Candidates will be well into their canvassing and having previous experience there are a few noticicable differences this time round. The most noticeable has been the extreme fine weather with short sleaved shirts being very much the order of the day. St Martin is still very rural with many houses to be found deep down narrow lanes which are better negotiated in the daytime, the only problem being that occupiers are out at work. Canvassing in the country lanes can be both a pleasure and pain. The pleasure comes from the beauty of the St Martin's countryside, whereas the pain comes from trying to negotiate the tight lanes and finding somewhere to park. Compared with canvassing in November the extra daylight hours are very welcomed with sufficient daylight until around 7pm.
Another noticeable feature is the fact that there is now only one Election Day so there is no longer a feeling that we are canvassing after the Lord Mayor's show. This time round many parishioners are seeking my views on the qualities of the 13 Senatorial candidates. Having signed Rose Colley's nomination paper her name comes up and hopefully she will be one of the four successful candidates. We have had the Senatorial Hustings in St Martin and one has to question the value of the event when time only permitted four questions being asked .
The St Martin's Deputy's Hustings is being held on Wednesday 13th October at 730pm. Having looked back at the JEP report of my first Hustings I noted that the first of the 15 questions asked that evening came from my fellow candidate. I still have vivid memories of that evening because of the number of "planted" questions from the other candidate's supporters who were intending to catch me out.
There is still the issue of Parishioners being on the Electoral role yet not wishing to exercise their right to vote. I have never been a fan of spending time and money attempting to get people to register, I would prefer people being able to register up to the day of the election. St Martin usually has one of the highest turnouts however it is not immune to parishioners having no intention to vote. Why waste their and every one's else's time and distort the final percentage vote?
I am well known for riding around the parish on the bike I purchased when leaving school. My cycling is not just for my health but it is to see and be seen. It is also to listen to the concerns of the St Martin parishioners therefore many of the concerns I am picking up during my travels are ones of which I am aware of. Possibly the most frequent is the lack of confidence in the present States Chamber. As a long standing Member lack of confidence in the States is nothing new however it does appear that some people believe we have reached a new all time low. What is very apparent is the lack of understanding of the Ministerial system. Prior to the change all members formed part of the Government via the Committee system, for my part I always served on the maximum limit of four committees, All Members had a part to play in policy which was thrashed out by the Committee before it came to the Chamber for debate. Scrutiny was conducted in Committee and because all Members were involved in executive decisions they were better informed which resulted in fewer questions being asked.
It was interesting reading a Senatorial candidate's comments when he claimed that the reputation of the States in the Island has seldom been lower. He further stated that following the introduction of ministerial government, there are now too many members of the States and the devil makes work for idle hands. Having claimed that there are too many members he still wished to retain the Connétables. Unfortunately no explanation was given as to how the reduction would come about. One is also unable to ask the would be Senator what he proposes to do should he not become a member of the Executive. Will he join those who never ask a question or lodge a proposition or will he join those who do their job by holding the executive to account by asking questions and lodging propositions thereby joining the devil.
Another issue is the appointment of the Chief Minister. The right appointment is crucial and we must appoint the best leader who in turn will appoint Ministers best equipped for the job and not for their loyalty to their leader. If the reputation of the States has seldom been lower than a fair share of the blame must rest on the shoulders of the current Council of Ministers which has not distinguished itself. Too often the Chief Minister and his team have been found wanting with own goals and banana skins being all too apparent.