First you had Senator Stuart Syvret pursuing his concept of diplomacy – seeking to involve every government under the sun in Jersey’s affairs; this time by suggesting that Guernsey and us should adopt party politics.
Then you had Deputy Dave Jones, Guernsey’s Housing Minister who makes his Jersey counterpart Terry Le Main look and sound like the politest little boy in the class, telling us that we live in a dictatorship.
It is difficult to resist the temptation to tell Deputy Jones that at least our dictatorship is an educated one and we don’t have to go to evening classes to learn how to cope with revolving doors and escalators, and nor would we burst into tears and spit out our dummies if someone mentions the word carrot to us.
However, on a more serious note, the remarks attributed to Deputy Jones – and in fairness to him they were in response to Senator Syvret’s comments – suggest that we don’t have a general election (but at least we seem to be moving towards that) but a series of elections for officials, Deputies and Senators.
Leaving aside me being puzzled about which officials we elect to the States – the ushers, perhaps, for on the rare occasions on which I’ve actually been to the Big House, they are the ones who show more signs of life (in that they actually move) than many of those sitting there on our behalf – Deputy Jones argues that electing all the representatives in one fell swoop somehow makes the government of our sister island more democratic.
Even if I ignore the Guernseyman’s general disdain for accuracy when trying to score points over us – never let the truth get in the way of such opportunities is the rule they appear to adopt – that argument really is perverse.
Trying to keep it simple, so even those in the colonies will understand, I looked in our phone book to see how many of our elected representatives inhabit those few square yards surrounded by reality that we call the Big House and then I rang my mate in Guernsey to get some corresponding figures for over there.
The result of my inquiries were interesting, to say the least. Over in Guernsey there are 45 elected Deputies while here we have 12 Senators, 12 Constables and 29 Deputies. But while us crapauds can vote for all 12 Senators, one Constable and a minimum of one Deputy but a maximum of four, depending on where you live – that’s between 14 and 17 – the donkeys are limited to either six or seven of their 45 because that’s the number of Deputies in each of their seven electoral districts.
That means that Guernsey voters have a say in electing between 13 and 15.5% of their politicians but over here each voter can be directly involved in the election of between 26 and 32% of the House. Now, Deputy Jones, which sounds the more democratic to you and while you’re about it, please tell us which officials we should vote for when next they come up for election?
As to Jersey having a government which makes decisions behind closed doors, I seem to recall that it needed heaven knows how many inquiries to sort out the mess which became known as Fallagate – a mess which, according to my mate, was created in its entirety by the Guernsey equivalent of our Council of Minister, the Policy Council. As Housing Minister, Deputy Jones was and remains a member of that council, a body which most Guernsey people believe cost them about £2 million over Fallagate.
Not a great deal to shout about there, Dave.
The fact that part of the latest report of Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary focuses on the continuing spat between the States Police and the parishes over the registration and regulation of firearms will surprise no one, for this is a row which has been going on since Noah was a boy.
Despite some very real concerns that I and very many others have about the boys and girls in blue seemingly doing their own collective thing with little in the way of input, never mind anything else, from our elected representatives, the fact of the matter is that they have a point in their assertion of inconsistencies and ineffectiveness. In short, it’s high time one body was made responsible for the licensing of firearms and ammunition.
At the moment, with 12 parish Constables each responsible for the licences issued in their respective parishes, it’s possible to have as many different policies on who should be licensed as there are Constables – hardly a satisfactory state of affairs in any respect of a policy on enforcing parking regulations, never mind decisions on the licensing of lethal weapons.
Whether the States Police should be made responsible for the whole thing is debatable and, in the present climate of leaked memos and the like, extremely so. Perhaps a government department divorced entirely from both aspects of policing is the answer but whatever happens the issue is one which should be debated properly, rather than the States Police finding it necessary to feed information to an HMI in order to achieve objectives.
And finally … Am I that wide of the mark in suggesting that had the contents of Janice Eden’s letter on needing more women in power been written by a man about women, there’d have been absolute uproar? I agree that the decision to grant bail to a rape accused was wrong but that has nothing to do with the gender of everyone involved in the Island’s legal system.