plausible prospect of being elected.

Of the more intriguing observation that may help explain the voting uncertainty is that the candidates are more strongly aligned or differentiated on the libertarian/authoritarian axis than on the usual left/right one. Political compass is one site that explains this , and enables you to take a test to see where you come out. 

I took the test a few years ago out of curiosity. I came out Economic Left/Right: -5.25 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.49 Which appears to place me somewhere between Ghandi and the Dali Lama, in the green coloured libertarian left block. No surprise there then, albeit that I have very big reservations on using economics as a distinction of politics. Starting with the view that classical economics is inherently flawed in the real, finite resource world! This libertarian/authoritarian oriented view, may explain why candidates like Darius Pearce, myself, Stuart Syvret and others seem to be at odds with Sir Bailhache, as per the link above.

Countryside hustings

Last night we were at the Royal Jersey Agriculture and Horticulture Society showground in Trinity. I arrived early because I was traveling by public transport again. The society had sent out a suggestion of three points to cover in our presentations. For me it was pretty straightforward to work them into the material I usually talk about at the hustings It was an interesting mix of approaches taken by the candidates whose main platform has little bearing on agriculture or countryside issues. They ranged from Lyndon Farnham who gave pretty much his usual pitch to Mr Bailhache who spoke specifically on the topic. Stuart Syvret was first up and spoke about resilience and the significance of peak oil to out future and the industry. Unsurprisingly same of that was also in my presentation at number 11, along side climate change, food security and world population growth leading to the need for more self reliance in energy and food.

The first question was from John Heys. He pointed out only 0.5% of GDP was agriculture and shouldn't the balance be different and what to do about increasing that percentage. A lot had already been said by the time it got to me. I commented, uniquely, that food production and security is a strategic issues not just a commercial one. It is not the first time we have faced this situation. In 1608 we passed a law to prevent men knitting during the vraicing and harvesting seasons. Even four hundred years ago people understood that earning good money was one thing, but looking after the essentials,like having adequate food to eat, was also necessary. learn from history.

Mike Dun asked why we had agricultural workers living in portakabins, but this was unacceptable in finance. There was consensus that it was not acceptable.I also poor housing conditions for anyone was a cost to society in latter health problems, and that needs to be factored into looking at the costs and affordability of upgrading or replacing accommodation.

We were asked whether to much money and consideration was given to 'middle class dinner plate' topics rather than real agriculture and fishing. Most seems to be agreeing that might be the case. I refuted the premise of the question on the basis that the soil and cops are part of ecological systems and the external elements like pollinators and saprophytes are important. Removal or loss of a key species can totally alter the balance.

Peter Le Maistre asked who on the panel would be bold enough to support genetic modification of the Jersey Royal to protect from blight and eelworm. Easy one for me that. My fields are certified organic, I'm a supported of the Jersey Organic Association and the UK Soil Association . They are against GMO and so an I. The surprising bit of that was the amount of applause from the audience for my reply.

Tom Gruchy has posted a link with the speeches by me, Mr Bailhaches and Mr Cohen. 'Tom' has a different take on the best use of the land - housing- and prefers to see agriculture in purely financial contribution terms than as a strategic food security provision.

Waste and savings

Why are we applying ‘savings’ at a flat rate across the board? We never did that when we had surplus funds. It makes no account of how efficiently a department is run, or indeed any political priorities on the services provided by departments. More importantly if we have been building a proper sovereign fund during the good years, as the Norwegians have done, we might not even be facing the current budget cuts.

Reducing waste is essential. INSEAD produced a report last year entitled ‘Value of sustainable procurement practices’. It showed that applying environmental criteria to supply and procurement also saves money, up to 1/3rd of one percent of total revenues. For the States that’s £2 million.

We also have to tackle the enormous amount of food that is wasted in the chain from grower to consumer. Over £57 per month per household on average in the UK. Anaerobic digestion could deal with this effectively, along with other green waste.

More on-island reuse and recycling would be beneficial and needs investigating. We are we only at 30% recycling rates? Guernsey is closer to 50%, and places in Belgium have achieved 70% rates. We should investigate options for small scale recovery and recycling locally. If we could say recycle aluminium locally we could then develop some further light industry fabricating from that recovered material.

I have attended a number of the consultation meetings related to the incinerator, and the handling of the waste ash. I blogged on the sizing and siting and the inevitability we would be taking Guernsey's waste because it was over-sized. At the most recent meeting where TTS are proposing to double the height of the ash storage , basic questions like the mean time to failure of the leakage detection system could not be answered. As far as I know they still have not answered that question. The storage bags are expected to have a lifetime of 100 years, what are the chances to a leak happening in that time, and what are the odds the leakage detection system has failed?. The consequence when sited right alongside a RAMSAR site could be devastating on a special ecological system. Have we learned nothing from the debacle of the potato dumping at Beauport?

St Mary hustings and interesting questions.

A packed St Mary Parish Hall on Friday night and some of the best questions of the hustings so far, ranking alongside those of the youth hustings. I spoke first and was hence almost last to answer all the questions.

The first question came from deputy Wimberley. He asked how we would get more honesty into the debate on States spending. He cited the example that we spend less than other OECD countries as a proportion of GNI or equivalent, yet we are told spending is out of control and some want faster deeper cuts. Several candidates seemed either to not follow the argument, or to talk about consultation. No one that I recall, even those who have been talking cuts and reducing spending at other hustings, disagreed with the deputies key factual observation above, though Mr Pearce drew a different conclusion on spending from other comparisons.

My response was that to have a debate it is essential to make the accounting transparent. I have listened to States debates on the radio and it is astounding how monies, not in the budget, can be found for pet projects from odd pots of money. The public have little to no chance of following such opaque operations.

We also need to have some basic numerical analysis applied. For example I was at the health consultation at St Paul’s the other month. We were presented with three scenarios stretching 30 years into the future. But the variation in the projects costs was only 10%. Such projects could easily have errors or variability in excess of 10% so the comparison is rather meaningless. But those error bands or expected variabilities were not presented.

The second question was the ubiquitous electoral reform one – should we have a referendum and should it also have support from each parish to be passed. The answers were pretty much unanimous of supporting a referendum and against a parish veto.

Question three was a really interesting one that had also been raised at the St Mary deputy hustings. To paraphrase, what did candidates think of the proposed Intellectual Property law and its implication in education and other areas. Most candidates clearly had no idea. A couple talked of copyright and protecting the interests of authors and artists. Mr Bailhache, who should know something of it being a lawyer by background, merely saw it as a commercial opportunity for lawyers and trademark and patent specialists, and a diversification of the economy. But he did not answer the questions. Neither really did the other lawyer on the platform, advocate Colley give a clear answer. She gave the typical lawyer on the one hand on the other hand response to a question they do not know how to answer.

While I agree it has earning opportunities for lawyers and some other specialists, it is not a legal question, it is not something to be left to lawyers. It is a mater of public policy. I did not answer the education bit specifically, but addressed the other area part of the question. Is it right that bio-tech companies can claim ‘ownership’ of parts of the human genome and then demand payment for therapies based on that, or withhold right to treatment altogether? Is it acceptable that companies like Monsanto can claim rights on a gene found in nature and the sue subsistence farmers for saving the own seed as they have for thousands of years because it contains the companies ‘proprietary’ gene?

I also pointed out, from my personal experience as a research engineer, that it will not protect individual knowledge creators as they usual have their rights signed away as a condition of employment. I ran out of time to continue. The only other person on the platform who appeared to understand the question and respond appropriately was Stuart Syvret who commented on the ongoing patent wars of Samsung , Apple and the like and the problems surrounding that.

There was a questions on the statement in the education green paper on student who can benefit should have their choice of course influenced by costs. Ie funding students. One or two brought up not paying for irrelevant courses, or having loans. The consensus seemed to be the need to fund all students adequately.

The final question was on whether Jersey should look at a windfall tax as they have in the past and may again do in the UK, specifically to pay for our infrastructure bill. The majority seemed to be against. Senator Le Gresley was for a windfall tax on land rezoning gains (I agree) but went on to say he would like to 'whack' the finance industry, if he could. Top marks for political honesty there, but I think it is an impractical proposition while so much of our economy and people’s jobs depends on it.

Stuart Syvret was not wholly against the concept but interpreted it as a form of capital gains taxation.

My preference and priority as expressed in the meeting is to find a way to tax non-resident trading companies, who currently contribute no tax. Our infrastructure problem is of the States own making. We have only recently moved to GAAP accounting and using depreciation. We have known for decades we need to do something about the sea defences the Germans put in. The situation with the States housing stock is indefensible – tenants have paid their money as rents but we have not done the repairs. It is not fair on them, and it is allowing a major asset to deteriorate- madness. In retrospect I should have referred to question one on this point to – honesty in accounts.

Youth and Student Hustings and the Contruction Council

Yesterday was a busy day. I had to go to the Channel Television studios to record a short piece for them about my 'manifesto' . Immediately after that I walked up to Hautlieu for the Student and Youth hustings. I arrived early and had a chance to met the head teacher, Mrs Toms. The room we used was well laid out and good acoustics., we could probably have managed without the microphones. I counted 23 of the appropriate age group attended, not including deputy Tadier who attended for most of the meeting. Congratulations to Ryan for chairing the meeting and keeping the answers to the time limit enabling more questions than we've had at the other senatorial hustings.

I went off my usual approach for my presentation at this hustings, and without notes. I focused on oil supplies, climate change and tax. I outlined the importance of oil to the world's economy, and the fact production has flat lined and we've used half of known reserves. On climate change we are beyond CO2 concentrations that people originally thought were safe. Even if we halted all emissions those gases would be in the atmosphere and affecting climate for another 20 to 30 years. My generation is significantly responsible for the problem , we have known it was coming but we carried on consuming and polluting beyond what the planet could support. The cost is falling on future generation, and for that I apologised.

I also pointed out that iniquities in parts of our tax system. All those in the room pay tax, GST, even if they have no income or earnings - that's the epitome of a regressive tax system. I also pointed out if they set up a self-employed business they would likely have to pay 6% employees social security, 6 1/2 % employers social security, and up to 20% tax on the profits, even if not actually taken out, thanks to deemed distributions. A non Jersey owned business doing exactly the same would not pay that 20%. if you r competitor happened to be a 1.1.k he or she is likely already paying the ceiling social security and at the threshold in tax. That competition is paying 1% tax on the profits -more than 30% advantage over the school leaver setting going self-employed. That is no way to incentivise enterprise and innovation. Given the huge problems we face from oil dependence and climate change we need every bit of those skills - innovation and enterprise.

I thought at one point I had won the election. In reply to a question on climate change and oil dependency all the candidates said one way to another we were not doing enough. Since the core basis of my campaign is that we are not doing enough and have not set up a proper detailed credible plan to meet things like C02 emission reduction targets, that felt like a victory to me.

Immediately after the hustings it was down to the award winning Radisson Hotel for a presentation and event with the Jersey Construction Council. It seemed to boil down to fiscal stimulus was a great success, can we have some more please, and what are you going to do to help us. I have family contacts in the part so the construction industry, and my view of fiscal stimulus effects on smaller business is not as rosy as portrayed. Those business whose clientele are private householders don't see any benefit while others in the industry get a hand out of work to keep them going through hard times. It is not a level playing field.

I am happy to support the need for training and not just vocational skills, but also things like running a small business since the overwhelming majority of construction companies are 5 or fewer employees and almost half are one man bands it seems. As someone who is keen on economic diversity I went to the event interested in supporting the industry through difficulties , especially where they are using local staff and materials, and circulating the money in the local economy. Those who's work is in maintenance and extending the life of existing building is an all round good thing to do. But we know the big money and the big players are in new builds and big schemes, and this is really where the focus lays when people talk of supporting the industry.What I heard and the approach of the Council did more to put me off than to foster that opinion.

It seems only Mr Cohen and one other person understands the mechanics of determining affordable housing in new developments. I find it very concerning that after the election we may have only one person who understands the scheme. I have never really understood how people could consider £260,000 affordable by people on typical incomes outside the finance industry. The reason became clearer last night.The definition of affordable is what is negotiated as affordable for developers to offer, not what is affordable by people to buy.

One other point to note about the Construction Council. It's membership is nearly 100 companies. But there are more than 1100 businesses in the construction sector in Jersey.

A flavour of what could be

There are many lessons for us in this film. Totnes is doing a number of the things we need to look at too. They started their recent resurgence without many of the advantages we have - better sun, local food culture, solid horticultural roots, a rich marine environment and, of course, a well established local currency If we only grasped the opportunity to make this sort of thinking happen here we could have a more dynamic vibrant resilient and diverse economy alongside a happier healthier community.

St Ouen Hustings and reform

I have been remiss in not posting about the St Ouen husting on the 28th.  In part that is because I was feeling so unwell on the day with a heavy cold and sore throat I struggled greatly just to get through the meeting.  I do not read out a prepared speech at the hustings. I do have a few headings I use as prompts to make sure I get some sort of logical flow.  A lot of what I am concerned to articulate and explain is interconnected and it is easy to come across all disconnected and vague otherwise. It also means I can respond to other comments in other candidate's speeches if necessary.

Two things stood out for me about the St Ouen husting. First was the absence  of  key sitting ministers like Sen Ozouf and Maclean and Mr Rankine, who appeared to be at all the other hustings. I'm not sure why and whether that says anything about St Ouen , or the missing observers.  It wasn't because there was another husting that evening.  The second observation was how people became keen to dig out their St Ouen family connections (A'Courts dominated!). It hasn't happened anywhere else, and I doubt it shall.  Perhaps  it is a subconscious recognition that in this parish we have a sense of belonging and local community that is strong and candidates fell the need to associate with it.

For the St Ouen husting I changed the content somewhat away from my usual stuff on why food and fuel prices are rising faster than earnings, and how my agenda for diversifying the economy and becoming more self reliant in food and alternative energy could help reverse that over time, and create more local jobs and give a bit more choice of careers. It was still there of course ,as was food security, and oil dependency, and community cohesion.  But because of the date I had to talk about constitutional reform.

September 28th is important in Jersey for two reasons. First, it is the date Guillaume (William) landed at Pevensey with his army to assert his claim on the crown of England, as promised him by Edward the Confessor. It was the success of that campaign that created the link between Normandy and the English Crown, and hence laid the foundations of our constitutional position.

Second it is important because on that date in 1769 that around 500 people descended on the Royal Court.  They were demanding that laws be written down, that there should be consultation before laws were passed and an end to certain food exports.  Just like in the Arab world today the underlying political discontent was set alight by problems in staple food prices. Back then the wealthy land owners were exporting wheat to   France to get a better price, which drove up prices locally. Since rents and rates were based on quarters of wheat, this drove up those prices too. A vicious double whammy for the ordinary islander of the day.  The upshot of the mini revolution was, among others, the removal by the Privy Council of the corrupt Attorney General, and the adoption of a code of laws.

Constitutional reform is not a feature of my election campaign, but there are 4 candidates in the senatorial election for whom it is their main issue.We made a mistake in not putting Clothier to a referendum , and simply letting the States cherry pick bits.  In fact I would argue we should put constitutional changes to the people in a referendum on  principle.  It is about the only time a referendum should be used.

I am a big fan of local and decentralised systems  for food and energy production. I want to apply that to government too.  For us in Jersey that means the parish level and I warned those candidates concentrating on constitutional reform that anything that undermines the local and parish level would not be well received by the public.

I had previously made a couple of other observations about constitutional reform that I did not have time to do on the 28th. Various reasons are given by the different candidates for pressing for change. Some are more logical than others.  I can see that reducing numbers would reduce costs (States members pay), However claiming that States reform , especially reducing numbers, would lead to improved quality and fewer questions and no 'unimportant back bench propositions' does not follow, either logically or politically.

It is not a given that more questions are a bad thing. That may reflect poor decision and policy making on the part of the Council of Ministers-so there is more to question., In part I think in recent years it also indicates a greater volume of work and increasingly complex legislation being brought forward.

There is an important question to be asked about the quality of  States members, and the importance or otherwise of backbench propositions. Who decides what is quality, and what is important?  In a representative democracy that is the decision for the electors to make. If they are unhappy with their representatives they lobby them, and if still dissatisfied with their quality or actions then reject them at election time.  Those who want to change this mechanism need to specify who they would set up as judge and jury in place of the democratic decision of the people and explain exactly why that is better than democracy. They will find it very hard to convince me as, to paraphrase Churchill, democracy is the least worst of the systems we have tried.

Logically it follows that a reduced number of States members would likely result in a reduced range of opinion and political divergence in  the Assembly.  I happen to believe in diversity as an essential aspect of stable and resilient systems, be they ecological, economic or political.  I find that argument for reducing numbers unconvincing. Moreover logically what you lose at the low quality however defined end, you also risk losing at the high quality, however defined end.  There is simply no guarantee that changing numbers changes the quality of members or debate, even if that were desirable.

To my mind the key  issues that give rise to many of the arguments for reform are caused by other aspects of our political system. First is the partisan way ministerial government has happened in the last 3 years. Our current chief minister has chosen to nominate his political friends and allies to ministerial post, rather than a broad cross-section of the political views in the assembly . In doing so he  has also undermined the role of senator by leaving so many out of ministerial posts, The inevitable consequence is that those without ministerial or assistant ministerial posts are consigned to scrutiny or oblivion.  Unsurprisingly therefore scrutiny has become a centre of opposition, rather than its proper role. So now that part of the apparatus does not function, and there is a dearth of a formal check and balance mechanism.  At this point I invite you to review the item  above about the number of questions in the assembly, and why that has happened, and whether it is a bad or a good thing.

The second reason is to do with the premise on which members are elected, and the low turn out in our elections.  There are two things noticeably absent from our election system. They are that the electorate cannot vote for a fully formed, all embracing, costed and planned out programme of government. The other is that the mechanics do not allow debate and testing of the policy platform between candidates. We are limited to electing 51  individuals not one of whom can possibly have a fully enough detailed progamme on their own, and whose 'manifesto' cannot possibly be  implemented in its entirety anyway. In short there is nothing for which we can  hold the members, and the council of ministers in particular, to collective account.  We are reduced to buying the sales and marketing brochure pitch with no trading standards equivalent right of redress when the service provided does not match up.

There are arguments for States reform, and voting reform too, based on equality of representation and proportionality of votes. Immediately it is obvious here the difficult point is the Connétables.  With parishes varying in number of electors by a factor of 10 , proportionality is not achievable if  they are the only parish representation. Yet as I have indicated I, and I think a lot of other people too, am very keen on the localised government represented by the parishes.

The obvious solution to my mind is to retain  Connétables in the assembly, with a special responsibility for heading up scrutiny, but without a vote in the assembly.  This retains a voice for parishes, especially those bigger ones that comprise multiple deputy districts, and retains the mechanism of the requete etc. It would be necessary to remove the policing functions  to the Chefs de Police.  In effect the  Connétables would take on the responsibilities of a revising second house, albeit in the same chamber.

Without a vote the proportionality issue is much less troublesome and with a secure voice in the chamber for each parish, the way is freed up to have non parish bounded constituencies, or just one island wide constituency if that was desired. I have no strong view on this, though I note surveys have suggested people strongly favour the island wide mandate. Whichever way, if we have multi-member constituencies we must have some form of PR if we are to have any sort of representative chamber.

Worryingly that seems to put me rather close to the camp of the conservative forces.


I was asked on a Facebook to clarify where I stand on GST, so here it is.

GST is a regressive tax and I believe in progressive taxation. I campaigned against its introduction because of that. I would rather have consumption taxes on inessential , planet and life damaging, and luxury items. There is no sign of that happening soon locally, so I support the next best option on the table - removal from essentials like food, domestic power and water.

We could have avoided increasing GST if we had found a way to tax non resident non finance companies., That imbalance is  deeply unfair on locally owned businesses. Correcting this is key to reducing or removing GST, unless we introduce the consumption taxes above.
The following letter appeared in the JEP recently. It says so much about where we have gone wrong  I certainly do not agree with all of  it, but  thought it useful to reproduce here. As a view from the outside it is as impartial a take as you are likely to find.

I HAVE recently returned from a two-week break in your beautiful Island and feel compelled to write about my experiences and the changing face of Jersey.
My first trips to the Island were back in the 1980s, when I worked as a summer student on potato farms. The 80s in jersey were happy days, your tourism was booming, the farming community was thriving, bars and restaurants were busy, and the Islanders were strong, independent and proud.
What a contrast I found this time around, I could write a thesis and on where I feel your States have allowed the Island to fall into decline. Such a paper would include chapters in consumerism, greed, corruption, nostalgia, self-pity and resignation.
What ever happened to customer service in your Island? In the 80s it was excellent, happy chatty bar staff, helpful polite waiters, and shop assistants that could speak English and pass the time of day.
On my holiday, I found waiters who came to your table and handed you your plate, rather than place it on the table. I also found waiters who did not know what was on the menu and appeared not to care, waiters with false smiles whose expression changed when they left your table.
In one restaurant I asked three separate waiters for Pernod or Ricard but not one knew what it was – yet your tourist board promotes the Island as being closer to France than England.
In another restaurant I was unable to explain that I did not want a particular table, because the waitress did not understand what I was saying. In the end I was forced to leave. I found polish bar staff in nearly every bar I visited; many had a limited knowledge of the English language and at best could only take your order. None had any concept whatsoever of the English pub atmosphere, ie chatty and friendly.
Your elections are coming up soon, so perhaps it’s time to put people in power who care about the Island. In my view you need broad-minded people, people who understand what it means to be a Jerseyman, strong people who are not afraid to return to the immigration policies of the past.
You need people who want to encourage tourism. In order to do this they will need to revise your tax laws, look at ownership of bars and restaurants and the apparent lack of business acumen, they will need to examine monopolies and, if necessary, force sales.
From an outsider’s point of view the States seem to be in cahoots with your financial services industry. Perhaps the States feel they have no alternative.
It’s also clear that developers have had a hand in taking away a lot of the Island’s heritage; Jersey Pottery, I understand, is to be the next victim.
Many new developments are an eyesore and are not in keeping with the Island’s architecture, Portelet apartments being the latest in a long line of projects that should never have been granted planning permission, in my view.
I feel you should reduce income tax for local people, so that they can work in your bars and restaurants, and compete with the cheaper Eastern European workforce.
You should also look to recruiting from the UK. British people may not have socialist working values, but British people today, in contrast to those of 30 years ago, have excellent business skills.
In the long run I feel your Island will be better off. You have had the good times. Make sure you leave some for your children.

St Martin Hustings

Last night's hustings was different for sure.  We had barely sat in our places when the power failed.  The honorary police got out some battery powered lamps and we proceeded.  Of course the microphone and PA were not working, and since I had a very sore throat I found it hard going speaking clearly and loudly enough. Since I gave the speech that has a significant part about alternative energy and Samso, I was able to slip in a thank you  to the JEC for their timely and dramatic demonstration of the importance of secure energy supplies.

The questions we good too. Starting with Mr Falle who wanted to know how we would diversity the economy and remove barriers to entrepreneurship.  My response on diversification is to look at areas that leverage our existing investments in new area eg hosting MMORPG's that uses our good broadband and existing hosting skills. Doing recycling on island rather than shipping it. Aluminium looks a possibility - we don't do it because there is no local demand for aluminium so it has still to be shipped away. We don't have people doing light engineering in aluminium because it has to be brought in. Government needs to get both parties together to make the synergy happen. The other area, of course, is alternative power generation, particularly marine tidal and microgeneration systems.

On reducing barriers -the big one, deemed distribution that meant entrpreneurs had to pay tax on profits reinvested into the business is going in 16 months. The imbalance between 11k and local  people buildning a new busieness is also a problem. Not allowing French traders invited to a French market to sell goods labelled in French is an example of the silly bureaucracy that ought to go.

Someone asked about supporting agriculture. Stuart Syvret answered well before I had a chance and hit the nail on the head about the strategic importance of agriculture  in response to peak oil. Mr Le Gresley sesmt to think agriculture is in decline - parts are surely struggling but in fact overall it was almost the only the only part of the economy to show any sort of growth last year. Mr Bailhache thought it was all due to supermarket red tape. It isnt't in  John Hamon's case as he does not sell to  to supermarkets, but has still had his business hit badly.    I had already covered it in part in my opening speech, bat as almost the last person to answer the question I  had to point out it is not just land, you need to find a new generation of farmers, adnd you have to retain the knowledge and skills. Small,  part time smallholders like me may be the only short term option while people like John Hamon are not able to make a living in farming.

We were asked about the future of the Esplanade quarter masterplan. Almost all were against. I had to point out that when this came up in the hustings three years ago and I  thought it was a bad idea then. It is  an insane one now. A sunken road will be at risk of flooding as sea level rises continue, and will need repair and lighting paid for. Also the 400 homes won't even cover the additional 450 households we have grown since the last election because of the States policy of deliberately increasing the population by 150 households per year.

The last question from Mr Stone asked about the low quality of the States and why was  he was finding it hard to find 4 people on the platform to vote for. Predictably those candidates whose main plank for the election is constitutional reform took the opportunity to promote their projects.  I answered differently. I see the main problem being the lack of a coherent wide ranging  programme for government that people can vote for in the election as the problem. Of course individuals cannot cover it all. Secondary to that we cannot have effective debate between the candidates. For example,  I disagree with Mr Bailhache when he states that backbenchers should not bring unimportant propositions. It is not for him , or me, to decide what is or is not important. It is for the electorate to decide that, and lobby their representatives to change their ways, or come election time vote them out. That is the the democratic way.

Student/youth husting

27th September 2011

The senator candidates in the election have arranged a special student/youth husting.  This gives a chance for younger, and particularly first time, voters to hear the candidates and ask the questions that are important to the youth of the Island.

The meeting will be at Hautlieu School, Wednesday 5th October, starting 4:00 pm and finishing around 6:30 pm.  It will be chaired by Ryan Morrison, presenter of BBC Jersey Introducing.

Week in review

Three hustings and a radio piece since the start is not exactly representative, but is enough for a brief revue.

The radio piece was today , alongside Deputy Gorst and Mr Farnham. With three of us in the studio rather than two that has happened for the  other senator election call programmes , there was less time for questions and it was harder to get any sort of interchange between the participants.  I did not feel I was on good form, though I don't recall making any gaffs. Questions ranged from population and economic growth to dog mess and fly tipping. Asked which sitting States members we would vote for  Chief Minister I opted for Bob Hill. There was a question about a secret party  in the house. Both  Deputy Gorst and Mr Farnham denied it existed.  My 9 year old heard the programe  on the radio and when I got home was very keen to tell me that if it was secret they either would not know, or were in it and would have to keep silent to keep it secret. Good logic my boy.

It is of course very difficult to judge how the campaign is going when you are involved, and your supporters are of course far from impartial. I have had people I do not know approach me at the bus stop and in town to tell me they are voting for me.  I have had a couple of people who were at hustings to support one of the 'establishment' candidates come and tell me they liked my speech and were likely to give me one of their 4 votes.  Feedback from various sources seems to be consistent - my performance has been better than was expected.

It seems the election is more open than was anticipated by many.  The battle for fourth place is close: it may well come down to who makes a mistake during the rest of the campaign.  My interpretation of things so far:

Mr Bailhche speaks clearly and is picking on topics that resonate with his natural supporters.  But I sense he is making no impact outside of that. Will do well , but I would be surprised if he topped the poll.

Stuart Syvret is a natural orator and it comes across on  the platform. He touches a nerve with his anti-corruption stance, and while being forceful also keeps his composure. 

Mr Cohen seems to be struggling. He makes great effort to point out Portelet was not his fault. But he has not yet rid himself of that millstone. He also pulled a rabbit out of the hat with his fully funded further/higher education promise. I have still heard neither how much that will cost nor where the money is to come from.

Mrs Corby is improving in presentation with each husting. Clearly the leftist of the candidates who rather fills the gap  left by the JDA.

Darius Pearce is something of a libertarian. He is standing primarily on a platform of constitutional/states reform. He is the antithesis of Mr Bailhache's authoritarian reform campaign.

Mr Farnham's campaign re removal of senators ought to be doing him more good than it is. In part that is because it is overshadowed by Mr Bailhache's stance. He is also very defensive taking pains to point out his very high attendance record in the States when he was last there. Other than that his campaign comes across as rather one dimensional. he needs to add some  breadth to his platform if he is to make progress.

Francis Le Gresley is a contender to top the poll.  He is measured in his performance and has a number of small victories to recount from his short time in the States. Not a man to bring about radical change, but will be consistent in modifying and improving the laws and proposal that come to the States.

Mr Gorst is speaking well  and as a Minister has a number of things he can claim credit for. He is a declared candidate to be Chief Minister if elected Senator. I am unclear what it is he would do if elected that is different from the current policy. He might find it harder going if pensions and the long term care package details make it to the fore.

I have heard from the printers that all is going well, and I have succumbed to the campaign request for posters. They should be ready by the end of the week.

St Peter Husting

We were in the Community Centre at St Peter, which is a much bigger room  than St Clement Parish Hall and echoes somewhat. The dais the candidates were on was very narrow and we had a couple of mishaps as candidates rose to give their address.

The content of the speeches went much as the St Clement hustings.  I missed out a section of mine as the time seems to evaporate quickly.  Mr Richardson did give a different speech. He is doing much as I did in 2008 and addressing different topics on different hustings. It is a hard job to do and credit to him for trying.  Mr Cohen seems to be feeling the electoral writing on the wall.  Rightly or wrongly Portelet is a millstone for him.  His rabbit out of the hat giveaway is fully funded scheme for further/higher education. No mention of the costs of this or where the funds come from. For me this has shades of the late Mr Vibert and his free nursery places.

 The first question was probably the one that represents the view of the broad spread of ordinary people in Jersey. We were asked what 3 measures we would take to help the squeezed people of Jersey.  Most of the platform wanted to remove GST either totally, or on food. I pointed out there are short and long term approaches to that. My immediate actions would be 1/ remove GST on essentials -  food fuel and possibly water. 2/ Change the utility tariffs, particularly scrap the standing/fixed charge element so that lower consumption pay no more per unit that big consumers. 3/ encourage people to use local services and businesses because that money circulates  in the local economy and helps everyone, unlike the money that leaks out of he island.

A lady asked about the destructive and impolite  behaviour of some States members and consensus in decision making. I had to point out I've been on the minority side of politics here and elsewhere I have lived. Consensus is something to work at, but you need dissidents and mavericks, else you do not get progress but stagnation. Also if you do not have some people in there prepared to challenge and stand their ground resolutely. If you were the victim of injustice or discrimination and wanted to take the issue to the States, you would want people like that, not a house full of wet blankets.

We were asked what 2 things we would do to get more young people involved in politics. Senator Le Gresley I think it was claimed the proposed student/youth hustings! I had to take issue with the premise of the question a bit - my experience in young people are very interested in issues .As an example at Regstock the Amnesty stall was run by students from Hautlieu and other schools. What we have not done is engaged in the issues and related that to the political mechanics.We have to meet then on their ground at least sometimes.The other aspect is the lack of mixing of age groups we have a very stratified society and we would find it much easier to engage, both ways, if we mixed more in other aspects of life.

Someone suggested that we need more economic stimulus and more capital project spend and wanted to know how we would pay for it - spend reserves, take on debt, use PFI. In my view we are facing huge problems economically, and environmentally and spending the reserves now is not the right time. The important thing is to pick the right capital project, not least because when you do capital spending your are committing to recurring maintenance spend.  Project that reduce outgoing because of efficiency , such as insulation are fine. Projects that reduce our C02 emissions are also good candidates.

Interestingly Mr Gorst made the point we have not spent enough on infrastructure in recent times and it is not crumbling. He is right we have not spent on maintenance adequately -we wrongly spent on prestige new projects instead.  But he's a minister , been in the States a while, often speaks up for budget restraint and balancing budgets. So where were his amendment proposal to the budget to address this ongoing underspend? He wants to be Chief Minister.

St Clement Hustings

It felt like a bit of a cold start all round for the St Clement hustings.  Sen Cohen didn't get any applause at the end of his 4 min speech. The constable rather pointedly ignored one of his constituents who wanted to ask a question all evening. I was last to speak - not a position in which one can make much impact , especially when you are half masked by a drape.

Some things have become clear. Rose Colley is far closer to Mr Bailhache and co than I had hoped or expected. Linda Corby struggled a bit keeping focus, but her instincts seem good. However the biggest howler to my mind was made by Mr Bailhache in his 4 minutes , there he decried States members who bring propositions of no importance. It is not his position to determine what is or is not important. That is for the representatives to decide, and ultimately their electors through the ballot box. But the press won't pick that up because he speaks with a nice educated voice and it sounds reasonable at the time.  That won't happen unless we have reporting that applies political analysis to the content of what is said rather than trite pieces on the superficialities of  candidates' personalities.

We had a question on Radon, which most candidates talked about granite houses, rather then the geology. Few had anything to offer other than following the new building bye laws. I think I was alone in callimg for monitoring in public buildings, like schools and hospitals.

There was a question about whether candidates would help constituents redress injustice, a pointed comment re Mr Gorst. All said yes of course, but it was for Stuart Syvret and myself to point out that it had not happened over 40 years regarding child abuse, so what had all those politicians been doing?

There was a question about whether candidates thought referenda should be binding , and should we have one re 1.1.k taxation.  I understand the problems of making referenda binding, and the possibility of getting inconsistent policy that way, but in a democracy the will of the people has to mean something.If it is to be binding the bar must be high, at least 65%

The best question of the evening in many ways was whether the candidates believed in  equality of opportunity for youths and what would they do about it.  Most candidates dived straight into education of course.  I was last and was alone in pointing out you need diversity in the economy to give broader opportunity too.  If you have children in cold damp flats who get ill often and so miss school it matters not how good the teaching they are not getting equality of opportunity.  Similarly, children who arrive at school hungry cannot focus or concentrate on lessons no matter how bright. We need to tackle these social issues if we are to come anywhere near equality of opportunity.

Some people still seem to be under the illusion that the media have a duty to be fair and impartial in their reporting. That applies in part to the television, and specifically to the BBC under its charter, but for commercial newspapers like the JEP that is not the case.  Two small examples today will show you the sort of accidental  things that occur with a tedious regularity.  The BBC radio today had a problem with the phones, and the usual number to call in to ask candidates questions was not working. Pure coincidence that it was the day Mr Bailhache was on and thereby ordinary callers could not put their awkward questions to him.  The other is a large spread in the JEP on social media and elections by Ben Queree. There is a box with a list of the election candidates who are on twitter, but strangely omits one candidate who is active on twitter, and even followed by Ben. Yes you've guessed, it is one of the overtly non-establishement candidates.

If last time is anything to go by, expect a rather curtailed report of the hustings, and the more interesting questions to be omitted altogether.

Tomorrow night St Peter.

Video of  three of the candidates giving their initial speeches, including me, can be seen at   Tom Gruchy

Student/youth hustings

I have had to do a lot of chasing and getting somewhat pushy to progress the possibility of a youth /student hustings. It is now looking a lot more likely, with a potential date and venue lined up. I'll post more once I have confirmed some more details and costs with the  other interested senatorial candidates.

It does strike me as rather contradictory that the National Trust, Société and RJAHS can have a joint hustings ready and on the candidates meeting agenda alongside the usual parish hustings, but no-one takes the initiative at the Education Department to get a student hustings similarly lined up. Far be it for me to comment on reasons for this, but it has been suggested to me that one of these group is likely to be rather more supportive of the political status quo than the other.

Reasons for standing

Why I am standing:
I have very serious concerns arising from the strategic policies Jersey is adopting We need to have a serious, honest and open debate over the strategic direction we take in the light of peak oil, climate change, world population growth, and increasingly limited world food availability.

These are the same issues I raised in the 2008 election. Since then we have seen, as I predicted, significant food and fuel prices rises, an increase of GST on essentials, and no noticeable economic recovery. The States have agreed to produce reports on some of these items, but repeated failed to deliver even those documents

The States policy of hoping for growth is doomed to failure in a finite world. We must address how we support the population through the difficult times ahead and do so with much less impact on the planet than currently. I believe that we would be better served if we addressed being more self reliant in food and alternative energy and had a much more diversified economic base.

There is also a distinctly personal element too in that I am a member of the Jersey Care Leavers Association. Like all the members of the Association that means I have personal experience of being in care as a child, although not in a Jersey Home, nor as a victim or survivor of abuse. We have spent millions on English lawyers to defend the indefensible, the media have had their headlines, yet many of the victims have still not been heard, less yet properly compensated. The committee of inquiry must ask the really difficult questions, the embarrassing and shocking truth about who knew and who colluded and who neglected their responsibilities must come out. If it does not we cannot be sure of preventing a repetition.

Put simply, I want to see a fairer, cleaner, greener future for our island.

For more background and comment on the issues see my blog:


I have re-enabled this blog for the 2011 election. I shall keep my other site going, but try to keep election specific pieces here. I have left the 2008 postings for the most part. It is a sad reflection on how little progress we have made in the last three years that so many of them are still relevant. You can follow my on-going more general journal at A view from the West