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.


  1. Pravda = Central Organ of the Jersey Bourgeoisie

  2. "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."

    Who are you kidding?
    Known anti-establishment Deputies, nominators of known anti-establishment Standees, owners of blogs, owner of a website and even bogus submissions.

    Do you really think the people reading all these 'similar' submissions about getting rid of the Constables are that green Monty?

    The Website is nothing but a sham.

    1. And how about Former Senator Pierre Horsfall and Constable of St Clements Len Norman?

    2. It must be hard for an apologist to accept that there is a considerable body of opinion that recognises we have a political system that is far from democratic by recognised standards.

  3. Fab stuff Monty and you have the number of the Pravda that is the filthy rag.

  4. Brazen propaganda from that filthy cess pit good job its days are numbered.

  5. @ Troll. Similar submissions... These include John Henwood, Chef de Police of St Lawrence, Hugh Gill, Honorary Policeman Ed Le Quesne, Constable Len Norman - All asking for Constables to be removed from membership of the States. Are these all anti-establishment characters?

  6. The JEP is Jersey's biggest enemy and it's high time people came to that realisation.

  7. Montfort.

    You might have noticed that there is no "have your say" option on this propaganda piece on the JEP's site. But there is that option when it comes to allowing people to attack the Victims/Survivors of Child Abuse concerning Deputy Higgins' proposition.

    What a disgrace that "news"paper is in fact it's probably sunk to the depths of the BBC now!

  8. Oh here we go, anybody that does not agree with this stance is a troll, now where have we seen that before? 5 People Monty, 5 out of how many? Anyway you carry on throwing your toys and we will see what happens in an Island wide referendum.

    1. There will be a low turnout for any referendum, assuming that is the incoherent recommendation of the Commission can be reduced to some form of yes/no formula. A low turnout legitimises nothing.

  9. "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."

    Ignoring the fact that a pressure group was set up and held a 100 strong meeting for removing the Constables, the vast majority of submissions to the commission were for removing the Constables and several senior statesmen like Pierre Horsfall and Len Norman are for removing the Constables.

    Oh and of course there's that little thing called democracy that's, sort of, important, you know?

    I knew the JEP wasn't good for much else than toilet paper, but even I'm astounded at how poor an article they managed to put together.


  10. Montfort.

    A very small example of the BBC's PROPAGANDA

  11. Nailed it Monty, now all we need are a few more of your colleagues to put these puppets in their place and we might get some real journalism on this island besides the blogs.

  12. That's right. Those 5 were just examples, but that other famous anti-establishment blogger, Pierre Horsfall was also saying it's time to remove the Constables. And there are lots more.

  13. Montfort.

    There is a problem leaving comments with the word verification and if they do get through they come out as anonymous, not sure if anybody else has had this problem? But at least it is possible to leave comments on here, unlike (as I posted earlier) the JEP's site where if you want to attack Child Abuse Victims you are more than welcome but you are not given the option to criticise the JEP. #Priceless

    1. The current comments on the State Rag child abuse compensation related article are disgusting, indeed. Asking outsiders in any other land, rich or poor, what they think of these comments might enlighten the oligarchy, State Media and trolls a wee bit. They are so consumed with reputation and image yet I doubt there is any country which would not feel humiliated by the world knowing their fellow citizens are comfortably posting comments like that. It is incredibly self destructive of Jersey's image and something is very rotten if there really are so many commenters who feel that way. If non-Jersey readers find those comments, it will be difficult for any PR expert to reverse their disgust.

  14. Follow the money

  15. “….there was not much wrong with the old system…” [JEP Editorial]

    There is plenty wrong with the present system – it’s not democratic and the elite know it. The evidence is the 60% voter abstention. People realise that the system does not allow for change or for the implementation of alternative policies. Regardless of who is elected the government pursues the same policy.

    Elections are fine, but not ones that produce change. Change is what is unacceptable

    Constables are “elected” for their qualities to run the Parish. They are not chosen for the policies or performance qualities in the States Assembly. Sitting ex-officio, by virtue of their office of being a Constables is not considered acceptable in a modern democratic legislature. Add to that the frequent uncontested elections (8 of the 12 Constables returned unopposed in 2011) is indication that democracy does not function at the parish level. For confirmation of that statement, one has only to consider how few people attend parish meetings and even then they are dominated by an inner circle of the Club.

    Parishes with vastly disparate populations are not acceptable electoral districts. It leads to over-representation of the Northern Parishes and under-representation of the urban areas, especially St Helier with a third of the island’s population.

    The solution is, as Clothier suggested all along, there should be one category of States Member all elected on the same day at a general election, in larger constituencies, thereby eliminating rotten boroughs and uncontested elections.

    Simple, but unacceptable to all those bitter enders.

  16. "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."

    Oh come on now - just ask Guernsey do they miss automatic Parish representation!! NO of course not.

  17. The JEP leader is not that bad. Actually if you read on, it’s pretty reasonable, far more reasonable, I fear, than Sir Philip Bailhache’s recommendations will prove. Take the following paragraph…

    “There may be scope for a tweak here and there in the number of Deputies…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….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 leading the charge, in cahoots with Juliette Galichan (!!!) for that arbitrary removal of the Senators I think you’ve increased the pressure on the Deputy seats. With the “progressives” losing the argument, losing friends, losing public opinion, losing credibility (thanks Southern) losing seats and ultimately losing the election…durr!

    You’ve also supported the notion that the number of states members needs reducing, on zero scientific evidence, as far as I can judge. That well-worn phrase on the floor of the house that, “I think we all agree there are to many members sitting in this house” entered folklore without challenge. Pourquoi?

    The fewer the members; the greater the chance of the executive never losing a vote. That is the most serious threat.

    Betting on a first cut of Senators to reduce the pressure on the deputies was dumb. You need there votes now and you’ve lost ‘em. Bailhache will cull ten (the new magic number) deputy seats, or maybe 8 and 2 more senators. I dunno.

    The Constables were never gonna go in the old house. With THIS house (terrifying as it is) no chance. Couldn’t you guess? They sacked a Police Chief under your nose!

    There are some easy compromises, St Lawrence 2 deputies? (Grouville 1 same population I think.) Why didn’t you start there?

  18. Perhaps everyone should read the research commissioned from Alan Renwick of the University of Reading to get a grasp of some of the objective issues arising from comparative studies and international standards (yes, Jersey is an island with external relationships):


  19. The person who wrote that editorial does not seem to understand what democracy actually is otherwise they would not have written such outright nonsense.

    Either that or they do actually understand what it is and they know that introducing more of it would be a threat to the established power structures in the Island and they also believe that this would be so damaging to what they support that they think it justified to write a naked piece of highly misleading propaganda to influence the minds of the large numbers of the public who rarely seem to analyse things too deeply, to their own ultimate detriment.

  20. 21 comments here already so that is 21 people already planning the public events on 28 September in the Royal Square is it Monty?...

  21. You have had 4 years to get an uprising going and last year Sir Philip Bailhache topped the Poll. What does that tell you?

    1. Your question is well answered by Nick Palmer, above.

    2. Who was elected as Chief Minister? What does that tell you?

  22. Is it possible to request from the JEP the evidence for the claim that the ''former Bailiff Sir P. Bailhaches gave clear indications of the findings in this review.

    Done deal? How can Mr. B indicate such information to the journalist, prior to the outcome of this review?

    Blatent effrontery highlighted in the article shows no chance of equal participation for voters.

  23. Sorry but......Sir Philip topped the poll courtesy of the very propaganda mouthpiece of which we are now discussing.

    And, as Nick Palmer so rightly says ' to influence the minds of the large numbers of the public who rarely seem to analyse things too deeply, to their own ultimate detriment.'

    Sad but true, most people do not look to deeply into matters that should be of great interest, but rather scan and gloss over what the media trot out to us in the belief that it MUST be right if it is in the papers or on TV.

  24. Why don't you just work on your politics instead of blaming trivial write ups in the JEP all the time? All this 'mouth piece for the establishment nonsense' is just a distraction, people can make their own minds up you know. Besides if your policies for Jersey are so great Monty then you can forget the JEP because they are irrelevant. Just get on with it.

  25. Monty, there is also now an extraordinary letter from the Editor of the JEP in the Current Submissions section of the Electoral Commission website. I don't know how to insert a hyperlink but if you look under the entries you can see it in 29 August list. www.electoralcommission.je is the website

  26. @ 'get on with it' - It is not an either or. The JEP article was very political and needed showing up for the insidious nonsense that it was. Despite its poor standards of journalism, the JEP has much more influence than the States Assembly could ever have or most States Members. This is why it is important for bloggers to stand up to their propaganda, expose it and give the public the other side of the story

  27. What do you intend to do about the JEP then, set up a second newspaper? Pointless and unnecessary.
    I read a number of alleged political blogs and they all say the same thing about the JEP being an establishment paper and how great these blogs are in comparison. Yet the amount of insults the blogs throw out to others it's hardly going to ever catch on in Jersey, in fact it will only isolate you as a real challenge to the Establishment even more. If you have some ideas of getting us out of recession, diversification of the economy, cutting unemployment then forget the JEP and just get on with doing something constructive. All these posts do is open the gap between you and the media, other States Members and more importantly the electorate, and you only have to look at another infamous politician's demise to see that for yourself. Try and make more friends out there and get away from all this negativity, just forget the JEP.

  28. Sen. Farnham has a letter saying reduce the Deputies in today's paper.

  29. Until the General Election of 2000, there were 33 Deputies elected with three year mandates, and 12 Conseillers representing the Bailiwick, serving terms of six years, with half being elected every three. The Conseillers were not originally directly elected by the people (although latterly directly elected by Bailiwick-wide vote), and the office has now been abolished. The 10 Douzaine representatives (representing parish authorities) were removed from the States in the 2004 constitutional reform.

    Guernsey has ten Parishes:
    St. Andrew
    St. Martin
    St. Peter Port
    St. Pierre du Bois
    St Sampson
    St Saviour

    But only seven Electoral Districts as:-
    St Peter Port North
    St Peter Port South
    South East
    St Sampson

    St Peter Port North (all areas north of the Grange and the Rohais)
    St Peter Port South (all areas south of the Grange and the Rohais, including Herm)

    The difference in population in the electoral districts between the highest and lowest is less than 15%.

  30. Interview with Constable Pallett of St Brelade is now on tomgruchy.blogspot.com
    It is no use moaning in the JEP about the democratic deficit - the action must take place in public where the establishment cannot control freedom of expression.
    Friday 28 September is the date again this year - what are you ALL proposing to do on THAT DAY?

  31. In case the significance of 28 September has passed you by - then look at tomgruchy.blogspot.com
    postings for 27 August, 6 September
    and 2 October 2010 and then fix your banner to a stick and assemble with your political friends on the relevant day and MAKE A LOT OF NOISE for a start....

  32. I agree discussion must be out in the open! In my humble opinion I would wish for all the elected to be of equal status.

    There is no reason why there should be 12 electoral divisions, there could be ten. There could be two reps for each division, or even three, depending upon how the public view this.

    I saw an interesting quote today which originally related to the forthcoming elections in November in the US of A. I think it is a good quote and should be placed where politicians can see it when they enter the building that houses our States Assembly!

    ‎"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." --John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

  33. There should also be a large screen with a Skype link to Leah Goodman so she can have a quick chat about being banned by Jersey.