Friday, 2 December 2011


When will we ‘meddlers’ ever give up?
Nobody who has read the JEP for any length of time is likely to be under any impression that the Island’s only newspaper welcomes political opinion, or indeed, political policies at variance with or critical of the elitism of their beloved Establishment Party any more than a Manchester City fan wearing a ‘6 – 1 Ha! Ha! Ha!’ tee shirt would be welcomed in the middle of the newly named Sir Alex Fergusson Stand.
After all, questioning of the newspaper’s commitment to fair and balanced political ‘reporting’ can be traced right back to the elections at the end of the Second World War when some were understandably determined to fight for a fairer society where money and might would not automatically be accepted as always right.

An in-depth subject for another time I’m afraid. – and one I think very well worth doing.  But for now anyone in any doubt should just consider the words of legendary Jersey politician, the late Senator Norman Le Brocq in his 1940’s book ‘Jersey Looks Forward’.

Readers really should check the book out for themselves – the reference Library certainly has a copy. But it is surely enough to mention here that Le Brocq highlights what he saw (and others I have actually spoken to who were there) felt to have been a campaign of misrepresentation and editorial repression from the then Evening Post in the vein of the notorious Dr. Goebals. And so it has gone on. And still goes on today. Or am I just one of Lucy Mason’s political ‘meddlers’? 

‘Meddlers’ or simple democracy - does Lucy know the difference?

I was put forward for the role of Education Minister. Unreasonable? Well, I was the only one who had a professional background in the field. The role went to a politician who I’m told has a background in the landscape gardening business. That’s democracy. Yet like others who tried, unsuccessfully for ministerial roles, it seems that I am actually a ‘meddler’?

Funny, Lucy, but I think that you will find politics is all about people holding strong and different views and policies; and as a consequence putting themselves forward for positions where they may be best placed to try and progress these to benefit the community?

But maybe you too are also one of those who believes that those who veer from the Establishment Party line no matter how discredited and redundant should know their place and either keep quiet; or perhaps occupy ourselves with Scrutinizing the proliferation of doggy-doo on our beaches?

Frankly if this is the extent of your political analysis I really couldn’t care what you think. Like so many members of the public who I have been approached by I just don’t think it is fair or professional for a newspaper to try and spin such groundless garbage. 

Nevertheless, to return to the original theme of the post, being someone always happy to be proven wrong I am actually writing a piece to send to the JEP. This is on the quite pathetically inadequate reporting of the hard facts arising from the Scrutiny investigation into the circumstances underlying the BDO review. Will the JEP print my letter in full? Well, let’s hope so.

But print it or not the point is that as Chairman of the Scrutiny review I really shouldn’t have to be writing such a letter anyway. Why? The facts are all there in plain black and white in our report: a report that even the out-going president of the Chairman’s Committee stated was “an excellent piece of Scrutiny work”.

To any self-respecting journalist let alone editor these facts surely should demand discussion? They blow the nonsense we have been spoon fed for nearly three years out of the water. No. I won’t spend time re-listing all the Scrutiny findings here – the full report can be accessed easily through the link to the States website on the  links page. Indeed, to understand the true picture the report should be read in full.

A few uncomfortable facts…

But put quite starkly the real question that needs to be answered by our Island’s media - and not just the JEP by any means - is why are they so desperate to pretend that these facts below, as just a few key examples do not exist?
•    Why are they so desperate to continue the threadbare lie that the monies spent on the Historic Abuse Inquiry were all wasted to the very last penny?
•    Why does our media wish to continue the myth that the only faults or blame for any mistakes are all – every one – down to just two specific individuals?  That the actions of senior figures within the States Assembly and Home Affairs department are above reproach?
•    Why do they wish to perpetuate ‘the myth of the £7.5 million’ i.e. that monies actually spent both by other States departments and by Messrs Warcup and Gradwell after Power and Harper had departed the police should still be attributed to these two alone?  
•    Why do our journalists – or perhaps more accurately those who hold the editorial strings of power – wish to whitewash out, as do so many Establishment Party politicians, the reality that the individual whose opinions have largely been used to justify trashing the child abuse investigation, far from being the perfect policeman would have actually been facing very serious disciplinary action for his behaviour had he not retired?

Yes, all of this whilst the solid facts that prove otherwise along with a whole lot more are presented before them in cold black and white.

Indeed, given the predictably front page JEP story highlighting the shoddy, misleading and wholly unforgivable reporting from UK journalists out to sell more papers during the unfolding of the Historic Abuse Inquiry you would have to think that this issue was more relevant than ever.

Yet relevant it apparently isn’t. ..

Could the problem just be that real, in depth debate of such facts by our media and some in power when all of this unfolded would necessitate a process of rather uncomfortable self-analysis in the mirror?

There is absolutely no excuse for journalists or anyone else exaggerating stories just to sell more newspapers. By extension it must also be true that attempting to underplay or conceal facts that pull the rug from under a story – no matter how often that story has been spun and repeated – as our Scrutiny investigation has done with local media reporting is equally wrong.

Having no allegiance to anyone or anything but the truth I repeat again: that Messrs Power and Harper were not perfect in their investigation is beyond doubt. In fairness as the unfolding of the Scrutiny review has made clear to their credit neither man has made any attempt to claim otherwise. Yet if some of their actions have been less than perfect they are clearly not alone. Not by a long way.

The difference - at least from what I and my colleagues have seen within the course of our review? Flaws and mistakes acknowledged at least it is quite clear Power and Harper were genuinely searching only for the truth. I ask: can we really also believe that of politicians, journalists and editors who seek to pretend uncomfortable facts such as those I highlight above just don’t exist…

Which all brings me back to my headline: ‘the next small step toward political transparency…?’ 

Having won the right for the public to be able to see which way those they elected voted for Chief Minister what I had intended to write about was having today lodged a follow-up proposition; seeking to make all elections for office within the States Assembly open and transparent.

It has been welcomed by every member of the public that I have told about it. It should also be welcomed by everyone within the States. Yet that it will be opposed by Senator Philip Bailhache at least – the man who thinks that he alone should be able to construct and inflict on us his own special variance on Barclay Brothers-style, vested interest driven democracy can surely be guaranteed.

So…when will we ‘meddlers’ ever give up? 

We won’t. Looks like it is going to be a long three years…

Keep the Faith