Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Some Events of July 1913 and Philip Janvrin Marrett

Today's entry is rather a pot-pourri. I began by looking through the "Jersey Directory and Express Almanac" for the events of 1913, and then was sidetracked into the fascinating history of Philip Janvrin Marett. A medical man, he has two claims to fame. One for his work on the sand fly fever in Malta, and one for his later reorganisation of medical matters in Jersey.
Events in July 1913
One July 2nd 1913, the States were discussing "the proposed Hospital at Overdale" which means that it must be approaching its centenary sometime soon. It has often been seen as a kind of poor relation to the General Hospital, and at various times, plans have been mooted to close it, and yet it remains. Perhaps instead of closing it, with the extra demands on the main hospital, consideration should be given to improving it, as it does seem to have been let to run down rather over the past years.
The States were also passing on that day a law on dogs, and were proposing a tax on beer. Despite a petition from the Brewers, the preamble was adopted.
3rd July 1913 was a busy day for the States. Discussed were the tax on beer, the main roads bill, the Voire law, the Finance Committee Report, Victoria Avenue at Bel Royal, the Paid Police (as they are described in the Almanac).
The 4th July 1913 saw a claim for Seigneurial Rights in the Royal Court., although precisely what this was about the Almanac is annoyingly vague.
It was a busy time for the potato season, and the Weighbridge saw 514 loads at 2/1 (2 shillings and 1d)  per cabot (1 July), 397 loads at 1/8 per cabot (2 July),  231 loads at 2/3 per cabot (3 July), 160 loads at 1/10 per cabot (4 July), 275 loads at 1/10 per cabot (5 July).
A cabot was a unit of capacity defined as equal to 10 Jersey pots by an Act of the Jersey Court on 19 January 1625. In imperial measures it was, 4 gallons, 1 quart, and 3 gills or 19.747 litres if a liquid measure, but the 19
"The Commercial Dictionary of Trade Products, Manufacturing and Technical Terms, Moneys, Weights, and Measures of all Countries"(1892) by Peter Simmonds mentions that mentions that 1 potato cabot was considered to weigh 40 Jersey pounds. A Jersey pound was roughly 490 g, so 40 Jersey pounds would be 19.6 kg.
The 15 July 1913 saw a Parish Assembly at the Town Hall, St Helier. There was "an interesting discussion regarding the proposed lighting of the Town of St Helier by electricity, and the advisability of presenting a Chain of Office to the Constable of St Helier. This be agreed on 18 July, and the sum of £100 spent on a Mayorial Chain for the Constable of St Helier.
The 17th July were the occasion of further excavations at Green Island, which "revealed further traces of that locale having at one time been one great cemetery".
1913 and Captain P.J. Marett
A local man was in the news internationally on 18 July 1913. The almanac reports that the title of "Beit memorial Research Fellow" was conferred on Captain P.J. Marett, R.A.M.C. for his research work as to the nature of the virus of the sand fly fever in Malta.  His full name was Philip Janvrin Marett, and he was born in India in 1879 (where his Jersey born father, James Richard Marrett was employed), and came to study in Jersey at Victoria College, where the register entry shows:
Marett, PJ, 2456,1894
Philip Janvrin. Son of Col. JR Marett, Fonthill. Brother of 2544. Gained French Medal. Left 1897. Gained Entrance Scholarship at Westmister Hospital. Was in S. Africa during the war. MRCS, LRCP. Joined the R.A.M.C. in 1905, becoming Capt. In 1909, and Lt-Col. During the Great War. M.O.H. States of Jersey. Address, 4 Claremont Terrace.
There are some more interesting details on him elsewhere on the website of "British Army Medical Services and  The Malta Garrison 1799 - 1979", and what is also of interest is that he came back and
The illness, though not generally fatal, caused much sickness during the summer throughout the Mediterranean. In 1911, the number of service patients increased. Soldiers falling ill were principally those who had recently arrived on the island. Surgeon Captain P J Marett RAMC had for two years specialized in the natural history of the sand-fly and was therefore well qualified to carry out an investigation into the fever.
In 1912, Marett continued his research into the Phlebotomus sand-flies in the Maltese Islands. He served at Malta up to the outbreak of the Great War as a Beit Memorial Research Fellow on the Papatasii flies (Phlebotomnus) of the Maltese Islands. He was thanked by the Army Council for his further reports on the investigation of Sandfly Fever in Malta.
On 14 September 1914, he returned to England. His research work on sand fly fever was interrupted by the outbreak of war, and in 1914 he went to France with the British Expeditionary Force. He served with the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium and France, where he was responsible for the sanitary organization of the Rouen Base. In 1918 he was appointed as Consulting bacteriologist to the British Forces in Italy.
On 10 Oct 1918 he was invested with the French Legion of Honour, and Croix de Guerre. 21 Jan 1921 he was invested with the Belgian Croix Civique, 1st Class, for distinguished services rendered during the course of the campaign.
On 25 Feb 1921 he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was appointed medical officer of health for Jersey, which appointment he held until the beginning of 1939, when failing health compelled him to resign. During his tenure of office, the public health department in Jersey was completely reorganized and brought up to date. The success of his efforts was reflected in the remarkable diminution in the incidence of diphtheria, and in the death rate from pulmonary tuberculosis.
In 1935, he is recorded as being  President of the Southern Branch of the British Medical Association.
There is also a publication entitled "Original patent application number 363097 for a method for the use of glass or other transparent substance, in horticulture, agriculture and farming., (Jersey), Philip Janvrin Marrett. It is also referenced as Patent GB363097. According to the patent record it was related to "Glazing structures ; shelters for plants" - "Relates to a means for securing glass, talc, or the like to the wire or wire netting employed for protecting growing crops and for poultry houses and like shelters." The patent dates from 1930.
He died in 23rd July 1939, and was married (in 1904) having three children. Some of his grandchildren still live in Jersey.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Internet Trolls: Hiding under Virtual Bridges

KIRK: You were a psychiatrist once. You know the ugly, savage things we all keep buried, that none of us dare expose. But he'll dare. Who's to stop him? He doesn't need to care. Be a psychiatrist for one minute longer. What do you see happening to him? What's your prognosis, Doctor? (Star Trek,)


After my posting yesterday, "James", who often comments on my posts, noted that:


"You have, I presume, been following the case of Caroline Criado-Perez (who campaigned for Jane Austen to be added to the new £10 note), and the vile abuse she had to put up with? The trouble with Facebook and Twitter is that they allow users to spread offence far faster and further than any previous media - the old story about a lie going twice round the world before the truth has its boots on has never been truer. "


So I thought it would be time to address the darker side of social media, and how any restrictions may end up as a trade-off against free speech.


The really clever troll, of course, creates fake identities, which is simple enough to do online. Of course, the IP address of people posting information can be tracked, but there are also IP anonymised systems out there, so it is very difficult to track down someone really determined and technically savvy.


There is at least one Troll posting under assumed names on Politics Jersey in Facebook, on Twitter, and often in the online comments area of the Jersey Evening Post. He (because it seems likely that he has been identified by his turn of phrase) creates new aliases whenever he is blocked, using both male and female names. This is what the abusers of Caroline Criado-Perez did.


On Facebook, the lack of any history, any photos, and in fact anything that can identify him in any way as someone with a social life is often lacking. His messages are not threatening, but they are often aimed to cause offence, and disrupt sensible discussions. He may even be behind several letters to the Jersey Evening Post which were found to come from bogus local addresses that didn't exist, and probably were written under an assumed name.


He is not the only perpetrator locally. The late Simon Abbot, who died recently, also produced a variety of identities in which he could both promote his non-existent charitable fund raising events, and also no doubt try to infiltrate any closed groups in which his critics discussed him.


But there may be legitimate reasons why people want privacy, without being malicious. "James", who made the comment on my blog, exists, as far as I can see, only as a Blog name, and the details there of how long he has been on Blogger. He has no visible blog of his own, and no personal details identifying him apart from his moniker of "James".


And this need for privacy also protects those who use social media like Twitter in countries where free speech, and political dissent is trampled upon. Mic Wright, writing in the Telegraph notes the problem on how difficult it is to balance freedom of speech against offensive and threatening use of social media, and he makes the important point that existing laws do exists against those who abuse social media in this way:


"To some extent, holding Twitter so directly responsible for abuse that flows through its network is like demanding that the Post Office inspect every letter. If Twitter were to institute the kind of "zero-tolerance" policies some users are advocating, it would become harder for it to resist laws in countries where genuine free speech is curtailed. Let me be clear: death threats, rape threats, threats of violence are illegal and we have laws to deal with them. Twitter cannot don a policeman's helmet. It doesn't have the technical resources or manpower."


"It's grimly ironic that many of those now calling for Twitter to ban multiple accounts and anonymity as well as suggesting a fee to join are the same people who cheered the social network's supposed role in Middle Eastern revolutions. The downside of a platform where users can send messages to anyone else using the service is that its power is as available to abusers as it is to constructive critics and friends. If Twitter were to take the route Facebook has – censoring content like images of breastfeeding and certain political views – there would be just as many howls of protest. It is not a simple question of deciding who is "nice" and shutting down those who don't fit Caitlin Moran's magical unicorn definition."


Twitter can of course suspend accounts and they are working on ways to simplify reporting abuse, by anyone who breaks their rules. Tony Wang, the UK Manager says "We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules."


Twitter's law enforcement guidelines say it will release a user's personal information only if requested under court order. But as they noted - that "may not be accurate if the user has created a fake or anonymous profile. Twitter doesn't require email verification or identity authentication".


We are back to the problem of the anonymous troll, and whether Twitter should keep compliance information to determine the individual's identity. But of course, once it does that, there is no reason why that cannot be obtained by countries wishing to stifle dissent, or as we have seen in recent weeks, the USA security agencies covertly obtaining information from Microsoft, Google, Facebook etc.


Legislating against threats will deter and catch those who sound off without thinking, but they will do nothing to capture the really malicious and clever troll.


Forbes magazine describes just such a case:


"Leo Traynor, an Internet user in Ireland, had a problem. More specifically, he had a troll, a very nasty troll. At first, the troll just sent him nasty messages on Twitter, telling him that he was a "dirty f*cking Jewish scumbag," for example. Every time Traynor blocked the troll, it would reappear with a new account. Then the troll moved to other forums, spamming Traynor's blog, sending him Facebook messages, and flooding his email account with "foulmouthed and disgusting comments & images… of corpses and concentration camps and dismembered bodies." And you thought your email backlog was bad."


Traynor tells the story on his own blog:


"It transpired that the abuse had emanated from three separate IP addresses in different corners of Ireland. Two of them were public wifi locations but the third....The third location was the interesting one. The third location was a friend's house. The Troll was his son. His 17 year old son"


He confronted the boy in question:


"The Troll burst into tears. His dad gently restraining him from leaving the table. I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him "Why?" The Troll sat there for a moment and said "I don't know. I don't know. I'm sorry. It was like a game thing." A game thing. So, that's what it was... The Troll's mother said "If you want to call the Garda we'll support you in that. I'm ashamed of him." I responded: "I'm not criminalizing a 17 year old kid and ruining his future. But I will write about it - and you must all guarantee me that he'll go and see a counsellor about this or I will go legal on you.""


The psychological aspect is part of the problem, which I think we see both in this specific case, and when hundreds of abusive tweets and retweets are made against individuals.


Social media is such a new medium that we simply don't know how to use it properly. There are no lessons in etiquette, it is an instantly picked up means of communicating, and because it does away with the slow steps people take to learn and engage with one another, it sometimes seems like putting a 14 year old behind the wheel of a car, and letting them drive without driving lessons.


Part of the problem, I would suggest, is that while the internet is very good at fostering communications on a global scale, there is also a disconnect between the real and the virtual. The internet is an artificial environment, and like the great shift to urban society, with the rise of the great Victorian cities, it can be profoundly alienating.


The case of Leo Traynor illustrates this very well. What is virtual becomes almost a game; it is detached from the real world, where we meet people, and speak to them face to face. It is so much easier when detached from that personal contact to forget that there is a real human being with feelings at the other end of the abuse; it becomes more like a game, a fantasy world in which nothing is actually real. The target of abuse is no longer a human being; they become a virtual dart board onto which poisoned darts can be flung. What is needed is not just "report abuse buttons", helpful as they may be, but educating children as they grow up to respect others online as well as offline, and to teach them that while sticks and stones can break bones, words can cause deeper and longer lasting wounds.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Human Rights and Changes to the Jersey Communication Law

"A 20-year-old has been sent to prison for twelve weeks for posting offensive and derogatory comments about missing five-year-old April Jones on his Facebook page. His attempts at humour were undoubtedly stupid, offensive and exhibited incredibly poor taste and timing. But is a long spell in prison really the way we should be dealing with offensive idiots? Is a law which was passed before social media existed now placing a significant chill on our freedom of expression rights?" (Adam Wagner, UK Barrister,  founding editor of the UK Human Rights Blog, )

The JEP has taken the stance that the changes to the Jersey communication law will clamp down on "trolls" and internet bullies, anyone using threatening or grossly offensive language. Yet there are several human rights aspects to this that they fail to mention in their leader article and their front page article, as well as the age of the UK law, which is significant.

The changes to the Jersey law mirror, word for word, Section 127 of the UK Communications Act 2003. That section prohibits any message sent "by means of a public electronic communications network" which is "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character".

But the UK lawyer Adam Wagner has highlighted a number of weaknesses in this law, the principle one being that it was created before the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, and is therefore problematic, because the law is being applied in cases and in ways which those devising it had never anticipated.

As a bit of background, Adam is ranked as a 'leader in his field' for his civil liberties and human rights work in Chambers and Partners 2013 and as a 'leading junior' for healthcare law in The Legal 500  He has been appointed to the Attorney General's 'C' panel of counsel to the Crown and is a founding editor of the UK Human Rights Blog, for which he was longlisted for the 2011 Orwell Prize.

As a result of weaknesses in the law, which have led to a number of high profile fiascos, when the law was applied with a too heavy hand, the Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK has listed guidelines to avoid mistakes being made. Clearly, it would be helpful if those were also part and parcel of any changes to Jersey Law.

One of the key cases, which you may not have read in detail in the Jersey Evening Post, is as follows:

"Paul Chambers was found guilty in May 2010 of sending a "menacing electronic communication". He was living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, when he tweeted that he would blow up nearby Robin Hood Airport when it closed after heavy snow - potentially disrupting his travel plans. He tweeted: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" " (BBC News)

The end result of that was a nightmarish two year ordeal for Mr Chambers before he finally had the case dismissed, after being charged. As the BBC noted in its survey of cases that should not have been brought, it was "Paul Chambers: The bomb plot that never was"

John Cooper QC, who represented Chambers, said: "It's an important decision for social networks. It means that in future not only does a message have to be of a truly menacing character but the person who sends it has to intend it to be menacing."

Adam Wagner, on his Human Rights Group blog, notes that the new guidelines raise the threshold for action being taken:

The guidelines are sensible, to a point. They will make it less likely in future that people are prosecuted for saying stupid things online. Prosecutors are reminded that many offences will already be covered under other criminal laws such as those dealing with harassment, stalking or other violent threats. Cases which are not covered by those laws, that is the grossly offensive etc messages, are "subject to a high threshold and in many cases a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest". The CPS then seeks to define "grossly" offensive, at least in the negative, as cases which are more than:

- Offensive, shocking or disturbing; or
- Satirical, iconoclastic or rude comment; or
- The expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter  or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it.

Wagner comments:

"I raised a number of questions in that post in relation to consistency, political speech and the fact that this law is now an anachronism and needs to be reviewed. One of the pernicious aspects of this law is that prosecutions are brought very quickly, prosecuted in the magistrates courts and guilty pleas entered within hours. That is what happened to Matthew Woods (the April Jones 'joker'), and even under the current guidance it seems that the same could happen to Woods again."

"Do we really want police and prosecutors deciding what speech is tolerable and acceptable? Do they have the experience, intelligence and social sensitivity to do so? Will they be capable of leaving their own prejudices, including political, religious and social views, at the door? Should they be concentrating on other crimes rather than (as the guidance admits) the hundreds of millions of messages sent each month on social media?"

"Most importantly, can we imagine a single case in which a prosecution would be appropriate and in the public interest? A prosecution which would make our society better without having a disproportionate chilling effect on free speech on social media? I am not sure I can."

This is something which should certainly be assessed, and a less biased reporting by the Jersey Evening post into the complexity of the issues involved would help. I myself would personally like the BBC or JEP to interview Adam Wagner about these matters before we bring in a law mirrors the UK law - which he argues cogently is not fit for purpose and very much "out of date".

And how will such a law impact in freedom of speech online with a general election coming up in 2014? Should we be concerned? I think there is indeed cause for concern, and reading the points by Adam Wagner makes me even more uncertain how this law would be applied in Jersey, and what procedures there would be in place for appeal.


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Through the Study Window

Here is another extract from Tony Keogh, this time writing his "Through the Study Window" in June 1996, which was obviously a better start of summer than we had this year. I like the meandering style, and the description of life as a "patchwork quilt".
From this week, I remember a lovely evening walk past sheep, horses and cows out onto the headland above Portelet, and an amble along St Brelade's Bay at high tide, where children were in high spirits, jumping off the slipway into the sea. There were meetings with a friend at the central market, and all the colours and smells of the flowers and fruit and vegetables as one passes through. And an old man, who had fallen and hit his head, in whose aid I was able to play a small part. This is a patchwork, small little incidents, which just seem to stand out. That's the nature of life as we remember it.
Obviously what we select to remember and forget in anything autobiographical shapes the story, and the same was true of ancient biography.
It was once very much a maxim that the Gospels were not biographies, and they certainly are not in the modern sense, which proceeds from birth, through childhood, adulthood, old age, and to the grave in an orderly fashion. But studies have been done of ancient biography, which was quite a different genre, and there can be no doubt that the gospels, especially that of Luke, present themselves as a similar genre to that of the ancient world. Interested readers can refer to the comprehensive study by Richard Burridge, "What are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography"
Of course, one of the significant features of the gospel narratives is their patchwork quality. They are stories about incidents, strung together like pearls on a necklace, pearls of great price - but they don't have perhaps the continuity of historical linkage that one gets in a modern biography; in that respect, they are more like Tony Keogh's patchwork quilt, and more like our own lives, as we remember them, than something written up by an outsider.
Through the Study Window by Tony Keogh
AT THIS time of the year, the church through the window is almost blocked from sight by the trees and shrubs, growing lusher by the minute. I am just back from an early morning walk - a very early morning walk! Even at 6 am, I could feel the heat of the coming day. The sky was as blue as blue and Bouley Bay was skirted in an orange mist which my old Cornish aunt Kate called pride of the morning. The rabbits in the fields and the neighbouring cats looked in stunned disbelief at this strange creature, Homo Sapiens, invading their kingdom at this Godly hour of the morning. All of this to the chorus of a hundred songbirds, conscious of only one thing, that they are alive at the start of a new day, as they sing their hearts out. Colette Bisson's rooster, built like Pavarotti, belts out his own aria. Now you know that it is morning.
Soon it is time to turn home for a shower, breakfast, the daily office and prepare for the day. A few weeks ago, I took part in a Monday morning interview on Radio Jersey with Fiona Spurr. I was reminiscing about my childhood in Cardiff, especially during the war, and several people were kind enough to telephone and say how much they had enjoyed the programme. One of those was the wife of an elderly blind Cardiffian who lives near the hospital who invited me for a cup of tea and a chat with her husband about the old city. I shall be visiting them this afternoon so I shall let you know how I get on.
One of my favourite and regular ports of call is our local parish school and I have an extra interest now that my grandson Joshua is there full-time. One of the teachers came into the staff-room recently for her coffee break, declaring that everything was going wrong. I told her the story of my story bag, which is a coloured pillowcase. In it, I place an object, then I give clues to the congregation as to what might be in the bag. Ten years ago, I placed a bundle of sticks, tied with string, in the bag and told the story of a father with five sons who were always squabbling. The father handed the bundle of sticks to each son and asked him to break the bundle; all failed. Then he untied the bundle and gave each son a stick. They had no difficulty in snapping their single sticks. To emphasise the point, I handed the bundle of sticks to some of the children. All failed to break the bundle, then an older boy named David advanced down the aisle with great gusto, took the bundle of sticks and promptly broke it across his knee into dozens of pieces. End of story!
The point of the story appeared ruined. That was ten years ago. Recently, friends on holiday from the mainland listened as I repeated the story; this time, no-one broke the sticks. After the service, over coffee at the Rectory, Margaret and Peter reminded me that that they had been in the congregation ten years previously and had never forgotten the story, not because of the story, but because of David's part in causing it to go wrong. They told their vicar and that story became part of his repertoire, all because it went wrong. It is not always success as the world sees it which advances God's Kingdom.
It is now 10.30 am and I feel that I have a done a full day's work already. We have had a stream of visitors at the Rectory this morning - the children from Scallywags Play Group are playing in the back garden, our Churchwarden, Deputy Roy Cabot, has called to collect the Churchwardens' wands in readiness for the swearing-in of the Church Officers tomorrow; two sisters from London, Ontario, are here to find their great grandparents' grave (Jill tells them that de Gruchy is the most common name in Trinity but they are in luck, there is a gravestone); as luck would have it, Lizzi - who has visited Canada three times - has just come in so the three of them are discussing things and places Canadian.
The postman has delivered the usual 'binnable' circulars along with some more Gift Day envelopes, and the plumber, an old friend, has been to replace a worn-out washer.
This is getting to read like a patchwork quilt rather than a written article but our lives are like patchwork quilts and, possibly more so when one lives in a rectory, vicarage or manse. I must close now as I must take an electric fan to father-in-law to keep him cool while he enjoys the Test Match, and then there are some ashes to be collected for interment tomorrow morning.
The church is still there through the window and the promised heat of 6 am is very evident. Keep cool. Bless God.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Tide is High

A walk earlier in the week prompted this poem. It was not perhaps as dark as in the poem, but that's poetic license for you. The title, of course, is a steal from "Blondie" (I'm showing my age here!)

The photos can be seen at:

I'd have liked to photograph the happy children, so much enjoying the sea coming over the slipway, but we live in suspicious times, and I am content to capture the memory in a line of verse. I remember from my own childhood, and from my children's, how magic the sea is, how much fun it is to jump in and out of the breaking waves. We are so lucky in Jersey to be so close to the sea.

The Tide is High

Warm currents lashing at the sea wall
Spray flying high, the rocks submerge
A fraction of time, such moments small
Enchant, capture, in each tidal surge

Moon light rising across St Brelade's Bay
Bringing strong currents, elemental forces
Happy children splashing on the slipway
Waves breaking, white foaming horses

Shadows grow longer, twilight comes
Dusky maidens swim like mermaids
As darkness creeps, and light succumbs
The coast at night, the sea of shades

The tide is high at the end of the day
And salty breezes blow my way

Friday, 26 July 2013

Before the Rebellion by A.C. Saunders

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931), by A.C. Saunders. There is a lot of social history in Saunders, which throws up some quirky details that are often overlooked in other histories of Jersey.
It is interesting to see that Turkish vessels were around the English Channel, preying on shipping. These were probably the same ilk known as Barbary pirates, sometimes called Barbary corsairs or Ottoman corsairs. This may have also influenced "The Pirates of Penzance", as from medieval times and to later centuries, Penzance was subject to frequent raiding by Turkish pirates.
Captain Lewis Kirke was captain of the naval ship Leopard and was engaged in battles with Dunkirk ships and in a search for Turkish pirates near Guernsey. With his brothers, he was part of the expeditions to capture Quebec in 1628 and 1629. He served in the royalist army during the Civil War and was knighted in 1643.
Dr Peter Heylyn (1599 - 1662) was an English ecclesiastic and author of many polemical, historical, political and theological tracts. He incorporated his political concepts into his geographical books Microcosmus in 1621 and Cosmographie in 1657.
He had a small inheritance from his father, but was looking out for preferment, and became chaplain to the Earl of Danby, who was governor of Guernsey and Jersey at that time. When Heylyn visited Guernsey, he commented that " the island is generally very fruitful of corn, whereof the inhabitants have not only enough for themselves, but some overplus." He also noted that the use of seaweed (vraic) was one of the outstanding features of agriculture in the Islands.But he took the view that Jersey carried a larger population than it could well support and, in consequence, was overwhelmed by poverty and want:
"The other Villages lie scattered up and down, like those of Guernzey, and give habitation to a people very painfull and laborious; but by reason of their continuall toyle and labour, not a little affected to a kinde of melancholy surlinesse incident to plough men. Those of Guernzey on the other side, by continuall converse with strangers in their own haven, and by travailing abroad being much more sociable and generous. Add to this, that the people here are more poor, and therefore more destitute of humanity; the children here craving almes of very stranger; whereas in all Guernzey I did not see one begger."
Rybot comments on Heylyn's visit:
"Heylyn [1629] was much struck by the numbers and poverty of the people. He was told that there were between 25,000 and 30,000 persons on the island. Poingdestre [1682] states that it was commonly held that the population of the island was formerly 50,000, - but does not believe it. He thinks however, that the planting of orchards at the expense of wheatlands and the neglect of agriculture due to the frenzied manufacture of knitted goods had tended to diminish the population. He says that there are "not past twenty thousand" persons in the island.
Before the Rebellion
By A.C. Saunders
We hear that Jersey was continually being harassed by fear of invasion, and on 20th September, 1635, a Jersey vessel arrived at Pendennis Castle homeward bound from the Mediterranean. When in the English Channel and nearing her home port she had been attacked by six Turkish men of war and a certain French " Runegathos " on board one of the Turkish vessels told the master of the Jersey ship that twenty other Turkish vessels were on the  look out for vessels returning from the Newfoundland fisheries. After capture the barque had been taken to St. Malo, and when the Turks had taken what stores and cargo they required, she was allowed to continue her voyage. At that time England was not at war with Turkey but on the 3rd December, 1635, Captain Lewis Kirke writes to Secretary Coke that he has been instructed by Sir John Pennington to stand away towards Jersey and Guernsey to free these Islands from Turks and other pirates " and to range over our coast as far as Land's End."
Reference has been made to the Earl of Danby, who had been placed in charge of the defence of Channel Islands, and his chaplain, Dr. Heylyn, in his survey of Jersey and Guernsey gives a most graphic account of his voyage from Portsmouth to the Channel Islands during the month of March, 1629.
He explained that the Earl having been deserted by his chaplain owing probably to " the extremity of the season and the visible danger of the enterprise " he gladly accepted the offer of the appointment and went aboard His Majesty's ship Assurance, eight hundred tons, forty-two guns, on Tuesday, 3rd March, 1629. `.` Well manned with valiant and expert sailors and welcomed aboard (after the fashion of the sea) with all the thunder and lightning which the whole navy could afford from the several ships."
The fleet consisted of five vessels, the Assurance, two pinnaces called the Whelps, a ketch called the Minikin, and a merchant vessel called the Charles, carrying arms and stores to the Island. There were four hundred soldiers on board in four companies, two under Colonels Pipperwell and Connisby for Guernsey, and two under Colonel Francis Rainford and Captain Killargre for Jersey. The fleet was under the command of Sir Henry Palmer. They gradually made their way until they arrived at the Needles, a dangerous passage at all times except to those only who being well skilled " in these sharpe points and those dreadful fragments of the rocks, which so intituled them, could steer a steady course between them ; Scylla and Charybdis in old times nothing more terrible to, the unskilled mariners of those old days than those rocks of ours."
Once out in the Channel the wind began to blow and conditions became very uncomfortable, for the wind turning Eastward " all night we were fain to lie at Hull (as the mariners phrase it) without any sensible movement either backward or forward but so uneasily withall, that it must have been a very great tempest indeed which gives a passenger a more sickly and unpleasing motion." However they got in sight of Jersey when they discovered " a sail of French consisting of ten barkes laden with very good Gascoyne wine and good choyce of linen bound from St. Malloes to Newhaven for the trade of Paris and convoyed by a Holland man of war for their safer passage."
The two Whelps and the Ketch made chase and the guns of the Admiral's ship were fired and the Holland man of war " very sordidly and basely betrayed his charge before he came in reach of danger " and the afternoon was spent by Heylyn in watching the French vessels trying to escape from their enemies. It afforded him great pleasure to see the fight, especially as he knew it was his Lordship's pleasure to deal favourably with those poor men who chanced to fall into his power. Three of the vessels were captured but the rest escaped although they were fired at from the Admiral's ship. The fleet anchored that night in the port of " St. Ouen, one of the principal ports of the Island." The Islanders standing all night on guard thinking " by the thunder of so many great shot that the whole powers of France and the Devill to boot were now falling upon them." They landed next day in the Bay of St. Helier " Neer unto Mount St. Albin in the Parish of St. Peter and received visits from the gentry who came to attend His Lordship." Next day Lord Danby allowed all the French to return to their homes to their great rejoicing.
Some of the wine from the prizes proved to be very useful in the celebration of His Lordship's arrival. On Sunday, the 8th, Divine Service was held in the church, attended by all the principal inhabitants of the town, and the officers and soldiers and sailors, and Dr. Heylyn preached a most eloquent sermon from Psalm 31, " Offer unto the Lord thanksgiving," with reference to the good success of the voyage past and hopes for the like mercies in the time to come. The three barks were now exposed to public sale, and Dr. Heylyn's anger was aroused when he found that they had been purchased by " the Holland man of warre, whom they had hired to be their convoy, which gave me such a character of the mercenary and sordid nature of that people that of all men living I should never desire to have anything to do with them."
The people of the Island had to obtain permission from the Governor when they wanted to go elsewhere for business and pleasure, and when the Governor's authority was ignored matters were made very uncomfortable for the delinquents. Thus on the 27th of January, 1637, in an order made at Mont Orgueil Castle by Sir Philip de Carteret, Lieut.-Governor, Amice de Carteret of Trinity, Captain of the trained bands of that parish and one of the Jurats of the Island, was accused of having on two occasions left the Islands for foreign parts without first obtaining the permission of the Governor, and, although he pleaded ignorance of the law and without contempt and that he was not bound to acquaint the Governor but by way of courtesy, he was ordered to appear in London before the Privy Council within forty days of 18th January, 1637 " if he continues in his contempt and refuses to acknowledge his fault."
Even a Jurat was not exempt from the arbitrary ruling of the Governor, and Jurats in those days were at any rate, in their own opinion, persons of importance in the Island, the Seigneurs of St. Ouen, Rozel, Samares, and Trinity coming first and all the others according to the date of their election. They were great sticklers for the right of seniority, and we hear of Philip de Carteret of Vinchelez and Philip Lempriere of Dilamon appearing before the Privy Council in London to argue the question of their respective position among the Jurats, when Philip Lempriere was represented by counsel as he alleged " his inability to deliver his mind in English " but do Carteret appeared in person.
But serious times were coming on and these petty disputes had to be put on one side. England was gradually becoming embroiled in Civil War and John Hampden in Parliament rose and described the ship money as an illegal impost. Hampden was a man of peace. He hated war and was a grave honourable and intelligent citizen, respected by all, but determined to do his utmost to preserve the rights of his fellow countrymen. The King tried to curry favour with the Scotch people and visited Edinburgh where, by many concessions and conferring many honours, he managed to secure for himself a doubtful popularity.
But on his return to England in 1640 he was compelled to summon a new Parliament and among the members was John Pym, a Somerset gentleman of high character, cool temperament, and great eloquence, who had a keen sense of justice, and his ambition was to see that the rights of his countrymen were not trodden on. So at the age of fifty-six Pym became leader of the new Parliament, whose first duty was to try and undo the injustices which had crept in under the Royal Warrant.
Then Parliament began to enquire into the liability of those advisers of the King who had encouraged him to usurp their power and we see that Laud and Stratford were arrested and brought to trial. Both were executed, the latter under a bill of attainder after a long struggle. Deserted by the King, whom he served so well, he met his death bravely thanking God that he was not afraid of death. He had been brought over from his Government in Ireland to assist the King, and, as soon as his execution had taken place and the Irish people no longer felt the rule of his Lord Lieutenancy, then rebellion of the most savage nature broke out in that wild country and some fifty thousand English people were massacred in a most brutal and inhuman fashion.
The prosecutions against his friends somewhat cowed the King, but he was all the more firmly determined to regain the powers he had lost and many of the more modest members of Parliament were beginning to be afraid that they were moving too fast, and so in the House of Commons a Royalist party was formed and when the " Solemn remonstrance " was brought before the House it was only carried by eleven votes.
Royalists flocked to London and surrounded the King, who, determined to put down the activities of the new Parliament, appeared at the House supported by a number of his followers and demanded the arrest of the obnoxious leaders Hampden, Pym, Hollis, Strode and Haslerig. But the House had been warned and these leaders of Parliament were not present, and so Charles, encouraged by his followers, decided on war and raised his standard at Nottingham on the 23rd August, 1642, thereby beginning the great Civil War when the two opposing parties became known as Roundheads and Cavaliers.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

You’ve Got Mail

There have been a number of suggestions relating to the pillar and wall post boxes, apart from being auctioned off, they could be used as collection points for charitable donations. I think that's possibly a bit problematic, as if opened for money, unless there was a special small slit, someone would undoubtedly post a letter through it regardless of what it said on the box.
I've had an email from Jeff Hathaway who has come up with a different suggestion – keep some of the lower volume boxes open, but licence people to make collections from them. He said:
"I wonder if Kevin Keen ever considered licensing collections from these under-used boxes? Nice little part-time earner for someone?? They could re-deliver into the nearest core service....that is how many distribution networks operate."
"I think it should be a serious suggestion to Jersey Post to consider licensing the collections from the boxes currently under to cosh, as a part-time undertaking for someone. The licensee could deliver the said collections to the nearest hub collection point."
"These collections could be just once daily - suggest early morning - in order to make to pm sort and locally at least, delivery next day. Since the volume will by all accounts be low, there is no reason why they could not also be pre-sorted to local and overseas."
I note that Australia also has some kind of subcontracting collections (especially for remoter areas), where companies can make bids, and are remunerated according to the volume of the mail brought in to the central postal system. For Jersey, with the small volumes, it would not be a livelihood, but it could provide welcome extra income for a household with a once a day collection.
Another good idea from Jeff to improve collections on outlying areas is split vehicles, so avoiding duplicated journey:
"For what it is worth, I have suggested to Kevin before that postmen serving outlying areas (La Moye for example) could have 'split' vehicles. One 'hold' for mail to be delivered and one 'hold' for collected mail. At the moment both sides of that equation are operated by different staff in different vehicles."
That is a suggestion that seems to be the case elsewhere in the world. For example, in the USA, the National Association of Letter Carriers mentions on their website that a number of their members (who are employees of the United States Postal Service) go out on rounds and both deliver mail and have collected from street letter boxes. Busy street boxes may have specialist workers who are just collecting mail from letter boxes, but others do both delivery to homes and businesses and collection from homes, businesses and letter boxes.
And Jeff also has a few other suggestions for improving Jersey Post's operations:
"I have previously indicated to Kevin Keen myself that it is entirely possible to deliver stamps online through electronic franking. Most printers will handle envelopes and (just like the system developed by one of my clients) place a bar code on an envelope which when read at the sort end charges the clients account. The amounts are relatively small so a cash buffer (minimum credits) would be needed. This is used a lot on sites and works fine."
"There are all sorts of innovations they could consider too. In the UK, for example, post is distributed by businesses that have a need to deliver other goods in the area. That could be turned on its head for Jersey with the Post Office offering a collect/deliver service for smaller business. Also hold a stock of forms that re in common use i.e.: application for a driving licence which you can 'order' online and have posted to you direct for Jersey Post HQ. A service to Parish Halls and government in general. Lots of ways they could get an economy out of what they do best - delivering stuff!"
All very good suggestions and I'm pleased to share them on my blog today.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Baby Musings

Guernsey's official government Twitter account wrongly congratulated Kate Middleton and Prince Charles on the birth of the royal baby.
The tweet read: "Congratulations to the Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales on the birth of their baby boy."
The mistake was quickly rectified, but not until the tweet had been retweeted to a number of followers. It is a mark of how easily mistakes can go viral online.
The later announcement from Guernsey was that they would be firing a 21 gun salute at midday to celebrate the Royal birth. It's lucky it was not a firing squad for the person who was responsible for the mistake!
Meanwhile, the three babies born in Jersey on the same day as the newest member of the Royal Family are being given £100 notes by the island's government; a special gift organised by the Treasury and Resources and Health and Social Services departments. A cynic might wonder if they still have so many of the notes left over from the launch last year that they don't know what to do with them.
Speculation has been ongoing on the name of the young Royal, and by the time this blog goes to press, he may well will have been named.
It surprised me that Richard was on the list of possibilities, as Richard III was the last King deposed by Henry Tudor, of which our present Monarchy can claim a long if somewhat convoluted descent. John is also out; after Magna Carta, there has only ever been one King John; the name is associated with bad luck.
It is interesting to notice how the naming pattern developed. William, Edward and Henry (or their French equivalents) were the main names of monarchs of Norman descent. Stephen was involved in a civil war, and that lost the name popularity. Richard was popular for a while - remember Richard the Lionheart - up until Richard III, then dropped out of favour.
Henry and Edward continued until the end of the House of Tudor, after which James and Charles became popular. Then when the House of Orange took over, William became popular, and a latecomer was George from the House of Hanover, which then was almost done to death with George following George almost without break.
Arthur has been mooted for its mythological roots, but may be considered unlucky. The last Prince Arthur as direct heir to the throne was Henry VIII's sickly brother, who predeceased his father.
Pre-conquest names are rather out of fashion apart from Edward. No Monarch has been called Harold. Prince Harry is a diminutive form of Henry, not Harold. Edgar sounds terribly 1920s and old-fashioned, and no one in their right mind would be likely to call their child Eadwig. With the exception, I imagine, of the people who are apparently prepared to gamble on odds of 500 to 1 that the new child's name will be hashtag.
Also in the news, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated British Queen Elizabeth II with the birth of her first great-grandchild. Putin wished good health to the newborn prince, his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, and the entire royal family. It is a far cry from the days of the Cold War, and Soviet Ideology!

And finally, there are a wide assortment of Royal Baby souvenirs, ranging from the traditional (china mugs or plates, commemorative coins and stamps) to the seriously bad taste (a Royal baby morning-sickness bag). And there are the cheap - a tin of biscuits with "Royal Baby" embossed on the lid, but which is actually little different from any tin of biscuits, except for the price. It is estimated by economists that there will be between £80-£200  million of extra sales generated from souvenirs to toys, books and DVDs.
The one I found intriguing was "Royal Lullabies: Soothing Music for a Royal Baby."  Which as you might expect has children themed orchestral pieces such as Jeux d'Enfants and Kinderszenen but alas, not my own first musical memory, Puff the Magic Dragon.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Change in Jersey Law to Clamp Down on Blogs and Social Media

In "Top Gear", the three presenters were working on a home made hover craft. It had the chassis of a van, two powerful engines, one for upwards thrust, one for horizontal thrust, and a skirt to keep enough air underneath to make it buoyant. They powered up, and it seemed to rise, and then Jeremy Clarkson pushed it forward towards the river, and it promptly sank like a stone.
In the aftermath, as they contemplated the wreckage back in the studio, the blame game was in full force. The engines were not powerful enough said Clarkson. The skirt to capture the upward air was too small, said Hammond. And it was pushed forward into the water too fast, said May. Everyone had a different reason for the failure.
And that, of course, is what is happening now that the Electoral Reform has sunk. All sorts of reasons are being adduced for its failing to be passed by the States. Rather like the hovercraft, it is a joint catastrophe, and one that will continue to exercise the States members when they come back from their summer recess.
The summer recess is a wonderful mechanism for last minute matters. Times past, in the bad old days of Terry Le Sueur, all kinds of budget plans would be launched at the last minute, so there was no chance to ask questions before they were debated in the Autumn. It was said that it was to give States members time to read and reflect on it, but I've seen too many schools pull the same stunt to believe that - a notice given out on the last day of term, often to do with some kind of cut-back, so that parents can do nothing about it until next term, by which time it will be too late to do anything.
The latest one of course, is the "Personal Statement by Sir Philip Bailhache" in which he explains that he misunderstood what flight he was supposed to be reading confidential documents about the Dean and HG on, and was unable to remember if he actually was reading any confidential documents, although he believes he might have been.
"On that flight I do not believe that I would have been reading documents relating to this matter because I had read them in London, but I may be mistaken."
With a memory like that, he would clearly make a terrific "Minister for External Affairs"!
It reminds me of the time in "Yes Prime Minister" when Jim Hacker is casting aspersions on his predecessor who has just died:
Hacker: Say that he's trying to re-write history to make his own premiership look a little less disastrous. - Imply that he's going gaga.
Press Officer: Fine. Passage of time and separation from official records have perhaps clouded his memory.
Hacker: Yes. What about the gaga bit?
Press Officer: One would expect no more from a man of his age.
Sir Philip's own riposte that it is a "storm in a tea cup" on reading documents which seem to have revealed HG's identity is pure "Yes Minister". Another quote from Jim Hacker fits his response very well.: "Insignificant matter of no national importance. Typical of the media's trivialisation of politics.". It's all in "Yes Minister", which should be on any politician's viewing list.
Of course, matters may be very different in the future, and any criticism of Sir Philip online may be suppressed, depending on how it is presented.
That's because, slipping quietly by under cover of Ministerial Decision,(another "end of term" action)  is an amendment proposed for the Electronic Communications (Jersey) Law. That law itself is simply "a law to facilitate electronic business and the use of electronic communications and electronic storage, and to make other provisions in similar respects", it deals with how emails are dealt with in terms of legal validity etc, but nothing at all about blogs, tweets or social media.
But Senator Alan Maclean seems to be shoe-horning in something that really has nothing at all to do with the basic objects of the original law.
Amendment to Electronic Communications (Jersey) Law
Decision(s): The Minister approved drafting a Green Paper to consider amendments to the Electronic Communications (Jersey) Law to cover grossly offensive, malicious or threatening communications made over electronic communications.
Reason(s) for Decision: It has been identified that there is currently no law that covers grossly offensive or threatening communications made over electronic communications e.g. via email, on blogs or on social media.
Action required: Officers from EDD to draft the Green Paper in conjunction with the Home Affairs Department and Law Officers Department.
Now it is true that there are blog postings which might be considered offensive, but context is everything. In politics, and where politicians are concerned, there has always been a tradition of very robust debate, sometimes very deliberately offensive. Suppress that, and you are suppressing freedom of speech.
A member of David Cameron's team recently branded Tory supporters "'swivel-eyed loons". And someone called John Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, a "sanctimonious dwarf", before apologising - to dwarfs.
But that's mild compared to some of the past masters of the art:
The style of all pestilential filth that hath infested the state and government of this commonwealth.
Sir Harbottle Grimston, British MP, on William Laud (1573-1645), English clergyman and Archbishop of Canterbury
A crafty and lecherous old hypocrite whose very statue seems to gloat on the wenches as they walk the States House yard. William Cobbett (1763-1835), on Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), American statesman and scientist
Filthy Story-Teller, Despot, Liar, Thief, Braggart, Buffoon, Usurper, Monster, Ignoramus Abe, Old Scoundrel, Perjurer, Robher, Swindler, Tyrant, Field-Butcher, Land-Pirate. Harper's Weekly on Abraham Lincoln
He spent his whole life in plastering together the true and the false and therefrom manufacturing the plausible. Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947) on David Lloyd George (1863-1945)
If a traveller were informed that such a man was the leader of the House of Commons, he might begin to comprehend how the Egyptians worshipped an insect. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), British prime minister and author, on Lord John Russell (1792-1878), British prime minister
If I am insulted, I can sue for defamation. But what this amendment is doing is providing the law with teeth to bring a criminal, rather than a civil case. It is like a revival of the law of criminal libel, abolished in the UK in 2010, in which the defendant is put in the position of having to prove their innocence.
There can be little doubt in my mind that it is sneaking in now because there is an election year in 2014, and there will be a strong attempt to curtail the very robust language used by bloggers.
Rico Sorda, for example, calls Senator Bailhache "an out of touch dinosaur." What if Senator Bailhache says that such a description of him is "grossly offensive". Will the new amendment to the law take action?
And what of reportage? Rico did a blog on a just retiring Chief Officer of Education, which was actually a cut and paste (with links given) of articles in the Daily Mail etc? It could be considered grossly offensive to the person named, but I would have thought there is a difference between making those accusations against him, and reporting the accusations made against him as already reported (and still online) by the Daily Mail, Irish Times etc. Are we to ban reportage in the National Media being repeated on blogs because that somehow gives it a local endorsement?
The devil will be in the details, but depending on how vague and wide-reaching this amendment will be if the green paper proceeds to a proposition, it will certainly be an ever present threat not just to the more intemperate bloggers, but to anyone. At present, a civil action for defamation (libel) had to prove its case, but the old criminal libel - as brought by Sir James Goldsmith against Private Eye, puts the burden off proof on the person accused. As what counts as grossly offensive is subjective, this is not a wise change to make. It is also unclear how any such change to the law would prevent anonymous "trolls" with false identities.
I hope that it will be open to consultation, and also assessed by scrutiny, and not just somehow pass through as an amendment without properly input from the public, and careful analysis by scrutiny.

Monday, 22 July 2013

On Trust

"A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody." ( Thomas Paine)
"Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence" ( Democritus)
"For trust not him that hath once broken faith"  ( William Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part 3)
In G.K. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday", a man takes on the role of Thursday as an undercover policeman to infiltrate the Council of Anarchists, who are named after the days of the week, and whose leader is just called Sunday.
It is a lesson in mistrust, but as it turns out, without spoiling too much of the plot, Sunday succeeds largely because no one in the Council can trust anyone else. They are all suspicious of each other.
That was something which I was thinking about with regard to the States vote on the principles of the Referendum which were rejected in the States last week. The whole enterprise has been all about trust, or the lack of it.
The States in the first instance lacked the trust to hand over the Electoral Commission to an independent group as had been originally planned. They just did not trust that the outcome would be something acceptable to them. The electorate really didn't come into those considerations at all.
The States then lacked the trust to make the results of the Referendum binding. Jeremy Macon's attempt to bring in a limit of 40% before it would be acceptable to the States was a good suggestion, because after that there was no confidence that a low turnout would signify anything.
And the end result of the vote has been that the public, who already had a certain degree of mistrust in the whole matter, are even less likely to vote in the next election. Their opinion was called for, and then discarded because the whole matter was so badly thought out (in terms of binding and thresholds) that no one knew exactly how to interpret the results. But one result was clear: you ask the people what they want, and if you then treat them like idiots, they are likely to loose confidence in you.
"It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived."  ( René Descartes)
It is not the only case where this has happened with a Referendum. Notoriously, the Irish Referendum rejected the EU Treaty of Lisbon in 2008, and was brought back again, with a better campaign, and passed in 2009. Evidently, when the will of the people is not what you want, you just try again until it matches your chosen outcome. This is how to produce a result which the instigators of the Treaty described as "more democratic, more transparent and more efficient". Of course, if you have to avoid any referendum in most countries, and take any that fail as a reason to try again until you get the right result, you are a very long way from democracy and trust.
"Old friend,' said Cadvan, filling another glass for himself and sniffing its rich smell. 'If we do not trust one another, we are already defeated." (( Alison Croggon, The Singing)
Politicians get their legitimacy from trust. It is trust that drives people out to vote for them at elections. And that in turn provides them with a mandate to govern as representatives of those people who placed trust in them.
A political system in which trust has been seriously eroded is in danger of losing voter turnout, and hence losing the legitimacy which comes from that trust. They may govern by default, because the lower numbers who did turn out voted for them, but they are there purely because the mechanisms of election remain in place.
As Professor Geoffrey Gallop says: "Trust is the hidden curriculum of modern politics. If trust is there, big changes are possible. If not, it is hard for governments to do what is needed to meet future challenges. Building trust should be a government priority."
The mistake is to think that trust, when destroyed, can be legislated back into existence. It cannot. It requires more than words. It needs more engagement than that. Here are some suggestions by which this may be done.
States members need to take full responsibility for their actions and choices. This means taking a deep, hard look at why they lost the public trust, and how the public feel cheated, how they can make sure they never cheat the public again. That means humility.
States members need to give the public the time and space to vent their feelings. This includes listening to the public anger about what they have done, and letting the public asking them lots and lots of questions, hurling a great deal of judgment, even raging at them, while they stand strong, keep apologising, and reaching out with compassion and understanding.
States members need to find out more about what the public expectations are. Find out what they need. They need to what they can do to change the situation and make it better.
States members need to accept that sometimes it going to feel like they are moving two steps forward and three steps back. One day it may seem like there's hope for tomorrow, and the next day, the dark clouds of mistrust have returned. There will be inevitable bumps and setbacks along the way back to trust, so it is important for them to have a plan in place to help them keep calm and centred, and be prepared to take positive action to address these pitfalls.
States members need to make sure that all promises they make are promises they keep. Their words, actions and deeds must come from total and unwavering integrity. There must be no lies, no duplicity, no excuses, no exceptions. An honest apology is worth more to trust than the face saving excuses and prevarication, which erodes trust and fools nobody anyway.
States members need to show how much they appreciate the general public in big and small ways every day, and then the general public will show how much they appreciate having States members elected on their behalf..
Rebuilding trust is both a rite of passage and a healing journey. It will take patience, courage, inner strength and time for both the public (who feel betrayed) and the States (who have betrayed their trust)  to heal and regain balance.
At the heart of the contract between States members and voters is a relationship of trust. The mechanisms of democracy - the nomination meetings, the manifesto, the hustings, the ballot box - are all externals, important part of how democracy works. But they are not the most important part: that is all about relationships of trust. That's the real basis why people vote.
"We're paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It's that simple." (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Through the Study Window

In 1996, the Reverend Tony Keogh wrote an occasional series of articles in the monthly magazine "The Pilot" which he called "Through the Study Window". Here is one on mobility and the idea of life as pilgrimage, and how the nomadic ideal is important even if we don't physically move.
My late partner Annie Parmeter spent a good deal of her twenties on the road in England, living with traveller and Romany communities, doing odd jobs, gathering scrap metal for sale. Despite the fact that these communities were mostly law abiding, they were often harassed by the law as if they were law breakers.
And there are people in Jersey who live in vans, often moving from one location to another. They may have odd jobs, but owning (as for most locals) is probably out of their reach, and they prefer this lifestyle to renting. Sometimes there is a "clampdown" and the police move them on. I visited some with Annie, as she had friends there. I'm not going to mention some of the places they resided, for obvious reasons.
It is very hard for a settled society to come to terms with the nomad, something Tony Keogh brings across very well. And yet the great Jewish leaders - Abraham, Moses - lived nomadic lives. The fragment we have of Jesus life just before his death was out "on the road", an itinerant ministry.
The nomad life is sign of the ephemeral nature of existence and for Christians, a signpost for life as pilgrimage and not to become settled and complacent (as the Israelites so often did), for humanists, a cautionary note that every day is precious, for every day could be the last.
Through the Study Window by Tony Keogh
Through the window, the sun is pleasantly warm; outside, the east wind makes it feel like winter. At this moment, 2.20 in the afternoon, the church is obliterated by a large marquee on the Rectory lawn as Alison, our elder daughter, is celebrating her 30th birthday with a mega party tonight.
Overhead in the clear blue sky, I can see the vapour trail of a jet and I can hear an aeroplane taking off from the airport. Along the road, I can hear the traffic - cars, lorries and motorcycles. Who said that this was a quiet country parish?
I sometimes think that everyone is on the move: some societies find that mobility is disconcerting and that stability is every-thing; other societies take mobility for granted. The American Dream, for example, started with the covered wagon and recent censuses show that more than 43 million Americans move house each year.
This is an annual migration roughly equivalent to the entire population (men, women and children) of England and Wales relocating themselves every year and it all seems to pass unnoticed except, apparently, for the large number of entries in the Yellow Pages for truck rental companies!
I suppose that it would be a nightmare scenario if everyone in Jersey moved home each and every year yet the Christian church is meant to be a community on the move; we are a pilgrim people. We are reminded that we are like the great Jewish patriarchs of old. "They only saw them [that is, God's promises] from afar off, and they admitted that they were strangers and pilgrims upon the earth (Hebrews 11:13).
None of the great Jewish patriarchs entered into the full possession of the promises which God had made to Abraham. To the end of their days, they were nomads and they never lived settled lives in a settled land, they were forever moving on and were to live as strangers in a strange land.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews used certain vivid Greek words about them. He called them "xenoi." "Xenos" is a Greek word for a stranger and a foreigner. In the ancient world, the fate of the stranger was hard; he was regarded with hatred, suspicion and contempt. In Sparta, "xenos" was the equivalent of "barbarous" and the stranger and the barbarian were one and the same thing. A man wrote, complaining that he was despised "because I am a 'xenos', a foreigner." Another man wrote that, however poor a home was, it was better to live at home that 'epi xenes', in a foreign country. When communities sat down for a common meal, those who sat down to it were divided into members and 'xenoi - members and outsiders. This word could even mean a refugee and, all their lives, the patriarchs were foreigners and pilgrims in a land which was never their own.
At any time and in any place, it can be an unhappy thing to be a stranger and a pilgrim in a strange land but in ancient times, there was added to that natural unhappiness the bitterness of humiliation. That picture of the pilgrim and the stranger became the picture of the Christian life. Tertullian said of the Christian, "He knows that on earth he has a pilgrimage, but that his dignity is in heaven." Clement of
Alexandria said, "We have no fatherland on earth." Augustine said, "We are pilgrims exiled from our fatherland."
It is not that Christians should be foolishly other-worldly, it is not that we should detach ourselves from the life and work of the world, but that we should remember that we are on our way. There is an unwritten saying of Jesus, "The world is a bridge. The wise man will pass over it but will not build his house upon it." The Christian is a pilgrim of eternity.
It is now 3.30 pm. The sun still shines and the traffic still trundles. The tent, the symbol of the nomad, is still on the lawn. Alison is thirty. This year sees the anniversary of my thirty years of full-time ministry and twenty years of Rector of Trinity. We have travelled a long way and not just physically. I hope that you will enjoy the rest of the trip to heaven.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Summer Magic

There is something mellow and magical about a summer evening. The heat of the day has gone, only the odd dog walker is out and about, and the colour is just changing with the light of the gradually setting sun. That's what prompted this poem. And listening to Handel.

Some of the sights can be see at:

Summer Magic
An evening stroll past meadow land
Sheep grazing safely behind dry walls
Gently mow the grass where they stand
And sounding off their baaa like calls
I follow the path along the coastal way
I sit on the bench, and look out to sea
Yachts gliding gently within the bay
A whisper of wind by coastal lee
Walking back, past the flowers bright
Wild flowers on heath blow in breeze
Past small front gardens, tiny delight
And the sound of busy worker bees
This is summer magic, gentle peace
The joy remains and does not cease

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Beginning of Trouble by A.C. Saunders

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931), by A.C. Saunders. There is a lot of social history in Saunders, which throws up some quirky details that are often overlooked in the history of Jersey.

With reform of the States just delayed again, it is interesting to note here that "The Constables were to be selected in each parish by those who could freely spend the annual rent of three quarters of wheat", and also that they could be removed from office by the Jurats or Governor; a position which only changed in 1677 when the 3 year election cycle was brought in. But most people could not vote anyway.

There's a lot on the condition of the poor people, which were the majority of the people in the Island. The church at this time was very dictatorial, still very much a legacy of the Calvinist ethos of punishing immorality - which could be for as little as bad language, but could lead to excommunication, the pillory, and public ritual humiliation. The three-fold ritual by this was done in churches is not something I've read in other histories of Jersey, and it gives a real insight into how unpleasant the whole business was, and how it was designed to create a climate of fear and obedience.

There was in the 1970s a small but thriving Greek Cypriot community who had come over to Jersey to find better conditions, and better work - many of them opened restaurants, and I still remember the Kebab Souvla at St Aubin. The reason for their coming was simple: if they stayed they would be peasantry, or shepherds, with a much poorer quality of life, and no opportunities for their talents. The conditions they left behind were very much like Jersey in the 17th century, where opportunities for those intelligent and resourceful lay mostly in emigrating from Jersey, and seeking better fortune elsewhere.

A note on the text: a Sumptuary law is mentioned as being passed in 1630. Such laws are "made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc." In the case of Jersey, they reinforced social hierarchies by restricting what clothing people could wear, especially if you were poor. It ensured that that people did not dress "above their station".
The Beginning of Trouble
by A.C. Saunders
On the wall on the left hand side as you enter the door of St. Helier's Church you will find a tablet
Cy Gist
Bailli de Jersey
1643. 1651-166o
erected to the memory of the leader of the Parliamentary party in Jersey. Michel Lempriere, Sr. de Maufont, was the son of Hugh Lempriere, Sr. de Dilement, and Jeanne, the daughter of the Greffier, John Herault. He was born about the year 1600 and died in 1671. He became Bailiff under Parliament in 1643, on the death of Sir Philip de Carteret, and later on from 1651 until 1660.             From 1643 he had, after the arrival of Sir George Carteret, fled to England. He returned to Jersey in 1651 when Admiral Blake arrived with his fleet and reconquered the Island for Parliament. He was then reappointed Bailiff and remained as such until the restoration, when he entered into private life. His was a strong personality with great ability and he had been educated at Samur, where he matriculated at the Protestant University, and afterwards continued his studies at Oxford. When still in the twenties he was elected a Jurat of the Royal Court, where he formed friendships with D. Dumaresq, of Samares, and the younger Herault.
For many years there had been a feud between the families of de Carteret and Lempriere, and the greed of Sir Philip in making use of his power to seize all the best appointments in the Island did not tend to lessen the inherited hatred of one who, cultured and ambitious, was forced to recognize there was no scope for his great abilities in his native Island. Here we find two ambitious men waiting for an opportunity to spring at one another and ready to use any advantage to bring about the downfall of the other.
Sir Philip had another hated enemy in Dean Bandinel, whom he had tried to deprive of certain tithes in the Parish of St. Saviour which had been allotted as part of the emoluments of his office of Dean, and here he had made another unscrupulous enemy who would go far in his endeavours to bring about his downfall.
When Sir Philip tried to uphold the sovereignity of his master, Lempriere and his supporters took the side of Parliament and a fight began which was carried on without quarter from either side. It was a fight not altogether for justice, but for place and power, and Sir Philip happened to be the man in power. The ordinary people cared little or nothing for either Parliament or King, or the injustices which the legislators were trying to reform. It mattered little to them whether King or Parliament ruled over the land. If anything they were Royalists and knew what they could expect and did not care to adventure under new rulers they knew nothing about. But the Church had considerable power in the Island, and the Bandinels and Pierre D'Assigny, Rector of St. Helier, had become powerful and eloquent enemies of Sir Philip. These men were not too scrupulous in the methods they adopted to set their ignorant congregations against the Royalist Bailiff and Lieut.-Governor.
The States of Jersey were constituted by Queen Elizabeth in 1591 and were composed of a Bailiff, twelve Jurats, twelve Parish Priests and twelve Constables. The Jurats were to be chosen by the greater part and number of the States, with the approval of the Governor. The Constables were to be selected in each parish by those who could freely spend the annual rent of three quarters of wheat. It was not until the Order in Council of 1677 that the Constables were elected for three years and relieved of the possibility of losing office at the whim of the Governor and Jurats.
The only power in the land was that held by the Seigneurs, who did not fail to uphold their rights under the feudal system. The ordinary people had to obey the whims of these petty lords and had little or no will-power of their own. In fact the poor people were very little removed from absolute slavery.
They were employed in farming, fishing and knitting, but the cultivation of the land was very primitive and people lived under many very miserable conditions. Fortunately the Island was favoured with a good climate, but even with this advantage we hear from time to time of the terrible ravages of plagues and other contagious diseases in the Island, sometimes compelling the legislators to remove their court away from the town to some more healthy part of the Island. Few people could read, and even those who could took very little interest in anything but their personal affairs and the doings of their neighbours. They had no incentive to work and the man of intelligence had great difficulty to avoid getting into trouble, as it was so easy in those days to acquire the reputation of being an insolent disorderly person on the pathway to the gallows.
And so every inducement of progress was discouraged and the people went through their existence in a state of poverty, ignorance, and discontent. They neglected the cultivation of their land to such an extent that sufficient corn was not grown in the Island to supply the wants of the inhabitants.
There were not enough houses in the Island to provide each family with a separate dwelling, hence there was much overcrowding of families together under the most unhealthy conditions. There was no encouragement to shipping, and the only shelters that the Island possessed were a small harbour on the Eastern side of the Castle and another at St. Aubin's Fort. There was a shelter-for boats near the brook under the Churchyard of St. Helier, and an unfinished pier at the Havre Neuf near the Western point of the town hill.
As young men grew up and saw the misery around them they either settled down to the Jersey life, or, if they were intelligent enough, left the Island to seek their fortunes elsewhere. They helped to man the vessels of France and other countries and hundreds of these young Islanders found their way to our plantations abroad, where their services were appreciated and they could find a proper outlet for their individuality. Many men became fishermen and sailors for in those days the waters round the Island abounded with congers and other fish.
Apart from the feudal system the people suffered from the tyranny of the Church. Many of our Parish Churches were filled with aliens from other parts. Bandinel, the Dean, was an Italian, Pierre d'Assigny, the Rector of St. Helier, was a Frenchman, who, a little time before his arrival in Jersey, had been a French monk.
These men having acquired the ecclesiastical power in the Island, used their influence to increase the power of the Church. Church discipline in those days was a matter of vital consideration. The Church had acquired a very great power and the ministers and elders " are to oversee the life and manners of Christ's flock, diligently employing themselves to admonish and reprehend such as are faulty and reconcile such as are at difference." They had the power to forbid unacceptable people to attend the House of God and the Lord's Supper. If anyone disobeyed the pastorial advice and continued defiant, the Church could .excommunicate a man or woman in the .following way.
Suppose a man became defiant and the Church determined to punish him by excommunication then on the first Sunday the people attending the Parish Church (in those days every person had to attend Church) were exhorted to pray for the offender. The name of the offender was not given, and we can well imagine the people at Church watching their neighbours to see whether they had the appearance of guilty persons. On the second Sunday the parson mentioned the name of the culprit but not his crime, and on the third Sunday the person was named, the offence mentioned, and the excommunication was confirmed and the sinner cast out of the bosom of the Church and excluded from public worship or the teaching of the Gospel.
It is needless to point out that people were liable to be judged by the company they kept, and it became a sin to associate with excommunicated people. Life therefore became a burden to the sinner, but if eventually he repented of his sin and asked for absolution, then notice was given to the people the Sunday before he was to be re-established.
On the second Sunday the sinner was brought before the pulpit in some prominent place and there publicly he made confession of his sin and asked pardon of God and man. The threat of excommunication was a great weapon in the hands of the clergy, especially as they considered it their duty to make enquiries into the habits of the several families in their parishes, their lives and conversations, whether they had morning and evening prayer and said grace before and after meals, and, in order to get the real facts of the case they could question not only the neighbours but also the servants of the household.
They could punish people for using bad language. There is a case mentioned of a man being accused by the Church of using blasphemous language who was expelled from one of the Islands with the penalty that if he should return he would he nailed by the right ear to the pilliory for an hour, whipped through the town and deprived of all his goods and chattels.
Thus when the King and State began the civil wars we find Jersey in the hands of some half a dozen people with Sir Philip de Carteret as Lieut.-Governor and Bailiff. The people had no opinions of their own and had to carry out the wishes of their Seigneurs and Rectors. The fear of hell was a great weapon in the hands of ministers in their dealings with the ignorant and downtrodden people.
The ministers gathered in their tithes - even fishermen were not exempt-and eventually the question of tithes became a very vital point in the fight between the King and Parliament,. Dean Bandinel claimed that the Lieut.-Governor had seized certain tithes in the Parish of St. Saviour which had been granted to him as Dean of Jersey by James I., and eventually established his claim to them.
When the struggle commenced in Jersey, we find that the partisanship was more a question of personal enmity than that of right or wrong. It is no wonder that a contemporary writer describes the inhabitants as " not a little affected by a kinde of melancoly surlinesse incident to ploughmen," and to add to this that the " people here are more poor and therefore destitute of humanity ; the children here continually craving almes of every stranger."
And in the year 1630 we find the States passed a sumptuary law by which the position of a person could be recognised by the clothes worn.
We have to credit Archbishop Laud for having taken great interest in the education of the Channel Islands and it is to his efforts that on 1st April, 1636, it was decided that three scholarships at Oxford University should be reserved for students from the Channel Islands.
Sir Philip recommended Mr. David Brevint, Master of Arts at the University of Samur, as a very hopeful young man well suited for one of these posts. The Islanders were very grateful and in 1637 they sent a petition to the Archbishop asking his assistance in seeking to obtain two or three places at Winchester, Westminster, or Eton, for some poor children of the Island to begin their studies so as to be able to proceed afterwards to continue their education at the University. Evidently the petition was not successful, although when first founded, the pupils at Eton College consisted of some twenty-five poor grammar scholars.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The States Referendum Proposals Vote: A Comment

The debate on the Referendum was bizarre, not least because it was brought by Privileges and Procedures, and yet more members were voting (and speaking) against the proposition brought by their own committee.

Had Andrew Green's proposition got through, it would have swung most of the Option A camp in support, but the hard-line Option B people were against anything other than the proposition as it stood, arguing that was the only one with a mandate. Sometimes it seems that common sense, and a notion of what might just work, goes out of the window. There has been a lot of talk about sticking to principles, but in this instance, sticking to principles is rather like putting the Titanic at full steam ahead towards an oncoming iceberg.

The Option C camp were against any form of the proposition, with or without amendments, but would have possibly lost had Deputy Green's proposal got through. It won the support (on Twitter / Facebook) of both Trevor Pitman and James Rondel, so it was a reconciliation option. Deputy Green is a Minister, and is not particularly known to have any specific ideological baggage. The trouble was the Option B camp who said "Option B or nothing", and ended up with nothing. Their conscience may be clear, but their sense of judgment is as good as Captain Smith on the Titanic.

So the good Ship of State struck the iceberg, and sank, much as had been predicted by the pundits. And that left Senator Le Marquand's proposal, which came in the event that the vote on the Referendum was lost.

But Deputy Philip Rondel had an interesting "Move to Next Item" supported by a lot of Option B people, to avoid Senator Le Marquand's proposition,  no doubt feeling that they needed time to re-organise. It didn't get through, and that left Senator Le Marquand's proposal, of which part (b) was passed:

"to request the Privileges and Procedures Committee to seek alternatives for reform of the Assembly."

It has been a set back for Senator Bailhache who stood as Senator on a Reform platform, grabbed an independent commission for the States (on the mantra "we can sort ourselves out better than an outsider"), and pushed through the Referendum. I think it was simply too rushed, hence bad choices, no "none of the above" option (so you had to stay away and not vote if you didn't like the options), and a dismal failure of turnout.

Quite what platform Senator Bailhache can stand on at the next election is uncertain, but his credibility with the public (already battered over the Plemont debacle) must have been damaged considerably. This is the man who said in his manifesto that "The reputation of the States in the Island has seldom been lower." On that basis, and his reform platform, he was given the task of chairing the Electoral Commission, and the end result of the vote means that the reputation of the States has probably sunk even lower than when he began.

My own feeling was that the Referendum was too rushed, and at the wrong time, and without enough choices. It would have been better to hold it at an election - that increased the vote on European Time which had a respectable turnout. When people are turning out to vote, an extra slip with simple questions is much more likely to be accepted.

And if it was an election issue, it would have had the advantage of appearing as an issue on hustings, generating extra interest, and less of a non-binding opinion poll, because politicians would be put on the spot before they were elected themselves.

The wording was also poor. The exclusion of the Senators, except as the status quo, put many people off voting at all. I was hoping for something like:

Super constituencies - yes / no
Constables - yes / no
Senators - yes /no

Then the outcome of that would determine the shape of the options for the States to vote on rather than being pre-determined, and excluding options from the start.

The proverb says that "Pride comes before destruction, and arrogance before a fall" (in its original form) and Senator Bailhache's conviction that he was the man for the job who could save the States too lacking in humility. He has certainly had a fall. And the face-saving apology to Deputy Pitman and the two businessmen, comes across as grudging and damaging; if he can't remember having confidential papers out to read on any flight, it shows someone who clearly doesn't have a razor sharp memory.

Can he escape by being "Foreign Minister" (or Minister in Charge of External Affairs, which is a title that I'm not sure any self-respecting politician would like to be saddled with (or are they just deaf to double innuendo?). It is a possibility. The figure of the "statesman" speaking to the UK and elsewhere might just get him back in the States at the next election. It was a card that Frank Walker played successfully when he managed to come in 5th place in the Senatorials. But he'll have to be careful - too much jet-setting could remind people of the jaunt on behalf of the Electoral Commission which really looked like an extravagant waste of money, and on which he went anyway, deaf to any public criticism.

The States are now hoping for a new PPC and something to vote on before next year. I'm not a betting man, but I don't think there is a hope of any changes in the membership of the house. The best that can be hoped for, which I gather Deputy Montfort Tadier, as Acting Chairman of PPC is working on, is a reform of the voting system.

The case for alternative votes, or single transferable votes, was accepted by the Electoral Commission, and won widespread support across all parties (A, B and C) as a much fairer way than first past the post, which is well known to produce unfair results - a number of eminent mathematicians such as Ian Stewart have proved this mathematically. So there's a good deal of hope for change. The Commission said:

"A Single Transferable Vote System should be introduced in elections for Deputy in 2018 and should the Constables remain as members of the States, an Alternative Vote System should be introduced in respect of their election.'

And the second reason why a change to voting systems could come is because the Parishes actually used an alternative voting system for the Referendum. It took slightly longer, but was surprisingly quick, and showed that even with manual counting systems, Jersey is quite capable of rising to that challenge. It has been a tried and tested option. The public have already been educated - at least as far as alternative voting was concerned, and the low number of spoiled papers showed they managed with ease. Sometimes politicians underestimate the intelligence of the voting public.

The final importance is that it means that every vote counts. First past the post wastes votes, which is another reason for low turnouts. But it would be ironic if the voting reform - which the Electoral Commission declared was something for next time, actually came into force before the reform of the membership of the States. That which was left out may turn out to be more significant than that which was voted out.

Deputy Tadier has not let the grass grow under his feet, and has already just lodged a proposition:

"to bring forward plans for the implementation of a single transferable voting  system (STV) for multi-member constituencies and an alternative voting (AV) system for single member constituencies in time for the 2014 elections."