Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Not the Parish of St Helier blog

This occasional blog has never purported to contain the views of the Parish, but rather to provide the opportunity for me to get things off my chest that concern the Parish and to elicit constructive criticism and suggestions.  However, I came under fire in the States Assembly this week for having a link to this blog on the Parish website.  While I was able to reassure members and any ratepayers who were listening that no Parish funds have gone into providing or maintaining the blog, I have to accept the criticisms (made predominantly by members who agree with me about the best outcome of the forthcoming referendum) that the mere presence of a link to my views on the Parish website creates a perception that this is the Parish's view rather than my own.

For a Parish Constable to openly support 'Option A' - giving the electors of Jersey an equal say at the ballot box - has caused some consternation, not least because I have changed my mind about this.  A clip of the Constable of St Helier as a younger man supporting the contrary view - that the Parish constables should have an automatic right to sit in the States - has been posted on Facebook by Senator Lyndon Farnham.  As I said on Facebook in reply to Lyndon, changed my mind because I found the Electoral Commission's report convincing on the subject of voter equity. 

The bottom line for me is this: if you are going to redesign your voting system you might as well take the opportunity to achieve that most basic feature of democracy of my vote having the same power as yours. 

To those who fear the collapse of Jersey's parish system if Option A is successful, I would say that 11 years in post has convinced me of the robustness and resilience of the parish system.  Whether 1 or 12 of the parish constables are also elected as States Deputies (under Option A) Jersey's parish system with its unique living tradition of Honorary Police, sworn officers dealing with rates, roads etc., will in my opinion continue to prosper.

If either of the other options is successful in the referendum on April 24th, the need for reform is not going to go away.  This is going to run and run until we stop skewing the democratic process by allowing elected members with vastly differing mandates to influence the outcome of key decisions by Jersey's government, and by giving Jersey's electors different voting power depending on where they live.


Nick Le Cornu said...

Your final paragraph elegantly sums up the case for Option A.

The gentle chiding levelled at you was more to remind other Constables of the need to remain impartial during the Referendum in respect of Parish resources and ratepayers money.

Anonymous said...

Fair comment Constable, it was on Tony's blog that he got his facts wrong, for a change.

You mention democracy and that is refreshing, however the problem is not only about the electoral system but the judicial system which is well and truly no longer fit for purpose says Phillip Sinel and others.The bailiff cannot and should not wear two hats.

As chair of PPC you have decided to have a chat about this.

My question is this, as the position of speaker and head Judge is conflicted and illegal in modern democracies why on earth do you have to have a public debate ?

Would it not be better to just do the right thing and bring a proposition to the house ? Citing the various regimes and laws that say this is now a conflicted, illegal position which must cease.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Nick- very eloquent summing up of why OptionA is the best for all.

Anonymous said...

Philip Sinel's submission to Carswell

Anonymous said...

At the forthcoming hijacked referendum PLEASE use BOTH votes.

e.g. A #1 ......... AND ........ C #2

Voting C as 2nd choice is NOT a vote against A because your 2nd vote does not count unless your first choice is knocked out in the first count,

Your 2nd choice vote ONLY counts if your first is knocked out ...... USE IT !

Do you want B to win because you didn't use your backup vote?

The current system (i.e. "C") is bad and undemocratic but least it is not "B", which is worse !!!!!!

I will vote A & C and hope that our politicians do the right and fair thing and adapt the result into something that respects
democratic principles like "A" but retains enough members for the much needed scrutiny function.
Perhaps have 7 Deputies per district (totalling 48) or maybe keep the Senators.
(keeping the island wide mandate is essential if the Chief Minister is going to get more powers)

The hijacked electoral commission has given us hijacked choices.
No change, or an elected dictatorship - a crass and immoral plan.

If "B" wins on the 24th our feeble democracy dies. Jersey's equivalent of Germany's 1933 enabling act, giving us a semi-elected dictatorship.