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Saturday, 9 February 2013

EQUALITY OF VOTING & THE CONSTABLES - Trying to make a silk purse out of the Electoral Commission sow's ear...


So just what is wrong with the hijacked Electoral Commission's recommendations which we are due to debate at the next States Sitting on February 19th?

Well, nothing if you buy into the letter from former Senator Jimmy Perchard published in the Jersey Evening Pravda this past Thursday (no doubt triggered by his reading my tweet about Geoff Southern's amendment to make this a one question referenda in standard fashion). We should all leave well alone according to Mr. Perchard because the Commission was 'appointed' by the States.

A fair and resonable view? Well not from the vast majority of people that I speak to. And actually not an argument that is even remotely sustainable if you have any genuine concern that above all else a voting system must be as fundamentally fair to all as it can reasonably be made.

Trouble is, as I have been at pains to highlight, all too few within our (MSM) mainstream media want to put their heads above the parapet to tell the public that in reality what Senator Philip Bailhache and his underlings on the hijacked Commission have put forward is neither fit for purpose nor even the best that could be achieved in creating a reform option wishing to retain the Constables.

Am I making this up? Of course not!

But first let's be quite upfront here. No matter how passionate one feels about the role of the Constables - or any of the 3 types of States Member's role for that matter - this can never justify selling out a section of the community; in reality making their votes worth less than others simply because of where they happen to live. Yet this is what Senator Bailhache and co are trying to fob us off with.

Take the nonsense spun to try and justify the Commission utilising statistics based on so-called 'eligible' voters in concocting their proposals rather than actual population. On page 13 of the Commission's final report they state: Equality and fairness are key elements of any truly democratic electoral system’

Interesting this - because I would suggest that not a single individual within the States Assembly would dream of rising to speak at an election hustings to publicly proclaim anything other than their full support for this principle. The 'eligible' voters stats that Bailhache and his colleagues base their arguments on will already be out of date by the time of the 2014 elections. Heck - they are out of date already!

The truth is out there somewhere - in fact it's in a graph just below...

Yet just a cursory glance at the figures utilising full POPULATION statistics in each of the Commission's proposed 6 large districts shows how precious little more than lip-service has really been paid to this principle. Indeed, forget the bull that to utilise these population figures might have taken the Commission 'outside it's terms of reference'. This is all part of a callous attempt to mislead the public by watering down the true extent of the system of first and second class voters the Jersey Establishment want to create - not just to maintain but hugely strengthen their grip on power.

A feat they hope to achieve of course by creating an ever-wider divide between the weight of votes available to those in 'country' parishes - who largely tend to vote for the political right. And 'town' dwellers who generally tend to lean more toward the political left. Anyone doubting the con lurking beneath the spin and excuses that what is before us now is the best compromise achievable need simply study the figures I lay out below.

The first thing you will hopefully notice is that these obviously include both Deputies AND Constables - something the Commission has been very keen to try and avoid doing with its pitch to the public. I mean, Senator Bailhache and his colleagues have massaged away 6,632 people deserving of representation off the St. Helier 'books' at the stroke of a pen. How convenient...
  
District No
Parishes/Vingtaines
Total Population
Number of
Representatives
Public Per Representative
No.1
du Mont Cochon
du Mont a l’Abbé
de Haut du Mont au Prêtre
du Rouge Boullon
17.543
5.5
3,189
No. 2
Bas de Haut du Monte au Prête,
Canton Bas de la Ville,
Canton de Haut de la Ville
15,942
5.5
2,898
No. 3
St. Clement Grouville
St. Martin
17,850
8
2,231
No. 4
St. Saviour
Trinity
16,736
7
2,391
No. 5
St. Lawrence
St. John
St. Mary
St. Ouen
14,178
9
1,575
No. 6
St. Brelade
St. Peter
15,571
7
2,224

People are being sold a lie...

Surprised? Everyone not a close follower of politics that I have shown these figures to has been. Which at the end of the day has no doubt been the whole reason to try and keep them largely under wraps. People are being sold a lie - a lie that tells them if you want to retain the Constables then something has to give; and sadly that 'something' is the equality of vote for the population of St. Helier!

Just 'half a Constable' for each St. Helier district whilst some have 3 and even 4 - sorry, there's just no way of balancing this out...

Of course, it would be very easy to write post after lengthy post highlighting all that is wrong with the Commission's contentions - for a lot there is. Yet for now let us purely confine our thoughts to the following questions. Could the shambles Senator Bailhache and his hijacked Commission have set before us in fact be improved upon to any significant degree - and improved upon with comparaitive ease? Improved upon to still allow an option that both keeps the 12 Constables AND allows the poor people of St. Helier to have a vote largely in line with the other districts?

The truth is that it can! Not only this but in reality the benefits that would be achieved by just one very simple modification would actually 'head off at the pass' two other problems that a great many people - even supporters of retaining the Constables - are greatly concerned about.

So what is this oh so difficult to achieve modification?

It is simply this. Instead of the largely inexplicable call to reduce the Assembly from 51 to 42 modify that figure slightly to 46. Then in line with the true statistics outlined in the table above allocate those 4 extra seats to the the two large St. Helier districts that the Commission currently proposes need to be sold massively short. Not only does such a modest move bring these second class citizens of the island's capital far more into line with the other districts; it actually ensures that two of the biggest related  worries about political reform can be put to bed at a single stroke.
 
One: An Assembly of 46 would enable the highly important ‘Troy Rule’ principle to be retained. Something that will prove nigh impossible with a reduction to a 42 x Member States Assembly - certainly if all of these new Ministers are invented: Justice; Children's; Foreign!

Possibly why Senator Bailhache is suggesting it - we can all be one big, happy family and any prospect of 'opposition' can be cut  off at the knees. Indeed, with a Chief Minister with probable sole power to 'hire and fire' a dictatorship/one party state in all but name... 
                                   
Two: This slight increase by just 4 x Members to 46 would also offer potential to even allow one Member to take on the role of Speaker. A role that like it or not will soon need to be filled with the inevitable coming necessity of achieving a full and true separation of powers i.e. ending the dual role of the Bailiff as Head of both Judiciary and Legislature.


Not only the above, of course, but even though many believe the argument about 'saving money' by reducing numbers is largely a red herring if it undermines both democracy and political efficiency this amended version of the Commission's Option B would still reduce the States current wage bill in the region of £230,000. You have to ask: why ever did the good Senator and his Commission colleagues not think of it in the first place?

Perhaps, dare I suggest, because just like the wholly unnecessary 'retain the status quo' proposal of Option C - instead of a 'none of the above' option - the real intention was to con the public at large into voting for what would give the Jersey Establishment Party what it craves above all else: the Constables still in the States and a weakened St. Helier vote cementing that hugely consolidated grip on power!

Now if only someone would put a couple of amendments in to allow a States debate to show people what is really going on...

34 comments:

  1. Well said. Sam M likes to downplay the importance of the Troy Rule issue but I think it's vital, and he's being naive expecting it to all work out OK in the end whatever happens. Without adequate numbers, it's Game Over

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    Replies
    1. I have never downplayed the importance of the Troy Rule, I have explicitly said that it is fundamentally important. I just haven't accepted the mantra that Option A or B is the automatic death of the Troy Rule (because, as a matter of law, it isn't). I think it's naive to think that the Troy Rule is safe under Option C because the States could vote it away tomorrow if they wanted. A chamber that includes the Constables is much more likely to do that than one that has fair representation from St Helier.

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  2. I'm yet to decide where I stand on Deputy Southern's amendment. I'm open to persuasion, but crucially want to hear from a strategic and tactical point of view, because it is paramount that we win Option A.

    I argued strongly for a referendum question exactly as the amendment provides (in my submission) and agree that Option B would be catastrophic for Jersey.

    But now that the draft referendum act has been submitted, I have two worries that I want addressed.

    The whole reason we are where we are is because of cherry picking the Clothier Report. If we accept the right of politicians to cherry pick the Bailhache Report, it could open the floodgates. Senator Farnham has already spoken of an amendment to include an Option D.

    The second is the media. We all know their agenda and we all know that they will utilise all sorts of absurd arguments to try and denigrate those with common sense supporting Option A. Imagine what they'll say about this amendment. "Look, they're trying to fix the result because they're scared of the public disagreeing with them!" etc etc.

    Am I wrong to think that we are better off spending all of our time making the positive case for Option A and showing (using things like your graph) how Option B is absurd, undemocratic, and possibly an invitation for an embarrassing legal challenge?

    Cheers,
    Sam

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  3. It's a good idea but a shame you feel you must attack others just to get your point across.

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    Replies
    1. Don't really buy into your comment about 'attacking' others to get the point across.

      I mean be fair - I usually leave that approach to the likes of Senator Bailhache who appears to have carte blanche from his little brother and Michael Birt to abuse anyone he likes and in almost every speech.

      But if the above highlighting of fact does constitue 'attacking' others my only defence is this. What this 'Electoral Commission' has put forward to us is so hugely flawed and anti-democracy they deserve every sling and arrow they suffer. Sorry.

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  4. You know what? This isn't such a bad option at all!
    If this was on the ballot paper it would sail through.

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  5. Trevor

    Changing the subject a bit. There has probably never been a better time for catching The Law Officers out, than the next States Sitting. Lets hope that you and the like minded few Deputies are getting your heads together for this leaking of their dam.

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  6. I think we will end up with Option C in the end.

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  7. I'm hoping Bailhache gets another Plemont result. Would jolly well serve him right for lording himself over everything in his usual arrogant way.

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  8. Did I dream it, that the Constable of St Brelades recently gave up his seat on a States committe, to spend more time working for his parish and to be with his family, but he can find time to travel to the Falkland Islands to a confrence (on a freebe), thats the way to do it choose what you want to do.

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  9. http://ricosorda.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-jersey-law-office-real-power-in_10.html

    What role did the Jersey Law Office play in stopping certain cases of Child Abuse reaching court.

    Rico

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  10. What you propose Deputy is actually very fair. I say that as one who is not nor ever likely to be a real supporter either. Too left for my liking I'm afraid.

    But I grant you that though keeping the Constables is a must from my point of view this cannot be at the expense of fair representation for those in St. Helier. Your proposal would as another poster said likely sail through if you had put it forward as an amendment.

    More fool you I suppose for not having done so.

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  11. The worst thing about the Bailhache commission's proposals is option C. It just doesn't need to be there if retaining the current system is what they are getting at. If enough people don't to vote for A or B then it is obvious that the status quo will remain. I think this is all about loading things for the pro-constable vote. Vote B and C and those two votes will push one or other through. If you want the constables out you have only one vote A. Totally unfair. How the hell did this ever get allowed to go forward?

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  12. To Anon at 19:03, why are the Constables so vital, unchallenged? Constables are elected to lead their parish, which is different and separate work. Why can't they stand for election amongst other Deputy hopefuls and get elected to the States on their own merits?

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  13. "Now if only someone would put a couple of amendments in to allow a States debate to show people what is really going on..."

    I take it you will be bringing these amendments?

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  14. I like your amendment. You may yet be as booming and as much a National Treasure in Jersey as Brian Blessed!

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  15. Well done Mr Pitman, great interview on CiTV tonight. PB looked like a moron, you put him to shame and he should be ashamed for this useless referendum.

    Totally biased and complicated.

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  16. trev your bit in the online RAG i hoped the troll was dead. seems not.

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  17. Just heard you stand up to Philip Bailhache after he wrongly called you "ignorant" in the States this afternoon and was forced to withdraw the insult. Well done for standing your ground in the face of such unstatesman-like behaviour.

    The mask is slipping. You know you are doing the right thing when his gut reaction is to insult you. You obviously get deep under his skin. Keep up the good work.

    The point he went on to make was that people have access to appeals at every stage of the judicial process. No they do not. People only really have access to the appeals process if they have money.

    And he completely ignored your point about jurats who are friends of defendants sitting in judgement on their friends' cases! One usually only finds out about such corrupt little stitch-ups by accident. Does he really think that a financially inaccessible appeal system would have rooted out the clear and present corruption that you have rooted out?

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  18. Hi Deputy.

    Just put up the Audio from today's States sitting, Hope this helps your investigation's. You & your Readers can listen HERE

    TJW.

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  19. Trevor.

    You get better by the day. You in the States, somewhere between 5 and 6-30. A must listen.

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  20. See you were right about the knives in Duhameles back

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  21. Looks like your mole was bang on the money then?

    And so it starts......

    http://www.thisisjersey.com/news/2013/02/21/is-this-minister-fit-to-hold-office/

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  22. Is it worth pointing out to the media that the JEP's anti-Duhamel front page piece that claims a Ministerial email was allegedly generated by RDs comments at the Chamber of Commerce meeting is comprehensively falsified by the fact that you said this was going to happen a few weeks in advance?

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  23. Trevor - I just left this comment on ThisisJersey - they may not print it so could you?
    ------------------------------

    "All you commenters aren't being shown the whole picture. The JEP story was that an "email is circulating" because of Minister Duhamel's "reported as disastrous" speech at this dinner. If anyone cares to look back at Trevor Pitman's blog you will clearly see that this knife in the back was planned weeks ago. Unless certain other Ministers have access to a time machine that all rather blows the convenient cover story the JEP has been fed completely out of the water.

    "The Bald Truth" blog predicted this coup weeks ago - it is apparently rooted in Senator Bailhache who was mightily miffed that Duhamel's granting of planning permission to the wannabe Plemont despoilers jacked up the potential purchase price of the land and thereby tipped the vote against Senator Bailhache's personal project. Now, I am angry that Plemont was granted permission but Duhamel had little other choice under the Planning Law, given the long history of the proposed development's applications and promises before he became Minister. In essence, it appears that Bailhache threw his toys out of the pram and screamed "off with his head" because Minister Duhamel actually applied the Planning Law against his wishes.

    What does this show about Senator Bailhache's true respect for the Law? Coming from his former legal life, he should really have the utmost respect for, and favour an honest application of, the Law. If he had a problem with the law he should have lobbied to change it. The last thing we want to believe about him is that he believes the Law should only apply when it fits his objectives and that he feels entitled to exact a terrible revenge when he is thwarted.

    This situation needs to be cleared up soon and the bright light of day needs to be shone onto any hidden Machiavellian anti democratic activity."

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  24. Well, they printed the first bit but cut it off as soon as I mentioned Senator Bailhache. Sinister? Maybe not. They printed my second comment mentioning that they had "trimmed" the first and then telling readers where to find the missing bits.

    Looks like when the JEP trim or cut comments it's not because they are sinister but rather that they are just too much of a scaredy cat that some lawyer-for-hire might get engaged to sue them.

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