Wednesday, 25 August 2010

There is a place for a Community Party

Ed Le Quesne's Letter in the JEP did not appear in the online edition, so here is a copy. He makes some excellent points. The move by Alan Breckon to adjust the Ministerial / Scrutiny oppositional setup in favour of a broader base for Departments (with the added advantage of providing apprentiships for more members in how the departments work) is also a good one, and may go some way towards the kind of wider consensus thinking that we badly need in the States.

I often think that if States members discussed matters before debates, the debates could be shorter, because if they had points to make, they would have to sharpen and improve them, and perhaps even reach compromises before that was reached. Instead, we have people making speeches, leaving the States Chamber while other members make their often over lengthy speeches, and returning for the vote. What is the point of all that, if no one is listening to any arguments made?

Children with autism in mainstream schools are unable to understand social cues, and have sessions of "circle time", when they learn the skills they lack, of talking in turn, and listening well to what the other person is saying, not just waiting to speak again and "talk at" the other person, but respond to what they have said. I think that going by the times the States is inquorate, that States members badly need to learn these interpersonal skills too.

There is a place for a Community Party by Ed Le Quesne

The news about members of the Jersey Democratic Alliance resigning (JEP, 19 August) made me think about the need for a centre grouping in Jersey that builds on Jersey's community spirit, as shown by events like the Battle of Flowers. The advert last week by Small Society, with their heavy emphasis on cuts, makes this more urgent. They are well named. Their numbers are small, though their voices are loud.

I believe there is a place for a political grouping in Jersey, perhaps called the Jersey Community Party. Its strapline could be Put People First. The Constables, as community leaders in their parishes, would be natural members, as would the large numbers who do voluntary work in Jersey.

This party would welcome facilities such as the Town Park as essential community facilities and not need ten years and a random ring binder's intervention to achieve it. It would put plans for 16 more buildings and a tunnel on the Waterfront in the bin and ask how far the demands of finance should distort our development.

It would back the recent plans of the new Housing Minister to make affordable housing a top priority for our community.

It would speedily enact measures on population control that have already been proposed. Similarly, it would not hold back on enacting antidiscrimination already agreed.

It would collect a fair rate of tax from each business with a base in Jersey and not allow arcane rules to allow many businesses active in Jersey to make no contribution to States revenue.

It would speak out against those who query total States spending as a bad thing in itself. In fact, investment by the States has built many of the facilities we enjoy today and there are still other investments to be made, though it would support Philip Ozouf's spending review. Some activities do need review.

It would see support for those in need, young families and young people looking for work, those with chronic illnesses, etc, as a sign of a caring community, not a wasteful expenditure.

It would make its case politely and listen to opposing views, recognising that all are thinking about what is best for the people of Jersey and all are aware that we have responsibilities as well as rights.

I hope there are enough States members who will follow the above agenda and oppose the Small Society view.

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