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