28 September 2012

Happy Reform Day, Jersey! (28th September 1769)

I reproduce the following post courtesy of Tom Gruchy. Below you will also find a very informative talk given by local historian, Geraint Jennings, on the events of 28 September 1769. The views expressed are theirs.

The importance of Friday 28 SEPTEMBER - JERSEY REFORM DAY

…something we should ALL be doing on Friday 28 September this year.

REVOLUTION was in the air in the1760s.
All the Western Empires were creaking following the latest European war and old values were being tested. Religion, politics, scientific knowledge and the social order were all being subjected to examination and reform.

Even in little Jersey, there were brave people prepared to put their lives at risk in order to challenge the established order. Then, all economic, social, political and religious life in Jersey was dominated by the all - powerful Royal Court. This was a wholly corrupted body dominated by the Bailiff, and a dozen each of Jurats, Parish Constables and Rectors.

The same few privileged families controlled almost everything and the Island was divided up into hundreds of feudal fiefs which had to pay rentes to the seigniorial overlords. Most of the Island’s 22,000 or so population lived in precarious poverty.

Then, as now, the Crown Appointed Officers, reigned supreme. The office of Bailiff had degenerated into a hereditary sinecure of the UK based De Carteret family, who hardly ever even visited Jersey. In their place, over three centuries, substitute Lieutenant Bailiffs were appointed.
During much of the 18th century, it was the Lempriere family and their cronies who dominated the Royal Court, the government and so much of Jersey economic and social life. It was against this group that the poorer people of Jersey rose up and rebelled on 28 September 1769 – but there is no memorial built to their memory. Their leader Thomas Gruchy lies in an unmarked Trinity grave.
Officially, these brave people did not exist. The record of their rebellion was even erased from the contemporary Royal court ledger.
Then as now, dissent against the “Crown Officers” was treated as some sort of treason or sedition. The oppressive government dismissed the dissenters as “some factions of jealous persons of a spirit of disrespect in some of the lower classes towards their superiors.”
The Lemprieres planned to hang as many as possible or to deport even more of the rebels, appealing to the King in London to send over troops with authority to suppress the troublemakers.

In fact, the London government did not give the Lemprieres the authority they sought and nobody was hanged or deported. Instead, the brave Island rebels drew up petitions expressing their many grievances and these were sent to London.

As was so often the case, the London government protected the inhabitants ofJersey against the worst oppressions of the local tyrants. It was the ancient responsibility of the London Parliament for the good government of Jersey – even though there were no elected representatives from Jersey in Parliament.

The immediate outcome was that some of the abusive powers were taken away from the Royal Court and more authority was confirmed for the States of Jersey.
It was the start of a more democratic government in Jersey although very short of what the dissenters actually wanted.
In addition, a “Code of Laws “ was agreed and published by authority of the Privy Council in 1771 which was an attempt at providing a clear statement of the laws that applied in Jersey.

The Code was totally inadequate (to this day, clear commentaries on the obscure laws of Jersey are still needed), but it was very significant in the 18th century.
It did make clear that neither the Jersey Court nor the evolving States could pass new laws or amend existing ones, without prior Privy Council approval.

Following this mini- revolution, Philip Lempriere H.M. Attorney “resigned” and left theIsland. A new H.M. Lieutenant-Governor was appointed following representations inLondon against the local oppressors.

The suggestion that Jersey people have enjoyed a democratic paradise since 1204 is just nonsense.
The true history of Jersey has not been recorded or written.

Islanders and the outside-world audience have been fed an official Pro-Royalist ( PR) diet of misinformation for centuries.
The Inquiry (under Lord Carswell’s chairmanship) into the Roles of The Crown Officers brought out the queues of apologists for an official version of history and preservation of the status quo.
A legion of lawyers, Jurats, Honorary Parish officers, politicians past and present (and even H.M. Dean) presented a parrot-like recitation of wonderment in support of seven centuries of supposedly enlightened government, administrative excellence and judicial brilliance.
Historically supported fact or evidence was noticeably absent from their written or oral contributions to the Inquiry Panel of five persons (unimaginatively composed of three lawyers, a Jersey lawyer’s wife and a nurse).

Most of all, it was the Crown Officers themselves, the Bailiffs, Deputy Bailiffs, Attorneys and Solicitors General who felt the greatest need to sing their own praises,  protect their own interests and resist any notions of reform or change.
Thus, the same 18th century style of Crown Officers’ resistance against reform continues to this day.
Former Deputy Bob Hill’s successful call for an examination of the Role of the Crown Officers was just a continuation of the same call for reform that inspired the events of 28 September 1769. It is the voice of the people against oppressive or undemocratic institutions.

For the modern Royalists, it was all hands to the pump trying to maintain the Crown Officers’ ship afloat. Even the Crown Officers from Guernsey were encouraged to give support in an effort to keep the progressive standards of the twenty-first century, at bay.

There seemed to be a desperate but concerted attempt to hang on to perverse powers that their Channel Islands ancestors enjoyed over past centuries.

Jersey’s 1769 mini-revolution pre-dated the American 1775 break with Britain. Yet, when the American colonists’ French allies mounted an expedition against Jersey’s “nest of pirates” on 6 January 1781, Charles Lempriere, the outrageous Lieutenant-Bailiff, was finally forced to resign from office. His slightly less unpleasant son was appointed in his place and H.M. Lieutenant-Governor Corbett (Charles Lempriere’s father-in-law) was court-martialled and dismissed, for failing to adequately defend the colonial outpost.

As always, such disciplinary decisions were made in London because the Islandnever had an adequate administration, or the powers, to deal with such matters.

It was the Channel Islands’ role as bases for smugglers, privateers and pirates that attracted so much critical attention in the 18th century - as does the finance centre business today.

Inevitably, the Island based smuggling, privateering and “piracy” activities were defended as being beneficial to the British Imperial interest.
The business was a great training ground for navy recruits and many national and local heroes served on the vessels but they also incurred the wrath of others.
Invasions, such as that of 1781, were constantly threatened by foreign powers and so too were the calls on the British Government to curtail the abuses by imposing English Customs or other regulations.

Similar threats and pressures continue to this day from Britain the EU, the OECD, the IMF, the UN the USA and elsewhere.
Now, the Crown Officers continue to defend their own privileged and anachronistic positions within a system of government and administration which must surely be condemned before an international tribunal soon.
The Crown Officers also continue to defend the finance industry - the 21st century equivalent of the nefarious smuggling and privateering – and seek to give credence to the myth of 800 years of democratic government and benign administration under their own or ancestors’ authority.

During the 18th century there were just six Jersey advocates (appointed by authority of the Bailiff of course). Now, there are over 250 (mostly within huge international partnerships) – yet, just a couple dared to express any dissenting views before Lord Carswell’s Inquiry on the Roles of the Crown Officers. Jersey lawyers are the central and essential professional core of the whole Island based finance business and predictably, the Crown Officers are recruited exclusively from among them.

The single most important finding of the “Lord Carswell” inquiry – that the Bailiff should not sit in the States – has inevitably been ignored.

As in 1769, this is just another manifestation of the great divide in Jersey between the general population and the non-elected elite who still retain such a stranglehold as lawyers and Crown Officers over Island life.
We in Jersey should remember the brave heroes of 28 September 1769 with pride every year celebrate their achievements and continue to demand further reforms.

Currently (summer of 2012), following the proposition of (former) Deputy Wimberley an Electoral Commission has been set up to consider the structure of the Jersey States Assembly and whether reforms are needed.

Unfortunately, this Commission has been hijacked by the former Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache in his new role as an elected Senator of the States and the Commission is now loaded with politicians rather than the independent people that Deputy Wimberley had originally intended.

Every effort is being made by the old guard to ensure that virtually no reform takes place.
The media is manipulated as always to present a defence of the status quo and the Commission has already indicated that it will be pursuing a very narrow interpretation of its Terms of Reference.

Now, as in 1769, the people of Jersey cannot rely upon the government of the Islandto address the many problems that are obvious in this community of just 100,000.
Unfairness and lack of equality runs throughout so many aspects of official political thinking which has scant regard for international obligations or standards.

Problems of poverty, poor housing, inadequate heath care and such like – which the protestors of 1769 were concerned with – remain unsolved or addressed.

The reforms of government itself and the lack of democratic representation - another major part of the 1769 grievances - also remain unresolved and it seems unlikely that the current Electoral Commission will support change for the better.

Peaceful protest on the streets, public debate, the free expression and exchange of ideas to challenge the political status quo - these are the wholly respectable and democratic rights of the people in a democratic society.

As in 1769, it is surely now necessary for the public to take the initiative for reform and remove the discussion away from the too cosy and restricted confines of the States Chamber and out of the clutches of complacent officials and their media mouthpieces.

11 September 2012

Help Investigative Journalist return to Britain and Jersey

'Today is not a day to focus on right-wing versus left-wing politics, but the difference between right and wrong. When a democratic government abuses its substantial legal, legislative and financial powers to crack down on journalists’ freedom of speech, force policemen and elected officials from their jobs and systemically dismantle its own checks and balances so as to deny each of its targets due process, clearly it is a government that has lost its way.'


Please read on, share this page and sign this petition (ten seconds). The Internet is the one thing Jersey authorities have not been able to lock down.....yet! The petition can be signed HERE 

Today, an e-petition was launched on Change.org in support of allowing the U.S. investigative journalist and author, Leah McGrath Goodman, to return to Jersey to continue her research into decades of child abuse at Jersey’s state-run “care” homes and allegations of cover-ups in the wake of the government’s removal of the Chief of Police and shut-down of the entire investigation.

One year ago today, Ms. Goodman was banned from the UK and Jersey for two years after revealing to the Jersey Customs and Immigration Service during a voluntary meeting that she was writing a book on atrocities against children at Haut de la Garenne. According to the UK Border Force, she was flagged by Jersey Immigration authorities for removal upon her next border crossing – and that is exactly what happened. 

After the intervention of UK Member of Parliament John Hemming, the ban was reduced to one year and it expires today, 11 September 2012. That said, the UK and Jersey have so far declined to restore Ms. Goodman’s visa or allow her cross the border to continue her research. In order to do so safely, she will need to have her Tier -1 visa status fully restored – hence, the reason for this  e-petition today.

Leah McGrath Goodman should be permitted to complete her work in order that there is an accurate record based on the available facts and evidence. Jersey needs to confront the failings of its past so it can redress them and, most of all, ensure the safety of our children’s future.

We ask readers who care about the island’s children, who care about the island’s reputation, who believe in a free press and who want the truth to be told to sign the e-petition. We also ask fellow bloggers to copy and paste this blog onto their own Web sites so that we may show the world that Jersey wants the best for its future and its children. 

It is time to leave our island’s culture of secrecy behind and demand the kind of free and open society our island deserves. Those who would do otherwise are not representative of the majority of islanders.

06 September 2012

My Submission to the 'Highjacked' Electoral Commission, Jersey

Below is my submission to the Electoral Commission. Whilst we know that the Commission is already 'loaded' with politicians who favour a feudal solution to a modern day problem, it is interesting to note that there have been many submissions calling for a single class of States Member and for democratic principles of fairness, proportionality and equality of franchise to be applied.

My submission is quite long. If you prefer, you can view it in PDF format here.


By Deputy Montfort Tadier 
“A state without the means of some change 
is without the means of its conservation.” 
- Edmund Burke

“Change before you have to.” 
- Jack Welch

We live in exciting times. Jersey faces challenges and opportunities on a local and international scale. It is important, I believe, that we have the right foundations, politically, to weather the storms that are to face us. However, we have a divided island when it comes to the issue of Reform, but not divided in the sense of Left, Right, Liberal and Conservative, but rather in terms of democrats and traditionalists; those who favour a modern democracy for the modern challenges we face and those who think little change is necessary. 

I am in the former camp. And I am hopeful that Members of the Electoral Commission will propose far-reaching democratic reforms that will be a shining beacon of democracy at home and abroad. We have the chance to get this spectacularly right, but it will be necessary for us to put aside our pre-conceived ideas of what we want, in favour of fairness, democracy and logic. 
So how do we get there? 

Guiding Principles 
Calls for Reform are not new and many of the same demands for a modern and more democratic model that were being made as far back as 1769 and 1948 are still being made today. 
Rather than focusing on what we have now – the three rôles, and dissecting their pros and cons, it is more helpful to establish some basic principles which are generally accepted as being fair and sensible. This has been the approach of the local group Reform Jersey, and I think they are correct; They say that reform in Jersey should be guided by 3 basic principles: 

1) Every electoral district should contain the same population 

2) Every Voter should have the same number of votes 

3) The system should be simple and user friendly

I would invite the Commission to consider these three points and say what is wrong with them. Indeed, it is my belief that if these three principles are followed – rather than working backwards from what we have now and deconstructing it – The Commission will not go far wrong in its recommendations. 

You may recognise the first quote above. It was the one chosen by the Clothier Review Panel to preface its report of 20004. I quote it deliberately, because I think that the underlying principles of Clothier’s recommendations are sound. 
It is sometimes said by detractors of the Clothier Panel’s recommendations, unfairly in my opinion, that because he was from the UK, he did not appreciate the Jersey context. This ignores the fact that the majority of the membership was local. 
It is now widely accepted that the partial implementation of the panel’s recommendations has resulted in the worst of both worlds – a government with more concentration of power in the hands of the executive, but none of the necessary democratic reforms that went with it. Thus, 12 years on, we find ourselves with 4 Panels concurrently looking at (i) Standing Orders in the States; (ii) Machinery of Government; (iii) Voting and Elections Law and (iv) The Electoral Commission. 
This is despite the warning of the Clothier Panel itself, which clearly stated: 

‘The need for coherence and consistency in government, a requirement 
we have already noted, leads us to emphasise that our arguments and 
recommendations are all interlinked and interdependent and so must be 
looked at as a package rather than a collection of isolated proposals. We 
hope, therefore, that the temptation to pick out those of our ideas which 
look simpler and easier to implement will be resisted.’ 

It will, of course, take humility for the Electoral Commission to come up with the same recommendations that Clothier made: It is not an easy thing to admit that a panel chaired by a non-Jerseyman 12 years ago may have come up with the best workable solution. Nonetheless, I invite the panel to reconsider the merits and again state what is wrong with the recommendations the panel made. 
Single Class of States Member ‘Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitat5.’ –William of Ockham

It has been suggested that part of the block to reform in the past has been the protectionism of the three divisions of Membership for their own rôle. Whilst there have been some clear exceptions, I am sure this has been a contributing factor. 
The appeal of a single class of States Member, as recommended by Reform Jersey and many others, is that it gets rid of the divisive nature of this ‘class system’. It also makes the system easier to understand for both States Members and the public alike – how often do we hear, even States Members, refer to each other by the incorrect titles? 

‘Deputy Farnham… sorry, I mean Senator.’ 
‘Senator Norman… er, I mean, the Constable of St Clement.’ 

The (Dual) Rôle of the Constable 
The current Chief Minister stated in his oral submission that the island is deeply divided over the automatic right of the Constables to sit as politicians in the States Chamber. He is correct. (Certainly for the politically conscious element of the populace – remember we have a majority of the island who don’t engage in politics). However, this is a false dichotomy. It need not be an ‘either/or’ question. There is actually a third way. Follow the French example where Le Maire may sit in the Assemblé Nationale as an elected député, but not automatically. After all, it would be an unreasonable individual who said a Constable should not be able to stand to be a States Member, if he and the electors of the district were in consent. 

Similarly, it seems unreasonable to suggest that all Constables must also be a States Member (what if a potentially great candidate, stalwart of the parish, has no interest in being a States Member?!). 

However, it does seem entirely reasonable, to a fair and rational mind, that a Constable and the electorate, should be given the option to stand for national government, but not forced to have a seat. 

This position seems to have gained wider acceptance and I quote from two submissions to underline my point: 
As a strong supporter of the parish and honorary system I agree that, if it is to work as effectively as most would wish it to do, the head (or leader or father) of the parish must make his/her parish responsibilities the priority. If, having discharged those duties satisfactorily, a Constable wishes to serve his/her parish in a wider context there should be no bar to him/her seeking election to the States. However, the election to one position should not automatically be election to the other.’ -John Henwood

The Constable can decide whether to stand for the paid for position of Deputy, representing their area in Island decisions. and accepting the bigger workload of both Constable and Deputy.’- Ed Le Quesne

It is interesting to note that both of these are (strong) supporters of the Parish System. Mr Henwood, by his own admission, and Mr Le Quesne, who himself serves with the Honorary Police. Neither of these subscribe to the view that the removal of the Constable’s ex officio seat in the Chamber would necessarily lead to a weakening of the parish system. This argument seems to be something of a ‘red herring’ and at any rate, the healthy functioning of the parish system should not be the driving force behind the Electoral Commissions deliberations. 

Nonetheless, it is my belief that maintaining the automatic seat of the Constable will have an increasingly negative effect on the parish system. This view is summed up perfectly by no less than the serving Chef-de-Police of [anonymized] in his submission: 

I have worked for nearly nine years in a senior honorary capacity within the parish system, and in my view and in my experience, the reality is that the presence of the Connétables in the States weakens the [Parish] system, not strengthens it .. Running a parish can be an onerous task, and I believe that the requirements and workload of modern government has meant that to ask a Connétable to do both means that one of them must suffer.– [Anonymized]

There seems to be a truth here which has been picked up by voters in the 2011 election, which saw two sitting Constables (one a Minister), lose their seats because they were perceived to have ‘lost touch’ with the parish. Ironically, both Constables were probably amongst the more ‘articulate and politically active’ of the Comité, suggesting that the balancing of the States/Parish workload, is indeed, not an easy task. 

Again, the suggestion of Reform Jersey seems entirely sensible: 

Constables who wanted to be States Members could still put themselves forward of election to the States, but ultimately it would be for the voter to decide whether they also wanted their Constable to be a States Member.’

Of course, there are other reasons for the removal of the three rôles, including that of Constables, other than pragmatics: most urgently, that of proportionality of representation. The Commission has noted itself, for example, that 

The combined total population of the 8 most rural and semi-rural parishes is 2,556 less than the population of St. Helier alone,even though these 8 parishes are represented in the Assembly by 8 Connétables compared to St. Helier which is represented by just one.’ 

This alone is a good enough reason for the removal of the Constables. Lack of reform in this area risks exacerbating the Town/Country divide which is already becoming apparent, politically and socially, in this island. 

A Second Chamber? 

‘Illusions of grandeur are not the same as visions of greatness.‘ Edwin Louis Cole

Whilst I do not wish to offend anyone, it seems to me that this suggestion is a complete folly. A second chamber would create more problems than it would solve: 

Would you have a selection process or an election process? 

If members are appointed, that will surely be contentious, perceived as undemocratic, and anachronistic, at a time when Westminster are reforming their own House of Lords 

If elected, which Chamber would have supremacy? 

The creation of an additional tier of government, with all the administration and cost that goes with it, would only serve to increase government at a time when most are calling for smaller, more efficient government. 

If the desire is genuinely to increase scrutiny of legislation, this can be done in two ways: 

1) Use a fraction of the money you would spend on the second chamber to resource Scrutiny better; consider allowing the public, especially experts, to have greater input in scrutiny (as is the case with PAC) 

2) Move to super-constituencies, encourage greater political engagement, and attract a better calibre of States Member. 

If the idea is simply to save face for the Constables or the Senators, it is a spurious ground. 
We should remember we are a small island, comparable to a small town elsewhere in Europe. Whilst it is correct that the States of Jersey is essentially our ‘national assembly’, we do have local representation in the parishes already. I cannot see how a third tier of administration could be anything other than divisive, wasteful and unnecessary. 

Voting Systems 
I believe it is important that the Commission give serious consideration to changing our first past the post voting system to one of preferential voting. This is especially important if we move to a system with multiple-seat constituencies, but also valid in single seat elections. The arguments for this are well known, and I will not bore the Commission unnecessarily with repeating what others have already said. 
However, I will offer the following for your consideration: 

1) In the hearing of 16th July, Mr Sam Mézec was asked by one of the Commissioners whether change should be more ‘evolutionary’ or ‘radical’. Mr Mézec responded quite wisely, ‘I hope that the Commission puts forward something that is good enough to work first time around.’ Arguments are sometimes made that too much change in one go would overwhelm the public, however, I would suggest that it better to make recommendations that don’t have to be revisited again in the near future. 

2) In the case on the 2011 Deputies elections in St Brelade no.2, there were a total of 3 candidates contesting 2 seats. This meant that, purely statistically, there was a 2/3 chance of each candidate being elected. The results are recorded below: 

Vote Share 
Sean Power 
Montfort Tadier 
Mervyn Le Masurier: 
Not Elected 

These results highlight some interesting facts. All candidates managed to achieve more than 50% of the vote. This is of course not that surprising. There was the option of 2 votes for each voter, and the majority would have used both votes. Nonetheless, these results are unusual. Normally, someone who achieved more than half of the vote would 
have a reasonable expectation of being elected. In contrast, many were elected elsewhere with much less than 50% of the vote. 
The trouble is here, and elsewhere, it was not possible for voters to weight their vote, and the results are often disproportionate or meaningless as a result. 

To put it simply, the first-past-the-post system is only fair is when there are two candidates for one seat. In all other situations a STV or MTV should be used. The work has already been done by previous incarnations of the PPC and should finally be put into action. 

3) There may be a temptation for the Commission to say that Voting Systems fall outside of its remit, however, I would suggest that the ‘catch all’ 

’ -and all other issues arising in the course of the work of the Commission which are relevant to the needs stated above.’ 

is relevant here. It fact it is inconceivable that one might look at revising boundaries, ensuring fairness in results and distribution of seats, without considering the voting systems that produce the end results. 

Election of Chairman for the States 
Similarly, I believe that the Electoral Commission should give consideration to formally recommending that Bailiff cease to be the Chair of States Assembly, and the Assembly have an elected speaker from within its ranks. Again, the arguments are clearly laid out in the Machinery of Government review of 2000. It seems to make sense that if the dual rôle of the Constables is to cease, then so also should the dual rôle of the Bailiff. In time the rôle of Speaker would develop its own prestige and Jersey would have a modern democracy in keeping with its growing status on the international stage. 

Redistribution of Seats 
The redistribution of seats must be carried out by an Independent Boundary Commission to ensure fairness and to act as a safeguard against any gerrymandering or the accusation thereof. And why would the States and PPC wish to open themselves up unnecessary criticism from potential detractors (who criticise rightly or wrongly)? Of course, the Commission should make a recommendation to the I.B.C. based on submissions and what is workable. 
It appears to me that there are two workable options: either many single seat constituencies, or several large(r) constituencies. 
I believe that single seat constituencies would catalyse formal party politics in Jersey. This would be positive from my perspective. Also, ‘one (wo)man, one seat’ would make the lines of responsibility and accountability much clearer. 
However, the negatives of single seat constituencies seem to outweigh the positives. Uncontested elections would become more common, especially in the absence of a revised voting system. Entrenchment would follow and disenchantment, abstentionism would increase. 

In the absence of a party political system, which is ultimately what is needed for mature and effective government in this island, a series of multi-member constituencies should be seen as preferable. The exact size and number will be dictated by a mixture of geography, demography and mathematics. 

This said, I would not object to a series of 40+ constituencies each electing one member, provided a preferential voting system were to be used. This would safeguard against unpopular representatives being elected/returned on minority votes. 
I would also urge that the single election day be kept with all members elected on the same day, irrespective of class of membership. This allows the public to vote to potentially change or endorse its government, at least theoretically. It also prevents election fatigue. 

Closing Words 
There is a belief in some quarters that the electoral Commission has been ‘politically stacked’ with the aim of delivering a prescribed political outcome. There is also an expectation that the Commission will inevitably opt to keep the automatic dual role of the Constable in the States Assembly, even though this is not universally supported and, perhaps, despite a majority of submissions to the contrary; and not achieve proportional and fair representation for islanders. 
I hope this does not happen. I hope that the Commission manages to unite the island, notwithstanding valid political differences and come up with a system which provides simple, but effective modernisation which will work for years to come 

03 September 2012

Jersey Evening Pravda - Deconstructing Jersey Propaganda

Today's Pravda featured propaganda so blatant, flawed and out of touch, that it would not be out of place in Putin's Russia. Under its official propaganda section of page 10, appeared an editorial, ostensibly from Chris Bright, the pamphlet's nominal editor. 

The tone and content were 'brazen.' (as one reader put it) in its open and bias support of the Constables retaining their automatic seat in the States Assembly, even though an increasing ground swell of opinion is increasingly opposed to this position. Moreover, early indications are that the majority of submissions to the Electoral Commission are calling for the ex officio role of the Constables to cease. They could of course stand for election as politicians if they wished and, more importantly, if they passed the democratic test of the electorate.

For those readers not from Jersey, we are a small island jurisdiction, very close to France and in the English Channel. We have a population of nearly 100, 000. We have no party politics (not officially) and we have 51 elected members all sitting in one chamber. But there are 3 categories of States Member: Senators (10) elected island wide; 29 Deputies (elected in district constituencies); and 12 Constables (sometimes called 'Connétables') elected in parishes of varying sizes. 

We are currently undergoing a reform process. Initially, it was agreed that the electoral commission be independent (that is free from politicians), however this was highjacked by a prominent and newly elected politician, who already wanted to keep the role of Constables.

The problem with the Constables position is:
 (1) that they are primarily elected on an honorary basis to lead the municipal administration of their parish and oversee its honorary police force (oh, yes, I forgot to mention - as well as the island having a paid British Police Force, there are also 12 honorary forces, one for each parish); They automatically get a seat in what is effectively our national Parliament as well. However, they are not primarily elected to that role. They are essentially somewhere between a Mayor and a Sheriff.
(2) They represent vastly differing constituencies. St Mary has 1,600 residents, St Helier, the capital, some 34, 000.  Yet they each have one Constable.

It is interesting to note that the Mori poll of 2006 showed support for the Constables [in the States] at 54% (from a sample of 1000). It was certainly not 'general'. Personally, I think it is less, but ultimately we do not know. That is why in 2009, I proposed a referendum to ask the public to decide. However the majority of States Members voted against 29 -17. No surprise that 10 Constables voted en bloc against (what were they so scared of?). Only the Constable of St Clement voted in favour. He also agrees that Constables should lose their ex officio role and has told the commission that. 

It is in this context that the following editorial is set. In this video, I deconstruct some of this propaganda and show it up for the insidious nonsense that it is.

The editorial itself can be seen below.

FOLLOWING up his election promise to resolve the long-running issue of States reform, Senator Sir Philip Bailhache and the Electoral Commission he chairs have now completed the first round of their public consultation on the future make-up of the Assembly.
Even before publishing his findings to initiate a second round of open discussion, the Assistant Chief Minister and former Bailiff has given some clear indications of what they are likely to include, notably four-year terms for all, the retention of the Constables and a reduction in the overall number of Members.
The first of those proposals is uncontentious and the second will be widely welcomed. Despite the insistence of a vociferous minority, there is no evidence of any public demand for the removal of the Constables and no compelling reason why there should be. Each of the 12 parish heads is uniquely well placed to understand and act upon the views and needs of the local communities he or she serves. The claim that they are somehow ‘unelected’ if, as often happens, they face no opposition at the ballot box is self-interested nonsense. Moreover, the life experience and general common sense of the Constables provide an important balancing factor in a single-chamber assembly, while their removal would probably deal an ultimately fatal blow to the parish structure on which so much of Jersey’s special identity and community spirit depends.
If the key question, then, is how well the Constables serve and reflect their electorates, the answer must be: very. That serves also as a reminder that the guiding central issue for the commission should be how to improve the democratic responsiveness and accountability of the States Assembly, as distinct from the speed and efficiency of its decision-making, an important point when it comes in turn to the third of their predictable proposals. The claimed need for a reduction in the overall size of the Assembly is much more questionable.
It has been repeated so often that it has become an article of faith that there are too many States Members, but there is little hard evidence to support the view. Public concern stems not from the number of seats but mainly from the divisive way in which ministerial government has been introduced and the advent of career politician in a jurisdiction without clear party politics.
There may be scope for a tweak here and there in the number of Deputies, and there is certainly a strong case for reinstating the four Senatorial seats arbitrarily removed by the last Assembly, but there must still be enough in total to carry out constituency work, share the ministerial workload more widely, represent the Island overseas, outvote the executive and keep the increasingly powerful civil service in check. Simple mathematics suggest that the current total of 51 is not that excessive.
In reality, there was not much wrong with the old system of 12 Constables, 12 Senators with a hard-won Islandwide mandate and enough Deputies to go round. It gave every voter at last 14 representatives, each of whom had the opportunity to play a direct part in the decision-making process. We cannot turn back the clock, but it is difficult to imagine the Electoral Commission coming up with anything more democratic than that.