Wednesday 7 March 2012

Turkey Shoot

In my last Blog I said that if Members rejected Deputy Le Herissier's amendment which sought to retain the principle of an independent Electoral Commission in line with the States decision last March, then the matter would soon be done and dusted. We have now had the debate and the vote taken which resulted in Deputy Le Herissier's amendment being rejected by just three votes. The other amendments were also rejected and Senator Bailhache has now been installed to lead us to the Promised Land. However the following observations are worth noting.

Last year when Members debated Daniel Wimberley's proposition 9 Connetables voted against it. Any one of them could have lodged an amendment in line with what PPC was now proposing, however not one of them did so. Therefore it could be argued that if Connetables were against the Commission they would be against any form of Commission unless of course there were strings attached.

This time round there were strings attached because Senator Bailhache had already intimated that he was in favour of the Connetables remaining in the States. I heard Connetable Mezbourian's speech in which she said she felt very uncomfortable because of the assurance given by Senator Bailhache. She was of the view that Connetables were conflicted and as such she was going to abstain from voting.

A few speeches later Connetable Norman spoke and was of the view that Connetables were not conflicted and being States Members they should not be abstaining. It is worth noting that last year Connetable Norman had voted against the proposed Electoral Commission but now as a Member of PPC had supported fellow PPC Member, Senator Bailhache's proposal to ignore the decision taken by the former House and to lodge a proposition proposing that the Commission should comprise of 3 States Members one of whom should be its Chairman.

As mentioned above, Deputy Le Herissier's amendment was defeated by 3 votes. A closer look at the vote reveals that Connetables Crowcroft, Le Troquer and Pallett voted for the amendment with Connetable Mezbourian abstaining. However 8 of the remaining Connetables voted against the amendment. Of the 8,  Connetables Norman, Refault, John and Juliette Gallichan and Murphy had all voted against Daniel Wimberley's original proposition. 12 months ago Phil Rondel when a Deputy voted for the Commission but now a Connetable voted against the amendment.

It has often been said that States Members are like turkeys in that they do not vote for Christmas, readers may be forgiven if they hold that view following the Connetables voting pattern as there could be a degree of truth in that claim.

No matter what folk may say, perception is very important and it could be said that the proposed States run Electoral Commission will not have the same credibility as a truly independent one. However one sobering thought is no matter what recommendations may be forthcoming from either the Electoral Commission or the subsequent referendum, States Members will still asked to agree to them and it’s almost certain that Connetables will not be the only turkeys.

In the meantime, enjoy the Turkey Shoot.


  1. The Establishment has regained the initiative!
    Although Daniel Wimberley opened the democratic door briefly with the Electoral Commission it has now been slammed shut again.
    Why is it so difficult for the "progressives" to set the pace on reform and to set the agenda for reform?
    Today is International Women's Day yet this Island has not even ratified the UK Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). How is it possible that Jersey ranks with Somalia and Iran on such an important and basic matter?
    You BOB are active in the Jersey Human Rights Group - how can it possibly be that such an issue is not top of a very busy programme of reform for this group and why are our so called "progressive" reps so reluctant to raise the rights banner?

    Sen Ozouf has been very keen to raise the status for "gays" in Jersey because of his own personal agenda and he claimed that "civil contracts" were a major step forward for equality.
    Yet only a fgew days ago he declined to change the Income Tax rules so that men and women within a marriage might be treated equally!!!

    Progressives in Jersey should be leading the rights campaign on so many issues. The ratification of UN conventions protecting women and children is one aspect of Jersey's international shame that must be addressed ASAP.

  2. Tom,
    I share your frustration because yesterday was another example of one step forward but two steps back. It was a done deal and whilst it may have been laudable for Deputy Southern to have opposed Senator Bailhache he never had any chance of winning and gave undue validity to the process. Any would be candidate wishing to sit on the Commission with Senator Bailhache knew that they too had no chance of winning against the "chosen ones" and wisely kept their powder dry.

    Interestingly Senator Bailhache chose Connetable Juliette Gallichan and Deputy Baker to assist him but one might be tempted to ask whether it was an own goal given that he supports the retentionof Connetables. Connetable Gallichan had strongly opposed Daniel Wimberley's proposition and voted against it and also against Deputy Le Herissier's amendment. She also abstained earlier when the vote was taken to implement my proposition for States Member's interests to go On Line. Given the sensitivity about the bias towards Connetables one could question whether Deputy Baker is also a wise choice because he is the son of the late former Connetable Baker of St Helier. He too voted against Deputy Le Herissier's amendment and also voted against Member's interests going on line.

    Their voting pattern does suggest a certain bias and a lack of commitment to openness or transparency.

    It has not been for the want of trying, but it is disappointing that there is so little support for Human Rights and Discrimination Laws. It is down to the double standard approach which is adopted in the States. I supported the Civil Partnership legislation because I believe in equality and it had an easy passage through the House because of the support of the so called progressives. However the very people who were claiming that failing to support the Civil Partnership legislation was a violation of Human Rights and discriminatory are the same people who object to the formation of any official Body to have oversight of Human Rights Law.