Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Blogwatch: James Rondel

I'm doing a brief look at a local blogs today, and this one is fairly recent:

This is by James Rondel, who tells us that:

"I am 21 years old and have a real passion for politics, and in particular the politics of Jersey, (in the Channel Islands). I currently study History & Politics at the University of Reading and am the President of the University's Debating Society as well as the Student Representative for Politics & Causes. All thoughts are my own as others probably don't agree with them!"

Recent posts include:

Condor Ferries: The Unsinkable Monopoly

Here he notes that a change in regulations means that Condor has increased its fares significantly, and suggests that competition is needed:

"Interestingly, at the same time as celebrating its anniversary/one time offer, (with a commemorative mug) BBC Jersey reported of how the Jersey Kennel Club had been quoted more than double for using Condor, in comparison to last year. "

And he asks what the States are doing to ensure that fares are not excessive for what is, in essence, a monopoly business, which also suffers from a poor record with regard to breakdowns and delays:

"By increasing the costs so significantly, it certainly makes it difficult for Islanders on a budget to continue their favourite past times that take place off Island, or to holiday without breaking the bank. So where are the States of Jersey in all of this? How can a company be allowed to continue to demand so much from its consumers without delivering a fair service. Fair I define as: for the majority of the year, sailings depart on time, on a fully functioning vessel. (Preferably one that isn't on fire). "

He also notes that the Daily Mirror reported that by registering vessels elsewhere - in the Bahamas - Condor allegedly have been paying Ukrainian employees £2.35 an hour!

Other matters dealt with in the blog over the past weeks have been:

Sir Philip Bailhache, the United Kingdom, and the independence question

If the States of Jersey can find an equilibrium whereby our interests are not undermined, and we can maintain a relationship with the Crown, then this may well be the most satisfying result.

However I believe that we should not be afraid to go it alone, and I am glad that we have someone of Sir Philip Bailhache's calibre in leading the Island abroad, representing our interests.

I'm not wholly convinced how well Sir Philip does represent our interests. On the matter of low value consignment relief, despite being "foreign minister", he seems to have left most of the running to Senator Alan Maclean, and taken a very low key (if not invisible) position - the cynic in me thinks it is because he was probably bright enough to see that the legal challenge would fail, and if he was involved, it wouldn't do his reputation as a statesman of high calibre much good.

There's been a lot of talk from Sir Philip on independence, and some nice column inches in the JEP, but it's not clear that anything substantial apart from verbal sabre waving has taken place.

Golden Handshakes - A catalyst for change?

How can there possibly be a defence against the cutting of sports grants or the scrapping of school milk if this secret stash of money which the public are unaware of can keep bailing out these silly school boy errors in the case of the euro, and petty squabbling in the case of the golden handshakes?

He makes some good points, and notes that there seems to be almost a total lack of accountability by the States. Of course, the prime movers in this, politicians like Frank Walker, have moved on (and out) and can enjoy sailing round the Med in a luxury yacht while others are left to deal with the muddy waters that the deal left behind.

Review of the Economist: Crime and Democracy

One criticism heard too often is notion of megalomaniacs ruling roost in the Honorary Police Force. This is simply not the case. Obviously there are always going to be a small number who may have ulterior motive for volunteerism, but the vast majority are hard working, honest people. A real credit to the society which we live in.

It's nice to see a positive attitude to the honorary police. So often they are attacked, and while there have been one or two rotten apples in the barrel - Roger Holland springs to mind (his appointment was a result of judgement by Sir Philip that didn't exactly demonstrated much fine calibre) - the honorary police should not be judged by that, any more than all trust companies should be tarred by the rogue element (who usually ends up in prison for embezzlement), or teachers tarred by the relatively few cases of children being abused (e.g. the Sharp report).

The honorary police are not power hungry, and they regularly provide much needed extra manpower. Moreover, there is a procedure for training new recruits, so that it is not simply a case of being elected and getting on with it; there is a learning curve involved, so that honorary police can work alongside their States of Jersey police counterparts.

And there are a few other postings - Esplanade Development, Ian Gorst, States members expenses. This is an interesting blog because it is not too tightly focused but looks over a whole range of Island issues, exploring them very well, and making some very pertinent comments.

As the blog has progressed, it has seemed to me to widen its scope, from just looking at States matters, to looking at subjects like the honorary police and Condor. I'd like to hear what he would have to say about buses, and traffic congestion, or tourism and the high cost of getting to Jersey.

It would also be interesting to see what his fellow students at Reading make of Jersey. Do they know where it is? (Surprisingly, when at Exeter, quite a few people thought the Channel Islands were off the coast of Scotland). Do they know how it is run? What do they think of it as a holiday destination (camping, back-packing?), and of its reputation as a tax haven? Something for another day.

In the meantime, here are some snippets, but I'd advise looking at the whole blog. It's well written, flows well, and is not averse to the odd moment of humour.

Esplanade Development

Accumulating 460,000 square feet of offices and creating a £100 million development for the construction industry, the States have passed the development without keeping the check and balance of deciding how/what is going to be constructed.

Ian Gorst - The Route To Chief Minister

So just how did he become Chief Minister? My opinion is that, by not being risk averse and through sticking to his guns, he has now reaped the rewards.

States Members (2008-11) out of touch

Seeing the rise in politicians expenses by 10% last week made me feel bitter-sweet. Bitter in the sense of witnessing yet another example of just how out of touch our politicians are, but sweet in the fact that the current Assembly has little shelf life left.


James said...

I'm not wholly convinced how well Sir Philip does represent our interests.

The weasel words in this whole debate are "we" and "our". Jersey society has always been divided - town/country, rich/poor - but modern-day legislation now means it looks like crazy paving. In such a society to talk about what is good for "us" is at best meaningless and at worst downright divisive.

TonyTheProf said...

James, I didn't mean that he couldn't represent the Island's interests as a whole, I'm just not convinced about how well - in terms of his competence - he can do that. He sounds competent, does nice interviews, but where was he - as "foreign minister", when the crunch came with LVCR? Surely that is exactly part of his remit, to put Jersey's case, not in the courts, but in discussions, dialogue, behind the scenes work etc?

James Rondel said...

Thank you for promoting the blog Tony!!

Anonymous said...

WE need a comprehensive list of local blogs that can be installed as a link for all local blogs!
SSTAG is the new group taking up where the old States Tenants Action Group left off. As the Social Security and Tenants Action Group is has a much wider TOR to suit the vast changes that are taking place in government.
SSTAG's new blogsite is at
and includes a two part interview with Deputy Green the Housing Minister.