Change is not up to you at all

In 2013 I led the Option B campaign in the referendum on electoral reform. Option B won – in fact, more than 80 per cent of those who voted wanted change in the form of a smaller States Assembly and a simpler system. So how does this fit
in with the ‘change is up to you’ mantra currently being peddled by those in power?

Of course it’s not up to you. The States Assembly does not want change. It does not want the 80 per cent who did not vote in the most recent election to become involved. This is because they may vote for the ‘wrong people’ – ironically, many may feel that they have already voted for the ‘wrong people’.

It is four years since the referendum, and over this time the performance of those in power has led me to change my view. In 2013 I believed gradual change would be preferable. Evolution rather than revolution – holding on to our heritage. Obviously I expected Option B to be implemented when it won.

If the same referendum was held today, I’d support either Option A or a single all-Island mandate. The Constables are now part of the problem, not the solution. Constables, Deputies and Senators have shown that self-interest takes precedence over true representation of the people.

On General Election day, 16 May 2018, I’ll be cycling from Folgosa to Pinhao. I’ll pre-vote – although, as I live in Grouville, there may well be no election for a Deputy or a Constable.

In the Senatorials I’ll feel sorry for the poor candidates who will have trundled around 12 parish halls to speak to a single demographic, only to find that once elected they have no more power than an uncontested Constable or a Deputy elected with fewer than 200 votes.

Afterwards there will be the usual self-examination over the low turn-out, maybe even the hiring of some expensive consultants from the UK to tell us the obvious.

There should be one type of States Member, and if we are to keep ministerial government in its current form we need political parties. Without them there are no checks and balances, and no one knows what they are voting for. As one back-bench politician recently boasted to me, ‘it’s money for nothing’. When it comes to electoral reform that’s certainly true.

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