Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Idiots Guide to Elections - Part 2

The Manifesto Leaflets

This can be left if the person is out. It costs to produce, and some politicians have been known to re-use old photos from previous elections to save on costs. This may lead the voter, on being confronted by the candidate at the polling station to assume that the effort of running a campaign has really aged the candidate, and they may not get a vote as a result. It will be interesting to see if the new changes which will have candidate's photos adorning the polling stations will also have a rejuvenating effect on appearance.

Except for Senators, where the Island wide issues are those that matter most, for Deputies or Constables manifestoes, the best order to present them is as follows. Resume. Parish. Island. Green Issues. Voluntary. Hobbies.

Begin with a brief resume of who you are, and that you are a good "family man" if a man.  It's one of those wonderful phrases, which can work wonders with the electorate, as long as it doesn't appear at the same time as JEP headlines such as "A highly respected 'family man' who engineered ten operations to import nearly £50,000 worth of drugs into Jersey has been jailed for nine years.". 

Heinrich Himmler was also a middle-class family man, loved and fully supported by his respectable German family. So when someone says to you (wanting your vote) they are a "family man", why not say "Like Heinrich Himmler, you mean?" Curiously no one ever says of a lady that they are a good "family woman".  Single people standing for election can play on the fact that they can devote themselves full time to the electorate, unencumbered by family commitments. Avoid the word "loner".

If you have family who were in politics, mention them at this point. "He is the great grand niece of Constable Winter Le Cochon" may go down well in establishing antecedence (and transgender issues!). This is called the "rub off" effect when the famous ancestor suggests a long line of great people, although if they are too distant, people may wonder why there have been no other political greats since. Avoid mention of notorious Privateers or Regicides.

After that, deal with local Parish (or district matters). This is after all, for the people who vote for you. They want you to know that you care about the things that matter to them. A former Constable of St Helier spent a small fortune on the Town Hall, raised rates through the roof, but didn't live in the Parish, so he did not have to pay them. So don't be out of touch. Speak to people, find their concerns and issues, and out them in your manifesto as priorities.

Put in a nice photo of a suitable Parish landmark. Corbière Lighthouse, if you live in St Brelade. Gorey Castle if you live in Grouville. Havre des Pas, or the Town Park, if you live in St Helier. This gives the manifesto a wonderful local feel, rather like a tourism brochure, and sends out the subliminal message "Vote for me, I'm a local landmark too."

After Parish Issues come Island issues. Things like GST, traffic, immigration, unemployment, road works, and the high cost of living.

GST was introduced some time ago, but it is always good to raise the expectation of exemptions in the expectation of getting extra votes. Meanwhile, the island is sinking beneath waves of immigration and a sea of traffic. Mixed metaphors are useful in a manifesto, because people are so puzzled trying to work out what you are saying, that they don't see that you are saying nothing at all. The cost of living is actually higher here than in the UK, and higher in some parts of the Island like Les Platons than down in St Aubin's Bay.

But it is best not to get too bogged down in particulars. Keep it vague. Unemployment remains a significant problem. I will look into road works if elected. The cost of living is something I will address. Migration is an area of concern. There are important issues facing the States requiring urgent attention.

And then add the personal touch - I believe I have the strength and confidence to improve matters and influence the States. I want to improve the lives of ordinary people.  I will represent your interests. I will promote change and improvement. I have spent all my working life in Jersey.

But avoid saying that you are a member of Mensa. The general public actually does not like a "clever clogs", and the last aspiring candidate to tell every hustings meeting that they were a member of Mensa did not fare well. It was not a bright move, which does beg the question why he did so, as a member of Mensa. Maybe their standards are slipping.

Finally, end with Green Issues, Voluntary Work, and Hobbies. The environment is important and I want to see less litter, and more green spaces, preferably with holes for golf balls. I pick up litter when I am out playing golf. I'm very keen on preserving the planet, and I'm keen that we keep our green countryside unspoilt, especially where I live. And I'm a member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in my spare time.

But you might prefer the "alternative" manifesto, in which you present yourself as the only real working class hero, the man of the people, and the last hope for the poorer people, sold into wage slavery and made to work under gruelling conditions by the factory owners. Come the revolution, comrades, we will dispense with taxes, solve the population problem at a stroke by bringing back the guillotine for the capitalists, and rise up and overthrow the tyrants.

In fact, if you go down this road, you can pretty well promise the earth, because you will never be in a position to deliver, always being the entrenched outsider in the States, the sort of character who would have been "The Man They Love to Hate" in various TV shows. A kind of Socialist equivalent of J.R. in Dallas, loud and demonstrative, but impotent.

Useful adjectives and phrases. Pepper your manifesto throughout with useful adjectives and phrases. The voter expects these, and will be very disappointed if they don't see them. Some people, like trainspotters, actually have a club called Jersey Votespotters, and they look for the lesser green warbler, the cockney sparrow, or the greater crested vulture.

They can all be found in the book "The Votespotters Guide 2014", published by Ballot Press (Jersey) Limited and available by mail order only. Examples are:

"Vital importance" as in "finance is of vital importance" "sport is of vital importance", "housing is of vital importance", "votes for me are of vital importance, to me, anyway"

"Significant" as in "significant unemployment". Unemployment is always significant if mentioned, and the adjective demonstrates that the politician has spotted it. A salary of £40,000 or so if elected is also a significant factor in their thinking, and would also lower unemployment by one, which would be significant to the candidate if elected.

"Urgent" as in "urgent attention". Matters always need urgent attention. Aspiring politicians are never patient.

"Vibrant" as in "vibrant sport centre" or "vibrant financial centre" but not "vibrant funeral director"., or even for that matter "vibrant States Chamber", unless they wire the chairs to give electric shocks when politicians fall asleep.

"Professional" often combined with "expertise" unless it is "huge expertise. No one ever has minor expertise, it is always professional, and huge, rather like Eric Pickles.

"Key advantages" where you don't say that a key advantage to yourself would be extra votes.

"Team player" usually means the kind of boy who wanted to join the gang and be part of the inside crowd when they were a snotty nosed schoolboy with shorts and satchel.

Colours: pastel colours suggest someone who is calm, and peaceful, rather like the Dalai Lama. As no one has ever voted for the Dalai Lama in local elections, I suggest something brighter. The problem is to avoid turning out with matching rosettes, which is also known as the cocktail party dress problem. Try to avoid something spotty or people will subconsciously associate you with mumps or measles.


Nick Palmer said...

For some reason, I got all nostalgic for regular reports from Malaisey.

Nick Le Cornu said...


An excellent obituary for the politics of the past.These were the typical manifestos of various assorted right-wing shysteres out to self serve.

Soon there will only be the two parties - one that representing the interest of the rich and powerful and the other representing the ignored, ordinary working people.

Who will you be voting for?