The Jersey Evening Post reports, with not a little glee, that the party's over for the JDA. It highlights the recent resignation of three deputies. The leader article entitled a blow for party politics goes further and notes caustically:
Political parties stand or fall on popular support and there has been precious little evidence that the JDA has ever commanded a great deal in the way of grass-roots sympathy. Deputy Southern's poor performance in the recent Senatorial by-election, in which he placed fifth, supports this view.
I would beg to differ. There is clear evidence from the last deputies election that there is considerable support from the average voter in St Helier for the style of politics espoused by the JDA, even if this does not mean the electorate would sign up to all the JDA manifesto commitments. It is perhaps not surprising that it is in town where we find bedsit land and the poorer population who are more on the margins of society that the JDA did well. Outside of town, in the more prosperous country parishes where traditional granite farmhouses, sea views, and luxury flats on the market at around half a million pounds are found, it was most likely that the JDA would fare worst. Their constituency is naturally with the underdog and it has to be remembered that this now includes a Jersey born Portuguese population which is often treated as second rate cheap labour.
The success of candidates such as Paul Le Clair, Mike Higgins, and Judy Martin, who represent and support very much the same constituency shows that there is still a place for the likes of Trevor Pitman, Shona Pitman, and Debbie de Sousa. That does not stop the JEP leader writer, Chris Bright, from indulging in caustic overblown rhetoric:
It has to be said that neither the remnant of the JDA or its three defectors can be regarded as suitable bases for a new and perhaps much to be desired centrist movement. Leopards find it nigh impossible to change their spots and the electorate will wonder how people who have pressed a left-wing agenda so vehemently and aggressively can hope to convince anyone that they suddenly represent the sweet reason and moderation of the middle ground.
And yet if you read the same Jersey Evening Post, you will see that at the heart of working for the parish on the Battle of Flowers float was none other than Debbie de Sousa, whose strong support and pride in her own parish comes across extremely clearly in the article. That same article illustrates, with her thanks to other participants in the battle, the other contestants who came to the help of the town float. There is no left-wing agenda present here except that of showing how different people can work together for the common good -- which seems a better acted parable for those members who have left the JDA and who seek to work with any other States members for social justice and a better society for all the inhabitants of our island, not just for a few.
It is rather the doctrinaire high-handed manner of Mr Southern which may work against the remnants still within the JDA. I remember when GST was just on the drawing board arguing in e-mails with Mr Southern over his rigid stance against GST which I felt sure would fail and be an electoral liability for him. Another politician who asked me for advice at that time was also uneasy over GST. I thought there would be such overwhelming support within the house for GST that a pragmatic position of voting goes for GST and making a specific declaration that they would vote for exemptions would be a much better position to adopt. That indeed formed part of their platform -- while Mr Southern failed in a full frontal attack against GST and was left in a position of retreat, now having to adopt a fight for exemptions -- which seemed a humiliating climb-down. Yet it was precisely that which I had warned him that he would have to do in our exchange of e-mails before the election. But he would not budge. He indeed, does not seem to have changed his spots.
Incidentally, the Jersey Evening Post as usual got their facts wrong about the Jersey Democratic movement. It did not fade and die but tried once more with four candidates much later in the 1970s long after the Progressive party had disbanded - Norman Le Brocq, Stella Perkins, Chris Wakeham and someone whose name escapes me all stood under a single JDM banner - the posters had four squares with each of the candidates photos. Admittedly it failed in the election, apart from Norman Le Brocq, but it showed that it was far from moribund, continuing as a campaign group after that:
After the Second World War the right-wing Progressive Party was disbanded as soon as it had won a landslide victory over the left-wing Jersey Democratic Movement, which duly faded and died.
Moreover it was still active in late 1980s and early 1990s at the second-hand bookshop in St James Street where either Norman Le Brocq (who was in the States) or Stella Perkins would give advice and take up any cases which people brought to them. I know this because as an avid bookworm, I was frequently in the bookshop when I wasn't at Thesaurus (which I remember when it was originally at Sand Street).
Read more: http://www.thisisjersey.com/2010/08/16/a-blow-for-party-politics/#ixzz0wn7HURT0
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