Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Who Will Win?

These are political guesses, and just because I place someone high or low, that has nothing to do with whether I endorse them or not (readers of my blog elsewhere can probably work that out for themselves!). No one is going to be influenced by a blog on election day, so I don't really think this will make any difference. And like most political pundits, I'll probably be wholly wrong!
St Helier No. 1:
Gordon Forrest
Paul Le Claire
Nick Le Cornu
Maureen Morgan
Roy Travert
My guess is that Paul Le Claire may well top the poll. He only lost the last election by 17 votes, which is a relatively small margin, and largely because new incoming James Baker swept up a good many votes as a "fresh broom". James Baker is no longer an unknown quantity, and how well he fares in October will depend on how much time he has spent on his constituency, whereas his record of attendance in the House has been paltry. No one could accuse Paul Le Clare of that, and alongside a solid record as a critical but independent member, he has a fairly good record from his time in the States. As a director of a local insurance company, he has clearly also picked himself up from losing the vote, and shown that he could hold down a job outside of the States; that also is good for his credibility as someone who doesn't take defeat lying down.
Gordon Forrest, as the main establishment candidate - he is still on the Chamber of Commerce website, will probably pick up some votes from voters who live and work in the district; how well he will fare with residents as opposed to business folk (who often live outside of St Helier) is another matter. I'd place him as second. He has, by his own account, worn out a pair of shoes, so he's evidently been putting in the footwork. On the radio, he didn't come across as a very fluent speaker, and that may count against him
Nick le Cornu has working class credentials and Unite behind him. How well his somewhat confrontational style will do (them and us, comrades) has yet to be seen. I'm inclined to place him at number 3. However, some of his local knowledge - living in the district - may boost his ratings. His vivid yellow posters are a loud and bold statement of certainty, but perhaps he comes across as too sure of himself, and also too hectoring of other candidates. Nick would like it to be a two horse race - and all his rhetoric has been geared to that, against Gordon Forrest, but he has completely neglected the presence of Paul Le Clare, who will almost certainly take some votes from him.
Roy Travert has been around the block before, and not done brilliantly in the past. As the Fort Regent campaigner, although he has other policies, he comes across as something of a one trick pony. Nonetheless, the fact that he is definitely a worker (and not someone who speaks for workers in a posh voice) may count in his favour. And on radio, he also stood up firmly for "Middle Jersey", the people who pay all the taxes, and support all the benefits, which was a quite interesting (and I think very honest) play for the centre ground. I think Peter Body might have approved, and I think he said some home truths that people often forget. But I'd still put him towards the bottom, partly because I think he will lose from a split left vote, and secondly because he has stood a few times before and failed by quite a margin.
Maureen Morgan is a newcomer on the left, but independent. Given the split vote on the left, I don't think she will do particularly well, although I would add that is no reflection of her obvious intelligence; it's just the way the vote splits. I'd place her towards the bottom; part of that is because she is new, and being a newcomer always tends to be disadvantaged on split votes.  I admire her stand on posters, but C.P. Snow, who knew a thing or two about politics, always used to say that you had to be seen to be present. Frugality may seem like penny-pinching, just as Nick Le Cornu's many posters may seem like overkill.
St Helier No. 2:
Paul Huelin
Bernard Manning
Sam Mezec
Ian Philpott
I've seen some posters for all candidates, although more for Sam, and least for Paul. Apart from Ian Philpott, who is something of an outsider (from Grouville, and politically), a lot of the candidates have very similar stances on matters like immigration, GST, etc. This might lead to something of a split vote, and Ian Philpot would benefit from that.
Sam Mezec I would put as the front runner. That's nothing to do with the fact that I know him; I also think Paul Huelin has some very sound policies. But Sam has evidently been engaging with voters on the doorsteps, and I think that will work in his favour, as well as the freshness and enthusiasm and idealism that he has, tempered with a degree of realism. His policy platform is pretty sensible; he is against GST but cautiously so, realising that its removal needs sound business sense. He has been less inclined to rise to confrontation that his counterpart, Nick Le Cornu,
Ian Philpott will probably pick up votes from those who want a reassuring voice of experience, and to be honest, someone who sounds like Jim Hacker. His election statements are full of bland and vague pronouncements about managing change etc, but don't forget that sounding confident, and saying relatively little (his immigration statement is a masterpiece of vacuity) can win votes. People voted for Tony Blair's "New Labour" and David Cameron's Slick Conservatism. Style over substance can win votes, and has done many times. His policy on drinking age raised to 21 will alienate some young voters, and probably some parents, and is a lazy kind of armchair suggestion that would have been better left hidden. But I think he'll probably press Sam quite closely, especially as the left vote is split.
Paul Huelin has some solid policies behind him, such as CCTV, and his position on Sunday trading, GST, and immigration; his endorsement of the honorary system and Parish hall enquiries as a middle way which deals with offences while avoiding criminalising young people is something which should be said more often (and a recent academic study looks at it as a good model). But he doesn't seem to have great visibility, apart from one or two posters, and online has been virtually non-existence. Not that translates to votes, it doesn't, but it does add to visible presence and getting the message out (and answering questions). Even Ian Philpott put up a Facebook page quite soon, and if a 69 year old can, surely anyone can.  I had ranked Paul as a front runner at the start, but now I'd be inclined to put him third.
Some people stand, and stand, and just don't seem to make it. It's what I call "loser's luck", almost as if by losing quite badly a number of times, the electorate already know who you are and write you off. I'm very much afraid that I'd place Bernie Manning there. He's presentable, he has some posters out and about, and his policies are not bad, but he's been around the block and is something of a known quantity. He has to persuade the people who voted for someone else rather than him to change their minds, and that is difficult. Also, without wishing to be snobbish, the promotion of himself comes across as a "DJ", with night club connections, and I'm not sure people vote for DJs. If you are a mechanic, like Roy Travert, people see you have a skill, but being a DJ, while I'm sure does require skills of its own, just does not seem as if it does. So I'm afraid I think he'll come bottom.

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