Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Senatorial Election of 1948 – Part 2

There are complaints nowadays about the large number of candidates standing for election as Senator, but in 1948, at the first Senatorial election, there were 18 candidates nominated. The Jersey Evening Post chose 12 candidates from the 18 to recommend to their readers. This is what they had to say about them.

Jurat E.P. Le Masurier, OBE. Senior of the Seven Jurats who have decided to seek office as Senators, the Jurat is a -Bailiff of Jersey and a man of considerable legislative experience. President of several of the most important Committees of the States, including the Coordinating Committee, the Defence of the Island, the Essential Commodities, and the Civil Service Board, he is acknowledged to be an efficient, indefatigable and conscientious worker, and a man with no axe to grind. He has for many years devoted himself to his work for the community, spending long hours each day in his office in the States building.

Jurat N.G. Hind, CSI, MC. President of the Divorce Committee and a member of many of the most important committees, including Public Health and Public works. A hard-working member of the States, who also finds time for a good deal of excellent social work, particularly in the cause of the ex-serviceman.

Jurat P.C. Cabot. Housing, Rehabilitation, and the Harbours and Airport are the three principal committees on which the Jurat serves and, on each, he is an active and most useful member. Like Jurat Hind, he is also a great worker in the Jersey branch of the British Legion.

Jurat H. Le Riche Edwards. The unexpected choice who has made an unqualified success of the very thankless position of president of the Agricultural Committee. He believes in laying all the facts before the House, and is not above accepting advice.

Jurat W.J.J. Collas, DSO. Most useful member of the States, of the highest integrity, courteous and considerate. He makes an excellent president of the Housing Committee, serves on Defence, Town and Country planning, Public Instruction, Essential Commodities, Liberation, and Unemployment. A whole time member who, if defeated, would be sadly missed and the ex-servicemen would lose a doughty champion.

Jurat J.J. Le Marquand. Best known as president of the Public Works Committee, he is also a member of the Coordinating Committee, Town and Country Planning, Rehabilitation, and Reform. Has had a long experience of public affairs, graduating from parochial work to his present high office. We have not always agreed with John Le Marquand's administration, but we recognise his sincerity and capacity for hard, unselfish work.

Deputy Ed Le Quesne. It seems hardly necessary to recapitulate the workflow which this well-known deputy has been responsible. Here's another with whom we have had on occasions disagreed -- the nurses home, example -- but the island would definitely be poorer without the services of so tremendous worker, who has proved himself such a good friend of the underdog.

Deputy Ph. Le Quesne. As President of the Public Instruction Committee, he has earned much praise, and his work on the Textile Committee has been equally good. He is much valuable time to public life, and the excellent work he puts in on St Helier's Poor Law commission should not be forgotten.

Deputy C.P. Rumfitt. Although a comparative newcomer to States work, he has undoubtedly made his mark. In fact, he has been one of the outstanding successes of the past three years. Tourism and Housing are his specialties, but he contributes reasoned arguments and logical advice whenever he talks on any subject before the house. A valuable member of the assembly.

Mr Carlyle Le Gallais. The first of the 12 who is not already a member of the States. One of the best-known islanders, with a reputation for usually getting what he wants and a capacity for working all out to get it. He has dual interest, for he is both a keen agriculturalist -- he is president of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society -- and a successful businessman. He would be a decided acquisition to the house.

Mr Frank P. Le Quesne. Our final candidate, like Mr Le Gallais, has not hitherto sought public office. He has however, made a most efficient president of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, served as chairman of the Milk Pricing Board, and is head of one of the largest and oldest building firms in the islands, and would be able to bring practical knowledge to bear on the island's housing problems.

Reading these, I am struck by the different committees. It is easy to see where a committee has changed its name -- Public Works is now incorporated in Transport and Technical Services, the Defence Committee -- which always struck me as a bizarre name -- has now largely become Home Affairs, Public Instruction is obviously Education. It is interesting to see the forerunner of Planning and Environment in the Town and Country Planning Committee -- the split in the name almost prescient of the understanding that green field country sites need to be dealt with in a different manner from more urban sites.

But what did the Divorce Committee do? Was the Unemployment Committee a precursor to Social Security? The Essential Commodities committee seems like a hold over from the recent occupation, and clearly the Reform Committee had been instrumental in making the changes to the structure of the States.

It is also notable that even back in 1948, there were at least two candidates who were prepared to stand as Senator without having prior experience of being in the States. There is often a call to those standing as Senators to have stood as Deputies, but the election of 1948 shows that there is a long precedent for non-States members to stand.

I am also struck how a number of the candidates are recommended on the basis of their support for ex-servicemen. Whether today's candidates do support the ex-servicemen by, for example, helping with the British Legion, this rarely features so prominently in their election presentation, and is a clear indication of the markedly different priorities faced with wounded soldiers returning to the island in 1948. The exception to this, of course, is Deputy Mike Higgins who is well known for his support and organising ability for the September Air Display, which is a charitable fundraising event.

On these matters, a "Bring and Buy" sale in aid of British Legion funds, reported in the November paper, raised over £216 while the Evening Post's list for the "Poppy Day Fund" which named donors came to £142 at the start of November. Using the retail price index, that comes to around £5,840 and £3,840 respectively in today's money.

The phrase used nowadays when candidates for an election go on a parish road show, touring each parish in turn, is "hustings". But in 1948, although the term had been around, it was notably absent from the election coverage- the term used in the JEP was simply "meeting". What is interesting is that not all of the 18 candidates turned up to each parish meeting, which would be almost unthinkable nowadays. At St John's Parish, for example, only 10 candidates addressed the public, in St Clements, only 11, and St Saviour, only 10 again. I will return to the "hustings" in the next part of this trip to 1948.

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