My comments about the Constables in my last posting raised a lot of flack, which I am very pleased about.
Reading the electoral commission submissions, they seem about evenly divided over whether the Constables remain. I agree wholly that voter parity does not sit well with the Constables in the States, which is why my argument that they should remain is based on the Sherman Compromise in the USA, which I still think has some validity; it was designed to ensure that smaller States could not be run roughshod over by larger States. The opposite is the UK, where despite fine words about devolution, while County Councils deliver a range of services, they are at the mercy of Central Government, which in principal means the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. That's the situation we will get in Jersey with the Constables out of the States.
Some people may welcome that, but I distrust the centralisation of power, which is also why I think a healthy Trade Union movement is a good counterbalance to Government. And I'm not sure our current one is that healthy at all. I don't want massive strikes, but I want a Trade Union movement that has sharp teeth to negotiate with, not one with false teeth that can't protect workers interests. It was amazing how people praised the late Rene Liron, yet when he was in office, there were plenty of insults and jibes against him, and talk of holding the Island to ransom. We catch a glimpse of that from a comment in the JEP in 2009 - "All this goes back to the 1970's & 1980's when Rene Liron and friends managed to negotiate unreal pay rises for public employees." Nothing of that sting in the glowing obituaries. It's always easier to praise a dead person than the living; they can't annoy you!
But not a lot of attention has been given to the Deputies. Some truly bizarre suggestions have been made in the submissions. One said there should be one Deputy per Parish, a truly odd suggestion, but there have been a lot of suggestions that the number of Deputies should be cut, and in particular, St Helier has too many Deputies. The idea of voter parity seems to have gone out of the window. However, there is a certain degree of support for the Clothier model, or a rough rearrangement of it, which might even give St Mary a vingtaine from St Ouen for numbers, to keep the Deputy Parish link. I'm in favour of breaking that. Deputies in smaller constituencies, such as the rural districts - or even St Brelade Number 1, mean that the first past the post system doesn't reflect the popular vote in the way that the Senators or Deputies elections with 3 or 4 seats do.
Instead, the Deputy of a smaller rural district, one in, can if they are clever, hold onto that district, and yet behave in paradoxical ways, because they represent a mixture of Parish and Island issues. One expects the Constables to focus on Parish issues. But Deputies will focus on Parish issues that are supporting the Parish, perhaps against the States, yet on matters like GST and other Island issues, they will pretty well ignore the electorate - in our example, they don't need to vote against GST because they have enough popular Parish support - they attend Parish events, Parish meetings, Battle of Flowers, take up Parishioners concerns, and get themselves seen out and about. One would hope they would, but because there's a Parish link to the Deputies, that ensures that even if the Parishioners disliked their policy on Island issues, it doesn't feature heavily in the manifesto - Parish trumps, and comes first.
So I expect a lot of resistance from Deputies who see themselves, and their constituency base, threatened by a move to larger electoral districts. I've even been told by one St Lawrence Deputy that he certainly doesn't want to be part of a larger constituency. He attends energetically to Parish affairs, and - yes - he voted for the Waterfront with its sunken road, and for GST, and still got in. The Parish is Top Trumps.
If Deputies are to be better representatives for Island issues, it is important that that Parish link is diminished. Larger constituencies will do that. A Deputy will have to address local concerns of a much larger area - perhaps Jersey West - St Brelade, St Ouen, St Peter. Of course, they can still take part in Parish events in the Parish in which they live, but that will have to be second in their manifesto, not first.
La Saint Hélyi - Aniet ch'est la Saint Hélyi. *Today is Saint Helier Day.* - Saint Hélyi
1 day ago