Whatever your feelings on Senator Ozouf you have to ask just how much of this campaign to remove him actually has to do with Lime Grove House…
As I wrote some weeks ago that a couple of ‘votes of no confidence’ were being mooted around the Corridors of Misused Power was a fact that everyone seemed to be aware of apart from the Island’s mainstream – or so-called ‘accredited’ – media.
One appears to have been averted, of course, now that Mike Higgins has again shown the necessary resolve to not take William Bailhache’s attempt to prevent the lodging of his proposition to have the Andrew Lewis incident finally made public lying down. The second – the plot from deep within the festering political bowels of the Establishment Party itself - to have Senator Philip Ozouf removed from office is still very much alive however: even after Tuesday’s belated show of support from the Chief Minister.
The JEP up to its old tricks yet again…
Now, while I certainly had to have another good belly laugh at the childishness of my friends at the Jersey Establishment Post completely erasing me from their front page coverage of the questioning of the Treasury Minister on Tuesday – even though it was me who had been the only politician with the backbone to actually lodge the question on the matter – the fact is anyone reading their ‘reporting’ would still be none the wiser to what really underlies all of this.
For trust me – it isn’t nearly as simple as the inappropriateness of alleged political bullying. That these allegations of bullying are the ones that Senator Ozouf really has to address should go with out saying – for they possibly go even beyond the unacceptability of the shambolic, and hugely mishandled process of the Lime Grove House affair itself. This being said, given that the excellent interviews carried out by Voiceforchildren have done much to make up for the mainstream media’s investigative shortcomings I don’t intend to waste time rehashing the whole of the CAG’s report again here.
As I say the interesting aspect of all this is getting to the bottom of how Senator Ozouf has been transformed from Establishment Party leader-in-waiting to the man half the party’s troops and crucially their attendant media want to see politically buried. After all, if costly, embarrassing shambles are the issue at hand then how come no party witch-hunt to bring about the removal of Home Affairs Minister Senator Ian Le Marquand? Or for that matter Deputy Anne Pryke at Health?
Millions wasted in both cases and at Home Affairs what most fair-minded people would likely view as ‘bullying’ on an obscene level with the Graham Power case. So where did Senator Ozouf go wrong? What is so different in this latest case? Are his Establishment Party colleagues really as concerned about the bullying allegations as those outside the party fold are? Or is it that someone has decided that Senator Ozouf’s face and style no longer fit?
Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me! (Well, HIM actually)…
Given that those who have been running around in the political shadows asking ‘anti-establishment’ politicians to ‘please not bring a vote of no confidence motion’ themselves - because they want to ensure one succeeds are those whose voting record would generally make Margaret Thatcher look like Arthur Scargil, clear evidence surely that the real issue here is the latter one.
Indeed, add in the JEP’s new hostility to the Senator on a level almost exclusively reserved down the years for trying to politically destroy the likes of ‘lefties’ such as the late Norman Le Brocq; Stuart Syvret; Ted Vibert; Geoff Southern; Shona, Monty Tadier and me and you don’t need to be Jeremy Paxman to work it all out. What is at stake here is the desperation of an Establishment Party that is terminally in decline - even with its apparent current dominance.
A party desperately trying to ensure the smiling false mask of a new, caring, ‘moderation’ doesn’t slip off. Slip off to reveal the same old snarl of elitist, ‘we’re alright Jack’; ‘go for growth at all costs and never mind the long-term consequences’ arrogance that turned Jersey into a precarious monoculture in the first place.
For put in a nutshell what really worries so many of the Establishment – and I acknowledge that even some of the major players are just too plain stupid to see it – is that Philip Ozouf is rightly or wrongly seen by many as the last reminder of the Horsfall; Walker; Le Sueur era – and all of the political policy that went with it. As such there are cracks starting to widen in the right that are potentially more threatening to the Establishment than the left has managed to be in sixty-odd years.
The consequence of all of this for Senator Philip Ozouf is that if I were him I would be keeping my political enemies very close but my ‘friends’ even closer. For unlike those of the left who regularly fall out over such ‘quaint’ things as values and principles all that matters to Jersey’s right is maintaining their grasp on power. It has always been thus. If the Senator’s continuance as a high profile Minister is now seen as a risk to hanging on to all this he could well find himself marked as the party’s new Ernst Röhm - metaphorically speaking of course!
Meanwhile, on my office notice board I have pinned two sealed envelopes...
The first one (I can share this with you but please don’t tell anyone else!) contains a 2013 Valentines Day card for Lucy Mason. Come on – she has been so fair and nice to me - I just had to! The second one contains the name of the politician carrying the no confidence proposition ‘silver bullet’ with the Senator’s name on it. You see there are three main plotters and the envelope is part of a wager with a political colleague as to which one we believe will ultimately be carrying the ‘revolver’. Yes, I could name the person now – but that would be far less fun. And besides - I’m very confident of winning that bottle of red…
New ‘friends’ and another small victory for political transparency…
Changing the subject, what triggered all of my dear old Mum’s concern about the appropriateness of some of my new found political ‘friends mentioned earlier was the long-delayed ‘Open ballot’ debate. Though as you may well have forgotten about this so long has the proposition been lodged perhaps I had better quickly explain.
Following up my having won an ‘open’ vote for the public last year to allow them to know who voted for whom in the election for Chief Minister; this time I was seeking to widen this move toward even greater political transparency. This involved seeking to spread this openness further to include all Ministers; all Scrutiny Chairmen; both PAC and PPC Chairmen and also that of the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission. After all – YOU vote them in and pay their wages why shouldn’t you know?
I’m pleased to say I won the vote comfortably by 27 to 18 with one abstention. A good majority – especially given that four people who I knew would have been supporting me were absent in the end through either ill health; being on States business or away attending personal matters. Of course, much as some people talk hopefully about a new mood of working together in the Chamber I know the only reason I won this in reality was because what I was proposing was such plain common sense.
Perhaps more importantly still something that should have been impossible to vote against simply because it is the type of transparency and genuine democracy that most people want and that has been promised so many times in so-called Strategic Plans. But even so I’m under no illusions that the likes of Senators Gorst, Farnham, Routier, Maclean and co; nor Deputies Noel, Luce, Bryans, Pinel; and a few others besides will be voting for all of my future propositions as well – or even inviting me around to their place for a drink. But their support on this is very much appreciated all the same.
As someone who has always voted solely on a proposition’s merits – as I believe my record clearly shows – I just wish this would be an approach the ‘right’ would also always adopt. It is after all simply the way politics should be. Indeed, whatever the faults of the ‘left’ or so-called ‘Progressives’ it is also one thing that has to be acknowledged they collectively manage to do far better than the right.
Bailhache & Baker – Soldiers for Secrecy…
Yet there were still a couple who just could not help themselves from resorting to instinct, of course, speaking and voting as per usual against anything that might be genuinely democratic; or happened to be brought by a non-millionaire ‘lefty’ from outside of the elitist fold of the Great and the Good.
Senator Bailhache did his usual apologist speech for maintaining secrecy and keeping the ordinary public in the dark. It was, however, even less convincing than usual and, perhaps being so short on both logic and substance this time pleasingly fell on deaf ears to a much larger degree than could have been expected. Everyone is entitled to their own views of course. But as a member of the public texted me to say; the Senator’s actions really do just reiterate how unsuitable he is in terms of understanding and/or commitment to modern democracy to be heading up an ‘electoral commission’ of such importance.
Yet perhaps most revealing of all, however, was the maiden speech – or maiden ‘rant’ to be quite honest – coming seven whole months after his election as it did - delivered by Deputy James Baker. For if the prodigy of Establishment ‘Grandees’ such as Messer’s Horsfall, Walker and Routier thought he was going to swing things with the blustering, Oswald Mosley-esque tone of his speech then he miscalculated spectacularly. In fact what it did do was generate a plethora of chuckles and wry grins that went right across the political spectrum.
What was the main reason for this? No, not the ironic gobbledegook about people ‘fighting for democracy’ but the bit about the Deputy apparently ‘not coming into the States to have his time wasted’ by such propositions. Truly priceless given that Deputy Baker has not thus far ‘wasted’ or even positively utilised very much of his time in the Chamber at all since his election. In fact it was just so plan foot-in-mouth funny you just had to smile and give him a ‘Brownie point’ anyway for sheer effrontery.
Don’t let the ‘electoral commission’ become an even bigger sham than it is already…
The only really disconcerting thing about all of this, of course, was that here was another politician sitting on the ‘electoral commission’ even though on evidence so far he clearly wouldn’t recognise the meaning of true democracy if it were to bite him on the leg. All I would thus say to people as a consequence is make sure you follow the lead of people like Sam Mezec and Voiceforchildren and get your views on genuine democratic reform sent off to the ‘commission’ as soon as you can.
Just as important – make sure you copy any submission made into another politician that you know you can trust. This will help ensure submissions that go against the already decided ‘findings’ that the Constables must stay forever; the huge weighting of votes in favour of smaller country parishes is perfectly fine; and that Deputies – urban Deputies of course – must be reduced don’t end up mysteriously being ‘lost’ in the post.
Keep the faith