Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2017 Retrospective: January Part 2

2017 Retrospective: January Part 2

Big decisions, Small Mind?

The word lilliputian has become an adjective meaning "very small in size", or "petty or trivial". When used as a noun, it means either "a tiny person" or "a person with a narrow outlook, who minds the petty and trivial things." (Wikipedia)

In September 2015, Amy Vatcher met with Privileges and Procedures Committee to discuss holding the Jersey Youth Parliament meetings in the States Chamber. She argued that it would give an appropriate status to the organisation, which she hoped would become the representative body of the Island’s young people.

She advised that the Jersey Youth Parliament would like to hold approximately 4 plenary meetings a year, to take place preferably on Saturday mornings. The meetings would last around 4 hours

The committee was impressed by the enthusiasm of the representatives and felt that they were aware of the issues that needed to be dealt with before they could be allowed to use the States Chamber. As a first step, the Committee agreed to consult the Bailiff, as President of the States, on the matter before taking a final decision.

However, after the meeting of 13 October, the Bailiff was called upon to give his decision, and the Committee acquiesced in his negative attitude.

His comment: “the use of the States Chamber in this way by external parties could, potentially, diminish the standing of the Chamber”

As one young person said, it gets very tiring to have politicians say “’The youth must get more involved in politics!’ just to have this thrown at our face.”

I don’t think the Chamber’s standing was diminished by this decision, but the Bailiff’s certainly was.

Subsidiarity and Participation

“The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

A blog on the idea of subsidiary, of not centralising that which does not need to be centralised, and looking at the Parish as an example:

"The Parish is an excellent example of that principle. It raises money from the rates to cover expenses, and is run as a very tight ship. Being smaller than the State, it can be more efficient than the States."

"The recent consultation on property taxes, which is still lurking on the Council of Ministers agenda, would take rates from the Parishes and put them in the hands of an official, centralised authority. Instead of people giving time on an honorary basis as Rates Assessors, we would have a civil service pyramid, and rates would almost certainly increase as a result of the paid bureaucracy."

A Loose Canon in Jersey

Was there an open election? I asked.

He tut-tutted impatiently. There cant be an open election. Bishops are seen as part of the apostolic succession.

Not being a churchgoer, I asked for an explanation.

Its Gods will. When Judas Iscariot blotted his copybook he had to be replaced. They let the Holy Ghost decide.

I was mystified. How did he make his views known?

By drawing lots, said Peter.

So cant we let the Holy Ghost decide this time? I asked, looking for a way out of this awkward decision.

Peter and Bernard looked at each other. Clearly my suggestion was not on. Bernard tried to explain. No one, he said, is confident that the Holy Ghost would understand what makes a good Church of England bishop.

(The Yes Prime Minister Diaries)

Gavin Ashenden has now left Jersey, although he still has an occasional piece in the JEP, somewhat toned down from his online persona, as they refused to publish an especially vitriolic attack on Islam.

“In a way, Gavin Ashenden would like to turn the clock back to a more uniform church, where dissenting views would be silenced. Whether those sorts of views should have what appears to be largely unchallenged airtime is another matter.”

In an open blog directed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he stated: “Your successor as Archbishop stood in the House of Lords to praise the couplings of the homosexuals. It didn’t matter to him that they were biologically sterile and pursued romantic and sexual values that Holy Scripture warned against."

This is language designed to look neutral, but to insult. Would he speak about “praising the couplings of elderly heterosexuals, even though they are biologically sterile”? When put like that, the venomous and polemic nature of the language becomes apparent.

He has recently said that the Church of England: “Overthrew 2,000 years of apostolic teaching, and ordained women into the place of the Bishop and priest, the representatives of the risen Christ at the Eucharist, saying that gender was of no consequence in the narrative of salvation.”

Gender certainly was of consequence in the narrative of salvation. It was men who had fixed ideas and a determination to suppress anyone who threatened them who determined that Jesus should be taken to Pilate for crucifixion, it was men who followed Jesus and ran away in abject fear when the soldiers came. And it was women who followed Jesus and stayed close to the cross, weeping, as he died.

I’m not sure if that is quite the lesson that Gavin Ashenden would like to draw, but there's a very clear lesson in those scriptures he keeps citing.

Waterfront: The Tangled Web.

Bernard: But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity. (Yes Minister)

By the sleight of hand of moving the building to the south so that it is now magically outside of the 50 metre rule which is part of the basis for the appeal they think that they will bypass the appeal process completely.

In addition to this extra cost they have also announced through their statements within these planning documents for building 5 that they intend to progress with plans for the next Phase - Buildings 3 and 6. The costs for progressing through all the stages required for planning for each of these buildings amount to about £2Million per building so very soon they will have amassed professional/planning costs of nearly £8Million for buildings 3,4,5 and 6 but still have only UBS as a prelet for a mere 25% of ONE building.

We now know, of course, how they managed to raise the money. They put other land at the Waterfront – that earmarked for a hospital – as security against the loans – and didn’t manage to tell either Scrutiny, the general public, or the hospital development team.

In Camera Debates

"The Official Secrets Act is not there to protect Secrets, it is there to protect Officials." (Yes Minister)

I looked in this blog at the number of debates, and how appointments in Guernsey are debated openly, but secretly in Jersey.

Also the requirement of some debates to be held “in camera” led to one over the suspension of Graham Power to be held “in camera”. This meant that whatever was said could not be contradicted in any way, however, because a transcript of the debate was leaked.

In it, a currently elected Deputy Andrew Lewis stated this:

"As far as the accusation you raise about the Metropolitan Police, when I saw the preliminary report I was astounded. So much so that my actions, I believe, are fully justified. If the preliminary report is that damning, Lord knows what the main report will reveal. So my successor will have an interesting time. The report that I was shown gave me no doubt at all."


“I have read an alarming report from the Metropolitan Police which led me to this decision in the first place.”

The Napier report on the suspension, which took statements from Mr Lewis, but which was published before the leaked “in camera” debate, stated that:

"As previously has been noted, neither Mr Lewis nor Mr Ogley saw the Interim Report [from the Metropolitan police]. Neither did they seek to see it."

This should be evidence enough that “In Camera” debates poison the well of public trust in the States.

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