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.

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