Thursday, 21 February 2013

Lord Dorwin Speaks

I attended the Chamber of Commerce lunch yesterday when the guest speaker was Deputy Robert Duhamel, Minister for Planning and Environment and the title of his presentation was "Balancing the Environmental, Social and Economic Needs of the Island."

But there wasn't a lot of balance there. He spent about 5 minutes of a 20 minute talk going over fishing, and whether Jersey should accede to EU rules on fish stocks or manage our own, and then a number of other environmental issues cropped up, including, not surprisingly, wind farms, and green weed, and the possibility of recycling it.

There was a very sustained diversion about Malmö and its waste management system, doing away with dustcart collection and making use of refuse chutes from houses for waste disposal. (In fact, these have now been closed and today all inhabitants leave their waste for recycling at the recycling houses instead). In other words, all the environmental enthusiasms and wide reading of Deputy Duhamel on environmental matters were showcased whether or not they had much immediate relevance to Jersey. It was an environmentalist version of "Tomorrow's World",  but without the fun gadgets.

However, there was little on the economic needs of the Island and planning matter, and the hoops that people have to jump through with an ever expanding number of planning protocols. One questioner said that it was now expanding well past a single IXL ring binder, where the trend in other countries had been to reduce the paperwork and simplify forms. Deputy Duhamel simply countered this by giving examples of other countries where there are even more forms to fill in. In fact there was very little about planning in his talk, or indeed little evidence that his talk had been planned, although he did mention a Green paper due out on appeals, which presumably is the same one mentioned in June 2012, and again in September 2012.

Even in replying to questions, Deputy Duhamel was far from succinct, and we were subjected to the kind of meandering reply that Minister Jim Hacker used to give when questioned by Ludovic Kennedy. It was no wonder that Senator Philip Ozouf, who was sitting a few seats away from me, was almost continually shaking his head while Deputy Duhamel replied. At one point, he actually buried his head in his hands, a gesture that spoke volumes. Deputy Andrew Green, who was sitting next to Senator Ozouf, also began to shaking his head in despair.

It didn't help, perhaps, that Deputy Duhamel is not the most charismatic of speakers. Despite several people asking him to speak up, his voice became lower in a very short space of time. I wished in vain for a speaker like Deputy Roy Le Hérissier, described recently as "the only States member who is quieter WITH his microphone on".

And the presentation ran to a mere three PowerPoint slides. This wasn't death by PowerPoint; it was dearth of PowerPoint, just when a few pictures would have at least enlivened his presentation a bit more.

One slide was the headline of his talk. One slide was Archirondel, and there was some joke about "Archie Rondel" which I didn't quite hear, which was probably fortunate. And the final slide showed some sea, an aerial view of Jersey, and a picture of the Weighbridge, which if you looked at it (and there was plenty of time to do so) turned out not only to have buses parked where they were before Liberation Station, but also the old harbour, before the underpass and land reclamation in that area, and the old Tourism Office. Deputy Duhamel has been in the States for a long time, perhaps too long, for he has evidently forgotten that the Weighbridge has altered out of all recognition since that photo was taken. He didn't refer to the photo during the course of his talk either; it just sat there, a gratuitous anachronism.

In summation, there was also an incredible amount of waffle, and a lack of focus. It reminded me of the Imperial Functionary, Lord Dorwin, in Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series, where all the utterances by Lord Dorwin are subjected to logical analysis to ensure that they can eliminate "meaningless statements, vague gibberish, and useless qualifications - in short, all the goo and dribble". The result is that  "in five days of discussion, [Lord Dorwin] didn't say one damned thing, and said it so that you didn't notice."

Deputy Duhamel wasn't quite as bad as Lord Dorwin; he did have something to say, but he just didn't really know how to say it well. "Be clear, be concise" would be a good maxim for him to learn. It's a good job no one raised the subject of bore holes.


Anonymous said...


Links to this blog are being tweeted around by right wing supporters of Prince Machiavelli himself, Senator Philip Ozouf.

Either wittingly or unwittingly, you will be a component in the theatre that is about to play out in front of us, that being the very public knifing in the back of Rob Duhamel.

Et tu, brute?

Let nobody who comes across your blog in this Machiavellian tragedy forget that it was Senator Philip Ozouf who, as President of the then Planning Committee, approved the plans for the Radisson Hotel.

Rob Duhamel should feel entitled to put his own head in his hands and shake his head.

Anyway, watch out folks, this one ain't gonna be pretty.

TonyTheProf said...

As I said on Twitter, this was a very bad talk, and I would have been ashamed if I'd given it.

I have no personal animosity against Rob Duhamel, and if Philip Ozouf gave as bad a talk, I'd report on that as well.

TonyTheProf said...

And readers of this blog will know I have also been critical of Senator Ozouf.

Nick Palmer said...

Can I publish a comment I just made to the ThisisJersey article about Deputy Duhamel? As I point readers to the Bald Truth post predicting the Machiavellian attempt weeks in advance - allegedly set in motion by Senator Bailhache in a fit of pique - they may not print it.
"All you commenters aren't being shown the whole picture. The JEP story was that an "email is circulating" because of Minister Duhamel's "reported as disastrous" speech at this dinner. If anyone cares to look back at Trevor Pitman's blog you will clearly see that this knife in the back was planned weeks ago. Unless certain other Ministers have access to a time machine that all rather blows the convenient cover story the JEP has been fed completely out of the water.

"The Bald Truth" blog predicted this coup weeks ago - it is apparently rooted in Senator Bailhache who was mightily miffed that Duhamel's granting of planning permission to the wannabe Plemont despoilers jacked up the potential purchase price of the land and thereby tipped the vote against Senator Bailhache's personal project. Now, I am angry that Plemont was granted permission but Duhamel had little other choice under the Planning Law, given the long history of the proposed development's applications and promises before he became Minister. In essence, it appears that Bailhache threw his toys out of the pram and screamed "off with his head" because Minister Duhamel actually applied the Planning Law against his wishes.

What does this show about Senator Bailhache's true respect for the Law? Coming from his former legal life, he should really have the utmost respect for, and favour an honest application of, the Law. If he had a problem with the law he should have lobbied to change it. The last thing we want to believe about him is that he believes the Law should only apply when it fits his objectives and that he feels entitled to exact a terrible revenge when he is thwarted.

This situation needs to be cleared up soon and the bright light of day needs to be shone onto any hidden Machiavellian anti democratic activity."

TonyTheProf said...

It may well be true that Senator Bailhache has Deputy Duhamel for the chop, but I was not reporting on that, but only what was, in my opinion, an extremely bad speech.

It was perhaps unfortunate that I had heard a talk by Prof. Andy Newsam on Monday night - well presented, clear, dynamic.

Interesting, the translation in Bailleine's article "some Jersey Surnames" has:

Bailhache, give the hatchet, was probably even more murderous.

Nick Palmer said...

No doubt Minister Duhamel was aware of the long knives being sharpened. It begs the question as to why he didn't go out of his way to do a non-contentious sucking-up type speech.

Nick Palmer said...

They cut it off just after the first paragraph at "The Bald Truth blog predicted this coup weeks ago".

Part of the reason I wrote the comment like that was as an informal experiment to check out potential "suppression" versus just pruning because they are too lily-livered about libel laws.
click for comments
To test that, I submitted another comment (#49) that started:

"Re my comment at 42. If any one wants to see the rest of it that the JEP didn’t print, it has been sent to various politically focussed local blogs too"

I then followed that with an "interesting" speculation about how tidal + wind turbines could give us a causeway to France and several other benefits apart from huge amounts of free predictable power.

I speculated that if the more paranoid elements were right, the JEP would not want to allow the general public to see "proof" of what Bailhache and co might be up to and so they would either not publish or censor the first lines of my second comment. They did neither. Given that, it seems clear that they don't mind if their readers are directed so they can read the "dodgy stuff" elsewhere, just as long as it is not on their patch.

Those who winge about being censored on that comments page probably just don't realise how sensitive the media is to being exposed to possible legal action. When their posts are cut or blue pencilled, it's probably not sinister suppression just scaredy cat far-as-you-can-get-from-tough- investigative-type editors covering their backs.