Tuesday 7 October 2014

Jersey's Elections (3) The "Yes Vote" ---The Myth Exposed.

The Yes Campaign has posted the reasons for voting yes.

Below is my response


The loss of the Constables will weaken opposition to the current proposals for a centralised property tax. This proposal will cost Islanders more than the current rates system, and be set by the Treasury Minister, not Parishioners.
A yes or no vote will make no difference to what is only a proposal and thankfully is most unlikely to get past the starting post.
Parish Rates have remained steady for 10 years. Without an effective Parish Administration bureaucracy will increase, stifling business in Jersey, and increasing the burden on the individual Ratepayer.
A red herring. Parish Administration is good and the Connetables are to be complemented but there is no justification to claim that by voting No will lead to an increase in bureaucracy.  Parish Rates is down to the effective Parish administration and from close scrutiny by parishioners who have a direct say in parish expenditure at the annual rates meetings
If the Constables are removed from the States, they will either have to be paid by their Parishes or not at all. This creates an imbalance and without pay the only people who will stand will be those with the time and money to afford it. It also risks destabilising the whole honorary system should one office holder receive remuneration and the others not.
Voting No does remove the right of Connetables sitting in the States only their automatic right. It will be for the electorate to decide whether they think their Connetable is worthy of a States seat.
The Connetable is head of the HONORARY parish system where many parishioners give freely of their time. Whilst some already receive an allowance from their Parish if they feel they need to be paid for carrying out their duties then it will be for the Parishioners to decide.
Ask yourself how effective the administration of your Parish is compared with the States of Jersey, and would you want to remove this efficiency from your Government and Assembly?
The referendum is not about parish efficiency
Through their political role, the Constables can interact with Parishioners and work as part of a support network. The loss of the Constables in the States will undoubtedly lead to a significant weakening of the Parish system – as has been the case in Guernsey for many years.
Sadly Parish Assemblies are poorly attended so there is very little interaction. Apart from St Mary’s the other 11 Connetables have not had to contest an election yet not one of them has organised a parish meeting to discuss the Referendum. Where is the interaction?
Constables have been identified as the future for ‘e-Government’ interaction as well as care and the community. This cannot happen if they are not in the States Assembly.
Where is the evidence? Most of the Connetables are yet to master the art of uploading their manifestos on to the Vote.je website.
Through the Parish Assembly, and being available at the Parish Hall, the Constable is uniquely placed to be able to understand the concerns of their parishioners. These concerns are taken to the States Assembly directly, through the political role of the Constable. This cannot be replaced.
Again where is the evidence to support this claim? There is however ample evidence to show how few questions, propositions and amendments have been lodged by the Connetables. What does not exist does not need to be replaced.
The Constables are continually accountable to the Parishioners through the Parish Assembly as well as the ballot box. No other type of States Member is. Parishioners, by the ancient law of Requête can force a Parish Assembly to be called.
The outcome of the Referendum will not change the present arrangement. Surely all elected members are accountable at the ballot box.
Most Deputies do not represent the Parishes in the States. Where is the evidence?
They are elected in their own districts, on the basis of their political views. Each Parish, as a corporate body, is represented in the States by its Constable similar to the way each Department is represented by its Minister.
I find the above to be an odd claim. As a former Deputy I considered my self to be a representative of my Parishioners in both Parish and Island affairs. I would have thought that principle applied to my Connetable as well.
The removal of the Constables has the potential to de-stabilise Jersey’s Government. The Finance Industry requires confidence in government. Radical changes in the structure of government could damage confidence at a time of economic uncertainty.
I can only repeat that the Referendum is to seek the public’s views as to whether the Connetables should have an automatic right to a seat. Removing the potential of the Connetable’s block vote might concentrate the minds of the Council of Ministers but that might be one of the positives from a No vote.
There is a suggestion that Constables have a “block vote”. While they may vote the same way, they do so as individuals bringing Parish concerns to the assembly. Statistics show that Senators vote the same way as Constables do, but this goes unremarked. It is worth noting that a Party System would be one in which Party members had to vote the same way and take the agreed Party line. That would be a real “block vote”.
The above claim is not supported by the facts.
Constables have proven they are reforming States Members. They led the way towards a single election day, a four year term and spring elections. They also removed their own policing powers. Without them reform becomes more difficult to achieve.
Quite an audacious claims where is the evidence to substantiate them? The policing powers were removed thanks to continual pressure from back benches.  It is worth noting that unlike the Deputies and Senators Connetables are not subject to the States of Jersey Law nor do they take the same oath.
The retention of the Constables IS compliant with the Venice Commission, which makes allowances for different jurisdictions: “The geographical criterion and administrative, or possibly even historical, boundaries may be taken into consideration.” Our Parish boundaries are both administrative and historical and thus meet these requirements.
The Venice Commission can be interpreted as above but is hardly relevant to the Referendum. I am pretty confident that many Connetables would be elected if they stood shoulder to shoulder with other candidates and this would enhance their status.  However voting yes will only perpetuate a system that is broken and will remain so for many years to come.


  1. Bob.

    As ever, a very informative Blog Posting. You, and your readers might find THIS informative also.

    1. Well done with another informative blog. Spot on as usual.

    2. The video is is a mash by a Jèrriais band member
      The websites associated with the little vid are:



      A sample of his own work is on the "play tag" top right of this page:

      And please permit me a plug for his band

      Jèrriais album "Eune Bordée d'Noué" is available as a free download:


      Thanks "mah luvs"!

      Proof that you can be a traditionalist AND believe in sound democratic principles

      (accepting that some band members may be in favour of "oui" ou "peut etre"

  2. IMO anyone who genuinely believes in basic democratic principles would vote "NO" in the referendum on Constables AUTOMATIC states seat. A yes vote will just facilitate another team Bailhache hijack to erode our democracy further.
    A YES vote will pave the way to change; This actually makes the referendum MORE IMPORTANT than the general election for the remaining candidates.

    The sad truth is the makeup of the next government has already been decided by this years 11 (!!!) unelected Constables who make up such a large chunk of the next administration/selection.
    The election is still important because it will help set the direction of island politics by determining the quality of opposition and scrutiny, and hopefully by unseating a few of the "Teflon Dons" who the heritage media support without question.

    1. "A YES vote will pave the way to change"

      I think you mean a NO vote.

    2. YES, I did mean "NO" That was an unfortunate typo !

      A "NO" vote will pave the way to change !!!!

      Don't worry, I will concentrate in the voting booth

      No, Non, Nein, Jo, Nee, La, Voch .....

      Thanks Polo

  3. Bob if there is a resounding NO vote and the same farce as last time occurs does this mean the twelve Constables will be voting (as States Members) whether 'they' should remain in the as an automatic right? The saying about Turkeys & Christmas springs to mind.


    1. I am afraid to say that the Connetables will be able to vote which shows just how bizarre the current system is and why States Members bring the whole issue into disrepute.

      As an example the former Chamber gave approval to Daniel Wimberley’s proposition to appoint an independent Electoral Commission. However the present Chamber allowed itself to be beguiled by Senator Bailhache and overturned the decision and allowed him, a Connetable (Gallichan of St Mary) and a Connetable’s son (Deputy Baker) to be part of a 6 man panel.

      Therefore it’s not surprising that there was a botched outcome. If the Connetables had any honour they would abstain from voting. What ever is the outcome of the referendum one can expect a block of 11 Connetables voting to retain the status quo.

      I understand that Simon Crowcroft is the only Connetable who is supporting the No Vote

  4. Thank you Bob, that is just as I feared, but surely should this matter come before a vote in the States Chamber the Constables would (should) abstain from voting by the clear parliamentary principal of 'conflict of interest' but more to the point this would have to be the most gross example of anti democracy there could ever be. As for the Constables 'knowing' their parishioners? well mine would not know me if he tripped over me, unlike his two predecessors who I knew (and still do)...what a complete and utter farce...power, this is all and what always will be what this is about.


  5. For readers information.
    I will be appearing on Radio Jersey’s Election Call tomorrow 10th October between noon and 1pm along with Rico Sorda and Harry McRandle.

  6. Bob.

    Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry refuses to explain its CONTRADICTION.

  7. The action is an admission that it has failed in the past but there is little chance of the CoE actually admitting its failings.

    1. Bob. I think you are answering this


      Can't see the constables supporting this here.


      UK canon law to be RE-WRITTEN to safeguard children etc

      Bishops to be made RESPONSIBLE

      Training to be given

      Committees and churchwarden appointments etc. to be kept free of suspects

    2. I thought I had posted the comment above, so yes my comment above is in response at 0059 is in response.