The anonymous "States Member" has been airing his vitriolic abuse on the Haut de La Garenne Farce blog, and I see that I received a mention:
Then there are a collection of other bloggers; Cut and Paste sordid Sorda, and a few other wild boys such as Ian Evans, Zoompad and the great intellectual Tony. The common thread that runs through these blogs is that the Jersey is finished, everything is corrupt, the Island is run by about three people and that politics is dominated by a small group. The rant on about corruption, economic doom and gloom and that everything is going down the pan to a final sorry meltdown.
Well I hate to say it, but I've made it very clear to any reader that I do not hold to conspiracy theories, and I have never entertained the notion that "Jersey is finished, everything is corrupt". I have provided in the past some pretty clear analysis of voting patterns to show that there is a fairly definite split (albeit with a marginal threshold) in the States of Jersey, between those who tend to always vote the same way as Terry Le Sueur, and those who do not. As this analysis also shows that the division gives the balance of numbers in favour of the Council of Ministers when votes are cast, it would be rather odd to suggest that politics is dominated by a small group. Whether this group is representative of the electorate is something we will only find out next year, although voting apathy is suggestive that it is not. And I agree with the writer (if he'd taken the trouble to read me) that employing high cost management to make cuts is rather perverse - look at what I said about the idea for the hospital, that it was pure "Yes Minister".
Regarding economic doom and gloom, I think most people would realise - as indeed the Treasury Minister does - that we are in a recession, and have problems with a "black hole" - that I believe was the Council of Ministers line, not just a lone "rant". As far as a "final sorry meltdown" is concerned, that is again the warnings that are coming from the Treasury regarding the need to raise taxes and cut expenses, or we will head that way. I'm sorry to see that the "States Member" thinks that Philip Ozouf is ranting about a meltdown; I've never noticed that myself, but it must be true. I thought he was just giving a warning., which pretty well all States members apart from our writer thinks is correct, regardless of the different political solutions they suggest to resolve it.
Jersey could face a new £60 million tax 'black hole' by 2012. The panel of expert economists who advise the Treasury Minister and the States have warned that a 'structural deficit' in States finances is emerging.
I have repeatedly said that until the full disclosure of as much of the Wiltshire report as is possible - and Ian Le Marquand himself said he hoped it would be published in complete form, with merely names redacted - and the defence by Graham Power is published, it would not be possible for me to make my mind up fairly about the Haut de La Garenne Inquiry. In that, I am doing no more than Ian Le Marquand himself when he said that: "Even once I get the Wiltshire Report I will not be in a position to make decisions, other than perhaps to form any preliminary view, because to do justice to Mr. Power I must hear, in full, his account of matters."
Now Senator Le Marquand may have made his mind up on the basis of more information than me. He obviously has seen the unredacted Wiltshire, and he may have seen Graham Power's defense, or some of it - obviously as a response to Wiltshire, he cannot have seen the complete version. So he might be in a better position to make his mind up. But he might be wrong, just as I might be wrong, and I don't see that it in any way is "ignoring the evidence that has piled up against these two" until one has all the evidence and arguments. Evidently the anonymous "States member" likes simplistic solutions, cut and dried, or perhaps the kind of "Upstairs, Downstairs" culture where one deferred to the greater judgement of one's social superiors.
"Why do they spend hours and hours and indeed whole days hanging around the States Building, the Royal Square and our Scrutiny Panel meetings?"
Well, I don't, so the observational skills of the "States member" obviously leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps he needs glasses? The only occasions I go to the Royal Square tend to be sunny occasions, when it is pleasant to sit on a bench and have lunch, and when there is a market there. I'm rather deaf, so going to attend a States debate, a Scrutiny committee hearing (which I couldn't hear) or even a Hustings would be a waste of time. All I'd hear would be like a TV with the sound turned down.
But if bloggers want to, why not? Isn't it nice to see someone at least who is interested? The election turnouts (much lower that Guernsey) show that both the "States member" and his fellows in the States Chamber have a good deal of work to be done to promote interest in politics, which to most people is mind-numbing boredom. Just look at how many people wanted to listen to Philip Ozouf talking on taxation recently -less than 30. Or does the "States member" only want people who agree with him, and wants to sneer at anyone else?
In the meantime, bloggers like Voice are gradually supplying some of the defence that Mr Power would have made if there had been time for a proper disciplinary hearing, which is certainly useful to me, even if "States member" does not need to read it, because he already knows the truth, and has long made his mind up. But wasn't that what he is accusing the Voice of doing? Isn't his position almost the mirror of the ones he is attacking?
I have commented on Senator Shenton's restriction on filming, and suggested a blogging etiquette (which "States member" seems not to have read). The Senator's proposals bothers me far less than if transcriptions were not available, but he might just bear in mind that unless the States move into the 20th century (as the UK parliament has done) with better audio recordings, then he is effectively disenfranchising any blind voters from knowing what is going on in scrutiny meetings. BBC Radio Jersey does an excellent job with States sittings, but Scrutiny is (if you forgive the pun) a blind spot. There is no audio version comparable to the BBC service. If Senator Shenton really want to improve matters, he would not just look at restrictions for bloggers, but for opening up opportunities for blind people. As an Australian Blind Society comments:
Electors who are blind or who have low vision, must have access to information produced by parties and candidates, such as policy documents, information on TV advertisements, how-to-vote cards and information about preferences, in order for them to make an informed decision and to indicate their vote in the manor in which they intended. This information needs to be available both in advance, but ought to also be provided at the same time as other electors, that is at the time of the advertisement airing or at the time of attending a polling centre.
So I would ask this: if I was blind, could a friend record the Scrutiny proceedings as an audio recording so that I could know what was going on (if it was a matter of interest to me, and I couldn't get there)?
And lastly, why does "States member" hide his identity? Is he not aware than statistical techniques exist, used for analysis ancient texts for authorship, which can test his words on the blog against speeches of members of the States, and determine the most likely candidate? There are several papers out there detailing the mathematics available; all it needs is a competent statistician with some free time. It might make an interesting thesis for a university student.
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