08 August 2011

'It's Crisis time for Jersey' - Senator Syvret to join former Jersey 'Monarch' in Hollywood Election




You just could not make it up. Several months ago, there was a rumour going around that former Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache was going to stand for election in 2011. I and several others dismissed this as 'fanciful', the kind of thing you hear in the pub, which turns out to be nonsense. It was not that those who were saying it were not trustworthy, quite the opposite, rather that it seems the stuff of fairy tales. Certainly, it is possible - and it did happen - that one can start off being a deputy (or senator or constable), become a crown officer and then onto become Bailiff (we know that Philip Bailhache started his states career as a deputy for Grouville in 1972). However, any sensible mind might tend to think that there is an unwritten rule that it does not work the other way round (like a one way membrane) - not for any constitutional reason (though there are questions that should be asked about whether former Chief Justices should be eligible for election), but simply become it is unbecoming for a feudal lord, someone who has held the most senior post in the island, as Head of the Royal Court, Head of the States Assembly and Civic Head of the Island, to 'lower himself' to the role of a humble senator(ial candidate) - I add the parenthesis, because contrary to the inference of recent JEP reports, there is nothing inevitable about the election of the former Bailiff. 

However, we do not live in ordinary times. The decision of Mr P. Bailhache to seek election, is indicative of the desperation that the Establishment find themselves in (yes, there is an establishment in the island - for a good starting point look at page 6 of the phone book - and page 7 lists many of their strongest supporters). For you see, this is where the propaganda kicks in. For these, and many other reactionaries in the island, the fact that the last three years have seen 'divisions' in the States Assembly, long debates, more questions being asked (though not necessarily answered), policies being challenged, the validity of information being contested - these are all portrayed as 'bad things' by many establishment supporters, and their prime media tool, the Jersey Evening Post. Even the BBC have fallen into the trap of dismissing long debates and the concerted efforts for States Reform as politicians being 'self-indulgent', 'talking about themselves', rather than giving in depth political analysis, about what the underlying reasons are for the democratic deficit both in and out of the States. 

So why is the Former Bailiff lowering himself to seek election as Senator? Clearly, there must be something at stake. 'Jersey' - in his terms and the terms of the neo-liberals, of Sen. Ozouf, Maclean, Cohen and their predecessors, Walker, Horsfall, Jeune etc - is first and foremost a business. It is a portal through which Billions of pounds worth of transactions flow every year, and some people do very well from it. For these people, it is important that the Jersey model is protected at all costs. Even if that means independence. That Jersey model is not our 'way of life' - our Jersey cow, the preservation of our coastal beauty and countryside (no, those are dispensable - look at the desecration of Portelet, in the name of Capital) - it is the ability for foreign capital and business interests to use Jersey for its own ends, whilst making a few local residents (Partners of law firms, Directors of Trust Companies, Senior Advocates, Real Estate Agents, Accountants and Property Developpers) very, very wealthy. 

However, there is an inconvenience. When these 'colonialists' came to the island, they noticed there was an indigenous population that needed to be subjugated. So, a facade was created which loosely resembled democracy. You would be able to 'choose' your oppressors - the ones who make you pay more tax - direct and indirect - whilst reducing taxes to (foreign) corporations and the super-wealthy. Political parties would be discouraged, to stop any meaningful policies and their effective delivery by an organised grouping. The system itself would be difficult to understand - three types of member, elected at different times, for different periods, in different areas of differing sizes. Because you cannot vote for policy direction and you cannot vote for all seats, there would be effectively little link between your vote and what you got in government. Moreover, because the Ministers and Chief Minister are then appointed from 'in house' - you, the elector, are removed even further from the decision making process. A Minister can get elected on 'false promises', but because one is a Senator, he does not need to face election with the rest. He then goes on to stand for Chief Minister, even though many feel he has lied and cheated them. The consequence to all this? > Disillusionment > Voter apathy > Abstentionism. But it is not because the public does not care; it is because they realise that the system is against them.

Now back to the former Bailiff: when he declared, he must have thought he was a dead cert. He would not risk this, if there was a significant chance of failure. He would have been aware of the political analysis described above - where the 40% or so who vote for Senators, represent a large majority of the 'conservative, country' vote.  This is surely in his favour. 

But now there is another twist: what was looking like being a fairly bland Senatorial election for 4 seats in October, has just got a whole lot more interesting, with former Senator Syvret declaring just this afternoon, that he will also be standing for election. No doubt the thought of going head to head with his arch-nemisis, Sir Philip, who the former Senator no-doubt thinks is the embodiment of all that is wrong, politically, with the island, was too good an opportunity to miss. 

This, combined with a 'general election' (except for 6 senators seats) could make the outcome unpleasantly uncertain. It will certainly make the 14 or so hustings a lot more interesting. There will, perhaps for the first time, be a level playing field between Mr Syvret and Mr Bailhache. In the past, the power base was always skewed - either as Bailiff of States vs naughty elected Senator (who dared answer back) or Judge/defendant (not that former necessarily ever presided over any of Mr Syvret's cases). 

But the hustings are a great leveller. We know that Mr Syvret is an equal match for the former Bailiff, in terms of intellect and oratory. The 'Sir' title, will mean little when it comes to hustings in St Helier, St Saviour and St Brelade. 

But before we get fixated on two candidates for 4 seats, let's put these whole elections into perspective:

1)There will of course be other candidates - all of whom may be equally or better suited to be in the States than these two. That will be for the electorate to decide. 

2) And most importantly - the next Government will be made up in the vast majority by those (re)elected as deputy and constable. Whilst the media hype will no doubt focus on these 4 seats, the real battles and political gains/losses stand to made in the districts and parishes. In coming weeks, I will be working with other bloggers to highlight some of the choices that need to be made in key constituencies, and giving my take on the candidates. It is important that voters make informed choices, based on policy rather than personality or superficial factors. Moreover, it is simply important that we vote.

46 comments:

  1. Well said Monty.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why don't you stand for Senator Monty?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Syvret hasn't got a hope in hell of getting in.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Why would I stand for senator? I still lots of work to carry out for the good people of St Brelade. Why stand for Senator and let an Ozouf supporter get a free ride in my home parish?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Why? Because if you seriously think your policies represent the Island as a whole then they should be tested as so.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The expression “It’s crisis time for Jersey” was coined by then Deputy Terry Le Main during the 1996 elections as his contribution to defending the Establishment, then exposed for having allowed the Island’s legislature to be bought in the LLP Scandal. Ironically it is pertinent now as we head into a double dip recession that will result in many closed local businesses and unemployment for both finance workers and others.

    One hopes that the Senatorial elections do not become polarized around the issues of personalities – the bain of Jersey politics and the reason why tens of thousands do not vote. Philp Bailhache may withdraw from the hustings and instead just hold loyalist rallies at which he will be applauded – somewhat like his Hotel De France event last year at £200 per head. Those rallies would have to be open to the public (since not everyone can afford a £200 ticket) but hopefully the canapés would remain of the highest standard. Given that there will be so many persons on the platform that will not have attended an Oxbridge College of note, he could rightly argue against sparing in such demeaning circumstances.

    Well done Monty in having ventured out with the first shots in the election campaign 2011. Unfortunately the hustings in the Senatorial election and Country Parishes will receive premium coverage in the media to the detriment of St Helier and other urban parishes.

    I note that tonight’s edition of Pravda has sought to set the agenda for candidates. I won’t be following that particular (Establishment) Party line, since it is the social and economic interests of working people that are paramount for me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Anon. I never said that I thought my policies represented the whole island, but we live in a representative democracy and my ideas and policies reflect and are influenced by a proportion of society. We currently have a system where out of the 45 seats up for grabs at the next election, only 4 are islandwide.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I wonder if anyone will stand for Senator who will deliver something genuinely new and innovative. Something that people will actually be motivated to vote for, rather than picking the best of a bad bunch.

    The way I see it you have Farnham, Gorst, Bailhache as the establishment candidates; Le Gresley and Shenton as the independents; Syvret who has a clearly defined policy; I do not know much about Dr. Forskitt.

    Unfortunately none of them has said anything that will make me want to bother going to the polling station.

    One month to go, I want to see if anyone says anything inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Monty,

    Your history is slightly out.

    The post-war reform, and the fixing of tax at 20p was largely the result of indiginous Jersey politicians - the Senators were a reform of the old Jurats, the Rectors were removed (surely a good thing), and extra Deputies to balance the growing urban populations.

    The politicians involved in this change had mostly not been here in the war; they had been in the UK, and it was their experience of UK democracy which led them to want to reform Jersey, which really was a much more rigid States. But they were Jersey born politicians, not UK "colonisers", and they were opening up the system, in which Jurats were in the States for life, and Rectors by appointment to their living by the Bishop.

    At that point, the Constables had been in the States from ancient times, while the Deputies were an early attempt to provide extra votes for the population and stabilise the electoral ratios.

    So there was change, but not by some conspiracy of outsiders.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In fact, the largest change to Island life came not in the mid-20th century, but around 1900, when the educators, and those in charge of education, banned Jersey French from schools, even from the school playground, thus setting up English as the dominant language in the Island.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What is this? Good versus Evil? Its disgraceful that a person with a criminal record should be allowed to stand at all.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The news that Paddington Bear would be standing ("oh dear", he remarked to the world in general) generated some surprising reactions. A lady voter I know in a country parish - one I would mark down as pro-establishment was quite vociferous in describing it as "absolutely immoral".

    She is right. The return in due course of the Phil and Bill double-act (only this time with Bill as the Bailiff, supervising his brother's conduct in the States) will rightly give the watching world the impression that Jersey is a banana republic.

    I will be voting in September (first time I've been eligible). I also think Stuart Syvret will not get back in, but I will do what I can to ensure that neither PB nor Senator Nero Corbusier get in either.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Interesting post Monty. But tell me. You have links to Ted Vibert, Voice, Rico, even Simon Crowcroft. Yet you don't have one to Trevor Pitman's blog. Why is that? He has a link to yours I see.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tony the Prof

    A slight correction to your history of the postwar political era which needs to be set in the context of events in Britain and Europe.

    On the Continent there was incipient social revolution, most of it ultimately stifled by Stalinism (in France) and by British troops in Greece. In France there was a settling of scores by the Resistance (Left and Right) with Vichy collaborators (Épuration).

    The 1948 elections were fought on one side by the Jersey Democratic Movement, representing the Jersey Communist Party and the larger and more democratic popular movement that had arisen amongst the working classes of the island. As a good historian one should not ignore the role of the working people in making their own history and the history of the island (remember the “1769 Jersey Revolution” the origins of Democracy in Jersey). We should not air-brush popular action from the picture. In Britain the Labour Party sought to build “The New Jerusalem” of a modernised social-democratic welfare state.

    The 1948 Constitution was a conservative reform. Removing Jurats was positive but not the retention of Constables. The introduction of Senators with six years (I think originally 12 years) was designed to prevent the “democratic moment” of political change and ensure continuity of political power. The new business elite backed by landed property won the 1948 elections. Their successors remain in power today.

    Tony it would be useful if you could use your research skills to provide a simple outline of the advance (albeit slow) of the franchise in Jersey. When did women get the vote? In 1900 how many people had the right to vote as a percentage of the island – 5%? The right to vote was censitaire – subject to ownership of property. Universal Suffrage has only come about because of popular action.

    On my blog I recount the story of the three year resident Pakistan Accountant eager to vote this time while many Scots, Irish and English have lived here over forty years and never voted.

    ReplyDelete
  15. why on earth would philip bailhache want to be senator. he's old and rich, go and retire. every vote counts and if we can't get stuart back in , then we have to keep bailhache out.

    ReplyDelete
  16. You seem to have a lot of faith in the people voting for a convicted criminal because that is what they will be doing. If anything Sir Philip will gain support from this.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Montfort.

    The Law Offices will make sure their man Bailhache is protected from Syvret. Let me predict that Stuart Syvret will NOT run in the elections. The reason for him being unable to stand will come from the Law Offices, probably by making him bankrupt, or anything else they can come up with.

    The real power, in Jersey, resides with the Office of Attorney General and the Law Offices and they need to get their man in........They are desperate.

    ReplyDelete
  18. @ Tony -Thanks for the clarification. I did not literally mean 'colonialists' as physical outside people, rather the 'interest' of capital, both local and foreign which sought to change the way of life of the island, changing the social and political landscape for its own ends

    ReplyDelete
  19. @Anon. I can't see any link on Deputy Pitman's site to mine, but maybe I am just missing it. I will talk to Trevor - happy to put a link up

    ReplyDelete
  20. Personally, I can't see either of them getting elected, nor Ian Gorst, nor Ted Vibert, nor Lindon Farnham. The whole Syvret vs. Bailhache will just be an unwelcome distraction.

    The one thing Senator Ozouf is right about is that the people of Jersey want positive politics - they also want a change of direction though.

    I see Le Gresley, Colley, Shenton and one other as the top four, in that order.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Bailhache MUST NOT GET ELECTED

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have spoken to several people today and its a similar feeling, why is Stuart Syvret standing after trying to sue the states and all the other things he has said to date about this Oligarchy which he detests so much. But in saying that Darius is right that it will be a distraction and attention will be much more focused on attacking the Syvret campaign than anybody else's campaign. In fact anybody else who wanted to avoid attacks may as well relax because it will all be on him and one wasn't even establishment.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "What is this? Good versus Evil? Its disgraceful that a person with a criminal record should be allowed to stand at all"

    I agree but Bailhache can do as he pleases as he is the Boss

    ReplyDelete
  24. Talking to working people in St Helier No.1 they will instinctively not be voting for Bailhache or any other Jersey Oligarch.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Just back from heavy voter registration in the Waterfront area. Good vibes. Working people want to know who they should be voting for in the Senatorials. They know fairly clearly who they don't want and I find it difficult to make recommendations (for the Deputy election its LE CORNU unquestionably - no one has seen an elected Deputy here for years - it’s a wasteland of political neglect!).

    As far as those working people are concerned the Senatorial politicians all look much the same. No one embodies their social and economic interests unambiguously. Come on guys and girl, make it clear which side you are all on and do it fast or you won't get any votes from Town. We want declarations asap so we can assess the form.

    What does Rose Colley mean by saying in her press release: “I think it is important that there are elected representatives who have the ability to understand not the whole of Jersey as such, but to understand the views and needs of different people in society from the very wealthy to those on lower incomes and middle Jersey as well” (Pravda 08.08.2011). Rose you can’t represent 1(1)(k)’s and the poor all in the same paragraph, let alone in the States. Its time to take sides.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Don't forget Monty that we were told that Jersey could not appoint a Minister for Children because the number of ministers was laid down in the law.
    The need for such a Minister arose because it is virtually essential under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to have a person with clear responsibility for the welfare of all children.
    So, the appointment of Cohen as a pretend roving foreign Minister for the finance industry is doubly sick.

    Tom Gruchy says

    ReplyDelete
  27. Nick is right, Bailhache will not get many votes and neither will Syvret. Its like voting for one extreme to another. Down the middle will be the theme and the Public, like last time, will look for stability.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Montfort.

    Here's hoping Andrew Lewis gets elected. He's got a lot of questions to ANSWER

    ReplyDelete
  29. Philip Bailhache was Bailiff then a Judge and now he wants to be a politician! This is not right surely? Now his brother is Deputy Bailiff so can you see where I am coming from? Now lets say P Bailhache gets in as Senator, we know he really wants to be Chief Minister, then his brother is now Deputy Bailiff but we all know he wants to be Bailiff, imagine two brothers one a Bailiff and one a Chief Minister, scary don't you think? very dangerous also.....everyone that has a VOTE must vote for the Government we deserve, lets not let the B Brother's get what they want! The people are the ones with the power so lets all VOTE!

    ReplyDelete
  30. In relation to voting does anyone know why you have to use pencil, easy to rub out easy to change? I once asked if I could use a pen and was told a straight out NO, please can someone look into this..... Monty???

    ReplyDelete
  31. I believe it's sadly indicative of the state of Jersey politics that Bailhache, a man who just three years ago as Bailiff faced an unprecedented demand from the public to resign, today considers himself a suitable candidate to serve as a representative of that same public.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Montfort.

    The question still stands "were children murdered at HDLG"?

    ReplyDelete
  33. "It's disgraceful that a person with a criminal record should be allowed to stand at all"

    The only difference between the convicted criminal and a feudal oligarch is that one was found guilty of trumped up charges (and prevented from giving his valid defence) and the other is immune to facing justice :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Montfort.

    For those who believe Jersey's media aren't STATE CONTROLLED

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'd like to give you one simple reason why I consider Bailhache unelectable;

    Roger Holland.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Montfort.

    The silence of Jersey's "accredited" (discredited) media is DEAFENING

    ReplyDelete
  37. so is the silence from montfort

    ReplyDelete
  38. Jersey Justice? The Abusers V's The Abused Penny for penny, who comes out on top?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Nick Le Cornu, just get a life. Like, actually just get a life.

    Is everything a conspiracy to you?

    OHHH I'M NICK LE CORNU IT'S US AGAINST THE WORLD

    DA ESTABLISHMENT
    DA ESTABLISHMENT

    THERE WAS A SHOOTER IN THE GRASSY KNOLL

    DERP DE DERP DE DERP MIND CONTROL

    ReplyDelete