Friday, 31 October 2014

RIP: Ed Le Quesne

A Man for Whom People Mattered

E QUESNE, Edward Geoffrey (Ed) MBE Passed away peacefully at Palm Springs Nursing Home on Sunday, 19 October, 2014 following a long battle with cancer, devoted and loving husband to Judi, father of Sarah and John and grandfather to Zoe, Lauren and Alex. A man who went through life determined and uncomplaining in the service of others who will live on in the hearts of all he inspired. Grateful thanks to all the caring staff at Palm Springs.

Ed was one of the greatest influences on me both with his support of Oxfam, and when I was around 16, introducing me to “Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered” by E.F. Schumacher which profoundly changed my view of the world.

Later, I become involved in the Amos group which was headed up by Ed, and looked at issues of social justice, taking its motto from the words of prophet Amos – “Let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream”

Even when the group no longer met, I was still in contact with Ed frequently by email, and the Amos group members remained on his mailing list, and some of my scribblings were good enough for him to forward to the group.

And he was also chairman of Christian Aid, involved with Oxfam (Chairman of the Oxfam Group for about 20 years in Jersey) and Fair Trade, pushing for Jersey to become a Fair Trade island, and educating people into understanding what Fair Trade was, and why it mattered.

He was also integral to the success of the CTJ Housing Trust. CJT stands for "Christians Together in Jersey" and the group was formed being aware of a lack of social rented housing in Jersey. When it was set up, Ed explained that “We borrowed money from the bank and we rent out the properties”, Currently we have 145 houses in the scheme.”

He also was involved it setting up the Le Quesne medical centre based in Kenya, providing medical and other aid supplies to children orphaned as a result of AIDS.

He was awarded an MBE. Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) is awarded by the British Government for significant achievement or outstanding service to the community; actions which set an example for others to follow.

This was certainly the case with Ed Le Quesne, as his life became a beacon shining to inspire others, and even when being treated for prostate cancer, he was still active in promoting good causes. He never gave up.

If I have a passion for social justice and fairness, then it is no small measure due to Ed’s influence on my life. And he touched so many lives. I asked people to tell me about any memories they had of Ed, and I had a number of replies, all showing how much his integrity and desire to do good touched people.

Deputy Sam Mézec commented: “As an Option A supporter, he helped monitor the referendum count at St Saviour's Parish Hall with me last year then gave me a lift down to town afterwards. I'd heard a lot about him but had never met him before. A good honest man who believed in fairness. I'm not a fan of the honours system but I did make sure I congratulated him earlier this year when he received his MBE! He explained how difficult it was knowing he had been awarded it but wasn't allowed to tell anyone. Sad to hear he's died."

Pat Bougeard commented: “ I am so sad to hear of Ed's passing, he was such a lovely man who had a wonderful heart for people in Jersey. Personally he helped me so much with my ministry for Deaf Church and I am privileged my last goodbye service from Georgetown was with him. He will be missed by so many people and I know he is at peace. Thoughts and prayers are with Judy and family. I thank God for him.”

Willy Nieuwburg said: “Now there is a great man. A man of compassion and integrity. I remember seeing him on the Itex walk trail once walking in unsuitable black office shoes. It was at Bouley Bay and was unsteady on his feet on the hill. I asked him if he was ok and he said yes. Kept an eye on him for a while. Then I saw him again near the finish and he said he had wanted to do this just once for the charities. Determination. A hero !”

Roisin Pitman noted: “I was privileged to have been welcomed into his table tennis club last season and played with him on a couple of occasions. He was a good umpire as well. Even when he was ill he still managed to remain cheerful and upbeat. I remember when he came down to the centre just after he had been to the Palace. He was such a humble man that while we were sitting next to each other watching a match he shyly got his MBE out and asked I would like to see it. Ed you dedicated your life to helping others, I trust now that the pain has gone and that you have just beaten St. Peter 3 games to 0. RIP.”

Mark Forskit commented: “Very saddened. I was one of the small band who Ed helped form an Oxfam group while at school. We shared many campaigns and supported many of the same campaign groups aims ever since. More of Ed's calibre, conscience and commitment would make our world a better place.”

LE QUESNE, Edward Geoffrey The Committee and Members of the Jersey Fairtrade Island Group mourn the loss of an inspirational and passionate supporter of many charitable causes in Jersey and especially overseas. His dedication, commitment and leadership helped to change the lives of many poor and disadvantaged people in the world.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Election Oversight

I see that Philip Ozouf has called for international observers.

“International election observers should be present during Jersey elections, according to a winning politician. Senator-elect Philip Ozouf said having observers would give a stamp of approval to the work done by officials. Mr Ozouf was an election observer in the Cayman Islands for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 2013.”

He said: "The thing I am now going to be pressing for is for our law to be changed in Jersey to allow international election observers to be present for the whole of the election and not just the count. Then for the day after the election to make a statement as to whether or not the election has been carried out in a free, fair and accurate way."

But how effective is election monitoring? There is an interesting article by Susan D. Hyde and Judith G. Kelley called “The Limits of Election Monitoring”. They point out that

“On the positive side, observers can verify that governments are indeed playing by the rules, which can be important in quelling ‘sore loser’ protests, increasing voter confidence, assisting the international community in assessing the legitimacy of the elections, and in theory, promoting democratization.”
Now it is clear that some people have unfairly castigated Sarah Ferguson as a “sore loser” for claiming what was a legitimate right. The limits of error have been set at 1%. But perhaps an extra factor should be an absolute difference in votes, as well as a percentage.

The reason for this was stated clearly by Edward B Foley in his article “Recounts: Elections in Overtime”. Looking at the USA, he comments that “it is extremely rare to have a major state-wide election unsettled after Election Night. The mathematical "law" of large numbers accounts for this statistical fact.”

“Though a small local election involving only a thousand ballots could easily end up with only a ten-vote margin between the two leading candidates-and thus the necessity of a recount and perhaps a judicial lawsuit to determine whether that ten-vote margin holds up as valid-a large state-wide election involving a million ballots or more is much less likely to end up in such an easily disputable ten-vote margin.”
And he explains by means of an example:

“Think of it this way: Say two candidates run neck-and-neck in a small local election with only 1, 000 voters and they split the vote almost evenly 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent; the outcome is a two-vote margin. However, if two candidates receive the same neck and-neck percentages in a large state-wide race involving 1 million ballots, the result is a 2,000-vote margin, which is not as easily contestable.”
So perhaps the percentages should be revised to also include a threshold for the larger difference in our own Senatorial elections, because as Foley’s example shows, a bare percentage is useful with small numbers of votes, far less so with larger numbers. Alternatively, a smaller percentage could be set for fixed for Senatorial elections to reflect this mathematical deficiency in the Jersey election law.

In fact, mathematician Philip Stark has devised a method in the USA called “risk-limiting auditing”, described in a 2008 paper, “Conservative statistical post-election audits”

“What this new auditing method does is count enough to have high confidence that [a full recount] wouldn't change the answer…You can think of this as an intelligent recount. It stops as soon as it becomes clear that it's pointless to continue. It gives stronger evidence that the outcome is right.”
His methodology has been endorsed by the American Statistical Association as well as numerous academics and he Brennan Center for Justice.

Risk-limiting auditing relies on a published statistical formula, based on an accepted risk limit, and on the margin of victory to determine how many randomly selected ballots should be manually checked. Perhaps it is something the States statistical unit could look into.

Returning to election observers, what also can they do?

“When governments do not play by the rules, observers can reduce fraud that would otherwise occur and condemn governments for election manipulation, sometimes validating domestic protest, as happened in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004. “
However, the really important work is also done before and after the elections:

“International monitors conduct a great deal of on-the-ground work months before an election even takes place…They pressure governments -- either through direct meetings or public condemnation -- to update voter registers, support domestic observers, ensure that ballot materials are delivered throughout the country, and adopt technologies that make blatant election fraud harder.”
Of those items listed above, there can be no doubt that the voting registers contain errors in Jersey – duplication of electors where they have moved Parish or District, and the older address has not been removed, mistakes when boundary voters are entered on two lists for Districts within one Parish, and I would not mind betting there are probably dead people on there as well.

The rolling electoral role means incremental changes are made as data comes from electoral register forms about new addresses, but change of address or death is an absence of an entry. Unlike the old days, when a completely new register was created, the rolling register maintains errors for three years.

But the authors also note that observers may be biased because they are not entirely as independent as the word suggests:

“It is important to remember that observers are agents of donors, governments, and organizations, whose need for diplomacy or stability can push monitors away from frankly assessing elections. This problem is underreported and not discussed enough, either because many in the media assume that all monitors are disinterested “election police” or because policymakers choose to turn a blind eye.”
And it also notes that:

“Yet due to poor or delayed funding, many missions arrive too late or are too understaffed to evaluate the full pre-election period and document whether there were problems with the unfair use of government resources, the voter registration process, the way the electoral commission is appointed and run, the rules for candidates and parties, and so on. A similar dynamic holds for after the vote, as observers and donors often shift their focus too quickly to elections elsewhere.”
There is now a moratorium on presenting any propositions after the nomination period, but that still does not prevent a Minister from presenting a promise to bring a proposition.

For instance, Philip Ozouf himself came out with a “New Deal for St Helier” well into his campaign, as his ratings clearly were flagging. Is it right that a Treasury Minister should offer a special deal to a particular group of voters to win them over? Is that not an abuse of office?

If, for example, a Social Security Minister had offered (they didn’t) to bring a proposition for free dental care for over-70s, that would appear to me to also be using their office to their advantage, something which a backbencher or outsider would be unable to do.

It would be an unfair advantage, and one in which the spirit, if not the letter, of the ruling on no propositions after nomination night would be broken. Perhaps in looking at “rules for candidates”, the independent observers would also consider that when preparing a statement as to whether or not the election has been carried out in a free, fair and accurate way!


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Alphabet for the Scientific Age

From “The Pilot” of May 1964 comes this piece from Catherine Giles, some parts dated, some surprisingly still with us :

Alphabet for the Scientific Age
A is for Atom, which clever men split
For towns to be blasted-or heated, or lit.

B is for Bathoscape, used to observe
The flora and fauna of Neptune's preserve.

C is for Count-down, a term which implies
That someone is shortly to leave for the skies.

D's the Deterrent we keep just in case
Some fool should attempt to blow up the whole race.

E is for Ether, which brings the vibrations
From far-away rockets and radio stations.

F is for Fall-out, the blight which descends
Whenever a nuclear test series ends.

G is for Gravity, always the foe
Of would-be explorers in Space, as they go.

H is for Hovercraft, skimming to port
Without any visible means of support.

I is for Isobars, frequently seen
Adorning the weather charts shown on our screen.

J is for Jet plane, which leaves a white trail,
And deafens us all with its ear-splitting wail.

K is for Khrushchev, whose ultimate dream
Is a Communist World, with his country supreme.

L is for Light-years, a way to denote
The distance of stars which are wildly remote.

M is for Moon, that sweet symbol of change
Long cried for in vain, but at last within range.

N is for Nebulae, rushing through Space
At what seems to us an incredible pace.

O is for Orbit, a satellite’s course,
Maintained and controlled by centrifugal force.

P is for Pill, which we cannot but mention,
Though many still find it a bone of contention.

Q is the question which bothers me still
With so many space-trips- well, who pays the bill?

R is for Radar, the method employed
For tracking strange bodies which roams through the void.

S is for Space-ship, the schoolboy's delight,
Which hurtles to Saturn and back over night.

T is for Telescope, scanning the stars
For objects like visiting saucers from Mars.

U is for Universe: who comprehends
It's purpose, its age and the place where it ends?

V is for Venus, first stop to the Sun.
Some folk may attempt it, but I won't, for one!

W stands for the Weightless condition
Of men on a long interplanetary mission.

X is the quantity always unknown-
The truth that men seek, their philosopher's stone.

Y is for Yuri, the popular ace,
The very first man to be shot into Space.

Z is for Zodiac, sadly outmoded,
Like much that this nuclear age has exploded.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A Robust Voting System?

In the end, the Senatorial recount only gave rise to a smattering of votes different from the previous occasion. But, by all accounts, this was not so much from the robustness of the voting system, as a result that a lot of the errors (and there were more than the announcement suggested), cancelled each other out.

It would be interesting if they published the revised count by Senator and Parish so that the exact nature of differences could be seen, because of course, while not materially effecting the result, other Senators also had different counts in the end.

If there is enough exactness in the system, then a small percentage of errors will not make a qualitative difference, but understanding how those errors are caused can help make the system more robust in the future.

Apparently, one common error was scanning along a sheet with names at one side, and numbers across, meant that it was easier for the eye to slip from one line to another.

A study by researchers at Rice University showed that hand counting of votes in post-election audit or recount procedures can result in error rates of up to 2 percent.

Michael Byrne, associate professor of psychology at Rice said:

“It is probably impossible to completely eliminate errors in hand counting of ballots. However, there are new auditing methods that capitalize on advanced statistical procedures that can help ensure that final election results better match what is actually on the ballots. It is important that we become aware of the limitations of current methods and develop alternative ways to improve the accuracy of election results.”

For most elections, even a 2 percent error won't change the results, but it can happen.

But the bottom line is that there will always be counting mistakes – but as long as the errors are unsystematic, they will usually cancel each other out. In the aggregate you'll have an estimate quite close to the real result.

So the voting system is not strictly speaking “robust” but “robust enough for practical purposes”.

Monday, 27 October 2014

What I’ve been watching on TV

Dr Who

I’ve found this a bit of a mixed bag.

The opening episode, “Deep Breath” with a throwaway dinosaur, was something of mishmash, and rather a wasted opportunity. It was nice to see Matt Smith, but risky, as the familiar and charming only accentuated the rather spiky Capaldi Doctor.

“Into the Dalek” was a different take, and clearly showed the roots (even with a mention) of the TV movie Fantastic Voyage; it was nevertheless rather fun. What happened to the Dalek’s protective force fields, by the way? Present in the Russell T Davies era, they seemed to have gone.

“Robot of Sherwood” was typical Mark Gatiss, pressing the comedy as far as the drama would allow, and if you enjoy that (and I did) a rather good romp. Gatiss also has an excellent ear for dialogue, and this was sparkling.

“Listen” was rather more of a sequence of sketches than anything concrete, though the unseen figure under the blanket on the bed was extremely scary, an excellent example of how to use imagination to terrify. The part of the Doctor’s early childhood (if that is what it was) seemed a bit out of sorts with the established continuity; it will be interesting to see if more is made of that.

“Time Heist” by the same author was an enjoyable run-around, a timey-wimey story, but with rather a good alien monster, and an enjoyable pace. 

“The Caretaker” was enjoyable, but slight. 

“Kill the Moon” had a wonderful lunar landscape (Lanzarote, with CGI colour changing), scary spider like monsters, but a denouement whose science just defied description. I really didn’t like the ending, which seemed rather unconvincing. The abortion subtext was also pretty obvious.

But “Mummy on the Orient Express” and “Flatline”, again two by one author, were classic Doctor Who, perfectly structured, brim full of ideas, characters, and pace and plots which actually made sense.

“In the Forest of the Night” took the bold step of telling a very different story, with a strong ecology message, but again some rather bad science surfaced – how were people using mobiles when the solar flare would have wiped out the satellites?

I rather like this clerical sleuth, and the two leads, James Norton and Robson Green are excellent, and it has a good supporting cast.

As I don’t like missing “New Tricks”, I record that at 9, and use ITV +1 for Grantchester, so I can have a double dose of murder.

One of the features I like especially is the sermon which ends each episode, and here are two of them. They are mini-sermons, but they draw upon the storyline of the episode and provide a neat and rather different way of concluding the story.

Sermon by Reverend Sidney Chambers
We cannot erase our pasts, however hard we try.

Instead we must carry them with us into the future. We must carry them with us and look forward with hope. We must look forward, because to look back is to waste precious time.

Someone recently said to me, "We should live as we have never lived."

And we must all of us take heed and live as we have never lived.

For we are all mortal.

We are all fragile.

And we all live under the shadow of death.

Sermon by the Curate, Leonard Finch
Kant once wrote -"By a lie, a man annihilates his dignity as a man."

Our good friend Immanuel wasn't one to mince his words. He saw things in black and white. He didn't dwell on the grey areas.

But who amongst us can honestly say that we haven't lied for good reason? Who amongst us can say we live a truly good life?

And that's not to say we shouldn't try. We should all continually try to be the best we can be.

To escape the sins of our past..... to be accepting of our little foibles... and of others.

We can't run away from who we are.

We must turn and face the truth head on.

Sometimes in life... it's better just to... get on with things.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Individual Cases

The Lord told them this parable.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and not waste time finding the lost sheep? And when he forgets all about it, he joyfully and goes home, for it is his time to rest, not seek lost sheep. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; for I have learnt not to talk of individual cases of lost sheep’

How often do we find a politician confronted with the case of someone, often quite despairing of anything being done, trying to bring a case to their attention? This could be a case of carers not receiving enough respite help, feeling their family, and perhaps their marriage is stretched to breaking point. Or someone with mental health problems, feeling suicidal, who has been told they have to wait for 6 months before they can be seen? And there are plenty of other cases like these.

The stock response by the politician is “I can’t comment on individual cases”. Now I can understand that when someone wishes their problems to remain silent. But in these cases, as a final action to try and elicite a response, in sheer desperation, these people have gone public.

It is true that departments and politicians deal with many cases, but many cases come from many individual circumstances, and to use this phrase as an excuse, very often for doing nothing, is not good for politics. Even to say that they will look into it is better than nothing - as long as they do, and that is not another excuse for inaction.

Obviously, it cannot be fair for people to complain and then jump the queue for services. But it has to be asked what has gone wrong, especially if the queue is really so long that before they reach that point, marriages may break down, people may commit suicide etc.

In science, the individual case which contradicts a known theory is not in itself significant because it needs to be confirmed by other examples and replicated. But scientists look to see if that can be done. They don’t simply look the other way, and ignore the problem, or if they do, they are poor scientists.

In the same way, individual cases are a wake up call to politicians that something may be seriously wrong. They need to check to see if this case is a one-off which somehow slipped by the system, a lost sheep, which can and should be put to rights, or whether the whole flock is in difficulties, and that must be addressed. What they mustn’t do is be evasive and prevaricate, because that way they will lose the trust of the public.

“I can’t comment on individual cases”. Perhaps politicians should remember that politics is about people, and individual people matter, and that they should not hide behind well-worn clichés.

Saturday, 25 October 2014


After the general election here, a slight poem about outcomes, and why, in the end, whatever the complaints, democracy is still better than alternatives.

To the victor the spoils, to the loser, upset
And however hard the striving, there is pain
All that wasted energy, all the toil and sweat
And for what? Despondency is all the gain.
That's how elections work, so spare a thought
For those not elected, those losing their seat
An ending at the ballot box, the battle fought
Counting the numbers slowly to defeat
Knights in a tournament, the clash of arms
That was the way to do things! Lively times
But wounded, the defeated, lessens charms
Governance settled with butchery and crimes
Aftermath in democracy may seem more dull
But better than one cracking another's skull

Friday, 24 October 2014

Odds and Evens

On October 3rd, the JEP published bookmakers odds given by CB Sports, in which the core statement was that “Sir Philip Bailhach is currently ‘hot’ favourite to top the Island-wide vote”. Well, he wasn’t! Here’s a look at those odds, and how they actually worked out.

In general, intelligent guesswork would have probably yielded as good result. In some cases, probably better. I would have always assumed Judy Martin would top her poll, but the bookmaker put her third.

Clearly CB Sports has a long way to go before they reach the accuracy of “Honest Nev”!

Senators:2/9 - Sir Philip Bailhache – IN BUT WRONG PLACE
5/2 - Ian Gorst - IN BUT WRONG PLACE
9/2 - Paul Routier - IN BUT WRONG PLACE
9/2 - Sarah Ferguson – WRONG, VOTE OUT
5/1 - Andrew Green - IN BUT WRONG PLACE
8/1 - Lyndon Farnham - RIGHT
8/1 - John Young – WRONG, VOTED OUT
9/1 - Philip Ozouf – WRONG, VOTED IN
10/1 - Sean Power
12/1 - Alan Maclean – WRONG, VOTED IN
20/1 - Zoe Cameron = WRONG, VOTED IN
25/1 - Malcolm Ferey
33/1 - Geoff Habin
80/1 - Guy de Faye
200/1 - Anne Southern
500/1 - Konrad Kruszyski
500/1 - Chris Magee
500/1 - David Richardson
1/5 odds - each way (1,2,3)

The odds for Senators were way out, and even if you consider “in but wrong place”, are still very poor.

Of those getting in:
5 out of 8 were right, but in the wrong place. Only 1 was right, and in the right place.

St Saviour No 1:4/7 - Peter McLinton, RIGHT BUT WRONG PLACE
6/4 - Rob Duhamel - WRONG

5/2 - Jeremy Macon – WRONG

It was Rob Duhamel, not Jeremy Macon who lost his seat.

St Saviour No 2:2/7 - Kevin Lewis - RIGHT
6/4 - Louise Doublet - RIGHT

6/1 - Maureen Morgan - RIGHT

This one was spot on.

Trinity:4/6 - Anne Pryke - RIGHT

Evens - Hugh Raymond - RIGHT

Guess work would have given a similar result.

St Peter:1/80 - Kristina Moore - RIGHT

25/1 - Debbie Hardisty - RIGHT

This was spot on, but blindingly obvious.

St Helier No 3 and 4:
11/10 - Mike Higgins – IN BUT WRONG PLACE
11/10 - Jackie Hilton – IN BUT WRONG PLACE
9/4 - Richard Rondel - IN BUT WRONG PLACE
5/2 - Christian May - WRONG

5/1 - Andrew Lewis – WRONG
6/1 - Ted Vibert
8/1 - Mary Osmond
10/1 - Laura Millen
12/1 - Mary Ayling-Phillips
16/1 - John Ttokkallos

It was Andrew Lewis who crept in to the last seat, not Christian May.

St Mary:10/11 - David Johnson

10/11 - Mark Evans


St Brelade No 1:
2/11 - Mike Jackson - WRONG

5/2 - Murray Norton - WRONG
8/1 - Angela Jeune - RIGHT

Murray got in, but my guesses were that it was close. The only certainty was Angela Jeune being last, and guesswork suggested that was very likely.

St Brelade No 2:
4/6 - Montfort Tadier – IN BUT WRONG PLACE
3/1 - Natalie Duffy - RIGHT
9/2 - Graham Truscott – WRONG, GOT IN
9/2 - Jane Blakeley – WRONG, CAME LAST
8/1 - Jeff Hathaway – WRONG, CAME FOURTH
10/1 Beatriz Porée – WRONG PLACE

Graham Truscott zoomed in, while Montfort came second (and lost voter share). Peter Troy was way down below Jeff Hathaway, and Jane Blakely was bottom. This bookmaker odds could not have been more wrong.

St Clement:2/7 - Susie Pinel - RIGHT
7/4 - Gerard Baudains - WRONG
3/1 - Simon Brée - WRONG
8/1 - Darius Pearce - RIGHT

Simon Bree was the man coming in; Gerard Baudains out again.

St Helier No 1:11/10 - Scott Wickenden – RIGHT BUT WRONG PLACE
11/10 - Russell Labey - RIGHT
9/4 - Judy Martin – RIGHT BUT WRONG PLACE

7/2 - Nick Le Cornu – LOST BUT WRONG PLACE
5/1 - Shannen Kerrigan – LOST BUT WRONG PLACE
20/1 - Gino Risoli - RIGHT

Judy Martin romped home, and Scott was the last to get in. Of those losing, Nick Le Cornu did worse that the odds.

St Helier No 2:10/11 - Rod Bryans - RIGHT
Evens - Sam Mézec - RIGHT
3/1 - Geoff Southern - RIGHT

6/1 - Bernie Manning - RIGHT
6/1 - Martin Greene - RIGHT

This was extraordinary in that it was all correct, even the order.

St Ouen:
1/2 - Richard Renouf - RIGHT

7/4 - Chris Lamy - RIGHT

This was also right, but a foregone conclusion.

St Mary:Evens - Juliette Gallichan - RIGHT

10/1 - John Le Bailly – RIGHT

This was what guesswork suggested, a close call.

The Parable of the King’s Feast

The lesson last Sunday was from Matthew’s Gospel, the Parable of the Great Banquet, and here is a modern take upon it. Parables often make points sharply, and this one inverts the story told in Matthew’s gospel to do so.

The Parable of the King’s Feast

The Lord spoke to them in parables saying:

A certain king was holding a feast, and sent out all his servants to call those were invited to the feast, and many of those called chose to attend.

They made light of the invitation, and said to each other, “Here is food in plenty, and much to eat, and we shall dine and banquet and eat and drink and make merry”.

And so they said they would attend the banquet, and the servant reported to his master, “What you have ordered has been done, and there is no more room at the feast”

And the King went on his way to the banquet, and those who had been invited came also, dressed in fine raiment.

And on their way, they went through the streets and alleys of the town and passed by the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.

And the feast was filled with guests, and those who came to petition the King were left at the gates, and the doors were closed against them.

And they remained in the outer darkness, weeping and grinding their teeth,

For few are called, but many are not chosen.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Some Local Political Matters

Recounting Election Night

On Saturday, the Senatorial elections are recounted. I’ve heard it said that it is unlikely that Sarah Ferguson’s loss could be out by around 250 votes, and if one thinks of individual votes counted, that does seem improbable.

Unfortunately, the count is not just about individual votes all counted up. It uses various techniques to tally the vote in blocks, and I have heard, from a reliable source, of someone in Trinity who nearly used the wrong figure in a calculator at one stage of the totalling. Fortunately, this was spotted by an eagled eyed and very numerate observer. But what if it had not been?

Both Rob Duhamel and Adrian Lee on BBC Radio Jersey’s Election Call after the election noted that this general election had not been run as smoothly as previous elections. Rob Duhamel intimated that the oversight of the process, and announcement of results, had not followed the same pattern as all the previous elections he has been at.

Adrian Lee also said there had been problems with one of the St Brelade Parish, and one of St Saviour, while St Helier 3&4 managed to initially overlook the whole of the pre-poll votes until they were fortunately discovered just after what was thought to be the final count. He also said the long delay in providing election statistics on numbers voting, turnout, pre-poll and postal votes was unprecedented.

My Trinity friend, who spotted the mistake and was able to correct it, thought that there was also a problem to do with the competitive nature of getting results out ahead of other Parishes. Accuracy might have been sacrificed for speed.

There seems to have been a certain degree of slackness in the election night, and it will be interesting to see if the Senatorial results come out with the same tally. Clearly significant enough errors could have crept in to make the result different. If I was Sarah Ferguson, I’d want to make sure the counting was accurate, and I’d be watching as an observer on Saturday.

And on related slackness, Scott Wickenden sent in his nomination paper which should have been checked by the Town Hall. Someone evidently failed to check it properly, but I suspect we’ll never know the official concerned.

The electoral roll itself is, of course, riddled with inaccuracies. These are probably not significant in the larger scheme of things, but perhaps amount to around 10-20 wrong entries where names have been input into the wrong district, or people have moved but their old name and electoral number is on the roll in their old Parish. This is what happens if you simply update sheets held on Excel rather than using a central database. If Digital Jersey is to have any credibility, this needs to be put right.

Dinner Date

One matter that seems to have escaped everyone’s notice about the Bailiff’s Dinner is the cost of cancellation. Usually there is a price to pay, especially if it is a set meal, for a late cancellation, especially if the numbers attending are in double figures.

But what I want to mention here is a quote from the Bailiff:

“The Bailiff's Dinner is a traditional way to mark the retirement of those States Members who are leaving the Assembly. I have spoken with the Chief Minister and the Chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee and we are in agreement that this year's dinner should go ahead.”

That was reported on CTV News. What crucially they did not say was what else the Bailiff said, and by leaving that out, I think they gave an extremely misleading representation on what Sir Michael Birt said.

At this stage, cancellation would probably not be a viable option. But what Sir Michael Birt did do was to make a suggestion that the incoming States review this tradition before the next election, and decide if it is to continue, and on what basis. That seems eminently sensible.

And also the diners are asked to make, on the night, a donation to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. This is again the Bailiff’s initiative, and I think is a sensible compromise this time round.

In fact, I was discussing the whole matter of the dinner with some colleagues on Tuesday night, and I made the same suggestion that there should be a collection for charity. So I am probably biased! But it does show that while States members get the meal for free, they are expected to dip into their pockets and make what I trust will be a generous donation to the Poppy Appeal.

I think than rather than a protest as such, a formal and dignified handing over of the petition should be arranged to take place, perhaps before or just outside the dinner. The point would have been made.

The suggestions and steps made by the Bailiff show that he has taken the concerns of the petitioners into account, and has not – as the CTV report seems to imply – ignored them. He should be commended rather than condemned for his response which, if you will excuse the pun, is a judicial one.

John V Taylor, a former Bishop of Winchester, once wrote these words:

“Our enemy is not possessions but excess. Our battle-cry is not ‘nothing!’ but ‘enough!'”

The Bailiff has taken this into account by his actions in asking for diners to donate. It is up to the States to decide what to do next, but I would suggest along the lines of John Taylor’s quotation, that the tradition be continued, but not in a form that smacks of excess.

And that of course, is surely the key issue here.

Referendum Conundrum

The results of the Referendum are a resounding victory for keeping the Constables. Even in St Helier, the gap was only 22 votes. The States may well be asked for a proposition to endorse the result, so where does that leave those who voted no?

Clearly if they said they would simply endorse the results of the Referendum, their only option, to keep faith with the electorate, is to vote to endorse that result, even if they personally disagree. So Montfort Tadier should clearly vote to endorse the Referendum.

In St Helier, 3 of the 4 districts voted against it, but the vote was narrowed overall by the result in St Helier District 2, where the Yes vote was more than the No vote. So will Geoff Southern and Sam Mezec respect the wishes of their own electorate? Or will we get excuses? It will be interesting to see!

Immigrant Representation

Some discussion this morning on radio about whether the Polish and Portuguese communities were somehow missing out because they didn't have their own nationals standing in the States of Jersey. We were told that the one Polish candidate failed to get in. And there is no Portuguese member of the States. 

Isn't there a foreign language bias here? After all, the Irish from Eire are not part of Great Britain or the United Kingdom. Strictly speaking, they are just as much immigrants as Polish and Portuguese. And they have just lost their one Irish member of the States, Sean Power. But we don't notice that because Irish people speak the same language as the rest of us. Well, more or less, that's the craic!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Jersey Overseas Aid Commission 2015 Projects

The Jersey Overseas Aid Commission launched its 2015 projects last night. I've always thought that Jersey's approach to overseas aid is an excellent one.

There's a line I always remember from "Goodbye Mr Chips" when Chips' wife Katherine admonishes him with the words - "You can't satisfy your conscience by writing a check for a few guineas and keeping them at arm's length."

That is something which JOAC never does, as the volunteers literally roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in the projects. It's that element of direct contact which is important, both to keep a real link with those countries we are helping, and also the experience of being out in the field, helping other human beings, will impact positively on those who volunteer.

I saw that the projects were being launched, and contacted Senator Paul Routier, who very kindly let me have the details of the projects as listed below in advance of the launch, so I could prepare this blog (my blogs are usually prepared the night before).

The work of JOAC is on their website, and otherwise publicised, but I wanted to just ensure that it went to a wider audience still.


The Jersey Overseas Aid Commission has the following list of beliefs listed on their website:

· It is our moral duty to care about other people and to help them help themselves;

· It is our duty to our children and grandchildren to address issues of poverty which may in the long-term threaten global security;

· It is the States’ duty to meet existing international obligations. Jersey is a signatory to Agenda 21,, which is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organisations of the United Nations System, Governments and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the enviroment, committing Jersey to moving to a target of overseas aid funding which is comparable with that of other nation states.

That the great need for overseas aid is illustrated by the following:-

· There are 1.7 billion people who continue to live in extreme poverty

· Over 925 million people were undernourished in 2010. This equates to 13.6% of the estimated world populationof 6.8 billion. Nearly all of the undernourished are in developing countries. Every 3.6 seconds one person dies of starvation. Usually it is a child under the age of 5.

· Some 40 million children are living without access to basic healthcare

· More than 30% of children in developing countries - about 600 million- live on less that USD 1 a day

· 10 million people aged 15-24 are infected with HIV

· Two thirds of the worlds 800 million illiterate adults aged 15 and over, are women

The Commission helps by both emergency funding towards help in disaster areas, and work on the ground.

Bangladesh 2015: Community Works Project

The aim of the Bangladesh 2015 project is to build additional classrooms, latrines, headmasters office and staff room at Little Stars Primary School in Muktaram Village which is in the Kurigram district in Northern Bangladesh. The Kurigram district has a population of approx. 2 million people, 17 rivers and its main crop is rice. This will be the third visit for a JOAC team. A team visited the school in April 2012 to help build classrooms and a team visited in 2013 to help construct a health clinic.

Zambia 2015: Community Works Project

The aim of the Zambia 2015 project is to build additional classrooms, latrines, and staff accommodation at Ng’andu Primary School in Mukuni Chiefdom of the Southern Province, Zambia. The school was opened in 1938 and although it has had some renovation work done it is one of the oldest in the area. Many of the children attending are orphans as a result of the high incidence of HIV/Aids in the area.

Uganda 2015: Community Works Project

The aim of the Uganda 2015 project is to build nursery classrooms, latrines, and staff accommodation at Sermon on the Mountain Primary School in Luweero, Uganda. A team of JOAC volunteers helped to build primary classrooms, admin offices and a kitchen block at this school in 2007.


Application forms are available to download from the website :

Or by contacting Karen Nisbet on Tel 865801 or email

Application forms will also be available at The States Greffe Book Shop, Mourier House, St Helier.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Looking After the Pennies

"Thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money is to be spent wining and dining States Members at a black tie dinner next week. Following years of cutbacks, tax rises and job losses across the Island, dozens of politicians and their partners - even those who are retiring or failed to get re-elected - will be treated to a night of fine food at Jersey’s luxury La Mare Wine Estate - all at the public’s expense." (Jersey Evening Post)

I have signed this petition, but this blog posting is a “disclaimer” as while I am in some sympathy with the petitioners, I nevertheless find a simple, black and white, good or bad, binary judgement to be too simplistic.

I would also note in passing that this event also took place in 2011, when there was also an economic downturn, and when GST was set to rise to 5%. The Jersey Evening Post took no stance then against this, no headline editorial, no thundering denunciation of any kind. Why has the mood changed? Is this a change in editor? Or is it that the JEP is moving its headlines more towards tabloid sensationalism?

Moreover, I do not object in principle to the idea of having some kind of celebratory meal to thank long term States members who are leaving the House. I do not think such an event should not happen.

I've signed it, but after much thought. I have no issue with giving long term States members a leaving "do", as after all that often happens at many companies, although usually it is a "go dutch" occasion except for the leaving member who have their meal paid for by the rest.

But quite a lot of companies usually pay for a Christmas "do" for their staff. The staff have to pay nothing (except extra drinks) for those; usually bottles of wine on the table are included.

Now such events do not usually include the spouse or partner of the members of staff, as that would bump up the cost significantly. Back in the 1980s, spouses and partners were normally invited, but increased costs in the private sector have largely curtailed these expenses. They have made economies, while still celebrating.

As Philip Ozouf has pointed out in his statement, some of those present are long serving, and receive no pension, and have served the States selflessly for many years. This is their “gold watch” meal. I think they deserve some kind of tribute to be paid to that.

But since we are into Tennerfest territory, a good sized Tennerfest meal for sitting States members, even at £20 (towards the top of the range) would only amount to £980, perhaps £1,500 inclusive of bottles of wine.

I could do them a disservice, and perhaps La Mare are doing a Tennerfest deal, but I doubt it, or we would have heard!

So it is not having a dinner, it is the level of expense - and including partners, and not going for a budget option, that concerns me more than anything. It is not a case that - as I would like to have seen - we will do this, but we must balance it with prudence because these are hard times.

Now as Sam Mezec has pointed out, in the grand scheme of things, £5,000 is not a huge sum of money. But he fails to see the significance of small things in the larger scheme, just as Marie Antoinette, in the apocryphal tale, failed to see that it wasn’t the cake that was important, it was the attitude that went with it.

It is, I believe, a shame that while still holding the event, no gesture had been made towards economy, That would have been a sensible “via media”, sending a signal that the States were both giving due respect to long serving States members, while at the same time showing the public that they too could make economies. It would send out the message “We share your world, and we have also cut our cloth to suit the times”.

It would be a symbolic gesture, but a gesture that would be worth making, none the less. As the maxim has it, “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” I would have welcomed that kind of gesture.

And in that respect, Philip Ozouf has certainly taken the initiative in stating that he will be reimbursing the cost for himself and his partner to attend the function. He states that he does not expect any other people attending should feel the requirement to pay their way, which I think is quite right, but he has made that symbolic gesture, and it will be interesting to see if more members follow suit, or at least reimburse part of the cost.

Symbolic actions may not seem important to some, but I think that like Caesar crossing the Rubicon, their importance should not be underestimated. In times of economic stringency, the States should avoid anything which perhaps appears profligate, and might engender a politics of envy.


Deputy John Young who unsuccessfully stood for "promotion" to the Senatorial benches said that the meal should go ahead, but that politicians and former politicians should put their hands in their pockets, not dump the bill on the taxpayer.

"I do not think that the event should be cancelled, but I do think that Members should pay for themselves," he said.

"I'd like to go to say goodbye to the people that I've worked with, but I shall be paying for myself and my wife. If they won't take it, I'll make an equivalent donation to charity. It's up to Members what they want to do, but I will certainly be communicating with them and saying that."

Monday, 20 October 2014

Old Faces in the States

Some people have commented on this election that it is the “same old faces” in the States. That’s not entirely true, as there has been an influx of new members since 2011 across the board, although only one Senator as a new States Member, two new Constables, and a smattering of new Deputies.

But it is very much the case that most of the faces in the States are old faces. The average age of the States member is 53 ½ years old, while the median age (with as many members below as above) is 55. The average is just that bit lower than the median because of a few younger members pulling it down.

If we look at age bands, we see a heavy bias towards the older age range, with most States members being over 50.

20-29: 2
30-39: 5
40-49: 3
50-59: 24
60-69: 15

In the UK, Andrew Marr has said recently that MPs should not enter the House of Commons until they reach the age of 40. While there are some under 40 in our States, it would appear that the electorate favours Marr’s suggestion.

The greatest range is the Deputies whose ages range from Sam Mezec at 23 at the lower end of the range to David Johnson at 68 at the upper reach.

Although the Senators have a much narrower age range than Deputies, the average is only slightly higher at 55, while the median is 52 ½, slightly lower. The breakdown by banding is given below:

40-49: 2
50-59: 3
60-69: 3

The Senators range from Philip Ozouf at 44 to Sir Philip Bailhache at 68.

And so we come to the “golden oldies”, the Constables, who are clearly in the older age ranges. It was difficult to track down Michael Paddock’s age, as he declined to give it. Fortunately for my statistics, his age 3 years ago did appear in the JEP questions to candidates in 2011, when he faced an election for the post of Constable of St Ouen.

The youngest Constable is Juliette Gallichan at 52 and the oldest is Sadie Rennard at 69. The median is 58 ½ while the average is 59 2/3. The banding is as follows:

50-59: 7
60-69: 5

So while it is not the same old faces, it is definitely the case that most States members fall into an older age bracket from upper middle age (50-59) to near pension age (or indeed perhaps pension age).

And what of the three members of Reform? Their ages are 23 (Sam Mezec), 35 (Montfort Tadier) and 64 (Geoff Southern).

Their average age is 41, while the median is 35.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Icon of St Brelade

The piece for this Sunday is from an edition of the 1994 “Pilot” magazine, in which Michael Halliwell, Rector of St Brelade, gave a meditation on the icon of St Brelade, which you can still see if you visit the church today.

This icon is not to be confused with the modern set of paintings of icons done for all the Island’s Parish Churches, and pre-dates it.

On a personal note, I always prefer religious icons to statues. Statues are very static, whereas icons are replete with symbolism, and are not meant to be realistic depictions of the world, but to draw us into exploring the inner world by means of the outer.

The Icon of St Brelade
By Michael Halliwell

Our Church at St Brelade has recently been given an icon of its patron saint.. It is based. on a collage made, after much prayer, by a group of young Christians of our church, and was executed, also. after much prayer, .by Brother Anselm, a monk of Alton Abbey.

Icons are not very familiar to Western Christians; a special kind of Christian art, they perhaps can be likened to a poem. in a visual form, in which the believer writes the words. Inevitably icons will mean different things to different people,, but certain factors will strike the observer right at the outset.

In this icon, firstly we: see Brelade with his head back, looking over his shoulder to the Father, listening to his voice and doubtless affirming his desire to do his will.

Secondly we may note the cross, on his breast, affirming his trust in salvation through Christ.

Thirdly we see that there are steps leading off to the right, perhaps signifying the willingness of the saint to be led by the Spirit.of'God wherever he maybe called in his mission.

Fourthly we may note that he has taken off his shoes and hold them in his hand. Like Moses of old he stands on holy ground, sanctified .by prayers and containing a place of worship where especially, but not exclusively, he meets a holy God.

Who were these Celtic men and women and what motivated them as they travelled the seaways of Western Europe? They went firstly to seek God wherever they might find him. The monastery served -as.a powerhouse for their mission, and there the worship of God was .offered as a top priority. To be allowed to leave the monastery as a "pilgrim" was a very special privilege, and it required the spiritual discernment of the abbot to recognise the call. In this context Brelade, or Branwalader, was the first to bring the faith to these shores

What was their message?

When Patrick, who was actually a Scot, picked a clover leaf to explain to the Irish princesses the mystery of the Holy Trinity, he was not just propounding a formula, but touching on a real and deep mystery. The Celts were firmly trinitarian, holding the threeness and the oneness of the mighty God, thus perhaps enabling themselves to hold together other great truths which others might seek to oppose.

The first leaf stood for THE FATHER.

These people had a very great love and reverence for the Creator and his creation. They discerned his hand in all his handiwork. The hymn "How great thou art ..." echoes these sentiments. These Christians can teach our generation a new respect for the world in all its fragile beauty. They call us to fight pollution of all kinds, the exploitation of lands and people. They can teach us respect for human beings, made, as each one is, in the image of God. When the great monastery was built at Lastingham the brothers spent the 40 days of Lent fasting and praying to cleanse the site from its pagan associations, and. when they came to Jersey to the bay named after Branwalader and his companions, they will have prayed for the cleansing and healing of the land, turning over the standing stones and building a. house, of God on the site. One and possibly two such stones have been identified, buried horizontally under the foundations of the present church.

The second leaf stood for THE SON.

These Christians had a deep love and reverence for Jesus, by whom they knew themselves saved from the darkness of :the paganism which surrounded them.. Their whole lives were given to the establishment and deepening of their relationship with him. They had a constant awareness of the need to go apart, in a world that even then was overwhelmingly busy, to the lonely rocks and islands amongst which they lived, in order to hear him. From this flowed a deep desire to make him known, but this was no aggressive evangelism, no railroading of folk into the kingdom. On his journeys the great northern saint. Aidan would ask those whom he met "Are you a Christian??' If they answered "Yes, he would say "May I help you to become a better one?" If they replied "No;" he would say "May I help you to become one?" We could not find a better way for evangelisation in our day;

The third leaf stands for THE SPIRIT.

These Christians were noteworthy for their constant openness to the Holy Spirit - 'their advocate, guide; and strengthener. This leads to an awareness of God's desire to communicate, with them; which he did through dreams, prophecy, words of wisdom and knowledge. This alertness to the Spirit was not a special programme for a particular group of people, but the normal way of life of Christians who knew their entire dependence on God and his Holy Spirit. It is often recounted of them: that they would set ail in their tiny coracles and allow themselves to be driven wherever wind and tide may carry them! Perhaps they seem, to have succeeded because they waited for God's prompting before deciding on which tide to sail!:

In this spirit, they engaged in spiritual warfare, which would often mean silent contemplative prayer late into the night or in the early hours of the morning, holding up the world and its lostness to God. The Church badly needs more of such people today.

Because these Christians lived before the two great divisions which rent Christendom asunder, the great division of East and West in the 11th century, and the upheaval of the Reformation in the 16th, they tended to see many of these concerns in another, more primitive light, and perhaps they reveal .some of its agonisings as less relevant to the central thrust of the Gospel message than we are sometimes led to believe. 

In many ways they reveal, in their life and mission, a harmony and balance of the catholic, evangelical and charismatic elements in Christianity which our contemporary Church needs badly to recover if it is to speak with relevance to our generation.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Dark Shadows

Today's poem is a rather bleak one, rather despondent in many ways, for which I offer no apology. We have only to look out at today's world, and see the suffering, the cruelty, the evil, and see that sometimes life is dark, bleak, and without much hope, and the forces of darkness seem triumphant.

Dark Shadows

Shadows fall from Sauron's hand
In Minas Morgul, behind the gate
And darkness covering the land
Hope stifled by such fickle fate
The Nine Riders bringing fear
Night cries coming from above
Threatening all that we hold dear
All the Shire, and those we love
The Balrog comes in blazing fire
An evil left from Morgoth's day
Crushes hope, a creature dire
Leaves us bereft, in sad dismay
Yet we wait in hope for returning king
And an ending of that evil ring

Friday, 17 October 2014

A Walk Around La Pulente

One afternoon during the Easter holidays this year, Katalin and I decided to walk around La Pulente headland. It is at the extreme south of St Ouen's Bay, a jutting out rocky coast, with a path that leads around to Petit Port Bay. It's a lovely walk, with lots of wild flowers, and the bramble bushes are thick with blackberries in the Autumn.

There's a good view of La Rocco Tower from La Pulente. This was a Jersey Round Tower, built rather in the style of a rook in a chess set, and unusually not on the coast, but in the middle of St Ouen's Bay, with a circular protective wall. They were built under the Governorship of General Gordon Conway as part of a strategy to defend Jersey's coastline against attack by the French after the French revolution. It was completed in 1796 and named Gordon's Tower but the name never really took. Instead its popular name came from the large rock on which it is built.

As ever on the path, there are benches to sit, and often they are dedicated to the memory of individuals. This one contains the maxim "rest your body and refresh your spirit". In a world so full of haste, that is surely important to remember.

This is not my photo, but Katalin and I have seen the odd glimpse of a green lizard at La Pulente. It is one of the places in Jersey where they can be found. The Jersey States website has this to say about them:

"Jersey is the only area in Britain where green lizards occur naturally. The species is amongst the largest in Europe with adult males reaching lengths of between 30 to 40cm (16 inches). Adult males are distinguished from the females by a larger head and a blue throat. The throat of a female green lizard is yellowish green. The breeding season takes place in April and May. Between 5 and 20 eggs are produced in June and July. The clutch is then hidden beneath vegetation or soil and warmed by the sun. The young emerge in September."

The coast goes round to Petit Port, a pleasant bay, with lots of rock pools at low tide. There used to be a well known restaurant called "The Sea Crest" owned by Julian Bernstein here, and I remember going once, and being struck by the waiter's very apposite name of Sergio Parmesan. The Sea Crest served good food, and I went there a few times.

It was also the place where the Nicholas and Elizabeth Newall were dining with their sons on the night that they were murdered. They vanished without trace, and it was not until much later that Roderick Newall confessed to their murder, and burying the bodies at Greve de L'Ecq with his brother's help.

Later the property was developed into flats, which is the white building that you can see by the nearest coast.

There is a path which takes you across the top of the headland, and there is La Sergente, probably one of the oldest Neolithic sites in Jersey. Katalin is pictured standing in the circular part, which would have been topped by a "beehive" structure of small stones.

We always like to visit this sacred site, whenever Katalin is in Jersey. Like many neolithic sites, it is built high up, so there are also good views of Corbiere lighthouse.

The original excavation in 1923 found a large amount of rubble within that was probably the fallen remains of a corbelled, bee-hive shaped vault. The style is unique to the Channel Islands.

It is sited on open land west of Le Parcq de L'Oeillière, with a line of sight to La Table des Marthes.

Mark Patton noted that the corbelled vault required a rock such as schist, which fractures to give long, flat slabs, and in Jersey, the available rock was not suitable. Consequently, while La Sergenté is the earliest passage grave in Jersey, it collapsed soon after its construction, because of the unsuitable building materials available, and was not repeated elsewhere in the Islands."(Patton 1987a).

There are some rather nice steps back down to the coast, and back to where I had parked the car. The best way to visit La Pulente is to go round, then up, visit the dolmen, and down the other side. Then you descend to some wonderful views of St Ouen's Bay.

I have, I notice, forgotten to mention the rather impressive German bunker on the headland, and it can be seen in the background of this very nice photograph of Katalin holding a small wild flower.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Nick Le Cornu Holds Seat

You are probably thinking that I’ve got that wrong. After all, the election results are as follows:

Judy Martin, 946, Russell Labey 811, Scott Wickenden 476, and Nick losing with 311.

JEP last night:

“Deputy Nick Le Cornu becomes one of the briefest-serving States Members after losing his seat in the Chamber, just eight months after being elected in a by-election. He may have paid the price for a controversial Tweet about St Peter Deputy Kristina Moore, which saw him sacked from the Reform Jersey party”

And the Bailiwick Express said recently.

“The hustings are over, the campaigns are drawing to an end, it can only mean one thing - some of Jersey's £46,000 per year politicians will wake up tomorrow morning as States Members for the very last time...”

In fact, this is not the case. The States of Jersey Law tells us this:

(1) Senators and Deputies shall be elected for a term of 4 years.
(2) Notwithstanding the term of office stated in paragraph (1), a Senator or Deputy shall retire on his or her place being filled by an ordinary election.
(3) The places of Senators and Deputies are filled upon the persons elected at the ordinary elections taking the oath of their office.
4) This Article is subject to Article 6A.

And Article 6A says:

(1) There shall be held, in the period of 7 days beginning on 15th October 2011 –
(a) an ordinary election to elect 4 Senators, for a term expiring upon the persons elected as Senators at the ordinary election in October 2014 taking the oath of their office;
(b) an ordinary election to elect Deputies, for a term expiring upon the persons elected as Deputies at the ordinary election in October 2014 taking the oath of their office.

This means that Nick Le Cornu will hold onto his seat until the new States members take their oath of office in early November.

So legally he does still hold his seat….. for a few weeks, anyway!

In 2011 when the States continued with the old House debating the budget.

But as far as I am aware, the States will not be sitting after the election, so he will never be taking his seat in the House again.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Time to throw down the Gauntlet?

“A perception exists in the community that people should be free to exercise their democratic right to vote without being subjected to activity that could be considered at best an annoyance, and at worst interference.”

I was looking at the Daily Telegraph for May 2014, which commented on a UK election:

“Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, narrowly won re-election last night. Large and intimidating groups of Rahman supporters picketed the entrances to many polling stations”

“On the mid afternoon of election day, there were eleven male supporters of Lutfur Rahman in the playground of a local school and several more at the entrance. Voters had to run a gauntlet to get past them.”

That’s very much part of elections – the supporters gathered outside the polling station, and it can seem very intimidating. In Jersey, they now have to be outside the polling station, but in years gone by, they were inside, as in this account from Florida in 2012:

“Collier County Public Library Headquarters patrons and voters alike ran what one candidate described as a "gauntlet" at the Orange Blossom Drive polling station, flanked down the hallway by political and judicial candidates and their volunteers.”

And here is the effect:

“Several early voters stopped to chat with candidates Saturday.... For one woman, though, the "gauntlet" was more than she bargained for on her way in to vote. "No thanks," she told the candidates and volunteers as she walked toward the library's front doors. "I've had enough, thank you."

And Derry Ives observed that there had been an issue two elections prior, where residents expressed concern about “running a gauntlet” of candidates and their supporters. “We don’t want people to feel there’s a gauntlet,” she said.

On one of the UK forums, one person raised the question:

“What are the views on candidates (and supporting party members) hanging around outside polling stations on polling day?”

And he asks:

“What purpose does this serve? The general rules are that you can smile, say good morning and not a great deal else as there is a code of conduct essentially designed so you don’t hassle voters, which begs the question why bother being there? “

One of those replying said:

“I suppose if you arrived without a clue as to any of their policies they could give you a quick sanitised version before you made your earth-shaking choice.’We're going to abolish death and make everyone rich and happy, before conquering other planets and establishing colonies there.' That sort of thing.”

The Electoral Commission Queensland published a report on a bi-election in 2014:

Here are a few quotes:

“By far, the subject of the largest number of submissions received by the Commission related to canvassers at the by-election. Almost three quarters of submissions received concerned the activity of canvassers. Whilst some submissions were from canvassers complaining about the presence and activity of other canvassers, the majority of submissions were received from electors who had attended polling booths to cast their vote.”

“Many submitters were concerned about the presence of large numbers of canvassers at the entrances to polling booths. The idiom, ‘running the gauntlet’ appeared many times in submitters’ description of the entry to polling booths.”

Some notable examples of extracts from submissions are:

Submitter 46, a Kippa-Ring North ECQ booth worker, reported voters entering the polling booth to vote were agitated and irate at having to force through a ‘scrum’ of canvassers outside.

Submitter 42 stated that the number of canvassers was overbearing and left him feeling “quite uneasy”.

In submitting that the number of canvassers be capped, Submission 22 (a volunteer and scrutineer), stated “…the very large phalanx of workers for both major parties were unnecessary, intimidating at worst, annoying at best, and, in a practical sense, simply counterproductive”.

A “noisy gauntlet of candidates supporters press papers at us and pressurising us…” was reported by Submission 21 at Kippa-Ring

The comments in Submission 99, made by a worker at the sausage sizzle at the Scarborough booth, concisely encapsulates the views of many submitters, “Polling places should be impartial and should allow voters to visit and cast their votes without any pressure from any other person and without any intimidation implied or otherwise.”

And the Commission comments:

“A perception exists in the community that people should be free to exercise their democratic right to vote without being subjected to activity that could be considered at best an annoyance, and at worst interference.”

And in last night’s JEP, there was a letter which complained about this for local elections, which I reproduce below. Perhaps it is time for a rethink on this practice.

JEP Letter: “We don’t want these crowds of smiling candidates outside the polling stations”

On polling day for this election and all others in future, there will be a considerable number of candidates and their supporters standing outside the polling stations: Voters entering the buildings have to pass in front of their ranks and be subjected to, at best, friendly smiles, at worst everyone chorusing their greetings of `Good Day!'.

`Running the gauntlet', I call it, and quite frankly the crowds that I'm envisioning will put people off coming out to vote.

Election rules say that the candidates and their supporters may not wait inside the building of the polling station, but I'm hoping that the Jurats, who are officiating as returning officers, will make sure that the groups remain at,least.30 metres away from the entrances. I know-that there may not be a great choice of places near the entrances.

However, the candidates and supporters do themselves no favours by their presence.

Unwittingly, they are the disincentive for people to walk into the polling stations to cast their votes.

One day there will be online or telephone voting, or pre-polling will be extended, and this issue will naturally be resolved.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The New Machiavelli - An Election Extra

I could not believe my ears hearing Andrew Lewis on BBC’s Election Time.

Apparently he voted for and supported Option B in the last Referendum, because he thought that it had the best chance of getting through the States, as it would have the backing of the Constables if it won in the Referendum.

He then went on to say that with Constables and Super-constituencies, the States would then be able to move forward to the next stage of Reform, which would be removing the Constables; which would be his preferred option (and why he is voting No in tomorrow’s Referendum).

Most of the people that I have come across who voted for Option A did so because they honestly did not want the Constables to remain in the States. Likewise, I am sure that most of the people voting for Option B genuinely wanted the Constables to remain in the States for a long time.

Evidently Andrew Lewis vote was purely strategic – to make common cause with the Constables to get Option B passed, and use the new situation to then expel them from the States. I have rarely come across such a blatant example of duplicity!

The Constables, according to this strategy, were apparently a mere tool to get a partial reform, to be tossed aside once their job was done.

That kind of strategic thinking does not inspire me with confidence, or trust, in Mr Lewis.

H.G. Wells wrote a book called “The New Machiavelli”, subtitled “How to wield power in the Modern World”.

Maybe Mr Lewis could write a modern version.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Election Fun

There has been precious little fun at the elections, so here are a few lighter moments. Here is Murray Norton, advertising to passing motorists (and snapped by my son) that pre-polling had opened, and if you worked in town, you could vote. I know the message has gone out elsewhere, but isn't this a fun way to do it! I certainly thought so.

Two Green Posters in Town! Two Green candidates! One below the other. Andrew Green, who has finally gone green with his election colours, and Chris Magee, who has a rather different green proposal, about legalising cannabis (under medical supervision) for medical alleviation of chronic pain. The USA is pioneering this in two States, and who knows, it may yet come to Jersey, although New Jersey is more likely first. It is a fun poster though!

Simple black on yellow is usually used for road signs - No Parking, Unloading Bay, Diversion etc etc. But one election hopeful has decided to eschew any sign of his face, and go for a simple road sign information style. I can see tourists scratch their heads and ask - what is a "routier"? A Jersey name for a diversion when there are road works ahead? Or a sign that a bus is coming this way?

Of all the election posters, this is my favourite. It is A4 sized, the size of an ordinary letter, and two of them are affixed to a glass side panel at Gino's restaurant. While other candidates have gone for big faces that stand out, Gino has gone for minimalism. Yes, it is a tiny face of Gino himself that you can see in the O of VOTE, about an inch and a half high.

At the St Brelade Senatorial Hustings, Senator Bailhache decried politicians who damaged the finance industry by supporting ATTAC and presenting Jersey in a bad light. "Treachery", he exclaimed.

Jersey, it should be noted, has just passed a new Treason law allowing residents to be tried as traitors locally as in neighbouring Guernsey.

Deputy Montfort Tadier (pictured above), who was possibly one of the aforesaid individuals in Senator Bailhache's sights, clearly took fright, and has taken to disguising himself, in case he is clapped in irons, and subjected to thumbscrews. Here he is, as seen recently on You Tube, under a thin disguise as Lord Reginald Hamilton Tooting Rawley Jones III.

Monty also decided to have a bit of fun with the answers to whom he wanted as next Chief Minister in the JEP questions for candidates:

Meanwhile, I gather that the Yes Referendum Campaign may have gained a new supporter....

And finally, the best Manifesto I have read that is suitable for an extract on a blog entitled "election fun"  has to be that of Gino Risoli.

Here are a few paragraphs (emphasis is Gino's):

"What am I going to do for you? SET YOU FREE. I am going to transform this government. My focus will be transparency which will change the dynamic in which our government operates so that everyone feels free to excel as individuals and those that drive the economy, small and large businesses and employees are not impeded. We can then have good quality services that actually work without interference from people that know not what they do. Transparency will deliver this coupled with my skilful knowledge."

"I have the necessary skills to do this in a firm but co-operative way. Most do not really understand that this present system can only change from the bottom up. The top table is actually helpless because of fear. So it is left to us to save the day. I can do this with intellect that will unite the house and society. We must change."

Do you want to be set free? If you do, vote for Gino, or as he puts it:

" Please join me for what I think will be the most joyful experience you will encounter!"