25 January 2013

Did you hear the one about the Politician who took a pay increase?

There is an old joke that about lawyers that goes: 'Isn't it a shame how it's the 99% a bad lawyers that give the other 1% a bad name.' Substitute lawyer for politician and you have a ready made joke next time you bump into your local States Member.

As a quick aside, I was interested to hear the evidence given by Advocate Fogarty at a public scrutiny hearing on the mental health of prisoners. She is clearly someone with a great deal of experience in the Jersey legal system and of representing defendants with mental health related issues. She was quite robust in her comments that parts of the system across the board are letting vulnerable people down, and need addressing urgently, commenting also on issues of understaffing, wrong or no diagnoses and an absence of adequate facilities for people with psychiatric issues in Jersey. More on that scrutiny review can be found here by Citizen's journalist, Tom Gruchy (all thoughts are his own).

The reason I bring this issue up is to contextualise. Whilst jokes about the motivation, efficacy and ethics or Advocates and States Members about, I still believe that the vast majority of them go into for basically the right reasons. They want to make a difference and make one for the better. I believe this in the case of Tories, Socialists, Republicans, Democrats and people across the spectrum. I don't agree that all of them are right and often, I believe they are blind by the 'unintended' consequences' of their politics, but they generally want to make a positive difference. Of course, politics will always attract those on the megalomaniac/psychotic spectrum - which is maybe one reason why women are often not attracted to politics. But, hey, who amongst us is perfect?

Today, I am posting my response to Lucy Stephenson, who has written much recently on States Members pay, and who wants to know which of us States Members is taking our below cost of living pay adjustment ( to use politically correct, but also factual terms).

Whilst she is correct that States Members pay is a matter of public interest, I feel that the perennial tone of the discussion, with the media in general (the Channel TV coverage was perhaps even more facile), lacks any meaningful criticism. I have subsequently corresponded with Lucy to re-iterate that none of the comments are personal, but reflect primarily on the caliber of the J.E.Pravda (accountability is a two way street):

JEP journalist, Lucy Stephenson

Letter to Lucy

Hi Lucy,

Why are you only interested in how we are spending the below inflation 1.8 cost of living adjustment that States Members have been awarded, when the remaining 98.2% is also paid by the tax payer? Surely in the public interest, you should be asking us what we are going to be doing with that money also.Have you also thought to look into the pay affairs of the Crown Officers, Bailiff, Attorney General, etc, who are also public servants, but of a different kind? Do you even know whether they are receiving a pay increase? If so, is it more or less than us. Or does JEP populism turn into deference when it comes to these figures?Are you aware that the Crown Officers (they will correct me if I'm wrong) and other Public employee groups also receive incremental pay increases based on length of service? This does not apply to States members.Are you also aware that States Member's pay has fallen behind that of equivalently paid civil servants when benchmarked against? Since 2004, States members pay has consistently lagged in relative terms, as can be seen by the very useful stat attached in this link: (http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2012/P.127-2012Com(2).pdf#search=p.127) quite ably produced courtesy of the States Greffe.This kind of information is not often reported as it does not fit with the populist, 'all politicians are useless kind of mantra' that low quality tabloids like yours are keen to pursue.The most sinister consequence of this populist and partial reporting is that it inadvertently, or by design breeds despondency among the public. It seeks to tar us all with the same brush. It does QUITE RIGHTLY tap into the fact that people out there are suffering, and that we live in an un-equal world, but rather than offering any critical analysis as to why this is the case it takes the easy way out and and targets an easy scape goat.The real questions to ask are 'why is it that we live in an economy where wages, for the majority, do not keep up with inflation?' 'Why do the rich, even and especially in Jersey, get richer whilst the poor, on whose labour their wealth is built, get poorer and continually more oppressed, so they are forced increasingly into State dependency?'These are the kind of questions I would expect from both politicians and journalists. These questions are asked by politicians, although we are a minority in Jersey. They are asked by journalists of most papers everywhere else, whether left, centre or right, but in Jersey there is never any analysis or questioning of the economic model which harms our own people. Why is this?Lastly, to return to my point of 'tarring-with-the -same brush.' There are those politicians in Jersey, in a minority, who fight for workers to be able to have a real cost of living adjustment. You would do well to look at those politicians who voted against the 'modest' increases in minimum wage and against pay rises for public employees in recent years. This is where the inconsistency lies. please do not group me with these.

Kind regards,

Montfort Tadier


  1. Lucy is not in the same class as Ben and Ben is in no class at all working for the JEP. If you want to work in propaganda then fine.

    We all have to make a living and the good journalists at the JEP must suck their pillows at night in despair and frustration, having to pay the mortgage by working at this extension of the Chief Ministers tax funded spin machine without integrity or balance.

    Well worded letter Deputy Tadier, keep up the awkward questions in the States we are listening.

  2. The fact is Montfort, those politicians who see fit to take a pay rise in this economic climate do not give a stuff about their public image. That's exactly what it's about, and it stinks. I want to see a list of those of you who have taken this pay rise, I want to see it published ( freedom of information ) and I also want to see at the same time a list of those so called caring politicians who voted against acquiring Plemont for the public of this island.
    Let the public decide, they will have their say when you lot are crying out for their vote.

  3. Understandable comments. The vote on Plemont is available HERE. The other votes on the various amendments are available on the States website. For the record, I voted initially for the States to loan the NT the funds. That was not supported, and I voted for the acquisition of the land for the NT. I stand by my decision, but I accept the majority decision.

    I do have some general comments to make. Whenever I hear the words 'this economic climate', I am always filled with a sense of unease. Firstly, the current economic climate is one where the rich get richer, and even their rate of getting richer is increasing, whilst the poor are getting poorer. In this back drop, the ruling elite who are in bed with the super-rich then drip feed propaganda, that those who are most affected by the spiralling cost of living, must show restraint and lie back and accept an erosion of their standard of living. At the same time, the super-wealthy, who caused the crash with their recklessness, then reap the benefits by taking bonuses and increases far in excess of the workers. The result is, that there is more wealth in fewer hand, and less disposable income in the pockets of ordinary folk who would spend the money to keep the economy going. So, shops shut in the high street and this in turn increases calls from neo-liberals for 'more pay restraint'. A vicious circle.

    When will people realise that it is not £818 that is the problem?! Mine has already been spent on merely keeping up with inflation from the previous year. There are lots of people out there who HAVE been given pay increases. But the ones who need it most are usually the ones who lose out.

    Also, those States members who refuse the pay increases may look noble, but I remind you of the parable of the widow's mite in the Gospels. It is easy for a multi-millionaire, property owning States Member to refuse his pay increase, especially when all he needs to do is put his rents up by the cost of living. What about my colleagues who are single mothers or those whose sole income it is? Why should they see a reduction in their real time income when they strive to serve those most in need in this island?

    As suggested in my letter to the JEP this argument needs to move on.

  4. There's no JEP on a sunday!
    & don't buy it daily or read it online.
    Interesting to see there are surgeries at the Horse & hound if I ever make it to to swimming pool out there might just hang around to see if St Brelades can intice me to stay in Jersey beyond 2013
    Miss A-m Gara

  5. Dear Reader,
    I do not normally allow comments such as the one above to be printed, but I do so on this occasion to show the type of abuse that bloggers and States Members, who dare to pose difficult, but essential questions to our island institutions (in this case a complicit newspaper).

    I will not be publishing his comments again in future and will delete this one in a few days, but it is important that readers, and the wider world know what kind of political context we operate in here in Jersey. Those who speak out against the status quo are often harassed - not me especially, but I know others who are.

    With regards to Ms Goodman, it is not a question of whether or not I want her here, rather, it is the fact that immigration should not trump up reasons for ejecting her and detain her in an illegal manner. The UK and the island's authorities have made a rod for their own back with this one.

    1. Please keep this rude and absurd comment. It reflects the true level of the sort of people that are Trolls and yet consider themselves to be political commentators. The world is full of idiots and they do not have to be tolerated - just exposed to the ridicule they deserve.

  6. Hi Deputy.

    Just put up the Audio of the Questions without Answers From the States Sitting today, you & your readers can listen HERE

    Hope it helps,


  7. Monty - just left this comment on ThisisJersey which they may not print for obvious reasons. Could you, just to widen the audience?
    "All you commenters aren't being shown the whole picture. The JEP story was that an "email is circulating" because of Minister Duhamel's "reported as disastrous" speech at this dinner. If anyone cares to look back at Trevor Pitman's blog you will clearly see that this knife in the back was planned weeks ago. Unless certain other Ministers have access to a time machine that all rather blows the convenient cover story the JEP has been fed completely out of the water.

    "The Bald Truth" blog predicted this coup weeks ago - it is apparently rooted in Senator Bailhache who was mightily miffed that Duhamel's granting of planning permission to the wannabe Plemont despoilers jacked up the potential purchase price of the land and thereby tipped the vote against Senator Bailhache's personal project. Now, I am angry that Plemont was granted permission but Duhamel had little other choice under the Planning Law, given the long history of the proposed development's applications and promises before he became Minister. In essence, it appears that Bailhache threw his toys out of the pram and screamed "off with his head" because Minister Duhamel actually applied the Planning Law against his wishes.

    What does this show about Senator Bailhache's true respect for the Law? Coming from his former legal life, he should really have the utmost respect for, and favour an honest application of, the Law. If he had a problem with the law he should have lobbied to change it. The last thing we want to believe about him is that he believes the Law should only apply when it fits his objectives and that he feels entitled to exact a terrible revenge when he is thwarted.

    This situation needs to be cleared up soon and the bright light of day needs to be shone onto any hidden Machiavellian anti democratic activity."