Thursday, 28 February 2013

Incident in Parish Website

I've no problem with Simon Crowcroft using his personal blog to state his views.

That's at   

But should he be stating them on "Your Parish Online" website? The official website for the Parish of St Helier? Should an Official Parish Website endorse Option A?

In my opinion he should not be using the Parish website to progress personal opinions on the referendum. That is an abuse of the website which is essentially a tool of the municipality to provide information and deliver certain services - not a political forum or to publish personal opinions.   

That does seem to be using a Parish facility which should be neutral, to promote a viewpoint. Should the Procureurs or Deputies also have a say? I would have thought the Parish site should be non-partisan, and personal views kept to a private blog, not one which appears to be an integral part of the website, as this does. This seems to say "The Parish says...". If you look at the other blog postings by Simon, they are regarding general matters, mostly relating to the Parish, not political propaganda.

The St. Helier website ( is the Parish's own, not part of intranet which provides the 'official site'. But I think it is still wrong for the Constable to apparently 'hijack' it for personal purposes.

I wouldn't agree with Constable Dan Murphy who Tweeted "Surely in order to preserve his integrity Crowcroft must resign as a constable now". After all, Constable Len Norman is on record - a video still exists online - in 2012 of saying the Constables should not sit in the States. That's personal opinion. It's on a private blog. It is not part of an official Parish website of St Clement. But the St Helier site has a tab marked "Blog", that fits seamlessly into the website; it's part of the website, not a private and separate blog.

Is the Town Crier also going to become a mouthpiece for the Constable's message about Option A? The last election in 2011 saw what I think was a very detrimental effect of Parish magazines being use as election platforms. St Saviour's magazine, La Cloche, did have a pull out where all the candidates could have a photo and brief resume (and it mistakenly put Rob Duhamel's twice, one under Roy le Herrisier's photo) and it also had paid advertising at special rates for those who wanted extra coverage. Grouville had an option to have a flier, which happened to go out with just one of the candidates for Deputy by an oversight.

I think these approaches are mistaken in their use of a Parish Magazine. A Parish magazine should inform people where to vote, how to vote (pre-voting, postal voting), and when to vote. But they shouldn't become political platforms or take sides; neither should the Parish website. St Brelade's Parish magazine was completely neutral, even to the extent of having the Chef de Police give the Constable's message (as it was a contested election for Constable), and having a guest editor to ensure independence (as the editor was standing for election). And believe me, that guest editor did not stand for any politician trying to sneak in a political advantage by way of a news story.

And even more so, I think that using a Parish website to effectively support Option A is not right, any more than using one for Option B or C would be. If the Parish website has any information, it should be to outline the Referendum options, give details of districts and times for voting, give information on pre-voting or postal voting. It should not be used as a platform for the Constable's own views.

I think he should be respectfully asked to remove it.


Nick Le Cornu said...


A fair point well spotted. Equally, should the other 11 Constables be using the Parish infrastructure to support Option B? Can we expect to see every Parish Hall decked with banners saying "KEEP THE CONSTABLES!! ( - subtext "and my cozy pension supplementing seat in the States"). One wonders if they will get taken down on polling day; just for appearances sake. One does not wish to be too gauche.

The conflict of interest is all to apparent. Of course,this is Jersey where such niceties of impartiality are an irrelevance, which is precisely why the creation of one category of States Member is imperative, if democratic methods are to ever take hold in the culture.

I think we can expect to see an increase in parish hall lunches hosted by the Constable and his good lady, reminding the old folks ever so subliminally, that there wont be any more free lunches if certain unthinkable changes were to happen.

The B Campaign is going to look very tribal. 11 Constables led by a Grandee and Prince of the Blood.

TonyTheProf said...

I should note that Simon has since removed the integrated blogstream on the Parish site.

It was the seamless fit into the Parish website that I objected to.

I made no comments as others had on costs of the website. As it was a feed-in, those would have been minimal. But a link would be better.