Monday, 30 June 2014

Guest post on Plemont by Adam Gardiner

One of my regular correspondents has been in touch, not about the principle of saving Plemont, but the fine print on ownership (and access), and the ways and means by which funding is suggested by Philip Ozouf.
This is in some respect, although it makes the points differently, along the same lines as Bob Hill's post on Plemont.
My own feelings to date are that the issue of access needs to be addressed. This is extremely important, and if the States are going to fund the National Trust in its purchase, there need to be strings attached so that the public will have right of way, without hindrance or charge, to the headland.
Secondly, the source for funding is certainly a matter of concern. The ability of Philip Ozouf to conjure up a "contingency fund", like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, is wearing thin, and more details are needed. Unfortunately, the quick way in which he has suggested diverting funds suggests that the Treasury Minister is not a careful steward of the States finances, but every so often is prone to what can perhaps be best described as the antics of an opportunistic chancer, just as able to throw caution to the winds as his erstwhile colleague, Senator Maclean, was with his fantasy film.
His own version of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" strikes me as a book keeping subterfuge. The BBC described it thus:
"As money from the Criminal Offences Confiscation Fund (COCF) can only be used towards the cost of policing, Senator Philip Ozouf has proposed a novel solution. His plan would see the money taken from the COCF and transferred to the fund for moving the States of Jersey police to a new building, which would then be constructed on the site. Money from that fund will then be given to the Chief Minister's department which will then issue the grant."
It has to be asked why he couldn't have done that when asked to take money from the COCF for funding the Historic Abuse Enquiry, when he replied to a question on that subject as follows:
"Having consulted with H.M. Attorney General, I have reached the view that monies in the Criminal Offences Confiscation Fund ("COCF") are unlikely to be capable of being applied for the purpose of funding the cost of a Committee of Inquiry into historical child abuse."
Now he finds a mechanism by which that can be done, which apparently was not possibly before!
Is he a fit person to re-elect to look after the Island's finances? Far more than last time, Plemont will, I think, be a potential election issue for these reasons.
Guest post on Plemont by Adam Gardiner
The Plemont debate takes another twist.
I am content to accept that at £3.5m the opportunity to bring the land into public ownership in perpetuity is a reasonable proposition and in the circumstances probably the best compromise. But that said:
First. It is not strictly public ownership. Accessible to the public maybe, but it would be owned by the National Trust who would be free to restrict access if they so wished - or charge for the privilege maybe. Whether they all or not remains to be seen - but the important thing is, that possibility exists but has not been discussed or forms part of the proposition While the visual and environmental gain is obvious and a clear asset to the Island the National Trust is and remains a private organisation.
So should public money be used so that can add to their portfolio of property?
In respect of that be considered as an 'investment' I might agree with but for the fact that an investment is usually made to provide some later and tangible collateral or profit on re-sale. So if the Jersey public, through the States, make such the 'investment', what is the taxpayers stake in all of this - other that the being able to enjoy an improved visual landscape? While that may be enough for some - I am not convinced that is good enough. The term investment' seems rather misleading as in effect what we have here is little more than a taxpayer-funded gift to a private organisation.
If however it were a loan it could be better described as an investment even if the terms of the loan were spread over many years at a very modest rate of interest. So far I have heard little about that as an alternative proposition. I am sure it has, but little prominence has been given to this as an option, although it would be fair to say that until it goes to debate we won't know if some politicians may propose and that as a preferred option.
My second point relates to what now it is suggested, that the money would come from  the Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund. Creative thinking on the part of Philip Ozouf it may be, but here we go again plundering cash assets for purposes that were never designed to be used for. The Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund was established to provide sufficient funding to the police and enforcement agencies to tackle high-level and often complex crime - money laundering and illegal trading in hard drugs being two very key areas. Under Philip Ozouf's proposal are we now to accept that Jersey's ability to detect and prosecute serious crime may well suffer from lack of available funds?
I would liken that to the taxes raised from motor vehicle ownership which were said to be necessary to maintain our roads infrastructure and then force the legislation designed to our keep roads safe. Those taxes are not inconsiderable and there are in fact 3 separate taxes which are applied to fuel: Duty, 5% road tax levy and GST. With Jersey having one of the highest car-ownership ratios in Europe, over half of what we pay for fuel goes straight into States coffers. Remember however, that 5% road tax levy. Even at a very rough estimate that generates something between £20-£30m a year. Yet for that income, TTS do not have a road maintenance budget anything like that. No, that 5% goes into general revenue and redistributed elsewhere. The purpose for which the 5% was added is not used for that purpose - which is my point.
The Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund must similarly not be used for ay purpose other than what it was designed for in my view. It otherwise becomes a fund in name only that can be distributed to wherever the Minister for T&R wishes - and sets a dangerous precedent.
So, what we have in Plemont remains a can of worms. Very easy to go down the populist route and pander to those who feel it should be bought at any cost and would see it as an investment and support the proposition as stands, but I am not convinced that the formula is yet right, fair or equitable with the wider public. The National Trust are obviously influential, vociferous and tenacious … but that sounds rather more the description of a bully. Frankly that is exactly what is happening here. You can detect generally that the vast majority don't care either way. However, those who question and oppose the scheme are unfairly bullied by the National Trust which leaves just a small number of supporters who have been sold on this wonderful prospect of acquiring land for the benefit of the public. A noble and just reason perhaps but I think in having that good intention it ignores the fact that other matters will suffer as a result especially if the States simply 'gift' this £3.5m rather than:
(i) properly invest it either by way of making a loan to the national Trust or
(ii) buying it outright and leasing to the National Trust.
One other option perhaps is to consider is whether the project could be put over to direct public subscription; the States form a PPP. The national Trust could still become a major stakeholder but it would avoid using any taxpayers money at all and it's supporters would get opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. Would be interesting at least to see if they would.
So while in broad terms the latest compromise seems equitable, many doubts still linger in my mind.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Look a Like

Jean-Claude Juncker, next European Union President
described as a veteran of Brussel's deal making and
criticised by some as powerful and unaccountable.

Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, External Relations minister,
described as a veteran of States deal making, who
has mooted an independent Jersey, with presumably
someone as President.

Is it my imagination or does Jean-Claude Junker look like Senator Sir Philip Bailhache?

Marriage Lines

I've been reading about the controversy stirred up by the recently leaked letter (to the JEP, and it also appears to BBC) on Sam Mezec's proposal to extend Civil Marriage to same-sex couples - as in the UK.  As with the UK, this purely relates to Civil Marriage, which does not take place in a church. This is made very clear in the preamble to the document.

General Overview

The letter comes from the Jersey Evangelical Alliance, for whom, evidently, this is not enough. They want to control not just marriages in churches, but civil - that is to say, secular marriages - in which there is no religious element, and the participants may not even be religious.

"A small minority should not be allowed to change the definition of marriage - and hence its meaning - for everyone else."

But should a small minority claim to speak for all Christians on the Island of Jersey? This is, after all, a group claiming to speak on behalf of Christians in Jersey. They are a loud, vociferous group, but are they representative of the majority of Christians?

And instead of any factual evidence, the letter seems to consist largely of statements, made as if they were the absolute truth, for example:

"Equality is not to be equated with sameness."Rather than extending the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, redefining marriage would introduce the instabilities and infidelities commonly associated with homosexual relationships into society's understanding of marriage."

This in fact simply a quote from a letter produced by the Evangelical Alliance in 2012 in the UK. They seem to be content with simply restating that letter, or the leaked letter is currently re-working that letter, and they have not yet removed that paragraph. The letter of 2012 was penned by the EA in the UK ahead of the Civil Marriage debate there, and that seems to form the basis for this letter. There is not much evidence that any fresh thinking has taken place locally.

A blogger called Sally engaged with this statement back in 2012, and made some very cogent points, as well as conducting a small sample survey to see if her explanations made sense. This is what she wrote@

"This is creating a myth about both heterosexuals and homosexuals. I know many, many faithful lesbians and homosexuals and I also know a fair number of unfaithful heterosexuals. Infidelity is one of the reasons for the rising divorce rate in this country over the last 40 years and an examination of the routes into single parenting amongst people in the church indicates that the infidelity of a partner is the most common reason. (My small sample academic research in evangelical churches and anecdotal evidence backs this up).

"Where infidelity has seemed to be prevalent in homosexual relationships in the past it has had much to do with the way these relationships were outlawed and / or disapproved of together with the way those in committed partnerships often had to lie about their status. LGBT people want to signify their monogamous, faithful commitment to one another."

In their letter, the local Jersey Evangelical Alliance also say:

"The law would be sending out the message that a household of two women or two men is just as appropriate a context for raising children and that it does not matter whether children are reared by both their mother and their father, or by a parent of each sex at all. "

Actually, the States of Jersey have already agreed that a household where a couple are the same sex is no bar to adoption this year, when they changed the law on that. Hence this argument has already been decided upon by the States, against that held by the writer of this letter. But that, of course, is the danger of rehashing material from 2012, without taking account of recent changes in legislation. Maybe that is another piece that will be excised from their final version?

In the debate, virtually all the States members - as can be seen in the voting patterns, and in Hansard - agreed that a loving couple was what mattered, rather than the gender of the participants. It was love and caring in a relationship. This is the crux of the matter, and I would argue that it also applies to single parent families, where the love of the parent for their child is what matters.

Children have been taken into care, because of a breakdown in the marriage, where they are no longer safe, and may be subject to abuse. It is the absence of a loving relationship, and its replacement by one of control and cruelty that is significant, and as no same sex couples have yet adopted, this is confined to heterosexual families. If there is a message here, it is that children reared by both mother and father may not be an appropriate context either.

The leaked draft letter goes on to state that:

"Once the State legislates for marriage between two men or two women simply because they 'love each other and want to formalise a commitment to each other',  it is difficult to maintain a principled objection to marriage between a group of men and/or women who are seeking a formal recognition of their love for each other."

This is again taken from the 2012 submission in the UK, and looking at that submission, I was struck by one thing. This is the only place in the entire document where the word "love" has been used.

Doesn't that tell you something about the writers of that document? An entire discussion on civil marriage, from Christian group, and virtually no mention of "love" at all? Does this not indicate a rather legalistic frame of mind?

Some Historical Aspects of Marriage

Civil Marriage, as opposed to religious forms of marriage, is a relatively modern institution. The Marriage Act 1753, full title "An Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriage", popularly known as Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act (citation 26 Geo. II. c. 33), was the first statutory legislation in England and Wales to require a formal ceremony of marriage. That is only 260 years.

When we read a statement as "throughout history, heterosexual marriage has been the norm", it should be taken into account that the definition of marriage has varied in different cultures and at different times. This statement of itself suggests a fixed norm, whereas history shows the manifest falsehood of this:

"There are four key components in the definition of marriage: it is voluntary, heterosexual, monogamous and lifelong"

Now I'm not saying that at least three of those are not important: voluntary, monogamous and lifelong. But the statement that this is a situation which has prevailed "throughout history" is a sweeping generalisation which is manifestly not true. I want to briefly look at two aspects of this, because they feed into my more general conclusion.


Recently, forced marriages have been outlawed in the UK. But - as this change notes - other cultures and ages (e.g. in particular the Middle Ages) know of the "arranged marriage", where parental consent and agreement is all that is required. The idea that love is required was also largely unknown for much of history.

Age of marriage has also differed. One example (and I could cite many) will suffice. John McLaughlin in his paper on "Medieval Child Marriage" notes that:

"In 1396, Richard II of England was joined in marriage to young Isabel of France, who had been 7 years old when their engagement was announced the previous year in Paris. Not only was there no uproar; there was considerable happiness expressed over the assumed probability that this marriage would end the Hundred Years War then in one of its periodic states of truce between the two kingdoms. Peace was to be ensured by joining together this man and this little girl in marriage."

Wiki notes that:

The first recorded age-of-consent law dates back 800 years. In 1275, in England, as part of the rape law, a statute, Westminster 1, made it a misdemeanour to "ravish" a "maiden within age," whether with or without her consent. The phrase "within age" was interpreted by jurist Sir Edward Coke as meaning the age of marriage, which at the time was 12 years of age.

Sir Edward Coke (England, 17th century) made it clear that "the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband's estate was 9 even though her husband be only four years old."

I'm certainly not advocating a return to these situations in any shape or form, but I highlight them to point out that the idea of marriage in the past could be very different to what we find today, and indeed the marriages acceptable to our ancestors might well be ones we would find abhorrent.


Why should the number two be involved? Other cultures and times know of polygamous marriages, and polyandry, while rarer, is not unknown. The Old Testament itself bares witness to polygamy, notably from the time of the patriarchs .

Abraham, the great founding father of the Israelites, had three wives, Sarah and her servant Hagar (see Genesis 16 v 3), and Keturah, as well as a number of concubines (Genesis 25 v 6). Esau had three wives - Judith, Bashemath (Genesis 26 v 34) and Mahalath (Genesis 28 v 9). Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel had Rachel and Leah, who were sisters, as his wives, see Genesis 29, and their servants Bilhah and Zilpah in Genesis 30. ) The Mormons are well known for basing their early marriage customs on these practices, citing the Old Testament as being in favour. Certainly, the idea that polygamy was wrong does not enter the heads of these Biblical writers.

It should be noted that of 1170 societies recorded in Murdock's Ethnographic Atlas, polygyny (some men having more than one wife) is prevalent in 850. Indeed, current figures suggest that polygynous societies are about four times more numerous than monogamous ones.


The definition of marriage was legally changed in the UK following Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1753, in which the State had to approve a marriage for it to be valid - from 1754 onwards a marriage, in order to be recognized as legal, had to be carried out in a very specific, circumscribed manner, ending a period during which "irregular" or clandestine marriages proliferated. As legal historian Leah Leneman notes on the situation prior to this:

"The only thing necessary for a legal marriage was the free consent of both parties, as long as they were of age (twelve for girls, fourteen for boys), were not within the forbidden degrees of kinship, and were free of any other marriage. A marriage could be established by 'verba de praesenti', that is, the statement of consent by both parties, or by 'verba de futuro', a promise of marriage in the future, followed by sexual intercourse. Because such things happened in private, various types of evidence came to be accepted in disputed marriage cases, such as letters in which the man wrote, or referred, to the woman as his wife, "habit and repute" (that is, the couple cohabited and were considered by their neighbours and relations to be husband and wife), and so forth"

"A "regular" marriage was one for which the banns were publicly proclaimed and which was carried out in the parish church, but an "irregular" marriage was as legally binding. This was true in both England and Scotland before 1754, and in both countries the eighteenth century saw a marked rise in such marriages. Although a minister was not requisite, most couples preferred to have some kind of ceremony and "certificate," so there emerged "celebrators" of irregular marriage who made a living out of this trade."

"The "irregularity" lay in the ceremony, not in the status of the couple once married, and there was no stigma attached to being married irregularly rather than regularly. The difficulty arose when one party claimed to be married and the other denied this."

It was against this background, and the problem over decided who was married, that Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act outlawed "irregular" marriages. As Leah Leneman explains:

"Under Hardwicke's Act, from 1754 onwards only marriages for which the banns had been proclaimed and which took place in a parish church, unless under special license, were legal, although marriages conducted under Scottish law were also recognized in England (hence the enormous popularity of Gretna Green)."

"The Scottish legal system did not draw the same conclusions as the English from the Cochran/Campbell case and continued to allow mutual consent to be the one thing necessary to constitute a legal marriage, retaining the flexibility to decide disputed cases on their own merits. "


We see that two of the principal statements in the Evangelical notion of marriage simply fall apart when looked at historically. The idea that marriage is somehow the same thing today as in the past is simply not true. The definition of marriage has altered over time, when we look at consent, age of marriage, and number of wives, and also the legal definition of Lord Hardwicke's Act  is relatively recent in origin. The word may have remained - but the substance has changed considerably.

There was a time when a monarch was thought to have to be male, when the next in line for succession had to be male, and when the definition of monarchy went hand in hand with ideas about the divine rights of Kings. We still call the Queen the "monarch", but the monarch in a constitutional democracy differs hugely from, for instance, the more absolutist monarchy of Henry VIII! The word remains, but the substance has change, and much the same has happened with the word "marriage".

But the thrust of their argument is that "Civil Marriage" is somehow "redefining marriage". This works very well if you assume, as they evidently do in their statements, that marriage has been fixed and unchanging throughout history. But when you look at the history, you see that marriage has been redefined continuously over the centuries. To further redefine it, in some way, would be no more than has been done throughout recorded history.


Saturday, 28 June 2014


For my Saturday poem this week, with a decision pending next week in the States over helping the National Trust buy the Plemont headland, I thought I'd turn my eye towards that. While there are grounds for prudence over financial decisions, I think there really can be only one choice if you look at Plemont as a poet.
Windswept headland, craggy coast:
This is Plemont, at times the most
Desolate of places, when the rain
Beats down, and cold wind again
Blows over that shore, up ravines,
And chilling to bones by any means;
I went there at Easter, took my girl
To see the waves break and curl
Among those rocks; a place of joy:
Except for sailors, where land ahoy,
Means strong currents, dashing hard;
And yet above, the headland scarred,
By the broken remains, ugly, burnt,
Holiday camp in decay, undercurrent
Of neglect, of being left to rot away,
Where only rats now come to play;
In tourism's golden years, long ago
They came in droves; a camp aglow
With happy laughter of families here
But the future price to pay, so dear
Camp emptied, left, relic of past glory
And this was also the sad, sad, story
Of how Plemont came to be. And after
Plans for houses And no more laughter;
Just profound sadness at this final loss;
But now perhaps a chance, to move across
From despair to hope, to see once more
So wild and beautiful above the shore:
Plemont as it once was, a new creation
Waiting to be born, now in gestation;
And dare I hope, generations yet unborn
Will not have to despair and mourn;
But instead, the land will return to us all,
And we shall hear again the puffin's call,
And rejoice this day, when words spoken,
Decisions taken, restored what was broken;
To heal the land, above the seas great deep.
We will make a promise that we will keep;
The gorse flowers yellow, shining bright
And the scent of heather to give delight;
All of wild nature in her glorious dance:
This awaits us, if we seize the chance;
So let us not give in, or rue the day,
And let us not give in to dread dismay,
Let us rejoice, that we did all we could:
To save this coast for the common good.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Guest Post on Plemont by Michael du Pre

Michael responded to my blog by email, and has kindly agreed to make public this response for a wider audience. My original blog is here - to see the points A-C which he comments upon below.

While I think the proposition (as it stands) has some flaws, notably about guarantees to the States on ownership should the National Trust run into financial difficulties (on which his comments are also pertinent), there is also a deadline to all of this, as Michael reminded me.

Because of that, I think one would have to accept the proposition, flawed though it is - the second flawed on Plemont, but not quite as flawed as before (as it does not involve compulsory purchase or a "blank cheque" approach which was really unacceptable). This is a chance which will be unlikely to come our way again.

And Michael also makes some very good points below in favour in as well. Please read his response carefully.

Guest Post by Michael du Pre, chairman, Save Our Shoreline

As you will know, we are in favour of the States purchase so I have only addressed the objections that you listed.

My comments:

(a) GST: Assuming that next year, or the year after, there would be no need to raise GST  for other reasons, the purchase of Plemont at this knock down price would mean that the GST rate would have to be raised for one year only to 5.2%.

But this is (unlike GST which is a revenue item) a Capital item.

To explain the difference, this means that the Income and expenditure budget in future years should only be charged, not with £3.5m, but with the cost of the annual usage of the asset. (e.g. office furniture, one tenth; a building, one fiftieth etc). If we assumed that Plemont's 'use' to the island would disappear after 100 years we would have to charge this years Income and Expenditure account with 1/100th of £3.5m, that is £35,000, which is hardly a worrying figure. In actuality it has an infinite number of years use so even that figure is overstated.

Of course, we might have to go out and borrow the £3.5m. This would cost 3.5% of the capital sum which would amount to an interest charge of £122,000 but, against these (in States terms relatively tiny) costs one has to take into account the tourism, education, and health and well being etc invisible benefits.

(b) surely it is the urban residents who stand to gain most by having an additional recreational facility which will become more accessible by the introduction of more car parking facilities and a more attractive 'joined up' coast line away from the hustle and pollution of the town?

As for the 'class' argument; I have walked with many different walking clubs in my past and know that such activity cuts right across class barriers. Similarly, with opera, where I have met many new recruits to this form of music from all classes. Again accessibility is the thing and of course if there is no facility, a wide range of people will never get the chance to try it out and grow to appreciate and like it.

(c) Having examined the Nation Trust's accounts, I tend not to agree with their Treasurer's view that they are in such a 'parlous state'. They have £5m of investments and £1m of land and Buildings. Their recent revenue losses are tiny in comparison and they could in theory continue to make such annual losses of similar amount well into the future without running into problems. (Not that I am suggesting that they should mind you!). However, a large part of their annual income comes from donations and, after having scraped the barrel in respect of agreeing to put up the first £3.5m, they need to be very cautious for a few years to come. Therefore, I do not think that the proposal that they take on a loan in respect of the second tranche is a good one.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Plemont: Some Thoughts

Today's post is a reprint of a letter published in the JEP on Tuesday on the States helping buy Plemont for the National Trust. Unfortunately, they don't seem to publish letters online now, so I occasionally reprint them on my blog to make them available to a wider public.

I'm still undecided about Plemont, and I can see arguments on both sides.

Against are three main arguments

(a) that we can ill-afford this, and the money would be better off elsewhere where there are cuts. That might not just be an injection into health care, but could be spent on supporting jobs, boosting the economy, filling any looming black holes caused by zero-ten and falling revenue from GST. Would you like the States to fork out for Plemont, and then have a GST rise next year (or the one after) as a result of shortfalls in States income?

(b) it will not benefit most of the urban population of St Helier, who tend not to stray far from their Parish, but the richer rural inhabitancy - in other words, it is like a subsidy to the Royal Opera House, something that the comfortably well-off middle classes (and above) will enjoy, but not something the working class man or woman would really want if they had a say. This can be seen most readily in the recent vote at a meeting at St Brelade, where a vote was in favour of  purchase by 31 to 7, indicating a rural bias (and people who preferred Plemont to watching football on TV). Putting money into Plemont is, to some extent, a "Middle Class Rip-Off" to quote "Yes Minister".

(c) There is a third argument which I have heard - that we should not be handing over money to the National Trust of Jersey as they do not seem to be financially viable - the 2012 accounts showed an operating deficit of £269,000 which was £11,000 more than the deficit of 2011. The report says that "Our finances continue to be in a parlous state", and they sometimes have to decline first refusal on historic buildings through lack of funds. The 2013 accounts showed a small improvement - a deficit of £142,000, but identified a repair backlog of just over £3.2 million. Given the "parlous state" of the finances, is it financial prudent for the States to give them a substantial sum without sufficient guarantees.

In its favour, it can be said that:

(a)    The Town Park was also an example of culture trumping mere economics. It was felt that despite the cost, and the reduction in parking spaces, there would be a benefit to the people in St Helier to have an extra "green lung". The principle that economic considerations need not be the only ones has been established by a precedent like this.

(b)   It is on a bus route, and accessible (in principle) to anyone. It will benefit anyone who lives in Jersey, and be open to anyone to visit and enjoy, and also a boost to Tourism.

(c) This is a one-off opportunity which is unlikely to arise again. It has to be seen in the context of the purchase of Woodford (now the Winston Churchill Memorial Park) and Noirmont Headland, as an investment in the future, which future generations will regard as good value for money.

(d) Unlike the previous proposal by Sir Philip Bailhache, this is a fixed price, not a blank chequr, with a price agreed with the current owner of the Holiday Camp site.

The letter from "Save Our Shoreline" addresses some of these points, in particular the matter of funding. By taking money from the Jersey Development Company, and the presently aborted car park project, funding can be raised without pinching money from elsewhere.

The JDC is supposed to be self-financing, but would be looking to the States to fund an underground car park - so much for self-financing. When the charges it makes to the States are taken into account, and the paltry dividend it returns to the States is put into the equation, the States is actually effectively paying the JDC more than it receives in dividends. It is high time that it was forced to become self-financing, and all kinds of nice contingency transfers such as that for the car park, should cease.

If I was in the States, I would like to see some provision for funding - such as that proposed by SAS - as a firm part of the conditions for approval of States funding for Plemont, as well as suitable guarantees regarding ownership should the National Trust run into financial difficulties. If those obstacles could be resolved, I'd probably vote in favour. As it is, I think it the proposition needs more scrutiny.

Anyway, here's the full letter - so you can make your own mind up.

Save Our Shoreline Supports the Trust's Purchase of Plemont
from Michael du Pre, chairman, Save Our Shoreline.

There has been much correspondence in your pages as to whether or not the States should match the National Trust for Jersey's contribution and buy the Plemont headland from the developers.

It really boils down to two polarised views: on the one hand, the argument is that the money should be better spent for social purposes - perhaps, for example, on Health or housing; on the other, the argument is that this is a small price to pay to protect our coastal environment and gain a valuable headland for the benefit of generations to come.

Here is one example of a way that funding may be made available. We have recently seen large quantities of money simply disappear from the Treasury-owned Jersey Development Company on ill-advised projects such as its desperate push to create an International Finance Centre on the Esplanade Car Park.

At the last count, they had spent £4.5 million of taxpayers' money on consultants, architects' fees and directors' salaries and bonuses, for no foreseeable return and, as far as anyone knows, will continue to do so.

Furthermore, as the project unexpectedly expanded, the Treasury Minister managed without difficulty or any States' authorisation, to create an allocation from States' reserves of £13m plus to create a three-and-a-half storey underground car park which he now admits will be on indefinite hold.

We suggest that by putting a brake on further JDC spending, the States could free up some or all of the £3.5m, with any shortfall being provided from the £13m. Neither of these measures would have any effect on other States' budgets.

As regards health and social services, there are enormous structural problems that need to be sorted out, since ever-increasing public funding appears to result in little visible benefit.

These problems are not going to be solved by a one-off injection of £3.5m into the system. On the contrary, such an ad-hoc 'donation' would only serve to postpone action being taken on the underlying causes.

On the other hand, the long-term annual returns (in perpetuity) on a one-off investment of a capital sum on £3.5m on the Plemont headland would simply be incalculable in terms of sustaining future tourism and, through recreation, improving the general health of a relentlessly increasing population confined 
within a small area.

Save Our Shoreline Jersey very much support the efforts of the National Trust to purchase the land at Plemont. We hope that this States Assembly will vote in favour of the proposition supporting the National Trust's initiative and will go down in history as the protectors of one of the Island's unique; and most: precious assets.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A Variety of Times

I’m pleased that I’ve finally completed a new booklet of poems (64 pages), which I’ve called “A Variety of Times”.

These were all written during 2013, and I’ve added photos and pictures to most of the poems to enhance the experience.

I don’t write for profit, just for pleasure, but it is nice to see my peoms in a printed form.

I’m hoping to add a Kindle edition soon.

The link to the book is here, but I’ll be getting some copies to hold for family, friends, and anyone interested.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Head Case: The Impact of A Faulty Law

Draft Road Traffic (No. 60)(Jersey) Regulations 201-
The States, on 10th March 2010, agreed to support paragraph (a) of Deputy A.K.F. Green of St. Helier's Proposition P.4/2010, and asked the Minister for  Transport and Technical Services to bring forward legislation 'to ensure that cyclists were required to wear a suitable safety helmet whilst cycling in the case of persons aged under the age of 18 years'.
On 5th July 2011, the Minister, following discussions with Deputy Green, delivered a Statement to the Assembly confirming the draft legislation to be brought forward would apply to children under 14 years old.
These draft Regulations amend the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 to give the Minister power, by Order, to require children to wear protective helmets when on a pedal cycle on a road or cycle track.
The Regulations also -
. create the offences that persons will commit in relation to a child who should be, but is not, wearing a cycle helmet. The level of fine for such offences is level 1 on the standard scale;
. give powers to Police Officers, among other things, to ask for the child's age, name and address and the parents' names and address(es). A person who fails to abide by a Police Officer's request commits an offence and is liable to fine of level 2 on the standard scale;
. amend Article 80 of the Law so that an Order under that Article can provide for authorised persons to test and inspect cycle helmets.
One offence is committed by the child himself or herself (if aged 10 or over, and below the prescribed upper age limit), one by either or both of the child's parents if they cause or permit the breach without reasonable excuse, and one by any other person who is driving the cycle without reasonable excuse at the time of the breach (for example where the child is in a child seat, in a trailer or on a tandem).
The exceptions the Minister would propose include children -
. riding on a sea beach;
. riding on a cycle track where the pedal cycle is controlled by an adult pedestrian;
. drawn in a trailer complying with the relevant standard, the children using safety belts and not exceeding the maximum height for the trailer;
. riding on "Bessie Bikes" on a cycle track;
. required to wear a turban
General Comments
I can see a host of problems with this legislation, especially with teenagers around 15-17, and also those 18-21. Unlike some who object, I am not against helmets, and I can see that they can be a major factor in preventing head injuries. Hence my comments do not feature any criticism of statistics about helmet use, increased risk taking (the Peltzman effect) etc.

I am assuming that it is taken for granted that wearing helmets is a good thing. I do not like seeing adults who are, to my mind, risking their health in any injury by not wearing a helmet.

My objection to the law stems purely from the provision to include children, and the inability of the law to specify exactly how it would work. I am also concerned about areas not covered in the law, and the potential detrimental effect on tourism. But my major critique is the way in which the law sets out to levy fines on children and parents, without giving sufficient thought to how this will operate, or if it will be fair and just - which is surely what compulsory laws must ensure.
1. There seems to be no provision to require proof of age. And requiring proof of age when cycling seems rather draconian. On the other hand, if the age is not the correct one, this requires checking up at the address given. Or for the person to have to go to police HQ to supply proof of age if they don't have it with them.
2. Someone of the age of 16 or above could legally be married and living away from home. It is sheer madness that the parent should be responsible.
3. Is this going to lead to "stop and check" policy for people of ages 15-21. It can be extremely difficult to ascertain age in those cases.
4. If someone wears a turban, how can you determine if they are "required to wear it". They can state their religion is Sikh, and there is pretty well nothing that can be done about it.
5. If a kid riding leaves home, helmet in place, and out of site, dismounts and takes it off, the parent will not know. Is the parent expected to supervise the child all the way to school to ensure it stays in place? And what if the child goes off with friends at the weekend on their cycle? Why should the onus be on the parent to police this, and how can they be expected to? Would the impossibility of policing this count, or would the parents be seen "permiting the breach without reasonable excuse"? In fact, what is a "reasonable excuse"? The preamble does not give it at all.
6. What is the status of the Railway walk?

7. As a Law which is enforced in Jersey, but not elsewhere - UK, Europe, Guernsey - how is the information to be conveyed to the tourist, who may arrive only to discover they need to purchase a cycle helmet? Will there be sufficient demand for helmet rental to be a possibility? There could be a very serious discouragement to tourists to come here and cycle around Jersey, especially as no such laws apply in Guernsey.

8. And for that matter, what is the state of St Brelade's Promenade where I have seen the odd cyclist?
Levying the Fines
I assume that like seatbelt legislation, the law would levy the fine on the parents, and certainly it looks as if this would be the case. Now with seat belt law, it is the driver who is responsible for juveniles in the car. That's all well and good and easy to police, after all, a stationary car would hardly pose a problem, and if it is being driven, it is fairly easy to spot the driver if stopped for breaking the law regarding juvenile passengers.

On the other hand, if the fine is levied just on a child who has no income, is the parent liable to pay? How is a child, with no income in their own right, supposed to pay a fine? But is it right that the parent should be due to pay if they have taken all the steps they can reasonably do while the child is within sight to ensure the law is complied with? Are parents likely to encourage children to cycle when they end up bearing the burden of the fine, though no fault of their own?
Cycling helmet law seems to place the burden on the parents, which is an impossible situation. A parent might see the child depart for school, helmet in place, but unless they follow the child to school, they have no way of monitoring if the helmet stays on. The same, if the child visits a school friend, and is going to cycle round to them.

And as I mention, a 16 year old can be living away from home, and even married, yet the law places the burden of responsibility for the helmet on his or her parents! That is ridiculous! It's simply not been thought out properly.
Sweden has a common sense approach. If an adult is with a child under 15 cycling, the adult gets fined. If the child is alone, there is no fine. That would constitute "reasonable excuse" for the parent.  Presumably if the child was 16 and living away from home, that would also constitute "reasonable excuse" for the parent.

Even in Queensland, for children 10 - 16 years, a fine is imposed on a third violation, after a caution and then a warning. There is no provision like that here. In British Columbia,  for children under 16, the penalty acrues to the parents - but only if aware of the offence. In Victoria, Children receive a Bicycle Offence Report, which is a letter to their parents, without monetary penalty.

However,  in the Northern Territory of Australia, the offender is fined, and if not paid within 3 months, the offender (children included) faces court followed by a detention centre or jail.

In Queensland, a report (in 2013) noted:

"The Committee is aware that police enforcement of helmet wearing by children is hampered by the fact that the children are not able to pay the fine and their parents have no legal responsibility to pay the fine on their behalf. The Committee believes parents should be responsible for ensuring their children wear helmets and should therefore be responsible for paying any fine their child incurs."

It makes the argument that this is similar to seat belt legislation, but as I have argued, this is simply not the case. A passenger is within view of the driver, a child cyclist is not in view of their parent. Removing a helmet and placing it on handlebars (or elsewhere) is a matter of moments.
I really do not think it is simply sufficient for the Courts to test "reasonable excuse", and some indication at the very least should be enshrined in the law, or the preamble to the law. This is a major deficiency which must be addressed before the law is changed. What counts as "reasonable excuse" must be given teeth, otherwise it is vague, unclear, left to the Courts, and parents may well pay fines rather than incur costly legal fees. Is that just?
My Suggestions
My preferred option:
1) caution or words of advice to both "responsible adult" and child
2) reduce age range to 15 and below. Or change "responsible adult" not to include parent if child is living away from home (and left school, in employment etc). My preference would be the first option.
3) if second (or third) offence, confiscation order on bike for specified period. That affects the child, not the adult, directly, so they have the main burden of responsibility - they suffer a forfeit where it hurts them, and not their parent, who may well be trying to ensure their child wears a helmet when they can see them. It is like disqualification.
Some notes on confiscation
There is a degree of precedence for confiscation in UK Law.
Confiscation of an asset such as a car / motor bike is allowed under UK law, as I understand it. The Police Reform Act 2002 gives the police these kinds of powers. Section 59 of the Act provides for the seizure of the vehicle and section 60 covers the duties of the police in respect of the retention, safe keeping and disposal of the vehicle.
For the powers to be available, the officer/Police Community Support Officer (who has received the required additional training on the Road Traffic Act and s59 Police Reform) must have reasonable grounds for believing that a mechanically propelled vehicle is being, or has been, used on any occasion in a manner which:
(i) contravenes section 3 or section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (careless and inconsiderate driving and prohibition of off road driving)
(ii) is causing, or is likely to cause, alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public.
Now the Road Traffic Act does include provision for pedal cycles. under "Dangerous cycling" and "Careless, and inconsiderate, cycling"
So in theory it might be possible to do something to change in Jersey law to allow confiscation. The kind of legislation which would be needed is in place for some traffic offences, at any rate, in the UK. In principle, Jersey could follow the Police Reform Act, and adapt that to include bicycles.
Insofar as it was a punishment, confiscation would not really be suitable, but if it was to prevent the owner repeating the offence, then I think their might be some grounds for this. It could merit further study.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Wild Flowers and Plants

Blog for today is very short! It's a link!

I'm setting up a new blog, especially aimed at locations and the wild flowers, plants and trees you can find there.

It is at:

I'm keeping it to around 2/3 flowers / plants per posting, as I want to incorporate general information about each plant too.

This posting looks at


Lavater - also known as "Irish Toilet Paper"! 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hymns of Establishment and Protest

I was listening to Sam Mezec's talk at CHOW, and how much he disliked being made to sing hymns at primary school, which he find irrelevant to his life.
My own experience of hymns was rather different. I enjoyed some hymns, but loathed others. In particular, I hated those hymns in which a message was given that was not just religious, but about a fixed orderly society in which everyone had their place.
Mrs Alexander's "All Things Bright and Beautiful", so beloved of schools, now often has the offending verse removed, but in my day, we sung this:
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.
It is a political statement in which the ordering of society is blessed by God, and thereby justified. But these is even more that just the ordering, there is the way in which value is placed upon wealth. As Professor Rodney Barker noted:
"There is an equally interesting assumption in the verse that is less noticed: rich and poor are synonymous with 'high' and 'lowly'. Social status is not only fixed and God given, but it is measured, equated with, determined by material wealth."
That hymn had the opposite effect on me, insofar as I rejected its values. I did not however, reject God because I was able to make the distinction between the writer of the hymn, who wanted to co-opt God to endorse their values, and the idea of God.
It was a distinction I came across later in the pre-Socratic Xenophanes. The philosopher did not discard the idea of God, but he was severely critical of human attempts to visualise gods:
"Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black. Thracians that they are pale and red-haired..But if cattle and horses and lions had hands or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do, horses like horses and cattle like cattle also would depict the gods' shapes and make their bodies of such a sort as the form they themselves have."
Our Mrs Alexander crops up again, in another line I particularly hate. The carol "Once in Royal David's City" this time addresses how children should behave:
And through all
His wondrous childhood,
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly mother,
In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all should be,
Mild, obedient, good as He.
The Jesus whom, we are told, vanished at 12 years old, and caused his parents much distress before being found in the Temple at Jerusalem is simply not present in these verses. The child there was more like a prefiguration of the man, who would one day return to that same Temple and overturn the tables of the money changers. This was not someone "mild and obedient", but this is what Mrs Alexander wants to instil into everyone singing the hymn.

But rather that seeming irrelevant, these kinds of verses stirred indignation within me, and a protest against their sentiments, which was not what they indented at all!
I have some other experiences of hymns, however, more positive. Jack Dee remembers (in his Desert Island Discs), being hauled in front of the whole school for some misdemeanour. When boys were late at my primary school, the same occurred. You would have to stand to one side, in front of the whole school, while the assembly continued - it was a form of ritual humiliation. I always felt sorry for those boys who had to do that.
I was late once, for no fault of my own, because of heavy traffic, and I had to undergo the same ritual humiliation.
But the hymn being sung was John Bunyan's great hymn "He who would valiant be". Bunyan languished in a prison cell because of his beliefs. Because he was a dissenter who preached, and an itinerant preacher, he undermined the established church order, and was imprisoned for twelve years to persuade him of the error of his ways. His hymn is a protest him, against those people from the religious and political establishment - the "giants" - who would try to destroy him.
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.
And in the midst of standing out, because I was late, in the school assembly, the words "I'll fear not what men say" again sounded for me, a strong note of protest - and resentment at the way the school behaved in this manner:
Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.
This is a very different God from that of Mrs Alexander. It is the God who is on the side of the underdog, and who will be on their side against the powers and principalities of the land. It is the same note of protest that I found in Sydney Carter's "Lord of the Dance"
I danced for the scribe & the pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:
I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!
Perhaps this one was too contemporary, because it was hardly ever sung at school, as it puts in plain language words of protest against the religious establishment. However, all it does is to tell the story found in the Gospel narrative. But is a far cry from Mrs Alexander's well-ordered religious and political establishment.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Midsummer Ways

It is Midsummer, so here is a rondel written especially for the occasion, and set - where else? - at stonehenge, that ancient site, where every midsummer the druids gather to greet the dawn, and rising of the run.

Midsummer Ways
Now the druids chant along this day
The sun is rising through the stones
Walk paths laid out by ancient bones
We take the old track, sacred way
May healing warmth of the solar ray
Come down to us, in mystic zones
Now the druids chant along this day
The sun is rising through the stones
So to Stonehenge, we come to pray
Among those ancient circle stones
A healing place, for weary bones
As here the gods may come to stay
Now the druids chant along this day

Friday, 20 June 2014

A Feudal Oligarchy with Broadband

Peter Ould described Jersey, rather tongue in cheek, I suspect, as ""practically a feudal oligarchy with broadband". As he is giving up blogging, which is rather a shame, I thought I'd have a look at exactly how words like "feudal" are used.
If you look at Scotland, with the Referendum on Independence looming, it is very interesting to note what they think of England. Mark McNaugh writes an article entitled "Representative Democracy Impossible in UK Feudal System". He comments:
"Once elected to Westminster, in addition to going to the 'meet-and-greets' and 'grip-and-grins' with the corporate lobbyists and hedge fund managers they will actually represent, one hopes MPs take time to find about those they are supposed to represent.  Maybe they take crash courses on where the constituency actually is and who lives there.  Maybe they even go to visit.  Maybe not."
"The conclusion is inescapable: the UK system is so mired in decayed feudal institutions that UK citizens do not live in a representative democracy."
"Any Scot who still believes Scotland is better off in the Westminster system needs to ask this question: Should Scotland vote 'yes' and construct an honest representative democracy, or vote 'no' and remain bogged down in the corrupt feudal Westminster mire forever?"
So how does the UK's feudal system differ from that of Jersey? It is perhaps larger scale, a motley collection of Robber Barons, whose disconnect from those they represent is, if you live in Scotland, quite notable.
For McNaugh, the "feudal" nature lies with the Party System, whereby the MPs owe allegiance to Party and Party leader, and plight their allegiance to these overlords, rather than the people who elected them. The power is top down, just as in a feudal hierarchy, with a token sop given to the serfs every four or five years when elections come around.
India, according to Markandey Katju, also has a "feudal democracy", where "midway between 1947 and now our democracy was hijacked by the feudals." This is seen in the fact that the democratic system is undermined by a system based not on equality, but on the rank attributed to people in Indian society:
"Caste and religious vote banks, which could be craftily manipulated by many of our politicians to serve their selfish ends, emerged and became a normal feature of elections and other political activity in most parts of India. Everyone knows that in most parts of India people vote on caste and religious lines, instead of looking at the merits of the candidate."
What about a glance across the Atlantic, to the land of the free. According to Dave Pederson, America is "Home of the Bewildered Serf and Land of the Feudal Lords." He comments:
"The International Monetary Fund released a study on the growing debt divide. It shows that, basically what happened over the past 20 years or so, is that the lords' incomes have grown dramatically while the serfs' incomes have barely budged. With income gains that don't keep up with inflation, the serfs were forced to use credit to keep pace, and in turn, that has exacerbated the problem, triggering an unprecedented gap between the new feudal lords and their poor serfs. Ronald Reagan would be smiling if he wasn't dead as Dillinger, but I'm sure Arthur Laffer is celebrating enough for the both of them. Trickle-down economics as advertised!"
"This growing debt and income inequity coupled with the economic meltdown has turned the USA into a neo-feudal state. So serfs, just keep quiet, pay your debts, pay your lords' debts, use the service entrance and enjoy your servitude!"
The same is given voice by Dave Hodges, who writes that:
"The founding fathers notion that our elected leaders only expressed power so long as they had the consent of the governed, has seen its day and the notion is as dead as a doornail. Today, Americans are subjects, not citizens. We are enslaved, not free. The authority of the elite, as expressed through the collective power of the government , constitutes the sovereign authority in this country. The People, are no longer sovereign.The subjects of this country are being turned into feudal slaves."
The notion of a feudal society is, for these writers, as for the Scottish critic, "top down government", where elections are a kind of token, but after people are elected, they ignore, by and large, those who elected them, because power resides at the top.
That is something which also happens to some degree in Jersey, although I have noted that every so often, the public is so fed up with the sitting candidates that quite a few lose their seats. The people, it seems, will stand for just so much blarney, and then - if they have a choice - they reject the verbosity and flummery of the politicians and vote in others, always in the hope that this time, it will be different.
Certainly if Jersey can be described as a Feudal Oligarchy with Broadband, the UK Government can be described as a Feudal Barony with Streaming Video. There is the same discontent with the status quo, if not perhaps yet the low turnout that Jersey suffers.
The recent rise of UKip demonstrates that there is a need for a vote for protest, and this now receives the votes, as the Liberal party no longer has the confidence of the voters that it can protest.
What is notable is that feudalism is associated with a hierarchy of power, and some other aspects of feudalism seem to have been forgotten.
"Feudalism involved powerful or wealthier persons giving land, or the use of land, to poorer persons in exchange for services from those people."
"The peasants also claimed advantages under the system as they were given land and if they were loyal their position was secure as there was always the need for people to work the land to produce food and other goods and services."
The poorest in today's society have no land. They rent where they live, unless they can't afford it. As a recent report noted, a growing number of young people, here as in the UK, live on sofas and floors wherever they can find friends to take them in, and give them somewhere to sleep for the night.
But in the feudal system, while the peasants had obligations to their lords, they also had land, which no one could take from them. Even though you were tied to your land or your work, you were guaranteed to have it.
There were punitive taxes, but today's tax system is not necessarily that much better. While the poorer may fall beneath a threshold of paying tax, there are still indirect taxes and property taxes to pay.
I am not saying for a minute that it would be preferable to live back in the early Middle Ages, in a society where there was no medicine as such, no proper dentistry or heath care, or antibiotics, and medical professionals who knew how to treat illnesses. Agriculture was pitiful in its lack of knowledge, and famines were frequent. Of course it would not be good to live in that kind of world! And certainly the advantages of the Feudal System, when considered in itself, do not compensate for its disadvantages.
But consider if we had a modern society, with all the advantages of modern science, but a feudal system of land and duty and obligation, in which everyone had somewhere to live, and land that was theirs in return for various obligations. That part of Feudal society is actually quite attractive.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

In the News

Will anyone be voting for this Turkey in October?
"The Minister whose department handed over £200,000 to a convicted fraudster to film a Hollywood blockbuster in Jersey has told the States that the project has run out of money." (Bailiwick Express)
Senator Alan Maclean continues to try and spin this out with a kind Micawber promise to the public
"We have a script. It is in a position to proceed but it is not able to do so, we are advised at this stage, because of a lack of financing.Some of the financing has now been lost and they are working hard to put that back in place and to be able to progress it."
But the JEP notes that "Supermarket giant Tesco had been due to plough around £4 million into the Crystal Island film"
Perhaps I am naïve, but "some of the financing has been lost" does not quite sound as huge a sum as £4 million!
But will the Minister take responsibility for the £200,000, or will he let the voters decide in October?
It makes the unauthorised extra donation of £45,000 in 2006 by Philip Ozouf (who was then Minister for Economic Development) look like peanuts. As I recall, Senator Ozouf was not held accountable in any way for handing over that money without permission.
You would think lessons had been learnt since the fiasco of 2006, and procedures for signing off giving away wads of money on vanity projects had been tightened up. But apparently this is not the case.
"The States of Jersey Police has investigated nine cases of cyber-bullying since the end of January. Two cases have resulted in prosecutions for harassment. Senator Le Marquand said an investigator hired on 31 January was helping States police develop online intelligence. He told the States that since 31 January the police have recorded nine criminal reports of harassment or bullying over the internet. Of these, three alleged offenders received "words of advice" from the police, two harassment notices were served and two cases remain under investigation. In addition, two offenders have been prosecuted, with one receiving a 12-month binding over order and the other receiving a six-month binding over order and a two-year restraining order." (BBC News)
I have certainly seen a good deal of intemperate language, often name calling, especially on Twitter, so I am glad something is being done. Only last night, I was looking at a local politics group in Facebook, and found a case of harassment.
One individual is quite active politically online, but the poster did not take issue with him, but posted a photo of his wife taken from the website of the business where his wife works. I remonstrated with the poster, but they refused to remove it. But to attack people by disseminating information about their family seems to me to be a form of online harassment. It seems sneaky, sly and underhand, and I hope that the people who do this are given "words of advice".
The individual concerned called "Sue Young" has a Facebook page that is a monument to anonymity. They have no photos of themselves; no friends listed, and indeed have so locked off their account that it cannot accept friendship requests. There is an almost identical poster, but with even more intemperate language called "Trevor Skintman". They are like soldiers sitting in their little armoured pill boxes, peering out through the slips, and sniping anyone who comes within range.
Wikihow notes that fake Facebook accounts tend to give themselves away. One aspect is the friends list:
"Check out their friends. Are their friends global or local? The more local the friends, the more likely the person is to be real. The more global their friendship list, with very few or no local friends, start getting suspicious. The lack of local friends suggests that this is not a real person you're dealing with but a fake account."
"There are increasing cases of one person running numerous fake Facebook accounts, pretending to be an array of different people, all vouching for one another and all trying to be friends with someone real"
Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to ascertain their identity and prevent their unpleasant behaviour.
Tuck Shop
And finally, I see that Michael Gove is now set to abolish the school tuck shop. I used to love mine, and you could get a small bottle of coke (no cans in those days) for 9d (nine old pence). If you returned the bottle, you would get a three-penny piece back - which would be promptly spent on 3 penny items such as gobstoppers which really lasted.
We have a "tuck shop" to raise money for charity in our office. A sign of the times is the banana, and the healthy oat snack. But there are still crisps, toffee crisp, bounty bar, kit-kat, and all the non-healthy stuff that would cause the heath police to have a fit!
It always reminds me of George Orwell, who had his finger on the pulse of ordinary people, and even when he was writing, there was a gap between those who wanted people to have good wholesome, healthy diets, and the actual people themselves. Orwell's sympathy was always with the ordinary man and woman, and never with the healthy food expert - yes, they were around even then! Here is what he has to say about a miner's diet:
"The basis of their diet is white bread and margarine, corned beef, sugared tea, and potatoes - an appalling diet. Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots."

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

What is a Jerseyman?

This question was posed on Facebook recently by Reg Langlois, and there were some interesting replies. I propose to examine them, and comment on them, and make a few suggestions of my own.
Reg also asked: "How long do you have to live in Jersey before being called a Jersey man?"
And Chris suggested that "to be a true Jersey man you have to be born here... but if you show respect for that country you can adopt that title"
Reg also commented that: "Seems strange that someone coming from another country, say Germany or France to live, is called a Jerseyman straight away,.... I would have thought that they would have wanted to be called after the country that they were born."
So let's tease some of the aspects of this. What we are looking at here is a kind of marker of identity, and markers of identity are not always associated with birth place.
For instance, quite by an accident of history, during the German Occupation, some families left Jersey to go to the UK, and some children were born over there. After the war, the families returned to Jersey. Would they consider themselves to be English? As David commented:
"I consider myself a Jersey Man but I was not born here. My father's family left Jersey just before the Occupation and I was born in the United Kingdom and returned in 1946."
My youngest cousin was born in Australia. Her parents had emigrated to Australia from Jersey - under the "Ten Pound Pommes" deal which the Australian government was using to foster selected immigration to plug skills gaps. But they returned to Jersey later, when she was probably around three or four years old. She was born in Australia, but would she consider herself an Australian, when she has lived most of her life in Jersey?
I think that when we consider this, we can see that to identify ones self as a citizen of a country is not necessarily to be born there. A good deal may have to do with your parents, where their roots are, and not where you are born. If you are born outside of a country, but that is - to some extent - an anomaly - then you may well identify not where you are born, but where you come to live.
And of course, boundaries can be fluid. My girlfriend, Katalin, was born in Hungary - at least, it was Hungary (and part of the USSR as a satellite state) when she was born. The boundaries were shifted, and where she was born is now part of the Ukraine. She certainly regards herself as Hungarian, and her family live within the present boundaries of Hungary.
I suspect that childhood formation has a good deal to do with identity. If someone had remained with their family in England, and not returned to Jersey until perhaps they were 16, they would probably find some of the roots of their identity in England, and not Jersey. Their friends, the locality they grew up in, and all their early memories would be of England. Jersey would be a strange land to them.
But identity can be changed. Some of my relatives ended up in Canada - their Jersey mother married a Canadian man, and they were born and brought up in Canada. But quite a few of them moved to work in the United States. They have just received citizenship of the USA, and are American citizens. Likewise, a friend and family who are now living in New Zealand have now announced proudly that they are proper "Kiwis" - they have New Zealand citizenship.
Where there are formal arrangements for marking identity, it is very clear how people see themselves. They take on the citizenship of the country, and it is marked by legal procedures. Just as the Roman citizen could say "I am a citizen of Rome", they can say "I am a citizen of the USA" - and they have papers to prove it.
Where this is more informal, as in the UK, and in Jersey, it is harder to mark national identity. Instead, often other laws can act as markers. For example, in the UK, there is a distinction between residency and domicile. Someone can be resident in the UK, but not be domiciled there - a non-dom, and there are tax consequences on that. Questions of domicile can be complex but broadly speaking you have your domicile in the country that is your 'real' or permanent home which, if you have left, you intend to return to. The domicile is the home, the fixed place of habitation; while residence is a transient place of dwelling
Everyone has a "domicile of origin" at birth. This is usually the country that your father considered to be his real or permanent home at the date of your birth. If your parents were not married when you were born, your domicile of origin comes from your mother. You can also have a "domicile of choice", when after 16 years old, you can elect to change your domicile.
Now how you identity yourself - as, for example, a Jerseyman - is different from this difference between residence and domicile, but nevertheless, there are some similarities. In particular, there is a degree of choice in the matter. How you may identify when growing up, and where you grow up, may differ from that of your parents. And someone may come to a country, and settle there, and live there longer than they ever lived where they grew up, and put down roots.
In this way, identity is a matter of self-perception. I have come across people who came to live here, but still look back at the UK as "home" and "the mainland". They have parents there, and that is a tie that can bind their perception of their own identity more to the UK than Jersey. They cannot understand why Jersey does not have a party system with a Labour and Conservative party. From a position of invincible ignorance, they castigate the Honorary Police as "hobby bobbies". They may have been here more than thirty years, but their soul is in England.   
Equally, there may be people who have come here with their parents, even as young adults, and who see the Island as their home. The UK is a distant memory. It is where they were born, and grew up, but it is not where they feel their sense of belonging. We might say that - as with domicile of choice - there is a case of self-identifying "Jerseyman" of choice, as a matter of intention.
We might consider this almost like a plant that has been transplanted and puts down roots, and becomes firmly part of the landscape. It is not a native plant, but it has become one. During a walk I made around the La Pulente headland, there were many wild flowers, but a good many were not originally native to Jersey. They are now.
"A Jersey man/ woman is a person who was born here and whose parents were born here, like me!"
That comment, then, is an attempt to simplify something much more complex. Within several generations, identities can be established, but they may be fluid, and the boundaries may overlap. There are people who self-identify as Jersey, but who also self-identify as Portuguese, for example. They have relations- family, cousins - in Portugal, and they speak both English and Portuguese.
Language itself can be a marker of identity, and Barry Cunliffe suggested that the contested notion of "Celtic" in Iron Age times could be better marked by language, rather than any ethnicity. But unfortunately the Jersey patois is dying, and cannot now be used easily as this kind of marker.
Another way of looking for identity is in genealogy. But genealogy can also throw up surprises. Surnames often contain traces of origin. There is a particular class which has to do with place of origin, where a family came from. Obviously, it makes no sense to call someone by a surname that is common in a district, so a surname identifies the stranger - the immigrant.
Although the Langlois family is an old pedigree - they are an immigrant family. The surname is what GR Balleine described as a geographical place name - "If a man arrived in the island from outside, it was natural to describe him by the place from which he came." As Balleine notes, Langlois is a corruption of L'Anglaise, i.e., "The Englishman"! So the original Langlois were immigrants from England, and that is how they got their surname. Other old "Jersey" surnames are equally good at identifying locations - Le Gallais and Le Gallon are - the Welshmen (Galles is the French for Wales). They came from Wales originally.
Those families who might be three, four, five and more generations, but their origins are outside of Jersey. Nevertheless, those who bear those names, may well regard themselves as Jerseymen because of the long standing. But should that be mutually exclusive with shorter durations? How long did it take before the original immigrants identified themselves as Jersey? If we take the present as a guide to the past, we might assume, with good reason, that the same kind of social forces discussed above lead people to change their self-perception from being an outsider to being someone who belonged.
For example, we have one individual comment on Facebook:
"That is just my understanding there are those families who would say, three, four, five and more generations are try Jersey. I do believe to call yourself a Jersey person you must have roots and at least two generations of understanding and loving the quirkiness that is Jersey."
While someone else used the genealogical argument very strongly:
"I have traced our line of Langlois, back to 1660 in France. Great grandfather Jean Augustus Hyancithe Langlois 1822 was born in Port-bail France. He came to Jersey with his wife and had 12 Children, including my great grandfather. I hate it when people say I'm English."
But the roots of the name also contain its history, and cannot be denied. If you go back before 1660, at some point in the past, Langlois will end up as an Englishman coming from England. In fact, this family tree also shows French roots along the way.
An examination of the DNA of the oldest Jersey families are interesting. It is a mix of Breton, and Norman Danish. Yet there are traces of Neolithic DNA showing there may well have been  interbreeding with the indigenous population. So most Jerseymen are peoples whose ancestors came here, settled, married local people, and remained here to work and bring up their families. And at some time in the past, even the Neolithic people were immigrants.
But looking at the comments on Facebook, what we can do is put together aspects of what people think makes a "true Jerseyman".
·         Genealogy - if you can trace your family back a few generations, to within living memory, and perhaps further still, you can claim to be a "true Jerseyman"
·         A sense that the Island is your home, and its customs and history matter, rather than (for example) England, even if you are the first one in your family to come and settle here; in marked contrast to those who come, but look to the UK as their "mainland" and as a yardstick by which to measure Island institutions.
·         A sense of pride in the Island
But we could also turn things on their head, and say that a true Jerseyman would not be anyone who sent poisonous letters of hate, denouncing their neighbours, to the Germans in the last Occupation, however long their family tree, and even if their illustrious surnames appeared on Assize rolls of the 12th century. Their actions would be seen as a betrayal of their heritage.
And while a fixation with ancestry can be good,  it can also be a curse. I've been reading the book by Ward Rutherford on Edward Paisnel, and one of the main factors which drove Paisnel was his deep resentment of middle class and richer immigrants whom he believed had stolen much of his true birthright, and the status and esteem he should have had as a true Jerseyman. He was extremely proud of his ancestry, and children of families he targeted were all (as he saw it) relatively new to Jersey, and fair game.

Fundamentally, it comes down to self-identification, how we identify ourselves, and like all kinds of identity, it can be corrupted, as we see in these cases. And when someone plays the "my heritage is more authentic than yours" as if to say "I am a truer Jerseyman than you are", that corruption is never far from the surface. There is something very infantile in this attitude, like a child playing the game  "I am king of the castle - and you are the dirty rascal".
Rather, the attitude of those who call themselves "true Jerseymen" or for that matter "true Jersey women" should be - "my ancestors settled here some time in the past, and made it their home, and respected their traditions, holding fast to what was good (of which there was much), reforming what was bad (by evolution, not revolution), and if you do likewise, we will respect you too as a fellow Jersey man or woman."

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Electionering? Yes Minister!

Only a few brief notes for today.
From the Diary of Jim Hacker
I have been pushing for Tourism to be a big election issue, but the trouble is that my new Tourism board has only just got into place, and I have a nasty feeling that by the time it is in place, it will be long after the next election.
And there could be some trouble with old members of staff having to re-apply for their old jobs, which may not be too good news so close to election time. So I have decided to go for Plan B.
Plan B is to push for Sunday Trading as much as I can, as deregulated as I can make it, because then this will be in place and in time for the election, and I can say "I have done something".
Will it work? I asked Sir Humphrey and he replied, "Oh yes, Minister"
News Flash: Open All Hours Closes
Shop keeper Arkright says "it is nnnot alright, because I've had to ppay out extra wages to our Granville". He complains that since all the big supermarkets have opened on Sunday, the names are numbered for the smaller corner shop, and for him, it will not be "Open All Hours" but "Closed for Good".
"The tttimes, they are a'changing," he said, as Nurse Gladys Emmanuel mopped his fevered brow.
The Jim Hacker Phrase Maker
Take one word from column A and one word from column B.
Use in speech about Sunday trading.


Really Radical


New Online




Tough Official


Embrace New

Trading Figures