A MODERATELY GOOD RESULT!
BUT LET’S NOT GET CARRIED AWAY.
The Barricades Have not Been Stormed –
Well – something good had to happen – the polar bear I’m hoping to get elected won’t now have to be protected from poisoning itself by eating Guy de Faye.
The voters of St. Helier 3/4 having wisely decided that the States has a surfeit of clowns in any event – without the presence of a would-be stand-up comedian.
And the irony is that the destruction of Guy’s political career has been largely self-inflicted.
As it was with a few of the other casualties.
Celia Scott-Warren, for example.
I was actually a little saddened to see Celia ousted – it should have been Rob Duhamel, but perhaps I should have expressed that view a little more clearly?
But I wasn’t very surprised. Back in 2007 – when Celia stabbed me in the back and resigned as my Assistant Minister at Health & Social Services – without telling me – there was a good deal of anger at the time from ordinary members of the public, who saw such conduct as being a dishonourable way of going about things.
I had dozens of phone calls at that time from people in her district telling me they’d never vote for her again. I did mention this to several States members at the time, Celia amongst them – but such prognostications were airily dismissed – the public could be taken for granted, they thought.
And – frankly – you can understand such utter complacency – given the Jersey public have been seemingly content to be lied to once every three years – and then to be ignored and treated like idiots – until the next election comes along.
To be blunt, I feel quite sorry for Celia – who is a well-intentioned person, if a little naive. And it is because of that naivety she was so easily manipulated and used by people like Big Frank, Terry le Sueur, Ozouf, Pollard etc. They wanted to do me down – so mislead Celia into acting as she did.
I just hope those clowns will apologise to her for having caused the destruction of her political career.
The comet struck – so far as Jacky Huet was concerned – but only a little bit – as her fellow dinosaur, Ben Fox, managed to hang on – just; by one vote.
But – surely – a strong possibility of extinction now hangs over the remaining lumbering, redundant, sauropods?
Yes – but merely that – just a possibility.
I know – I feel dirty and guilty – but I brought a copy of The Rag today – and also watched BBC Walker and Rankine Television.
The angle taken by the local media – and by many of the happily successful non-establishment candidates – is as though some savage revolution had occurred.
As though the heads of PIFCO, Terry le Sueur, Big Frank, Allan – vote for me for GST exemptions – MacLean – were mounted on spikes in the Square – whilst the populace danced and rejoiced.
True enough – by Jersey standards – the result of the Deputy elections were radical.
However – that is ‘by Jersey standards’.
For example – the bastion has been stormed – apparently – because amongst the 53 States members – four of them now belong to an openly declared political party.
And – earthquake – three of the newly elected members are under the age of 30!
These results are great – and I’m not for one instant criticising them.
On the contrary – I’m delighted the victories were won here and there. God – after 18 years of this malarkey – I know just how hard it is to achieve any kind of breakthrough.
But in the cold light of day – what do we contemplate upon sober reflection?
An assembly which comprises 53 elected members – of which 4 belong to an actual political party – and 1 of who belongs to a campaigning group.
In addition to these 5 – we have another two new, young independents, a committed environmentally minded person – and a few other, new members who may – or may not – be on the side of change.
So, we have an assembly of 53 – with, maybe, 10 people of a fresh and different outlook.
To this we add a few existing non-establishment members, like me and a few others. Let us be optimistic – and assume – for that’s all it is, an assumption – that there is now a core of 15 members who will reliably try and bring politics in Jersey back into respectable political territory – after the decades of extreme, right-wing market fundamentalism, greed, short-termism, incompetence, social division and corruption.
53 members minus 15 members leaves the oligarchy with a very healthy block of 38.
Of course – these are very rough and ready guestimates – made even more imprecise by the sometimes fluid nature of allegiances in the assembly.
But – amidst the euphoria of yesterday’s, undeniably good, results – we still have an assembly very heavily dominated by the forces of Jersey’s entrenched, short-termist oligarchy.
So whilst the election results represent a great platform from which to move forward – let us be realistic.
What we now have is a legislature with a small, loose coalition – that might form what could be termed an opposition – as opposed to the largely unchallenged single-party state mode of government Jersey has traditionally suffered from.
Whilst radical by Jersey standards – the barricades have not been stormed.
At least, not yet.
And to those who might form the ‘opposition’ now – and who may, one day, come to power – let there be no illusions.
For all kinds of reasons – the world, and Jersey, is facing a confluence of utterly unprecedented emergencies.
The global financial collapse, poverty, injustice, food shortages, stagflation, war, global climate change, peak oil, ageing societies, the rapidly approaching extinction of much of the worlds marine life, general environmental destruction, destitution, deforestation – and extremism.
We have to be alert to the fact that political extremists – Nazis, communist, fascists, religious fundamentalists – all flourish during times of great societal stress.
The point I make is this – even if the Jersey establishment had been swept from power – and a broad, consensus of sensible people were forming a new administration – the challenges that administration would face are vast – perhaps so vast as to even be insurmountable.
As I have written elsewhere, Jersey is ahead of the curve so far as post-industrial societies are concerned. Therefore, all of the immense, looming, problems the world faces – might just be that bit closer to crashing upon us.
I know; – I’m being a bloody old misery – and raining on the parade.
But we have to be sober and realistic in assessing the changes in Jersey politics – and far more significantly, whether those changes are capable of dealing with the challenges we, as a community, face.
So – what happens now?
The assembly has to elect a new Chief Minister and Council of Ministers – and we won’t really know the shape of our ‘government’ until we see who those people will be.
It still looks like a dead cert for Terry Le Sueur – no matter how disastrous it would be to have yesterday’s man – with yesterday’s policies – at the helm.
And – because of the unambiguous majority the Jersey oligarchy still hold – it is extremely difficult seeing any candidate beating him.
I guess the question is more one of – ‘will he at least be given a serious challenge – not necessarily in terms of defeating him – but a serious intellectual, political and philosophical challenge?’
Will there be a genuine contest of ideas and vision?
Possibly – in fact, probably – not.
There is an immense amount of political haggling, telephoning, e-mailing, lobbying and second-guessing taking place amongst States members as to who might, or might not, be candidates for the post of Chief Minister.
Simon Crowcroft has been mentioned – but a constant stream of ambiguous and mixed-messages come from that quarter.
Some still want Roy Le Herissier to go for it. He has said he won’t – but a week is a long time in politics.
Alan Breckon is seriously thinking about it.
Ian le Marquand is displaying all of the non-committal ambiguity which bedevils such considerations.
Likewise Ben Shenton – says he won’t – says he will – then says he won’t again – but maybe could be persuaded to think about it. I strongly suspect he will go for it – but like many potential candidates – he’s playing these blinkered, political games.
As I have said this evening to a few members – I just do not believe such indecision – such faffing around – is good for the community.
I say to those who know they want to contest the position of Chief Minister – declare now.
Stop the prevarication – the games of double-bluff – and put your cards on the table.
If you can’t be decisive about a matter as plain as whether you’d be a candidate for the post of Chief Minister – then just how good is your leadership likely to be?
We are a matter of days away from a fundamental decision – of great importance to the community – yet the possible candidates are engaged in a curious process of covert horse-trading and haggling – whilst the community waits; – waits in uncertainty.
I’m sorry – but it simply isn’t good enough.
I write this on Thursday evening. If we do not know by early tomorrow evening who the candidates are to be – then what an ineffectual and indecisive shower the new assembly will appear.
So to address the obvious question – as many members of the public have asked me today – where do I stand?
I contested the post of Chief Minister 3 years ago – and was, predictably, defeated by Frank Walker.
This even though he had scrapped-in in 6th place when last elected – and I had come first – having gone to the electorate stating that if re-elected I would be a candidate for the post.
Having grown jaundiced by an assembly dominated by a complacent and unchallengeable establishment, I have said I would not, again, be a candidate for the post.
So, has the shift in the make-up of the assembly made me change my mind? It has certainly made a significant difference. But approaches from the public – and the immensely challenging circumstances of Jersey’s situation – have swayed me.
So let me lead by example – in the hope that the other potential candidates stop fence-sitting and prevaricating – and say that I would be a candidate for the post – if the requisite number of members supported my candidacy.
Which – I have to say – is frankly unlikely; I’m just not Mr. Popular amongst the Island’s politicians.
But, there – I have at least stated my position – and done so primarily in the hope that the other candidates – who know perfectly well whether they’re going to contest the post – stop messing around – and show some decisiveness and leadership to the community.
This is no time for playing silly games.