Apparently – it’s OK for Bailhache & Walker to be Political –
But not anyone who happens to have a different opinion to theirs.
You know, I wouldn’t have thought it feasible, but nevertheless, my estimation of Phil Bailhache’s I.Q diminishes on an almost daily basis.
I guess it’s a bit like the Jersey oligarchy’s explorations of ethics; you think they just can’t get any lower – yet they do.
I’d like us to have a look at an e-mail from Phil Bailhache, which I reproduce below this post, and to undertake some fairly rudimentary deconstruction.
If you’ve read my previous post – or have been following the Jersey media – you will know that both Phil, and Jersey’s Chief Minister, Frank Walker, chose to use the island’s national holiday – Liberation Day – to make political speeches which, essentially, attacked and denigrated the abuse survivors, the national and international media, those, like me, campaigning on survivors’ behalves and the Police investigation.
All, it seems, some foul and unholy fusion of tabloid muck-raking, anarcho-commie agit-prop and police scheming to bring down the government.
The fact that we have around 150 credible child abuse victims of all ages; people who have undergone torment and ruined lives as a result of decades of a sustained culture of concealment on the part of Jersey’s public administration – apparently is a matter of an entirely second order when compared to damage to the island’s “image”.
Remember – according to these people, I’m “just trying to shaft Jersey internationally”. (F. Walker)
You think I exaggerate?
Check out this quote from Phil’s speech:
“All child abuse, wherever it happens, is scandalous, but it is the unjustified and remorseless denigration of Jersey and her people that is the real scandal.”
Yes – you read that correctly.
It is conceded by Sir Philip Bailhache that child abuse is scandalous – but less-so than criticising the Jersey oligarchy.
And I refer to the ‘oligarchy’ quite deliberately; I do so because I have not read, nor heard, in any of the media coverage “a remorseless denigration of Jersey and her people.”
What I have read and heard might well be described as serious criticisms of Jersey’s public administration, the inherent failure of checks & balances; a reporting of the climate of fear which prevents people from speaking out; and of the overweening and stagnant invulnerability of an establishment which has permitted all these things to happen.
But that isn’t an attack upon ‘Jersey and her people’.
What it is, is an attack upon Frank & Phil’s oligarchy.
An important difference – one from which we should not be diverted by the Jersey establishment’s propaganda.
Jersey is a broadly conservative society; it takes a lot to get people angry and worked-up down here.
Yet that, in another PR master-stroke, is what Frank & Phil have done.
Decidedly non-radical pensioners and many thousands of others have been appalled and outraged at the hi-jacking of Liberation Day for some wholly unworthy partisan political purpose.
If you pay tax in Jersey – remember – Frank & Co spend about £300,000 per annum on a team of spin-doctors. A waste of our money in any event – but to add insult to injury – they’re actually all bloody useless.
Look, Frank & Phil – I’ll give you a pointer – OK? Absolutely free of charge.
You do not need to be a key member in the international elite team from Burson-Marsteller to, you know, just maybe, kind of work out – that attempting to use Liberation Day to invoke that last refuge of the scoundrel – ‘patriotism’ – in an attempt to protect yourselves – might just be a bit risky; a bit contentious.
You know? Maybe just a bit?
In the e-mail I reproduce below, Phil Bailhache responds to an e-mail of protest sent to him by a Jersey politician, Deputy Gerard Baudains.
The Deputy – like most people in Jersey, and like me – was appalled that Bailhache should hi-jack Liberation Day – Jersey’s national holiday – to, essentially, deliver a partisan political diatribe against anti-child abuse campaigners, the national and international media and the Police investigation.
Phil was joined in this stunt by Jersey’s Chief Minister, Frank Walker, who made very similar remarks during the short States assembly meeting.
So let’s turn to Bailhache’s e-mail.
Interestingly, I actually agree with the general thrust of Phil’s comments as re-produced below – insofar as they concern inviting representatives of different parts of this community to take part in the ceremonies. I don’t believe Liberation Day is an event only for indigenous islanders.
If Liberation – from the Nazis – means anything – it must surely be about harmony between peoples and cultures; unity around civilised values; freedom.
So far – so good.
But after that first paragraph of his e-mail – disaster resumes.
Where his locomotive of reasoning leaps from the tracks to become a burnt and shattered train-wreck is when he makes a particularly cretinous – and actually quite pathetically pity-inducing – attempt to rationalise why it was OK for him and the rest of the mobsters to stop my Christmas speech – but similar reasoning does not, apparently, prevent him or Frank Walker from using the deeply symbolic Liberation Day to attack those fighting against the concealed child abuse.
Look – this man is a supposedly very learned lawyer; civic head of Jersey’s establishment – chief judge and speaker of our parliament. Oxbridge educated.
For these supposed attributes – tax-payers fork-out over £300,000 per annum just in his salary & pension alone.
I – by way of contrast, am a semi-literate scummy prole from St. Helier’s slums, who left school at the age of 15 with no academic qualifications whatsoever (courtesy of Mike Vibert), have zero pension scheme from the States, and not even legal social security treatment.
So – by pretty much every means of judging people – sadly common throughout British society – such as class, education, wealth, profession, power and social standing – I’m lower than a worm’s genitals – and Phil Bailhache is King of the Hill.
Now – I’m not especially knowledgeable, and nor do I claim any great intelligence.
But yet the arguments put forward by Bailhache in his e-mail, reproduced below, are so hollow – so flawed – so feeble – so tragic in many ways, that it actually gives some credence to those who ask ‘were we ever actually liberated?’
So Bailhache – and, no doubt Walker and most of the halfwits who represent us – believe there to be some clear and profound difference between their political speeches delivered on Liberation Day – and my speech, delivered in the States assembly before Christmas – which they shouted-down and unlawfully halted.
Let’s distil the key features from Phil’s argument, as stated in his e-mail below
Phil believes that some undefined and subjective measure of “context” determines what can – and what cannot – be said in a speech.
Even when there is no specific proposition before the assembly – apparently this magical notion of “context” confers upon him – unelected, unaccountable public functionary – the right to stop the speech of a democratically elected member.
Phil goes on to state that he had agreed with Walker that the “theme” of this year’s Liberation Day would be “confronting the past”.
He, therefore, believed that Frank Walker’s speech – in which he too attacked the anti-child abuse campaign – was ‘in context’ and ‘appropriate’.
By way of contrast – Bailhache considers my attempt to express recognition and empathy to child abuse survivors as a Christmas message to be “inappropriate” and “out of context”.
So – let’s get this straight – at an open-air public celebration of Liberation Day – it’s OK and in context for Phil to attack the anti-child abuse campaign.
And, by the same reasoning, it’s OK for Walker to use the States meeting on Liberation Day to express similar views.
But – at an ordinary States meeting – the last one before Christmas – it is quite unacceptable for me – as Father of the House – to express, as we approach Christ’s birthday – some compassion and contrition on behalf of the States for what abuse victims have endured?
The first time ever a States member had acknowledged the suffering of the victims.
Like I said – this man costs you over £300,000 per annum.
Yet he is incapable of mustering an argument which would withstand scrutiny by 15 year-old students.
The defects in his argument are so manifest as to make one almost embarrassed for him.
Let’s explain it to him, shall we?
Firstly, the standing orders of the assembly do not provide any guidance, analysis or working definitions of what is “relevant” or “in context”. Such generalisations being deeply unspecific.
What, then, do you, dear reader, think should be our approach – our yardstick – by which we measure what is acceptable to say in a speech – and what is not?
Presumably – provided you are a democrat – provided you actually support such concepts as “freedom” – as opposed to such words merely being spin – you would say that the rule – the backstop – must be that people are allowed to express themselves freely – other than in the most extreme of circumstances – for example, hate speech, which incites violence against people.
One either believes in freedom of speech – or one doesn’t. Once cannot – with any intellectual credibility claim ‘I believe in freedom of speech – err – until, that is, someone says something I don’t like or disagree with.’
“But” – Frank & Phil say, “you can say what you want – but only in the correct “context””.
This argument too is intellectually bankrupt – really – astonishingly so. How any man who professes to be a lawyer – let alone a supporter of “freedom” can adduce such arguments is almost as mystifying as why George ‘Dubya’ Bush got elected.
Perhaps people just like the folksiness of down-home cretinism?
Freedom to express opinions is often only of value within the timing and context of those who wish to express those opinions.
When authoritarian figures like Bailhache say “you can have freedom of speech – but only in a time and place of my choosing” – they are actually saying – in reality – you don’t have freedom of speech.
A “freedom” which depends upon the whim of the bosses, is no freedom at all.
And, frankly – only a total bloody fool would attempt to argue otherwise.
As it happens – I do not accept his and Big Frank’s assertion in any event.
By December last year – it was plain that this community was facing a catastrophic child abuse disaster; a disaster which had been largely concealed for generations – and concealed because of gross failures in public administration.
Many, many people had had their lives wrecked by such abuse.
It seemed to me – as it did to about 100 people who contacted me – that, actually, Christmas was an entirely apposite time at which to express some recognition and empathy towards the victims.
Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me”.
Now – I admit I’m no theologian – and I may well be way off-beam with this – given the Dean of Jersey, head of the Anglican Church in the island, agreed with Bailhache and Walker that it was OK for my speech to be stopped – but it seems to me that an expression of empathy for children who have suffered – often appallingly – is, in fact, entirely appropriate for Christmas?
Though the Dean, Bob Key, did come around to this view a few months later – after the story had gone national and had, effectively, become ‘fashionable’. Indeed – he even used the same biblical quotes as me in the service for the victims.
Well – better late than never, I guess.
There is another intrinsic difference between my attempted speech at Christmas and Bailhache’s hi-jacking of Liberation Day.
I attempted to deliver my speech, in the States assembly, on an ordinary States day. It was the last meeting of the assembly before Christmas – but held no particular public significance.
The occasion of Christmas speeches at the end of the last meeting is merely an internal, States assembly, round of mutual congratulations upon how wonderful and marvellous we all are.
So breaking with that convention – and speaking of the suffering of the victims – did not impinge upon any broader, established community celebration.
Indeed – had my speech not been interrupted and halted, it would probably have passed with little or no public attention.
Bailhache goes onto make another, quite revealing, assertion. He claims that I was ‘speaking for the 12 Senators’.
There are two, obvious flaws with this argument, one less important – but one which is more disturbing.
Firstly, it is by convention that the senior Senator, the senior Constable and the senior Deputy each make a speech at the end of the final meeting before Christmas. And – true enough – convention has it that such speeches are usually self-congratulatory, smug, posturing banalities.
However – as it is merely ‘by convention’ that it should be so – no rule, standing order or any other stipulation says that the Christmas speeches have to conform to this template.
Therefore, in stopping my speech, Bailhache was – as he is wont to do – just making up rules as the whim takes him – any old rubbish as he goes along.
Just as he did recently in interfering with and attempting to sabotage the timing of, a public demonstration in Jersey’s Royal Square against the Goods & Services Tax.
Secondly, he asserts that, as my speech did not meet with the approval of certain of the other 12 Senators – that conferred upon him a right to oppress my freedom to speak on behalf of abuse survivors. As already remarked, actually – whether the other 11 Senators liked or disliked my speech was, frankly, immaterial. No rule says they have to all agree.
But more significantly – how could Bailhache – in the heat of the moment – actually know what the opinion of the other 11 Senators was? Without a debate – and a vote – who could say his assessment was correct?
He could be profoundly wrong in his assertion that all the other Senators disagreed with my speech. True enough, I remember clearly three of them interjecting, barracking and trying to stop me – they being Terry Le Main, Mike Vibert and Frank Walker.
And it could well be the case that most of the Senators agreed with Bailhache – but at that moment – he was in no position to know the definitive answer to that question.
For all he knew – possibly a majority may have supported my right to express my self – even if they didn’t agree with what I was saying. There might have been four against me – and eight in support of my right to free expression.
Now – let’s get realistic; this is the States of Jersey we are considering – so it’s entirely feasible that most of the Senators did want me stopped.
But two considerations arise from that: firstly – whether a majority of the Senators supported my right to speak – or whether they did not – was simply unknown to Bailhache at that time. Therefore – if he was a democrat – he should have supported my right to speak.
Instead – in what is difficult to ascribe to anything other then self-interest – he seized upon a few expressions of disproval – and joined in with the mob.
But – far more importantly – even if I was in a minority of one – and the other eleven Senators profoundly disagreed with my speech – so what?
Nobody says they had to agree – I would quite cheerfully have been in a minority of one.
But I had a right to speak.
Again we come back to the fundamental point – something that clearly eludes Bailhache in his really quite startling ignorance – people have a right to free speech – and equally – no one else is obliged to agree with them, at least in free societies.
But even if an opinion is in a minority of one – that one has a right to be expressed. In all but the rarest circumstances, for example, inciting hatred, violence and murder against others.
I believe there is a clear distinction between the very broad spectrum of public expression – and that ‘speech’ which seeks to oppress and destroy others.
But I think we can take it that neither my Christmas speech, nor Bailhache & Walker’s Liberation Day speech’s were in that category of hate-speech.
But my speech got halted – and theirs did not.
But even now – in his e-mail below – Bailhache evinces not the faintest grasp of the intellectual absurdity of his position. We all make mistakes; but the average person learns lessons from their errors – we attempt to not repeat them.
Yet Bailhache – in his neo-Victorian paternalism – simply cannot rid himself of the Jersey establishment philosophy – ‘black is white, black is white, black is white’ – if you simply carry on asserting a falsehood for long enough – you will, like some form of wordy alchemist – transform lies into truth – merely by repeating them a sufficient number of times.
And as I have argued that my Christmas speech was in context and appropriate – I have to say the speeches of Bailhache & Walker were not. As already described, the context of my Christmas speech was a mundane event – of no broader significance to the community.
However – and by way of contrast – their speeches were expressly written for, and delivered upon, Liberation Day – Jersey’s national holiday upon which we celebrate liberation from the occupying Nazis.
As a national holiday – celebrating liberation and freedom – it both holds a particular symbolism – and it belongs to the entire community.
It was, therefore, wholly inappropriate to hi-jack this day of communal celebration in the cause of any particular or specific partisan political cause.
As I said in my last post – such misappropriation of national symbols – in the name of ‘patriotism’ – is the path to arbitrary and tyrannical government.
And – in case you consider that my feelings are misplaced, as I said earlier – a very substantial proportion of a broadly conservative population share my bitter and sad view of Liberation Day being hi-jacked for partisan political purposes.
The above arguments demonstrate the position of Bailhache & Walker to be literally incredible.
However – there is another argument – which on its own – setting aside the above points – demonstrates the utter incompatibility of the views of Bailhache & Walker with democracy and freedom.
I think their speeches were inappropriate and out of context – they apparently think that of mine.
Who’s to Judge? For in the final analysis, such conclusions can only ever be subjective – can only ever be ‘value judgments’ – most certainly not demonstrable on the basis of either pure logic or procedural grounds.
So I didn’t like their use of Liberation Day – and they didn’t like my use of the last States meeting before Christmas.
That’ – I’m cheerfully happy to state – is simply tough upon both parties. We may profoundly disagree with what each other said – and disagree with the context in which we said it – but the means of dealing with that in any respectable democracy is to have subsequent debates and arguments about it.
What you do not do – what you cannot do – at least, if you are a democrat – is simply stop people from expressing their views.
It’s called “f-r-e-e-d-o-m” – Phil.
So here – in the final analysis – is what fundamentally distinguishes my position from that of Phil & Frank.
I may have profoundly disagreed with much of what each man said – and most certainly profoundly disagreed with the context.
But I didn’t try and stop them from saying it.
Indeed – had anyone tried to stop them speaking – I would have said ‘let them get on with it’.
An important point, that.
Don’t you think?
One either believes in freedom of speech – or one doesn’t.
Aren’t such freedoms actually what our liberators were fighting for?
I – was stopped from speaking – Walker & Bailhache were able to proceed – uninterrupted.
This is not freedom.
I realise it’s difficult – given his intrinsic stupidity – but there must be someone out there who can explain these basic conditions of democracy & freedom to Phil?
From: Bailiff of Jersey
Sent: 12 May 2008 17:23
To: Gerard Baudains
Cc: All States Members (including ex officio members)
Subject: Your email
I hope that I qualify as a “colleague” but your e-mail was sent to me amongst others, and it raises important questions which deserve an answer from the perspective of the presiding officer.
The President of Madeira was not invited as one of my “chums”. He was invited because his presence was important to many of the 8000 or more Islanders of Portuguese descent. Liberation Day is obviously very important for those who were here on 9th May 1945. But if Liberation Day is to continue to be celebrated in the future, it must be made relevant to the remainder of the population. That is why Liberation Day is becoming, if it has not already become, our “National Day”. It is an occasion for celebrating not only the freedom restored in 1945 but also the liberties and privileges that we enjoy today. All parts of the community have contributed to that success. Liberation Day is for all Islanders, whether they have names like yours and mine, or whether they have an English, French, Scottish, Portuguese or some other ancestry. That is why the President of Madeira was a welcome guest at our celebrations.
As to the Chief Minister’s speech, all speeches in the Assembly are expected to be in context. Where there is a proposition, that is the context and Standing Orders require Members to speak to it. But even where there is no proposition, context remains important. Before the law changed in 2005 the Budget was presented without a proposition but Members were nonetheless expected to speak to the general financial policy of the Finance and Economics Committee. When a special meeting takes place, for example to welcome the Secretary of State, the Chief Minister would be expected in his speech to speak generally about relations with the United Kingdom. He might illustrate that by speaking about some contemporary issue, but he would not be expected to devote his entire speech, for example, to the desirability of building a new incinerator.
It is not for me to respond on behalf of the Chief Minister, but as he is away from the Island for a week, I think that Members should know that it had been agreed that a sub-theme for this year’s Liberation Day celebrations would be “Confronting the Past”. Having regard to that sub-theme, I did not, for my part, consider the Chief Minister’s references to Haut de la Garenne to be inappropriate or out of context for the occasion. In contrast, I did not believe that Senator Syvret’s Christmas intervention was in context. His speech would have been entirely appropriate (and in order) in the context of a debate on child abuse. But on that occasion he was speaking for Senators to express seasonal good wishes to the Chair and to Officers and others who serve the Assembly. That is the context of the traditional exchange of Christmas Greetings. It was not the occasion to berate the States and parts of the public administration for alleged past failures. I believe that that is why Members thought that the intervention was inappropriate and not in context, and in my view they were right.
These are of course my personal views, and I am very happy to discuss them privately with you or any other Member. I do not think that I should, however, become involved in any further e-mail exchanges.
Bailiff of Jersey