That famous observation by Thomas Jefferson was one of the first thoughts that occurred to me when I heard that Philip Bailhache had declared his candidacy in the forthcoming Senatorial election.
Strangely enough, the same thought had occurred to many other people in Jersey – when the full horror dawned on them – of the prospect of all meaningful power in Jersey residing in the hands of Chief Minister Philip Bailhache – and Bailiff William Bailhache.
And although things are bad enough now – given Jersey’s politicised prosecution system and judiciary – just how much worse would they be – if the island was taken down the path of full independence – to become the personal fiefdom of the Bailhache Brothers – and their heirs and successors?
Before I went in to court this Monday – fully expecting to be imprisoned as a result of William Bailhache’s malicious prosecution – this is what I said.
One of the most powerful considerations that finally persuaded me to become a candidate is the very strong belief that the community needs to know just what are the major policies we are being asked to vote for.
Philip Bailhache – with the support of his brother, William Bailhache – goes into this election with an agenda of taking Jersey into full independence from the United Kingdom.
If it were to occur – it would be a change of seismic proportions and seriousness for this community.
I remain – as I always have been – absolutely opposed to any such move.
As it is, the interests of the great majority of decent, yet powerless islanders are not adequately protected from the defective and unlawful conduct of Jersey’s self-protecting public authorities. How much worse would be the unaccountability of the States of Jersey, if there were no external oversight at all?
Given the uncritical and deferential nature of Jersey’s political culture – in the absence of my candidacy, it is very probable that Philip Bailhache would go through this election campaign – his true agenda un-articulated – his views not criticised – and his dangerous ambitions un-challenged.
Let there be no mistake as to the gravity of these issues. Can it be right for a man who plainly harbours ambitions to become Chief Minister – and who would lead Jersey down the path of becoming some kind of micro-state – to gain political endorsement for an elected Office that would enable him to carry forward such plans – without the full knowledge and informed approval of the voting public?
Rather than sleep-walking into having a government that would break our historic connections with Britain, the community needs to fully understand – and be clear-sighted about – the implications of no longer being politically protected by the United Kingdom.
We must have an informed debate concerning the issues that arise.
Do the people of Jersey wish to give up being in monetary union with the British pound? What is the alternative? We are too small to credibly float our own currency. Do islanders want to join the Euro? Are the people of Jersey ready and willing to become a full member of the EU, like Malta?
Do we want to give-up our British Passports?
Are we so confident in the performance and standards of the States of Jersey – that we would be happy to trust them making and enacting all our laws – without the oversight of Her Majesty in Council?
All of these – and other questions – must be fully and thoroughly debated through the election process.
It may well be, of course, that – when fully informed – the voting public of Jersey would support the plans and ambitions of Philip and William Bailhache. If so, then that is democracy. But it is my duty to ensure that the public come to any such decision, on the basis of an open and accountable and informed election.
As we approach such debates, we’d be well advised to remember those wise words of Jefferson.
Our vigilance has slipped – and the threats to our freedom “hide in plain sight”.