Thursday, 25 September 2014

Politicians Parachuting In

“The local party have made their views known that they wish the candidate who is selected to be a local person with strong ties to the constituency.”(UK election, St Helen’s Star, January 2014)

It is interesting to look at where the Jersey candidates for Deputies live, and where they are standing, in the Elections of 2014. Here is a list of the “invaders”, those “parachuting” in from outside.

Trinity, St Mary, St Peter, St Clement and St Ouen have contested elections, and all the candidates live within their respective Parishes.

The same is not true of St Helier.

In St Helier No 1, Russell Labey comes from St Ouen, Judy Martin from St Clement, and Scott Wickenden from St Martin.

St Helier No 2 sees Sam Mezec come in from St Saviour

St Helier No 3 and 4 sees Richard Rondel from Trinity. And Andrew Lewis comes from St John, but put his St Helier business address on his nomination paper. An attempt to ingratiate himself with a Parish that he doesn’t actually live in?

In St Saviour No 1, all are from within the Parish, but St Saviour No 2 sees Louise Doublet come in from St Helier. The remainder of the candidates live within the Parish.

St Brelade No 1 sees all candidates live in the Parish, but St Brelade No 2 sees Beatriz Poree and Natalie Duffy both from St Peter’s. It was notable on the nomination night that alone of all the candidates, their proposers left out their address, which suggests the candidates themselves felt uneasy about that.

Natalie Duffy does have a business in the Parish – the Salty Dog – but that’s actually in St Brelade No 1, so while she is very familiar with St Aubin’s and its problems, she may be less so for Les Quennevais.

Does it matter? Perhaps not. But if you live in another Parish, you may not be as aware of the day to day problems – or for that matter problems at night – as if you live in the Parish itself. It’s like the difference between someone who lives “over the shop” and someone who goes home at night.

There is bound to be a degree of detachment, a lack of local knowledge, especially with newcomers. And if there is a clash of Parish events, or Parish meetings, do they attend to their home Parish or their adopted one?

Ask yourself this: given two equally good candidates, would you prefer to be represented by Fred, who lives in the next street, and knows at first hand all about the noise at night caused by revellers leaving the pub, and the parking problems around your estate?

Or would you like to be represented by Bill, who may stop off passing through your street to post a letter or go to the shops, but lives elsewhere, in a comfortable country house? This is pretty much how part of the election battle played out between Bob le Brocq, who lived outside the Parish of St Helier, and Simon Crowcroft, who lived within the Parish.

How well can an Deputy represent people as well as an insider if he or she does not live among them and understand the problems they have? It is another question for the voter to ponder!

1 comment:

Maureen Morgan said...

Excellent article Tony! I would say it matters a lot where a deputy lives. I find it bizarre that we insist on constables being parish residents (except St Helier)but not deputies.

Another thing to bear in mind is how well known those deputies who live elsewhere are known by their electors. It would be good if all candidates were asked at the hustings how they chose their district to stand in.