Thursday, 31 October 2013

All Hallows Eve

A slightly creepy poem for Halloween......

All Hallows Eve
Now cold wind blowing over stones
The tribe depart, awash with tears
Here were placed the shells and bones
Shadows gather, bringing fears
Now death walks along a lonely road
And shadows gather, falls the night
And sorrow born is heavy load
 A dusk of idols, ending light
All Hallows Eve, the open door
A gap in the curtain, glimpse to see
Shades of the past, and little more
They walk this night, by fate's decree
The summoning can bring back dead
But cat that walks alone has fled

History of Grouville Church by G.R. Balleine (Part 2)

Here is part two of the forgotten piece by G.R. Balleine on the history of Grouville Church, transcribed below. Balleine had a wonderful grasp of how to make historical narrative interesting, and peppers his history with interesting anecdotes.
History of Grouville Church by G.R. Balleine (Part 2)
While the battle of Jersey was being fought in the Town in 1781, the Company of the 83rd Regiment that was stationed at Grouville was attacking the rear-guard that the French had left at La Rocque. Seven grenadiers were killed in this little action, and the large slab of granite erected "to the memory of these brave men by the principal inhabitants of the parish" now stands in the corner of the churchyard.
In 1788 a gallery to hold fifteen pews was built at the west end of the church. Six of these were to be reserved for the choir; and in the following year the Parish Assembly congratulated the choir on the excellence of its singing. There was still no organ; but the singing was accompanied by a small orchestra, and in 1819 the Assembly authorised the purchase of two new clarinets.
In 1838 there was a big restoration. The whole Church was re-roofed with slate. All the old pews and paving were removed and the level of the floor was raised two feet above the original, owing to damp.
In 1843 further changes were made. An organ was bought and placed in the West gallery. At this time the West end of the Church was boarded in to hold the militia cannon; this was called the 'Arsenal'. Access to this was through a door made in the West wall, where the porch is now.
Above the arsenal was a room for Sunday School which was approached by a stone stair outside the West wall; the stone work still shows where the door was situated. In addition, there was a passage higher still, running the whole length of the Nave and leading to the door, above the belfry arch, which opened on to the ringing chamber. The bell is one of the finest in the Island and bears the inscription: "J'ai este faite fondre a Londres par les paroissiens de Grouville an 1768 je paze 14 cwt. I qr. 2 Ibs. Ch:de la Garde, Rector. Thos: Labey, Constable. Frances Marett, Jean Hooper, Survts. Lester & Pack of London, fecit".
In 1848 the stone stair up to the Sunday School was removed and a wooden one inside the Church, was substituted. At the East end two small windows, one on either side of the Altar, which had long been walled-up, were re-opened.
The foundation stone of the little Chapel of St Pierre de la Rocque was laid in 1852, when Abraham Le Sueur was Rector.
Since 1872, when the piscina on the south of the Altar was discovered, various alterations have taken place. The lighting system was changed from oil lamps to acetylene gas, then to coal gas and finally to electricity. The North Chapel has been restored to its original purpose and an Altar has been installed.
The floor of the Nave has been made solid with concrete-the old floor having become unsafe through damp and dry-rot-and covered with wood blocks. In addition pews of English oak have been substituted for the old ones.
The organ has been completely transformed, with one part being at the rear of the Nave and the other part in the South Chapel, thus ensuring an even flow of sound right through the Church. Finally an electric clock was installed in the belfry, much to the delight of the parishioners.
This was built to serve the fishing community which flourished in that part of the parish. There have not been any structural alterations since 1852, but the inside has been beautified by many gifts, especially during the last 15 years. These have included a carved oak 'eagle' Lectern, a Sanctuary Chair, and a Priest's Desk and Chair. It still serves a large and growing community in and around La Rocque.
In addition to the two places of worship already described there is another Chapel in the Parish of Grouville situated at La Hougue Bie. To be precise, there are two Chapels housed under the same roof! The very ancient heathen burial mound-thought by some to be the oldest in Europe-has been surmounted by a Christian place of worship ever since the 12th Century. The simple little Chapel was built in this Century in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, of Notre Dame de Lorette and St Michael. It was known by the beautiful name of the "Chapel de Notre Dame de la Clarte"-Our Lady' of the Dawn.
When the Société Jersiaise took over La Hougue Bie in 1924 in order to excavate the mound, the Chapels were gradually restored to their original use. A granite altar stone, with the five crosses inscribed, was removed from Gorey Castle and set up, and in 1931 the Chapel was reconciled by the Lord Bishop of Winchester. 
The Jerusalem Chapel was built on to the east of the earlier Chapel by Dean Richard Mabon, in 1538, in honour of the Passion of Our Lord. In addition he built a crypt as a replica of the Holy Sepulchre, underneath this Chapel, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In succeeding Centuries the Chapels were used for secular purposes and a high tower was built upon them; from the top of which it was possible to see almost the whole of Jersey on a clear day.
The Société Jersiaise has done good work in restoring these Chapels. Since 1931 the Holy Communion has been regularly celebrated in the larger Chapel on July 2nd, the anniversary of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in latter years, an open air service has been held as well.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

History of Grouville Church by G.R. Balleine (Part 1)

Here is part one of the forgotten piece by  G.R. Balleine  on the history of Grouville Church, transcribed below. Balleine had a wonderful grasp of how to make historical narrative interesting, and peppers his history with interesting anecdotes.
History of Grouville Church by G.R. Balleine (Part 1)
Grouville Church or, to give it its full name, the Church of St Martin de Grouville, is younger than its northern namesake. The latter is called in ancient charters St Martin Le Viel, St Martin the Old. But St Martin of Grouville is of quite respectable antiquity. It was already a Parish Church before the Battle of Hastings, for it was one of the eight Jersey Churches which Duke William robbed of half their tithes to endow the Abbey of Montvilliers.
In early days it apparently belonged to the Bisson family, for on July 25th, 1149, the day when his wife was buried in the cemetery at Lessay, Godfrey du Bisson gave to the Abbey at Lessay "the church of St Martin Grouville, with its alms and tithes". Later the family tried to recall this gift. In 1315 Sir Yon de Bisson challenged the right of the Abbot of Lessay to appoint the Rector on the ground that the patronage belonged to his family: but he withdrew his claim before it came before the Court.
In most of our Jersey churches the oldest part is the chancel, but at Grouville it is the Nave that was the original Church, as can be seen by looking at the walls, which are built of rough stones brought up from the beach. Everything else has been added later, the Chancel and Tower probably in the 14th century, the Chapels on either side of the Chancel in the 15th. The North Chapel used to be called La Chapelle des Amis, so was probably built by one of the Amys, who were for many years a leading family in the parish.
One Guide Book airily dismisses this Church as "containing nothing of interest"; but this is far from true.
It has more relics of medieval days than most of our Jersey Churches. First, there is the curious Font with its double bowl. In the Middle Ages the water in the font was only changed at long intervals, but there grew up a certain scruple about allowing the drippings from the child's head to return into the hallowed water. To avoid this in some French fonts of the fifteenth century a small bowl was carved on the inside to catch the water that had been used. Most of these had their own drain, but at Grouville the rim shows that this bowl contained a basin that could easily be removed and emptied in the churchyard.
The history of this font is peculiar. Chevalier describes in his diary how two refugee Royalist Divines in 1650 discovered two fonts in a farmyard being used as pig-troughs. These proved to be the fonts of the Town Church and of the old Abbey Church in Elizabeth Castle, which had been thrown out of their Churches at the Reformation. One of these, we are told, had a bowl inside carved out of the same block of granite. They had them brought to the Town churchyard, but the congregation objected to their being brought into the Church. And we hear no more of them. But in the Museum there is an oil painting of about 1830, which shows what is obviously the Grouville font lying derelict in the grounds of the Hougue Bie. It seems probable that this was the font mentioned by Chevalier, though how it got to the Hougue Bie no one can say. When these grounds became a pleasure park attached to a public house, the proprietor removed the font into the Chapel as one of the show-pieces. But, when the Societe Jersiaise bought the place, it presented the font to Grouville Church, in whose parish the Hougue Bie stands.
The Chancel and each of the side chapels once had an altar, and in the Chancel and North Chapel can still be seen the piscinas in which the Priest used to wash the vessels. The two side altars probably belonged to the two Fraternities which we know existed in the parish, the Fraternity of St Nicolas for the men and the Fraternity of St Catherine for the women.
The South Chapel has beside the spot where the altar used to stand a curious low recess in the wall with a carved head on its roof. This is a puzzle for antiquaries. It does not look like a piscina. It may have been an ambry or cupboard to contain the altar vessels, but, if so, it is curiously low. Some have suggested that it was an oven for baking the wafers for communion (Ovens of this kind can be seen in a few English Churches). And, if this was the women's altar, there may be something in the idea; though it is doubtful whether it would have been considered seemly for women to do this inside the Sanctuary. And none of these theories explain satisfactorily the presence of the carved head with a hole in the middle of its forehead. Was any Saint martyred by having his forehead pierced with a nail ? And, if so, why should his head have been carved in this dark recess, where no one would ever see it?
Another interesting thing in this Chapel is the trace of ancient frescoes on the wall. These are at present too dim to enable us to identify the subject, though I think I detected a tall, winged figure with a shield. One wonders whether by judicious treatment of the plaster or by the new methods of infra-red ray photography it would be possible to discover what these pictures were. The plain, white-washed walls of the nave as it is today are terribly dull and uninspiring.
The Church must have looked very different when its walls were a riot of colour. Bible pictures and legends of the Saints jostling one another for room in whichever direction one looked. A third curiosity in the South Chapel is an old holy water stoup; but this, like the font, was not part of the original Church, but has been brought in from outside.
Grouville is the only Church that possesses a spring in its own churchyard. If we know anything of the Middle Ages, some special virtue is sure to have been attributed to this water. At all events all Grouville babies for centuries have been baptised in water from the Fontaine de St Martin.
In addition to the Church there used to be four Medieval Chapels in the parish, the Chapel of Ste Susanne, on the road which is still called la rue Susanne, the Chapel of St Margaret on the Hill above the Church, which was turned into a barn at the Reformation, and pulled down in the 19th century, the Chapel of Notre Dame, which was bought by Dean Paulet, the last Catholic Dean before the Reformation, to be his private oratory, when the rest of the island turned Protestant, and later became a tavern, and the Chapel attached to the Manor of La Malletiere.
We have all heard of the definition of 'news' given by an editor to his reporters. "If a dog bites a Bishop, that is not news. If a Bishop bites a dog, that is news". In other words the ordinary everyday happenings, without which the world could not go on, are not news. It is only when something extraordinary happens that it gets into the headlines. And Grouville Church has gone on with its work quietly and uneventfully for the last four hundred years without anything sensational happening.
Yet the changing times have left their traces. We read that on December 16th, 1653, "Samuel Le Four and Marguerite Maugier were married in church. Michel Lempriere, the Bailiff, married them, by order, so it is said, of the English Parliament". This reminds us that under the Commonwealth all marriages were civil marriages, though the Rector might hold a religious ceremony afterwards, if desired.
The next unusual event recorded is the cutting down of a giant oak in the churchyard in 1704. It was sold by auction for 44 crowns, and produced 50 tons of wood. The purchaser, Jean Du Boulivot, secured from it 4 beams 22 feet long, 14 beams for cider-presses, 480 spokes for wheels, a large quantity of cask staves and tub bottoms, an immense amount of wood for ship-building, and 6 cartloads of bark for tanning.

Factual Inaccuracies

I have been accused in a rather malicious fashion by the father of Simon Abott of deliberately starting a thread on Jersey Politics Facebook Group about the recent Mail on Sunday article on Simon Abbot.

Just to put the record absolutely straight, I did not, as the snapshot presented here shows. Unless I am secretly Rico Sorda, which I doubt!

The statement that I did is therefore a complete and provable lie, but so far, Mr Abbot Senior has not retracted this falsehood.

Rico evidently thought the accuracy of the Mail article, seen by millions, after all, should be a legitimate subject for debate. It was not an area that the moderators had started any threads on, nor did we wish to do so.

But comments on the thread became very toxic, and when the moderators found out, we warned individuals and deleted all the toxic posts. Factual accuracy is one thing, character assassination is another, although it seems to be something the Mail enjoys, hence the attack on Ed Milliband recently.

In fact some of the thread just became mud-slinging between individuals, and nothing to do with the subject Rico had raised.

Two individuals were cautioned and apologised for their behaviour, and the extra work caused to the moderators in deleting toxic comments, one however, - a Jersey politician - told the moderators he would not - using the term "pathetic" and stronger language against the moderators, and was consequently suspended from the group.

There has been no repetition of that occurrence, and the moderators wished to apologise for any distress it may have caused, owing to other individuals posting comments at times of they day when they were not on hand to review posts.

They have also ensured that individuals must not indulge in comments critical of the banned member, who obviously cannot defend himself. It is therefore unfair that he should be criticised. A few posts were made, the individuals given a warning, and they desisted.

At my suggestion, the moderators also met face to face (over coffee) with one of the online critics (and a local blogger) of the way the thread developed, and he was happy for us to make it public on my blog that we had met. He did not, however, give permission for his identity to be stated.

"Thank you for meeting with me to discuss our differences and a possible way forward. I am happy for you to publish that a face to face meeting took place over a coffee between three people with pretty much opposing views on a lot of subjects and political ideology. That a consensus was reached in such a short time can only make these face to face meetings rather than "tit for tatting" on a keyboard a good thing and much more (politically) could be achieved by them. Naturally I believe names should be kept out of it as that will only personalise the debate which is one of the biggest problems over here where people are more interested in the personality rather than the policy."

The outcome of the meeting was that we explained what we had done, and came to a consensus that the best way forward was (1) not to post any further comments , which might ignite the flames again, but  (2) to delete the thread once the furore had died down.

The main criticism from that critic (and fellow blogger) was not that the topic was raised but "it was the way it was discussed that was unsuitable".

We concured with that, which is why we warned posters and deleted comments that were abusive and potentially defamatory.

I have since left moderating Politics Jersey, mainly due to the venomous online attacks from a local politician, and the thankless task of being shot at from all sides.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Chin chin old bean

"@IDS_MP. Chin chin old bean. Parodia Spucatum tauri, Westminster"
It appears that David Cameron was confused with tweets sent from @IDS_MP, which is not  the real Iain Duncan Smith, who doesn't even have a Twitter account. He included @IDS_MP in a Tweet he sent out from the Downing Street!
As a report noted, the @IDS_MP account  includes the phrase "Parodia Spucatum tauri" in its description. The IDS profile is a rough latin translation of "parody bullshit".
"It was just a bit of a dig," the author explained. "A bit of fun. I try not to take Twitter too seriously and it's always good to poke fun at our MPs. Times are quite difficult, the country's in a mess and I get quite angry with a lot of things. It's a way of expressing myself.""
It is very much in the tradition of Private Eye's "Dear Bill", a clear parody, but wickedly funny all the same. It should be noted (for lawyers present) that the real Ian Duncan Smith does not hold any of these opinions. And the author has not yet received any requests to close the account.
Here are some satirical sound bites from the definitely fake IDS Twitter account:
GOVERNMENT ADVICE: If your home is in the path of the storm, head to your second or third home for safety. #ukstorm
Our #ukstorm advice to the south is don't work, stay at home and watch TV. The north can just carry on doing that as normal.
Here are a few others posted recently
Labour Voters! Don't forget to put your clocks back to 1974
Can't get hold of President Obama, so I've left him a message on Angela Merkel's voicemail.
By taking care of them, you can save money spent on costly Poppies each remembrance. I've had mine for ten years now #Remembrance
Don't let fuel poverty spoil this years winter fun! Tesco value ketchup makes an ideal dip to turn icicles into fun ice pops for kids
My salary is £65,000 a year. After petrol, food and housing are deducted I'm only left with £65,000 a year. I deserve an 11% pay rise
Install a bike powered dynamo in your home. This will provide free electricity, keep you warm and improve your fitness. Vote Tory!
#CameronHeatingTips Save cash by smearing the elderly with Deep Heat
If you worry about the cost of buying a jumper to stay warm try Tesco value tin foil instead. It makes an ideal budget 'space blanket'
We are working hard to eliminate obesity in children, by starving them all. Vote Tory! #FatChildrenDebate
Save money by telling your child he has no soldiers with his boiled egg because they're in Afghanistan or redundant #thriftythursday
Help the elderly and vulnerable cope with increased fuel prices by encouraging them to jog to the food bank.
As the nights draw in it's important you check on elderly neighbours, to report if they have vacant spare rooms before it's too dark to see.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Batten down the hatches

Michael Fish told Sky News' Murnaghan show: "There is certainly a severe storm on the way - and we certainly do need to worry about it. If you draw a line from about Aberystwyth to the Humber - everywhere south of there looks like getting affected by strong winds, to the north of that the problem is going to be heavy rain and localised flooding.". In contrast to 1987, when he was wrong-footed by the winds, this time, he advised to "batten down the hatches"
That's a phrase which means to prepare for pending trouble. It originated as a nautical term. The excellent Phrasefinder website explains how the phrase came about
"'Hatch' is one of those words with dozens of meanings in the dictionary. In this case we are looking at the 'opening in the deck of a ship' meaning. Ships' hatches, more formally called hatchways, were commonplace on sailing ships and were normally either open or covered with a wooden grating to allow for ventilation of the lower decks. When bad weather was imminent, the hatches were covered with tarpaulin and the covering was edged with wooden strips, known as battens, to prevent it from blowing off. Not surprisingly, sailors called this 'battening down'."(1)
What happens without a "battening down" is well described in the account of the "Radiant Med" crossing the English Channel in 1984, described by Bernard Edwards in his book of true sea stories, "Beware the Grey Widow Maker" (which I would highly recommend).:
"On the night of 22 January 1984, the English Channel was in an ugly mood. Storm force winds, whipped up by a deep depression passing to the north of Scotland, were building up, bringing with them very high seas and driving rain. It was not a night for the unwary to be abroad. ship Shortly before midnight the 2,997-ton, Liberian-flag motor Radiant Med, was off Alderney and clawing her way down Channel in the teeth of the wind."(2)
With a crew of 25, the Radiant Med was a 14 year old ship with a dangerous weakness::
"The Radiant Med had one dangerous weakness-one that was to be aggravated by a serious underestimation of the power of the sea. Unlike modern ships, which have tight-fitting, hydraulically controlled, steel hatch covers, the watertight integrity of her two cargo holds was dependent on light steel pontoons, over which were stretched canvas tarpaulins. The whole was designed to be kept firmly in place by steel locking bars fitted athwartships, one bar securing each section of pontoons.Unfortunately, over the years many of the Radiant Med's hatch locking bars had gone missing and those still on board could not be correctly fitted due to alterations recently made to the hatch coamings. As a substitute for the bars, D'Souza had concluded that rope nets, stretched over the hatch tarpaulins and lashed down to the deck, would do just as well." (2)
"The wind had veered more to the west and was gusting force 11 when, at 16.00 that day, Chief Officer Tanwar took over the watch on the bridge. The Radiant Med's engines were still making full revolutions and she was burying her bow deep in the advancing walls of green water, her propeller racing wildly each time her stern lifted high. The air was full of flying spray, torn from the crests of the tumbling waves, and her decks were constantly awash with foaming water, which tugged and plucked with eager fingers at her lightly secured hatches."

With a hatch cover dislodged by the storm, the Radiant Med began taking on water. Very soon, led by Captain D'Souza and Chief Officer Tanwar they had no option but to throw themselves over the side of the stricken vessel into the icy sea.
"Radiant Med rolled over and her after radio mast crashed down on the lifeboat, causing serious damage. Very soon, the boat was waterlogged and floating only on its buoyancy tanks. Fortunately for those of the Liberian ship's crew who were still alive, St Peter Port Radio had been monitoring the emergency from the start. When it became apparent the Radiant Med was sinking and Casabianca was powerless to help, St Peter Port's harbour master took it upon himself to call out the Guernsey lifeboat." (2)
Edwards notes how "in a display of superb seamanship and outstanding courage, the RNLI men snatched Chief Officer Tanwar and eight other half-drowned souls from the grip of the sea." There were no other survivors; exposure to the sheer cold of the sea had killed them.
It is an example of how important it is to "batten down the hatches";the poorly maintained Radiant Med shows how much of a disaster could ensue from not being able to do so properly. Edwards concludes that pressures from by "faceless men of indeterminate nationality, registered in Liberia as a matter of economic expediency, and managed in a country where safety takes second place to productivity" probably caused the Captain to take such risks with his ship.
The earliest version found by Phrasefinder of  batten down the hatches"is the 1883 Chambers Journal: "Batten down the hatches - quick, men."(1). Of course, excepting the weather this morning, the phrase is usually used in a metaphorical sense:
Here comes that contentious Mrs. Jones. Batten down the hatches!
Batten down the hatches, Congress is in session again
When you're coming down with a cold, all you can do is batten down the hatches and wait for the body to fight it off.
There are a lot of phrases suggested as coming from nautical origins, and again Phrasefinder lists those with secure documentary evidence. I've listed ones I am familiar with here; for the full list see the reference (3) below:
A shot across the bows
All at sea
Batten down the hatches
Between the Devil and the deep blue sea
By and large
Close quarters
Cut and run
Edging forward
Get underway
Give a wide berth
Go by the board
Hand over fist
Hard and fast
High and dry
Know the ropes
Loose cannon
Mal de mer
Panic stations
Plain sailing
Push the boat out
Shipshape and Bristol fashion
Shake a leg
Shiver my timbers
Slush fund
Taken aback
Tell it to the marines
The bitter end
The cut of your jib
Three sheets to the wind
Walk the plank
(2)    Edwards, Bernard (2009). Beware the Grey Widow-Maker, available paperback or kindle

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Winds of Change and the Challenge to Share

In August 1997, a debate began in "The Pilot" magazine about whether or not there were too many clergy in Jersey and whether the numbers should be reduced. It is interesting, not least because the debate was largely settled in favour of the status quo, with minor adjustments among the district churches.
It began with a short piece by "A.H. ", on the factual situation, which has of course changed with the new Jersey Canons of the Church of England which now says in particular: "None, either Dean or Minister, shall hold two Rectorial Benefices together."

But there are some interesting arguments put forth by David Jones, and one in particular has a political analogue. He says:
"Back in the 70's it was realised that most of the Church of England's clergy were in the rural areas, when most of the population lived in urban areas."
Substitute "Deputies" for clergy, and you have the problem with voter parity in a nutshell. Of course population and church attendance are very different matters, but it is a curious parallel none the less.
Next week, I will be looking at the contributions of Tony Keogh, then Rector of Trinity, and Canon John Seaford, who was Dean of Jersey in 1997.
Of Rectors
In "A Constitutional History of Jersey" (1972) F de L Bois, a former Deputy Bailiff, explained concisely the position of the Rector vis-à-vis his Parish. Readers of The PILOT may find this information illuminating in view of the current discussions concerning the perceived need to reduce the number of clergy, initially by two.
"The Governmental body for the Parish is the Assembly of Principals and Officers of the Parish, known as the Parish Assembly."
"When dealing with the ecclesiastical affairs of the Parish, the Rector of the Parish presides, and when dealing with all the other parish affairs, the Constable presides:'
"The Assembly under the presidency of the Rector is commonly called the Ecclesiastical Assembly and the Assembly under the presidency of the Constable is called the Civil Assembly when contrasted to the Ecclesiastical Assembly, but is commonly called the Parish Assembly."
"The Officers of the Parish are
(a) The Constable, who is head of the civil parish and chief of the parish       police;
(b) The Rector, who is appointed by the Crown and is head of the ecclesiastical parish;
(c) The Centeniers, the senior of whom is known as the Chef de Police; (d) The Procureurs du Bien Publique (Public Trustees);
(e) The Churchwardens;
(f) The Vingteniers;
(g) The Constable's Officers; (h) The Almoners."
A Rector thus appears to be so inextricably linked into his Parish that to have one Rector appointed to two Parishes is as unthinkable as to combine two Parishes under one Constable. Nor does Jersey Canon Law countenance such an arrangement: "None, either Dean or Minister, shall hold two Benefices together, unless in time of Vacancy." (Canon 14)
As to precedent, the Reverend Edward Durell, in his notes on the Jersey Canons, written in 1837, states
"It does not appear ... that any individual was ever allowed to hold two benefices in Jersey." (Note 3).
From DAVID JONES Priest-in-Charge, St Luke, August 1997
The Winds of Change and the Challenge to Share
THE twentieth century crept closer to the Established Church in the Bailiwick of Jersey last month, yet the Deanery Synod again ran away from facing the need to look at the present conditions of the Church of England and what the future held and the challenge to change. Ours is the last Deanery in our Diocese to face the challenge! The "Other Island" has already done its job. Why is Jersey last? What a reputation, when we could be leading the way with imagination and flare! A lot was said about history and the need to preserve, and not in "my parish," and why not next door?
For those of you unaware of the issue, it was the need to release two clergy posts in the Island, so that places with greater need may benefit on the mainland. This is something new for us here but very common for the last twenty years in the UK. Back in the 70's it was realised that most of the Church of England's clergy were in the rural areas, when most of the population lived in urban areas. So a process of better use of the manpower of the Church was undertaken and the number of clergy, serving relatively small populations, was reduced by the uniting of parishes under one priest. Added to this there were, and are, less men (and now women) offering themselves for the Ordained Ministry and less money to pay for them. Thus there was a growing need, with less resources. Since those days country and town parishes have had to cut their cloth according to the means available.
I came to Jersey from three rural parishes of the size of St Mary's and St John's, scattered over 30 square miles. We had three church schools to run and to be chairman of the governors and trustee of. Three church councils to run. Three parish councils to attend and the raising of funds to maintain all three church buildings, and pay the Quota, and give to mission. Yes, with the visiting and the growing of congregations. That group of three is now, like many others, to increase to five parishes soon. Still with only one Rector. My situation was far from unique, as there were Rectors nearby with five, six and seven parishes.
Yes, I know that Rectors on Jersey are different and play a part in the civil parish administration, but they, unlike their UK fellows, get their church and rectories maintained by the civil authorities and don't have the burden of work, raising funds to do the repair and restoration, themselves (like, I might say, the district churches here do!).
The challenge all of the Anglican churches in Jersey have, is to take our part in the wider Church of which we belong (a wider Church that supports those parishes here who do not pay their full Quota, by subsidising them.) We have more than our fair share of clergy. We need to share our priests, and at the moment release two for service elsewhere. To somewhere with a great need (and population). We may need to release more, only time will tell. But this surely is part of being Christians together, helping where there is the greater need.
We face a challenge, country parishes and the parishes and churches around the town of St Helier; are we making the best use of our limited manpower resources? Let us make the creative choices, rather than have them imposed on us, because we have run away from the challenge. This time, is not a time of doom and gloom, though, but a time of opportunity. Sharing a priest can release the ministries of other people, as is evident in many a parish church in the UK where one man has charge of a group of two, three or four. It is a time to seek a new vision from God as to what is His task for His people in this generation.
The talking will go on, let us pray that we Anglicans in this Island may not duck the issues, but meet them with courage, imagination and the Spirit of Christian generosity. That come November we may have a plan for our future development, worthy of those who follow the God who makes all things new and is ever moving onward. Much more can and will be said, but we cannot get away from the fact that we have more then our fair share of clergy. Let us meet that truth together. And together rise to the challenge.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Lost Sheep

This is rather a bleak poem about the fact that despite the resources at our disposal, we still live in a world where famine and poverty stalk the world, and nothing every seems to be able to change it. C.P. Snow's words still ring true:
"The great majority of the population don't get enough to eat; and, from the time they are born, their chances of life are less than half of ours, These are crude words, but we are talking about crude things, toil, hunger, death. For most of our brother men, this is the social condition."
This poem looks at a world where there is no good shepherd, and plenty of want, and the sheep are lost, a world that is a mirror of the one of the hymn with pastures green, and still waters, and one which displays very little goodness and mercy.

Lost Sheep
I see a world of poverty, and want
Where politicians lie
There is no food, they say to me
As quietly people die
How does it happen time again
A world so broken, full of take
Strayed off  the paths of righteousness
And all the poor forsake
And how can we help, and yet prevail
The world has caught a chill
And all is lost, and breaks the rod
There is no comfort still.
The table bare of food to see
Hunger and want are foes
Then famine does with death anoint
And thirst so overflows
The darkest mirror ending life
Shall surely follow me;
And in despair now ever more
My dwelling place shall be.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Commissioner for Standards

"Treat other Members of the States, Officers and members of the public with respect and courtesy and without malice, notwithstanding the disagreements on issues and policies which are a normal part of the political process." (Code of Conduct of Members of the States of Jersey, paragraph 5)

Coming up in November will be an interesting proposition.   

This is about the establishment of a "Commissioner for Standards", which will take some of the role away from Privileges and Procedures, and vest it in an independent third party:

to agree that a new position of Commissioner for Standards should be established in Jersey to investigate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct for elected members and make recommendations to the Privileges and Procedures Committee following any such investigation;

to agree that the Commissioner for Standards should be made responsible for keeping the operation of the Code of Conduct and associated procedures under review and for making recommendations for change as necessary;

PPC have had a very poor record of dealing with complaints. Part of the problem is that it consists of politicians who sit alongside their peers in the Chamber, and therefore find it difficult to make judgements without accusations of partiality.

"It can, in practice, be difficult for PPC to deal with the different phases of an investigation separately. For example, in making an initial decision on whether there are grounds to accept a complaint and begin an investigation, it is almost impossible for the Committee not to stray into the actual investigation and adjudication stages, and this is clearly unsatisfactory. In addition, as indicated in the Consultation document, political considerations can interfere in the Committee's deliberations as it is clearly difficult, in practice, for any group of politicians to set aside all political allegiances and views when considering a complaint about a political colleague. There are often criticisms as a result that the process is unfair and not impartial."

What happens as a result is a "rap over the knuckles", a caution, which is fine as a first step, but invariably cannot go further if the member of the States declines to conform. In short, the ability of PPC to enforce standards for a member of the States is poor; they are like a toothless tiger.

An Example of Handling a Complaint

"The Committee has recently completed an investigation into a complaint that a States Member had allegedly misused the States of Jersey e-mail system by sending to a large number of public sector employees during the normal working day an e-mail, the purpose of which was deemed to be to lobby public service workers for political support. "

The complaint was upheld, and the member in question received "an advisory letter to the Member concerned" and it noted that if such an action was repeated by any member of the States, "it may lead to the withdrawal of States' e-mail facilities for the member responsible."

Note the word "may lead to" which hardly sends out a strong message to the individual concerned!

Another Example of a Compliant

When Deputy Trevor Pitman raised the matter of a potential breach of the code by Senator Bailhache in relation to answers given regarding two businessman regarding confidentiality issues on a flight from Gatwick, the Constable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft, then Chairman of PPC, observed that PPC should automatically investigate:

"Standing Order 157 provides that where P.P.C. has information, whether or not received from a complainant, that suggests that an elected Member may have acted in breach of the Code of Conduct it shall, without undue delay, inform the Member and investigate the act. I would simply repeat that this matter has been raised in question time on a number of occasions"

But the Constable's reply was rather dismissive of any action to be taken - "However, P.P.C. is willing to pursue the matter in due course and I am sure if it is necessary P.P.C. will" The reasons for no action being taken were twofold (1) PPC had not been contacted directly with a formal complaint (2) questions were presently being asked in the house.

And yet on a previous Committee the point was made that "The Committee acknowledges that dealings with members of the public are not always straightforward, but maintains that members have an inherent duty to treat members of the public with respect, and if this is not possible to avoid situations of confrontation". This was something that Senator Bailhache had singularly failed to do.

In the event, Senator Bailhache eventually issued a statement which contained an apology for the language used to describe the businessmen in question, and as a result, the matter was not raised with PPC.

"In answering questions on 14th May I said that the content of the email from Deputy Pitman's constituent "taken in the round [gave] a fictitious and malicious account of my reading habits on aeroplanes". Having had time to reflect, I am sorry that I used language that was stronger than was necessary or appropriate. I withdraw the phrase "fictitious and malicious" and would like to make it clear that I do not impute dishonesty or malice to Deputy Pitman's constituent or, for the avoidance of any doubt, to the Deputy himself"

It is perhaps a pity that this PPC did not reiterate the comments made back in 2010 regarding comments by Senator Perchard on "Talkback" which would have been just as appropriate to reprimand Senator Bailhache:

"The Committee noted that ill-chosen remarks by one member can have a detrimental effect on the public perception of States members generally. The Committee resolved that there had been a breach of the Code of Conduct and that the Senator's words were both unpleasant and personal. The Committee considers that this falls below the standards expected of a States member and would view any repetition most seriously."

[It should be noted that Senator Perchard actually did attend a hearing, unlike other States members who just brushed the complaints about them to one side with impunity.]

The Impracticality of the present system

The practical outworking of the present system is best noted from a reply by the then Chairman of PPC, Juliette Gallichan, to Deputy Daniel Wimberley. The question was about whether all breaches were of the same importance, to which she replied in the negative:

"A Member may breach the code in a relatively minor way, for example by making a slightly ill-judged remark to a member of the public and thereby breaching the need to treat people with respect and courtesy, whereas another Member might commit a very serious breach such as, for example, taking a decision which resulted in a significant financial gain or another material benefit for themselves, their family or friends."

She notes that the relative actions to be taken would depend on the seriousness of the breach:

"Any proposed sanction under the code would quite rightly be very different in the 2 examples where the first might simply result in an admonishment, particularly if it was the first breach on this aspect of the code by the Member concerned, whereas the second could possibly merit a debate on suspension in the Assembly"

But admonishment is pretty well all that PPC have manage to do, with invariable comments that repetitions of the breach "would be viewed most seriously". It is "Yes Minister" territory where this exchange occurs:

"Yes, this is serious."
"Very serious."
"Serious repercussions..."
"Serious repercussions..."
"...of the utmost seriousness.
"Yes, that is serious.
"In fact, I would go so far as to say that it could hardly be more serious."
"Well, I think we're all agreed, then, this is serious."

And the PPC under Simon Crowcroft noted that:

"The PPC does not necessarily feel that the Code is defective but it is not entirely effective and that is surely due to the lack of sanctions and this Assembly can rest assured that when PPC brings its proposals . they will have been informed by the usual work that our officers do in investigating what happens in other jurisdictions, in other parliaments and they can rest assured that we hope to bring forward measured proposals; proposals which will reinforce the integrity which States Members must act with and not to challenge their democratic role."

This is why the present PPC, following in the steps of the previous PPC in seeing a deficiency in the system, want more independent oversight.

An Independent Commissioner

This is a role which works very well in many other jurisdictions. PPC explain how

"A Commissioner is able to undertake the initial investigation into a complaint in an entirely objective and impartial way. He or she can interview the various parties as required, can call for documents and other evidence, and can then make a recommendation on whether or not he or she considers that the Code has been breached. In some cases, an informal resolution of a complaint is possible if the Commissioner is able to agree with the member concerned that a complaint can be resolved by an apology or through some other action."

The Commissioner would not be able to take any actions, but would make recommendations to PPC which would recommend any sanction to the States. Nonetheless, as they point out:

"it is almost unheard of in other jurisdictions for the committees to do anything other than ratify the Commissioner's recommendations. Once the Commissioner has undertaken a thorough and objective investigation it would, in practice, be very difficult for a parliamentary committee to attempt to 'second-guess' the outcome of the Commissioner's work. As a result the system provides, in practice, a robust independent system of investigation into complaints against elected members without affecting the important principle of internal self-regulation by elected members."

So how would this work in practice? The proposition outlines the procedures which would occur if any complaint was made against a States Member:

"Complaints that an elected member had breached the Code of Conduct would initially be submitted to the Commissioner, who would consider whether there were grounds to investigate the complaint. If the Commissioner decided that there were grounds to investigate, he or she would undertake the investigation and, in doing so, could interview the complainant, the member concerned and any other person the Commissioner wished to see. The Commissioner would have statutory powers to call for all relevant documentation as part of the investigation. Once the Commissioner had completed the investigation, he or she would summarise his or her conclusions in a report to PPC. This report would then be provided to the member under investigation, who would be given the opportunity to address PPC before the committee made its final adjudication."

It should be noted that this would not be a full time post, but more like that of the Chairman of the Jersey Appointments Commission, so the total annual cost would hopefully not exceed £10,000 to £15,000. I think it would be money well spent.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Ruminations on Romania

"A Jersey politician is calling for a cap on the number of Romanians living in the island. Constable Phil Rondel says Jersey should follow the UK and introduce a limit and they shouldn't be allowed to move to Jersey unless they can speak English. There are currently 807 Romanians registered in Jersey. The controversial proposal is already facing criticism and it was a key focus of today's States meeting. Constable Rondel said: "If you come over here on a work permit from within the Commonwealth you have to speak our language and understand our law to get your work permit. Yet people can walk in, who are not in the EU even, and get a job here without a permit or anything." Constable Rondel knows there's a danger his views could be seen as xenophobic, or even racist, but he says his motive is about the island's economic well being. (CTV 23/10/2013)
The UK has followed a number of countries including America and Canada (to name two) in having a Citizenship test -  the Life in the UK Test is now required for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK or British citizenship. Part of the requirement of the course is to demonstrate sufficient competence in English. Legally, sufficient knowledge of Welsh or Scottish Gaelic can also be used to fulfil the language requirement.
There are also different rules for EU Citizens. As Wikipedia notes "Citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (other than British and Irish citizens) and Swiss citizens obtain permanent residence status automatically after five years' residence in the United Kingdom exercising Treaty rights." And Romania, of course, is set to join the EU in January 2014!
Whether Jersey should or could introduce a mandatory requirement for a test to demonstrate sufficient command of English (or perhaps Jerriais) is something which the UK has clearly taken a stand on. The need to understand statutory forms, and complete them is at the heart of our urban culture, and government needs some understanding of language simply to fill in those forms. Likewise, any use of the road system, requires a test to be taken, and some understanding of English.
But why single out Romania, when Romanians (as can be seen by comments on the CTV posting) can read and write very competent English?
Anna says: "I believe that we(Romanians) speak far better English than any other immigrant nation on this island!!!! We do not need any translators at hospitals or pharmacies and there just a few of us on social support."
Incidentally, at kindergarten in Romania, children receive initiation in foreign languages (typically English, French or German). In primary school, there are foreign languages learnt (usually French, English or German).  The elementary schools have 6 years in the first foreign language (usually English but may also be French, or German) and 4 years in the second foreign language (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian or Portuguese). Many high schools provide classes with intensive study of a foreign language, such as English, French, German or Spanish; where a two-part examination (Grammar/Vocabulary and Speaking) is required for them.
It is very unlikely that their English will be poor!
And Andrea Ghisoi makes the point: "How about the Portuguese and Polish immigrants who have been living on the island for over 5 years and still don't manage to get by in English? Why aren't they mentioned in this discussion?"
Now I have had the odd Portuguese cleaner come to my home in the past, and they had very broken English - and sometimes even the needed to communicate via a third party on what tasks to do.  And yet, of course, a number of Portuguese people speak English very well indeed. We can't make generalisations about people coming from other countries; we need hard statistics, and we lack those on English language competence.
So what prompted Constable Rondel to pick on the Romanians? The Daily Express earlier this month commented that: "Thousands of Romanian immigrants in Paris are planning to come to Britain because they have heard they "can get social benefits" here, it emerged yesterday."
The Telegraph of 23 October 2013 picks up on this theme and printed a letter. It is worth quoting in full, as it is by a lady who is a surgeon, a qualification received in Britain after tough exams. Her career is accomplished; she has a family and a house in London. She is a successful professional, with an upper social status, but she writes:
 "It is increasingly more difficult to live as a Romanian citizen and Romanian professional in the UK. The UK is a country totally against racism and cultural blame. Unfortunately, this is what we are facing since January 2013 thanks to a part of the mass media and to some politicians. Romanians and Bulgarians are feeding mass media every day and this is not without consequences. I had never faced racism in this country until 2013. Now, almost on a daily basis I am asked where I am originally from, and I have to face a racist attitude following my answer. Some people do not say anything, the majority of them express a surprise only, some of them tell me that I do not look like a Romanian and some others start negative comments against us. I had to deal with this attitude from both patients and unfortunately senior colleagues at the work place. The blaming culture and racist attitude against us are damaging our lives and reputation. The vast majority of Romanians here are hard workers, honest, committed, paying taxes, contributing to the growth of this country, in the end of the day."
There is a lot of glib stereotyping of Romanians - for example "Romania and Bulgaria are two countries racked with corruption and organized crime" and Romanians  have "a natural propensity towards crime". It seems to be very much in the news, fuelled by the tabloid newspapers. The Mail, weighs in with a typical headline "The budget flight crime wave: Romanian pick pocketing gangs use low-cost airlines to target cities and fly home in time for tea" as well as telling us that "About 100 Romanians and Bulgarians a day are getting jobs in Britain, according to official figures. The number of people from the two EU countries has soared by more than a third over the past year, even though they are not yet  allowed to work freely in this country."
So why would they want to come to Jersey? Perhaps the St John Parish Magazine could furnish answer to their Constable? In August 2012, the "L'Étail du Nord" printed a report by Beaulieu students who had been in Oradea, Romania handing out Mustard Seed Jersey Christmas shoeboxes. Every year people in St John pack Christmas shoeboxes but "very few are privileged to see the end result and the gratitude of the recipients when they receive gifts from Jersey."
Here is a description of the conditions out in Romania:
"The team from Beaulieu was moved and stunned by some of what they saw. The girls saw families living in cramped living conditions without running water and where the only heating was a smokey wood-burning stove. They distributed bread and food parcels to families who could not afford to feed their children, and were amazed that they queued for two hours in the cold before the baker's van arrived. They saw the homeless living on the streets, sleeping near the central heating pipes for warmth as the temperatures plummeted a number of degrees below freezing. They handed out hot tea and sandwiches which would encourage the families and help them survive till morning."

If you lived in poverty in conditions like that, wouldn't you want to look for work elsewhere, and go somewhere better? I certainly would.
There's a passage in "Goodbye Mr Chips" which is also worth noting. Chip's wife Katherine suggests that they invite the children from the slum mission in London to Brookfield school. Previously, they had simply raised money and sent it off. But Katherine says "You can't satisfy your conscience by writing a check for a few guineas and keeping them at arm's length."
And there's a lesson to be learned there. Isn't it an irony that St John's is one of the Parishes at the heart of fund raising for Romania, and yet the Constable wants to keep the Romanians at arms length?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

1919-1920: The Clash of Unions and Management

This is a further extract from Norman Le Brocq's booklet "Jersey Looks Forward". Previous extracts from the beginning to this point can be seen at:
The booklet is being transcribed and placed on the blog sequentially, and it is intended that the whole text will eventually be available online. It is significant, because Norman Le Brocq's history is very much the social history of the working classes, and there is a scarcity of histories on this. As will be seen, any reports base just on events in the JEP over the struggles of Unions will show a very partial and one-sided view.
Looking back on this history, it is amazing to see how diverse a range of industries there were on Jersey, all supporting the economy: "The smiths and metal workers, the coachbuilders and wheelwrights, the journey-man bakers, the gasworkers, the building and allied trades workers, besides the carters, storemen and coopers." Most of those are types of work which have gone completely or diminished to vanishing point, but they supported the agricultural and tourism industries. And we have unions such as the "Amalgamated Society of Tailors"! Now, very few people get their clothes tailor made.
Part of the disputes in these years arose from the Unions trying to ensure what would become known as a "closed shop."  Without the "closed shop", management could sideline the Unions and hence the workers. It means that all employees will receive greater benefits from collective bargaining performed by a union than would an individual employee. The employees should contribute financially to support the collective bargaining process because they benefit from it.
But the downside was the apparent loss of individual freedom, which could even be used to promote racism as in the Bristol bus boycott in the early 1960s where the Passenger Group (which represented drivers and conductors) of Bristol's Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) passed a resolution that black workers should not be employed as bus crews.
The "closed shop" was certainly necessary in the early days of the Unions, where workers needed collective bargaining, but later it would prove controversial as a means of asserting Union power over members without the need to ballot them before strikes.
In fact Labour made the first attempt to change this in Barbara Castle's white paper "In Place of Strife" which included proposals for fines on trade unions which refused to hold strike ballots but backed down in the face of Union protests. The changes were to come in the 1980s under the Thatcher government. Significantly, Ed Milliband has said that the Conservative government of the 1980s "was right to change the rules on the closed shop, on strikes before ballots. These changes were right, and we were wrong to oppose it at the time"
But the end of the "closed shop" has meant a tipping of the balance between employer and employee in favour of the employer, which could be seen in the recent proposed bus strike, where the management at CT Plus planned to bring in temporary non-Union drivers to keep the wheels turning, and allowing non-Union members as bus drivers. As the Unions weaken, so too collective bargaining tips in favour of management. This can also be seen where the States Employment Board can often seemingly ignore the Unions in setting pay, and there is no independent arbiter to appeal to. The pendulum may have swung too far the other way.
1919-1920: The Clash of Unions and Management
by Norman Le Brocq
July 11, 1919, A strike at Grandin's, Ironmongers and Founders, of Bath Street and Commercial Buildings. Twenty-two men were involved. The reason for this action was an attempt to enforce "union shop" at Grandin's. Five men .refused to join the Union despite the fact that they were drawing Union rates of pay. The remainder of the employees presented A. F. Gallichan, works manager, with an ultimatum that either he refused to employ non-union labour or they would strike. He refused to do anything in the matter. They struck. The Union officials decided to support the men and strike pay was paid out. At a District Committee meeting, held on July 21, to discuss the situation, the following resolution was passed:
"That on and after September 1, 1919, the members of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers' Union will refuse to work with non-unionists (male or female). Furthermore, the dockers absolutely refuse to handle goods consigned to non-union firms on and after that date."
Meanwhile, stalemate at Grandin's. So on July 25 the dockers placed an embargo on the loading and unloading of any goods for Grandin's.
On July 26 a consignment of wire for Grandins Ltd, was placed in the L. & S.W.R. store by the dockers, to remain there till after the dispute had been settled. This was removed by Grandin's non-union labour. That meant trouble. The dockers came out, refusing to touch any goods. On the intervention of Jack Hardman it was decided to resume work for one week pending a ballot re a general strike.
At the beginning of August a demand for £2 .10s. a week was put before the Jersey Produce Merchants' Association. There was still no news of the pending general strike; though Hardman was at English headquarters discussing the matter.
On August 18 the local branch of another Union -the English Amalgamated Society of Tailors-called a strike. This was a wage dispute pure and simple. The tailors demanded 10d. per hour, a rise of 4 1/2d. per hour from what they were getting. Finally the tailors got their 10d.
September 1, 1919. The great day had arrived. "We will. not work with non-unionists," had said the resolution. Grandin's men had stuck to that and were still "out." BUT English headquarters said " No!" The reason for Hardman's visit to England was made plain. The general strike had been called off and the resolution remained a pious hope on paper. Such were the " leaders of men ! "
It is tempting, though unprofitable, to speculate on what would have happened if Union headquarters had backed the men. The local Union was nearing the 4,000   mark and was full of enthusiasm. The employers were distinctly nervous, but hoping that a stern face would frighten off the enemy. It would in' all probability have been the greatest victory that the Jersey worker had experienced. But English headquarters said " No!"
On September 4, 1919, Grandin's men were back at work.
The local Branch of the National Union of Railwaymen were called out during the great N.U.R. strike of September, 1919, and the local dockers supported them by refusing to carry out any work normally done by N.U.R. men.
In December a demand was made on the Building and Allied Trades Federation for a 1 1/2d. per hour increase, with a three months' agreement. The Federation offered 1/2d. per hour increase for a nine month's agreement. After a strike had been threatened, the case was put before a Ministry of Labour Arbitrator, who awarded a 1 1/2d. per hour increase with a nine months' agreement.
Meanwhile trouble in the ranks. Moignard and Hardman were at loggerheads. Moignard walked out of the D.W.R. & G.W.U., and with a small group of supporters formed a local branch of the English General Workers' Union. This, the only one of those dangerous splitting tendencies that Jersey Unionism has undergone, was straightened out happily a year later by both these Unions affiliating to the newly formed Transport and General Workers' Union. The local branches were then merged. By this time Moignard had transferred to the N.U.R.
The next major dispute arose in February, 1920, over a demand by the storemen and carters for 55/- per week instead of the existing  35/-, and a demand from the coopers for a rise from 45/- to  60/-.. In both cases a further demand was made for a 55-hour week. The Evening Post of February 12, in an Editorial headed, " The demand for higher wages - Time to Face the Facts," regarded this as an impossible demand, warning the men that " here in Jersey high wages must mean unemployment," for "we are not a producing community; we live, so to speak, on one another, and if wages get beyond a certain limit our economic system will be completely dislocated and labour will defeat its own ends." ("Near All Sides", JEP 2/3/1920-4/3/1920))
In saying " we are not a producing community" the Evening Post ignored the fact that over half-a-million pounds per annum plowed into the Island in payment of exported potatoes alone. Besides potatoes the Island exported much other agricultural produce. Thus we are definitely a producing community--quite apart from the large amount of money brought to the Island by the tourist traffic. Thus, as in many other cases, the Evening Post falsified the issue by making statements quite contrary to well-established facts. In any case, if Jersey's economic system can only be saved from dislocation at the cost of low wages and
poor working conditions, then it is time that we altered that system.
A number of existing agreements were due to expire in March and a claim for higher pay was put forward by the smiths and metal workers, the coachbuilders and wheelwrights, the journey-man bakers, the gasworkers, the building and allied trades workers, besides the carters, storemen and coopers.
There was some delay in receiving an. answer from the Produce Merchants' Association which, when it did come, merely suggested renewing the old agreement with some trivial alterations. This was regarded by Hardman as a refusal to accept the men's demand. He sent a request for the consideration of the men's demands and asked for an answer to be given by the following day. He was told that as the President and Vice-President were out of the Island, nothing could be done for another week. Meanwhile no replies had been received from either Employers' Federations.
The D.W.R. & G.W.U. decided to hold a mass meeting at West Park Pavilion on March 2. R. Greenwood, National Organiser, would be present. Meanwhile, R. J. Blampied, Secretary of the J.P.M.A., Stanley Guiton, Secretary of the Jersey Employers' Federation, and. Harry Morris, Manager of the Gas Light Co., rushed into print to deny any delay on their part.(JEP 12/2/1920)
At the D.W.R. & G.W.U. meeting, Greenwood made a long and enthusiastically received speech explaining the situation. At the end of this the following resolution was unanimously adopted:
"This Mass' Meeting of Workpeople, representing all sections of employment covered by the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers' Union, views with grave concern the continued and repeated attempts of the employers to evade and ignore the principle of Collective Organisation, the inalienable right of the organised working class. It vigorously protests against the continuance of a policy, the object of which is to delay settlements advantageous to the workpeople, and the saving of wage payments long overdue to them."
"The meeting solemnly warns the employers that a continuance of those tactics can have but one result, i.e., the complete withdrawal of all essential labour until such time as they(the employers) give an undertaking to promptly meet the accredited representatives of organised labour, for the a purpose of discussing wage and other claims, with a view to an amicable settlement."
"Further, the meeting unreservedly pledges itself to support t and stand by ANY action which may be deemed necessary to give effect to the principle of Collective Bargaining, and expresses the hope that the employers will adopt a more reasonable attitude, and by a frank recognition of the inevitable, establish conditions that will safeguard both sides against action of an extreme and undesirable character."
On the same evening the newly formed branch of the Workers' Union met and heard M. Giles, Divisional Organiser, say that the worker could do more by approaching the employer in a courteous way, and they must also appreciate the difficulties of the employer."  Such was the difference the difference between the two Union locals.
As far as the Union claim of delay is concerned, it should be noted that the demand for an increase from the J.P.M.A. was sent to that body by the Union on February 5. On February 21 a reply was received saying that the Association wished to renew the old agreement. On this very day that agreement expired. Then, owing to all officials being conveniently    out of the Island or otherwise engaged, the J.P.M.A. refused to place the Union's demands before the merchants before March 8.
When the J.P.M.A. did meet they made a final offer of £2 per week and backed this offer with a threat that if the men did not accept they would be locked out.
At least that is the Union's story. The J.P.M.A. put it rather differently. In a letter to Hardman, Blampied, J.P.M.A. Secretary, said: " if these Agreements (the £2  wage, etc.) between the Employers belonging to the Jersey Produce Merchants' Association and the representatives of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside & General Workers' Union are not signed by both parties before Saturday next, March 20, the said Employers will refuse to employ any persons until they are prepared to work on these terms" (JEP 17/3/1920)
In spite of this plain statement an advertisement was placed in the Evening Post of that same evening saying that "they (the J.P.M.A.) have no intention whatever of locking out their employees. All employees willing to continue work on the new scale are requested to inform their employer."
Ah, there's the catch ! One might ask : When is a lock-out not a lock-out? Evidently when it is allowable for black-leg labour to continue working!
On February 18 the men concerned met and the following resolution was forwarded to the J.P.M.A.:
"That the membership of the carters, coopers and storemen request the District Secretary to write the Jersey Produce Merchants' Association requesting same to withdraw their ultimatum of the 15th inst., which is nothing but a threat, by 4 p.m. on Friday, March 19, 1920, and an early date fixed for the reopening of the negotiations, otherwise the officials of the Union will consider their members locked out on Saturday, March 20, 1920." 
It was also recorded that at some stores individual men had been approached to sign the new J.P.M.A. agreement and on refusing thus to break Union discipline they were given a week's notice.
On the 20th, no answer having been received from the bosses, all Union store employees struck. Pickets were placed on all stores and on the quays to ensure that no carting would be done. A coal ship, the s.s. Mechelin arrived, but could not be unloaded.
At this point F. J. Bois, now local Coal. Controller, called for the men and masters to let bygones be bygones and renew negotiations. Hardman agreed on behalf of the men, but the J.P.M.A. refused.
That this was no local dispute between the store workers and masters is shown by a resolution passed by the Employers Central Advisory Council, composed of representatives from the Jersey Employers Federation, the Building and Allied Trades Federation, the Plumbers Federation, the Jersey Produce Merchants' Association and the Farmers' Union. This resolution stated "that this Council fully endorses the offer which the merchants have made to their employees; moreover, seeing that the merchants have taken steps to explain to officials of the Union their interpretation which is complained of by the employees, the Council is of the opinion that nothing more can now be done by the merchants."
So the gauntlet was thrown down.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

States Remuneration and the Ratchet Effect

There is a proposition being brought by Constable Philip Rondel for the States to reject the recommendation of the States Pay Review Body. If it is not rejected, pay for States members will increase by £600 - last year was £818.

If times were normal I am sure many of those who are against this rise would have no issue with politicians getting a pay rise just like everyone else. However we are in one of the worst financial crises in history. Many have had to suffer over the last few years with job losses, rising prices, wage freezes, pay cuts not forgetting government cut backs in services."

I imagine we can expect to hear "our hands are tied", "the board is independent",  And "I'll donate the increase..." All the usual explanations of why it should stand. Curiously, the issue of pay and sticking to the board's recommendations crosses ideological fault lines!

Now it is good that the board should be independent of the States, but it should also be representative of the Island, and I'm not convinced that it is. Ex-States members, ex-Chief Officers comprise the board, which is appointed by the States.

I'd like to see a few more working class people on the board. As it stands, they are all (as far as I can tell) retired or well-off, with  some on final salary pension schemes. None of them has any idea about what is happening in the real world, although the recent report about the economy shrinking might have given them an inkling.

Mr. Julian Rogers (Chairman)
Mr. Brian Bullock - ex Chief Officer
Mr. Maurice Dubras - ex States Member
Mr. John Mills C.B.E. - ex-Chief Officer

One of my correspondents has said - very topically - that it is "more 'shocking' for the want of a better word as to the lack of female members on the board. At a time where debate is being had on how to encourage more women into the States Assembly, I query as to whether the Assembly should be looking at writing into the Board's constitution a make up that is divided 50/50 between the genders."

And former Deputy Bob Hill has commented that: "I think it is right that the salary matter is not in Members hands. The problem is that the Pay Board's TOR are too narrow and awards are made in isolation and does not take account of the financial situation of the workers in the private and public sector. What is ironic is that States Members are prepared to accept recommendations when it comes to salary but not on States Reform."

The fact of the matter is that the recommendations are  marred by the composition of the board, who seem from their report to be out of touch with economic realities, and unrepresentative of the average worker (2 of the members at least are on final salary pensions as Chief Officers).

As a result, there is a "ratchet effect" not unlike that seen with the heads of large corporations in the UK, where comparisons are made among their own peer group, and not elsewhere. That is what is driving States members pay. They look at the most significant percentage rises and take that. They don't consider rises, for example, in median pay in the private sector.

They also fail to address the issue that 2%, for example, is much more significant to someone paid a higher salary than a lower one. The spread of pay across the public and private sector has also not been considered. There are no substantial analysis to back up their reasoning, weighing and balancing different measures; all that is done verbally, which can hardly be considered a firm foundation.

They say "while some employers may be anticipating an increase of, say, around 4%, others may still be contemplating no increase at all" but far from considering that perhaps no increase would be the way to go, they end up with an increase none the less.

In essence, they look at percentages, and while the board acknowledges that some private sector pay has been frozen, some is rising. They then take a percentage which will give a rising amount. That is certainly a ratchet effect bias.

That "ratchet effect" is something which is well known in studies of CEOs pay awards:

"In setting the pay of their CEOs, boards invariably reference the pay of the executives at other enterprises in similar industries and of similar size and complexity. In what is described as "competitive benchmarking", compensation levels are generally targeted to either the 50th, 75th, or 90th percentile. This process is alleged to provide an effective gauge of "market wages" which are necessary for executive retention. As we will describe, this conception of such a market was created purely by happenstance and based upon flawed assumptions, particularly the easy transferability of executive talent. Because of its uniform application across companies, the effects of structural flaws in its design significantly affect the level of executive compensation. "

"It has been observed in both the academic and professional communities that the practice of targeting the pay of executives to median or higher levels of the competitive benchmark will naturally create an upward bias and movement in total compensation amounts."

It's notable that the board has never recommended a complete freeze - as happened with the public sector a few years ago. They did recommend a year of freeze for States members in the basic remuneration, and - at the same time - increased the allowances also paid. As it is effectively all one pot of money - I'm not aware that any standing orders paying States members are split in any way - this means that there has never been an occasion when they have not effectively increased pay to States members. The word "effectively" is important, because they'll point to a few years ago when one component was frozen, and ignore the fact that the other was not. The "ratchet effect" leads to increases, even when there is an appearance of a pay freeze.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, and for the States employees a few years ago, there has been a freeze. The board is aware of that, but they say some wages have been frozen, some have gone up - and then they pick the going up as the way to go.

What studies have shown is that ratchet effect pay increases go by percentages and above the medians. I think that instead of looking at a percentage increase in average wage, as they seem to do as the basis for their calculation, they should look at the actual increase (not the percentage) in median wage. That would to my mind be a much fairer way of justifying any increase.

Consider this: if the median public sector wage has only gone up by £200, then why should States members expect more? It also provides an incentive for them to boost the economy.  Percentage rises favour those on higher scales of pay, so that the gap between the States members and the median wage gets larger.

Hence I would argue not that the States should not have an independent board, but that the board's results are significantly flawed, and the States should not just uncritically accept a flawed recommendation. That's the rejoinder to the "we must have independent pay" as an argument. If the pay review is badly flawed, should the States therefore accept it just because it is independent?

Let's hope people remember it is an election year next year! It's all very well to say "I won't accept it" this year, knowing full well that they have arranged an increase for future years just by changing their minds.



Monday, 21 October 2013

Norman Le Brocq: A Great Jerseyman

As I've been rather busy elsewhere of late, today's post is a crib from Wikipedia on Norman Le Brocq. I think I'm justified in putting it on my blog, because I created the Wikipedia page in 2007 and wrote the article myself! That was in fact long before most local blogs were started.
I remember chatting to Norman Le Brocq when the JDM ran the "St James Bookshop" on the opposite side of the road from St James' Church. As a natural bookworm, I gravitated to the bookshop frequently at lunchtime, and spent many a happy hour browsing.
Stella Perkins was also there from time to time instead of Norman, and we had a number of good conversations. There was a "Centre Point" charity collecting tin on the table because Chris Wakeham, another member of the JDM, had set up the charity, and I always put any loose change from the purchase of books in the tin.
From time to time, I would be browsing, while at the other end, Norman was quietly talking to people who had come to see him about problems; in its way, the bookshop acted as an informal drop-in town surgery, or a citizen's advice bureau.
I was very sad when it closed, and now I believe it is a hairdressers. It had a convivial atmosphere like most of the second hand book shops in St Helier. Hillgrove Books, Thesaurus are also sadly gone.
Norman was very much an outsider to the political establishment, but he was responsible for the first Island Plan, designating areas as green fields, brown field sites, or sites suitable for building. It was a great achievement, and all Islanders owe a debt of gratitude to him for steering that through the States.
Norman Le Brocq (1922 - 26 November 1996) 
He participated in the resistance to German occupation in the Second World War, and was one of the founding members of the Jersey Democratic Movement, a communist party, which by the end of the war in 1945 had grown to 18. The JDM helped to provide support, information and sustenance to the slave workers brought by the Germans over to Jersey from Russia. In 1966, Le Brocq and 19 other islanders were awarded gold watches by the Soviet Union as a sign of gratitude for their role in the resistance movement.
He was a campaigner for working class rights in the field of housing and social policy, and the Communist Party's leading figure in the Islands. After unsuccessful bids for election in the 1960s, he was elected to the States of Jersey in 1966, which was such a remarkable event that it was noted in the British press - "Working man joins the rulers of Jersey" (Observer 18.12.1966). He remained in the States as a Deputy for Saint Helier until his retirement.
He was president of the Island Development Committee (IDC) and instrumental in bringing in the first Island Plan, which laid out zones for housing and commercial development and green field sites on which development was not permitted. He was also chairman of the Sea Fisheries Advisory Committee, and a Sea Fisheries vessel is named after him.
Outside of the States, he was a director of the Channel Islands Co-operative Society for 35 years, and its President for 27 of those.
Social Policies
In "Jersey Looks Forward" (1946), he enumerated the political and social policies towards which he fought, many of which were later adopted by the States of Jersey. These included:
-          States members to receive adequate remuneration
-          A modern equitable divorce law
-          An augmented paid Police Force acting over the whole Island
-          Compulsory health insurance
-          Compulsory free education to the age of 16
-          A maximum working week
-          A minimum wage

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Healing a Divided Parish

On January 19th, 1982, the culmination came of a court case which had caused great divisions in St Brelade's Parish. Mrs Olga Johnson, Rating Officer at the Parish Hall, sued Mr Donald Lucas, former Assistant Rating Officer for defamation. The case was thrown out, and Mr Lucas was thereby vindicated in the actions he had taken. Nevertheless, the Constable, Len Downer, who had sacked Mr Lucas, refused to reinstate him.
This was a time of tumult in the Parish, where anger led to larger parish meetings that could fit in the Parish Hall, so that several meetings had to be held at the main hall in Quennevais School. I was there, and I've never seen anything like that since. Enid Quénault, when she became Constable after Len Downer wisely decided not to stand, spent months healing wounds, and getting people to talk to one another in the Parish Offices, where notes were being written and sent back and forth.
The history of that has been detailed by myself in 2011 from public domain Court records, and from reports in the Jersey Evening Post, and can be read here:
Throughout this time, of fiery exchanges at Parish meetings, the Rector, Michael Halliwell was working hard towards finding a solution acceptable to the Parishioners, and eventually proposed one that was acceptable (as you can read in the history).

What I was not aware of until browsing through back copies of "The Pilot", the Jersey Anglican Church Magazine of the time, was that he had written on this topic specifically for "The Pilot". I think it still has good lessons to teach us today.
Michael Halliwell, writing in "The Pilot"
Democracy is alive and well in the Parish of St Brelade following the public meeting which voted overwhelmingly in favour of the re-instatement of Donald Lucas as Clerk in the Parish Rating Office. Many will have regrets that life in our Parish should have come to this pass, but we must avoid the unconscious impulse to look for a scapegoat. I have been in this matter right from the beginning and have naturally been the recipient of many confidences; some things, however, can be said.
Firstly, we must be thankful that the same democratic process which gave our Connétable an overwhelming mandate to his office in our Parish, also brought to light and corrected an error of judgment on his part. We must now, in our different ways, stand behind him in guidance and in support for any further decisions that he may face.
Secondly, we must accept that if mistakes have been made by anyone, the proper and Christian attitude to criticism is to accept it, face up to it and allow it to be assessed at its true value, so that anything wrong can be put right. It is not only Christian, but also common sense to says "I may be wrong, and if I an, please show me."
Thirdly, we must accept the fact that St Brelade, in the past decade, has become a very much bigger parish and this growth has brought with it an increase in the administrative complexity of the work at our Parish Hal). New situations call for new solutions and the old ways do not always produce the new solutions that are needed. Crucial to this is the role of Committees. When I first came to $t Brelade I introduced a Parochial Church Council, but until this has legal status, any successor of mine in office could easily disband it, or only use it when it suited him, and he would be perfectly entitled to do so.
Exactly the same can be said of the Comite Paroissial and our Connétable is equally free to consult, or not, as he may wish. In days of old vector and Constable were able to rule as benevolent autocrats and were only accountable to an assembly of parishioners and that in a fairly limited sphere. In many ways this is such easier, and when all goes well it is fine, and it is also less time-consuming.
But in today's world we can no longer, I believe, regard it as the right way for a Parish to run its affairs whether civil or Ecclesiastical. An increasingly well educated and vocal community must have a part in the ordering of its communal life and this should now, in my view, be built into the official fabric of the working of both civil and ecclesiastical committees in our Island.
My feeling is that our Parish in suffering from what is known as "structure strain". When such a strain is thrown on a structure which is not equipped to cope, the strain falls on the individuals in the structure; these individuals then re-act in accordance with their own personal strengths and weaknesses. Next, the powers of evil cash in on the situation, to create polarisation and build up hatred (often stimulated by real or imagined hurts of the past which have not been opened up to forgiveness and healing), and destructive conflict ensues. If this conflict is not checked and reversed, and a process of interpretation and reconciliation begun, not only are lives ruined but they can even be lost.
In writing frankly about our Parish, I have tried not to trespass on the ground of the Committee of Enquiry set up under Sir Robert Le Masurier, and I hope that all parishioners will share with that Committee any concerns they have as honestly and charitably as they can, so that what is wrong may be put right and harmony can be re-established in our community.
As you may imagine, I have been much exercised in heart and mind about the whole matter, and have endeavoured to maintain a position which is appropriate to my role as the Rector of every parishioner, without being untrue to Christian principles, truthfulness and justice. I believe that the role of Christians in public life in to see that right is done and is seen to be done, and to be active in the doing of it. The role of the Parish Priest, as I see it, is where necessary to ensure that this comes to pass.
May I express my grateful thanks to the-many Christians who have spent hours in prayer for our Parish and those who bear office in it, and ask them to continue in their prayers for all who serve us in any way, that the work of our community may go on an it should, and our honorary system, perhaps modified where necessary, continue to serve our Parish well in the future as it undoubtedly has in the past.
Reconciliation will not be easy and it will take time, years perhaps, but we Christians must not be party to any papering over the cracks. We must strive, in season and out of season, to show openness, honesty and compassion in our own lives; we must endeavour to bring together those who are estranged, and never must we accept that anything is too hard for the Lord.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Bellowing with Hate?

"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth"
(Karl Popper, "The Open Society and Its Enemies" (1952))
One of the most uncomfortable things about researching recent history is when you step on people's toes because they have a vested interest in a particular narrative of events. But researching the history of recent events is like researching the ancient world; you have to look at where the evidence can take you. You cannot be selective in choosing to omit.
But that is not to say you might not omit something which may later come to light; that is as true of ancient history as modern. The only question is, do you do justice to all the facts at your disposal, and is your interpretation of events coherent, and taking in them all, regardless of your personal likes and dislikes.
The Daily Mail article on Ed Milliband's father, for instance was very poor history writing. Like many articles in the Daily Mail, it sidestepped context. If you can't establish a chronology, to see the order of events, and just pluck particular ones to suit, as they did, you are not writing history. A young man's diary entry is taken out of context as reflecting the views of the older man.
As Stephen Fry pointed out in QI last week, "facts" suffer quite alarmingly from a degree of decay, and what you look into may be overtaken by fresh evidence. Again, we can see a case in point - Hillsborough - where evidence buried away has only just come to light. But probably the most notable case is where new records come into the open through the 30 years rule, and events can be reassessed.
When new facts come to light, should we blame those who did the best job they could with their histories? I had a friend, Ken Webb, who had a very jaundiced view of Patrick Moore. "He's always writing a book telling you things, and then three years later another book comes out and it is different". Just as with astronomy, historical narrative can alter through fresh evidence, but without that evidence, the historian is at a loss.
History is the best you can do for the time. It is not perfect, and it is not static. It should aim to be, as far as possible, impartial, even where, or especially where one's own sympathies are concerned. The Daily Mail, with its lurid headlines about Ralph Milliband - "The Man Who Hated Britain" - is a case in point. It is not an impartial headline, any more than one criticising me could be called "Bellowing with Hate", the title of this blog. Lurid headlines, after all, sell papers, and invite people to read.
Hate is one of the great problems of our time, especially online, when people are not meeting and speaking face to face. This is something which the internet has encouraged, because it distances and alienates people from each other. All the nuances, the shakes of the head, the humour, can disappear out of the window.
I've always been open to meet people I disagree with and talk in a civilised manner, over a cup of coffee or tea. The face to face encounter is important, because it allows us to see the whole person, and not just the tip that appears on the internet. We are losing that ability to communicate. People prefer to shout at each other in Cyberspace than communicate. They need to meet.
And with that loss of communication goes name calling. That's been around for some time. Newspapers like the Daily Mail were here long before. Ed Milliband is branded "Red Ed".  Already he is given an adjective which is intended to predispose the reader to pigeon hole him. Remember the Sun with the Falkland's war, demonising "The Argies"? Once we start calling people names, the opportunities for reasonable debate are lost.
Why I really hate name calling is after seeing the film "Hotel Rwanda" about the massacre in Rwanda. The use of nicknames, calling opponents "cockroaches" may have seemed like mere name calling, but it ended with violence. To call someone names like that is to dehumanise them, to make them non-people, and it seems something particularly common today. We label people at our peril.
I was reading an article today about how this has poisoned debate in America. Here's an extract:
"In poll after poll, Americans have voiced concern over the erosion of civility in modern life and human interactions, in government, business, media and online. According to a poll released in June by Weber Shandwick, 65 percent of Americans say the lack of civility is a major problem in the country and feel the negative tenor has worsened during the financial crisis and recession. Nearly half those surveyed said they were tuning out from the most fundamental elements of democracy-government and politics-because of the incivility and bullying behaviour.
Pier M. Forni, author of "The Civility Solution: What to Do When People are Rude" and director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has this to say:
"In today's America, incivility is on prominent display: in the schools, where bullying is pervasive; in the workplace, where an increasing number are more stressed out by co-workers than their jobs; on the roads, where road rage maims and kills; in politics, where strident intolerance takes the place of earnest dialogue; and on the web, where many check their inhibitions at the digital door"
I'm sure that all of us, from time to time, say things online that we may regret. No one is perfect, but calling names, and getting into disputes where words are hurled back and forth is precisely the worst way to further any causes, let alone that of the truth. It becomes a vicious spiral.
Critical rationalism is an attitude espoused by the philosopher Karl Popper, which assumes that no individual has a monopoly on the truth. This is what he has to say about that attitude:
"We could then say that rationalism is an attitude of readiness to listen to critical arguments and to learn from experience. It is fundamentally an attitude of admitting that 'I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.'  It is an attitude which does not lightly give up hope that by such means as argument and careful observation, people may reach some kind of agreement on many problems of importance; and that, even where their demands and their interests clash, it is often possible to argue about the various demands and proposals, and to reach-perhaps by arbitration-a compromise which, because of its equity, is acceptable to most, if not to all."
But all of that is just an abstraction, unless we are prepared to meet people whose views differ from our own face to face, and talk and listen to other points of view. And that means, where possible, meeting face to face, otherwise all the mutual respect in personal encounter may disappear, as it does so easily in cyberspace. And then all we will hear is someone bellowing with hate.
And (if I can paraphrase Mark Forskitt) remember that this island faces immense challenges both immediate and long term, local and global, including unemployment, housing, justice, the balance of our economy, food security, resource depletion, population growth and climate change. A descent to name calling and pigeonholing individuals does nothing, not a single iota, to progress or promote any sort of solution to any of those. Those of us who take an interest, from whatever side, must act responsibly in a way that encourages and engages the wider public on these immense issues. There are no easy solutions and difficult answers need to have the understanding of and consent by the populace who will be affected.