Thursday, 11 August 2011

Deputies Elections - St Peter 1993

1993 saw a contested election in St Peter, in which the sitting Deputy retained his seat, although when he became Constable, the contender Robin Hacquoil would become Deputy after all, and stood as such in 1996.

Robin Hacquoil described his occupation as "consultant", although elsewhere it has been given as "freelance management consultant", and who worked for worked in the public sector in Canada from 1957 to 1987, although he doesn't specify exactly what he did there. But in true Jersey style, lest he be thought to be an outsider, he makes a solid pitch for his Jersey roots - "son of the parish blacksmith" - and you just can't really beat that!

The spectre of unemployment loomed high on the general political agenda, and it is difficult, with the passage of years, to realised how great the menace from drugs was perceived to be by the public and politicians. Tom Du Feu focuses on this, although he doesn't really come down much in the way of specifics. I can imagine Yes Minister's Jim Hacker coming out with this:

'Unemployment, the demands on our welfare system and the increasing drugs problem must be dealt with firmly to eliminate any further erosion of the fabric of family and social life'

But when he goes on about "mature stability", he is simply becoming incoherent. What on earth does the term mean? I think he is trying to suggest that a long serving politician ("mature") like himself will provide "stability", but it is a horrendous garbling of the English language; I'm not sure that John Prescott could do better.

That Jersey must "hold on to its charm and character and guard against having change for its own sake" is again a cliché. I've never heard a politician saying we must have change for its own sake!

Robin Hacquoil, by contrast, doesn't harp on the negative aspects of Jersey nearly so much, either for "holding on" or "guarding against", and doesn't mention unemployment or drugs, although he does mention welfare, and he doesn't talk in clichés!

No doubt from his experience in management, he comes across as someone who knows what the States needs - "'I shall strive vigorously to control public expenditure". With the hindsight of present economy measures, one wonders how much he really achieved of significance from 1993 to 2002; I was tempted to say "what went wrong"! But to be quite fair, States over-spending, as we all know, is something like a Hydra - cut off one tentacle here, and two more take its place.

Although retired from the States, Robin Hacquoil still takes an active interest in politics. Notably, he said in 2004 that "the Visite Royale is out of date and does not serve parishioners", thus missing the point that of course it is hopelessly out of date, but it is a wonderful piece of pageantry. To have lawyers out and about, arguing over the merits of a tree, or whether a walkway should be a public pathway, is quaint, and not really necessary - but it gets the lawyers out of the Courtroom, walking along the lanes of different Parishes each year, coming together, and I think that must be a good thing. In fact, in 2009, he gave a more nuanced comment, which paints a wonderful picture that I'd fully endorse:

The pity is that such ceremonies have lost their feudal quality by making the visits to the parishes in limousines and buses rather than with Bailiff and Jurats on horseback in full ceremonial dress as it used to be, and the parishioners following on foot behind. Suitably choreographed and presented, it could be a ceremony of great tourist interest similar to some of the many ceremonies which occur in Britain in full Royal regalia

In 2009, in respect of a consultation on the media, Robin Hacquoil gave a "plague on all your houses" submission, in which he criticised even-handedly both blogs and the local media:

I feel very strongly that the States cannot afford to rely on the Jersey media any longer to disseminate information accurately. The JEP has become a tabloid & is more interested in photo coverage rather than hard news. The BBC is slightly better and at least covers States debates but they are now so long-winded and drawn out, only the bedridden can remain tuned in. What I would like to see is a periodic (weekly or monthly) summary of new policies approved & their impact on us when implemented. It should be brief and factual and should be issued on behalf of Jersey government (I was going to say by the Chief Minister's Office but perhaps it should come from the Greffier's Office). It should be strenuously apolitical. It would go out on the internet & one could subscribe to receive it. Blogs are for the birds & are not my definition of media. In my view, the States simply cannot afford to have blogs and the local media distorting the facts.

And in 2010, he also gave a submission to the Carswell report on the role of the Bailiff, which while acknowledging the quality of service provided by the Bailiff, he came out strongly against keeping the role as it was:

I should declare myself from the start to be an enthusiastic supporter of Clothier's recommendations and to be disappointed that his full recommendations have so far not been adopted by the States of Jersey.

I do consider the role of Bailiff as Civic Head of the island to be an outdated anomaly now that we have Ministerial Government. I wish to see as soon as possible the Bailiff of Jersey relinquish his role as Civic Head and concentrate on his quite onerous duties as Head of the Royal Court. The chief spokesperson for the island on all political and constitutional matters should be the Chief Minister (or his/her deputy) i.e. our elected representatives. It is no longer appropriate in the twenty-first century to have a civic head and spokesman appointed by the Monarch... My final point relates to the Bailiff's additional role as President or Chairman of the States Assembly. While I consider that both the present and past incumbent of that role were excellent in maintaining respectful and fair traditions of debate in the States, I always felt that their time and energy would have been put to greater effect in legal and Royal Court matters

Tom du Feu, in the meantime, was later elected Constable of St Peter in 2000, retiring in 2008. But he was never as vocal as Robin Hacquoil in presenting reasoned coherent arguments - perhaps Constables, as a rule, are not - which gave the public a respite from having any more "mature stability" speeches to contend with.

Deputies Elections - St Peter 1993

Tom du Feu
Occupation: Proprietor
Age: 50

DEPUTY Tom du Feu, who is facing his first contested election in nine years, believes that the Island faces difficult times ahead.

'Unemployment, the demands on our welfare system and the increasing drugs problem must be dealt with firmly to eliminate any further erosion of the fabric of family and social life,' he says.

His involvement in parish affairs goes back 30 years, and in the States he serves on IDC, Housing, Sport and Gambling.

He believes that Jersey must hold on to its charm and character and guard against having change for its own sake - and also that industry must continue to he supported to ensure that a high standard of health care is maintained.

'We must continue to support our agriculture, finance and tourism as well as giving ever, encouragement to light industry providing it is economically achievable in the Island,' he says.

'The benefits are essential to maintain the care for our community of all ages at a time when mature stability and thought must be adopted by everyone.'

The Deputy is involved with many parish and Island sports organisations and is the president of St Peter's Football Club and the Jersey European Football Combination.

Robin Hacquoil
Occupation: Consultant
Age: 61

ROBIN Hacquoil wants to return Jersey to full employment and develop a highly skilled workforce as the 21st century approaches.

Mr Hacquoil, the son of the parish blacksmith, grew up in St Peter, where he lives today with wife Marleen. He believes that Jersey should preserve its quality of life and the 'much cherished' parochial honorary system.

'We need to provide support for small businesses, agriculture, fisheries and light industry. We must continue to nurture the finance and tourism industries which contribute so much to our prosperity.' he says.

Mr Hacquoil lists membership of the executive council of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the Youth Training Board. the Employment Enterprise Board, the Jersey Training Agency and the management committee of St Peter's Youth and Community Centre as contributions he has made to Island life.

'I shall strive vigorously to control public expenditure, but not at the expense of education, health, housing or social services such as old age pensions.' he says.

An Oxford University modern languages graduate, Mr Hacquoil worked for the Canadian government for 30 years before returning to Jersey in 1987.

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