'It's getting silly now. The JEP and Channel Television are not even trying to appear impartial!'
On Monday, I attended the Hustings at St Clement. It was a fairly boring affair, with predictable performances from most candidates. Lord Philip was very fortunate to have drawn a seat which was dead centre of the table and also to be the first one to speak. This fortuitous position was bolstered by being given front page coverage in the JEP, where Lord Philip's photo appeared with the headline 'Time for Better Government' i.e. time for all of you JEP readers to elect Lord Philip. His photo also had the caption 'Former Bailiff (just in case you had forgotten) and Senatorial Candidate ... criticised States Members at last night's hustings.'
Award-winning Channel TV led in a similar vein, on the Tuesday, showing footage from Lord Philip's opening speech. No such privilege was afforded to any of the other 12 candidates. Then again, with the exception of Dr Mark Forskitt and Advocate Rose Colley, the remainder are mere serfs and should feel honoured to even share a platform with such a chivalrous individual. That they were even allowed to speak in his presence was a step too far, according to some.
During his speech, Lord Bailhache said that there were too many States Members (agreed) and that 'the devil made work for idle hands.' This is coded language for saying that opposition members who asked questions and brought propositions on valid issues, were time wasters. He went on to dismiss calls for a Discrimination Law and Freedom of Information as 'bright ideas' - not appropriate for Jersey. 'How offensive', I thought, 'they are not bright ideas, rather fundamental pieces of legislation that any civilised, 21st international jurisdiction should have enshrined at the centre of their constitution!'
The problem is that the political elite in Jersey, thoroughly conservative, both economically and culturally, want to have it both ways: they want Jersey to 'punch above its weight' ('péter plus haut que son cul' as the wonderful French expression goes) economically, whilst remaining a legislative backwater, where issues like discrimination (age, sex, race discrimination; unfair dismissal etc, etc) and access to official information are either not addressed at all (as with discrimination), or dealt with by opaque and non-statutory 'codes', as is the case for FOI. The reason they give, is that Jersey is a small island and that we do not need these cumbersome and costly laws, yet when it relates to promoting the interests of finance, we must be fully up to speed. However, the two should not be mutually exclusive.