Thursday, 26 November 2020

Narrow Ranging Responsibilities

Looking at Kevin Pamplin's offer to be Assistant Health Minister- an offer which was swiftly pulled back by the Government, the Health Minister said:

“These requirements demonstrated that our approaches to the role would differ and I felt the Deputy was not taking into account the wide-ranging responsibilities that arise from working within government."

Doesn't this sound assured and statesmanlike? It is wonderful how, as George Orwell noted, political language can actually say the reverse of what is meant.

Bailiwick Express notes:

Among his requests, which were described as "unusual" by the Health Minister, was confirmation that the Government would publish up-to-date minutes from its scientific advisers meetings on covid in line with a proposition he successfully pushed through the States Assembly in summer, but was not fully enacted.

And Kevin's own email (now published) has this at the forefront:

"As I mentioned to you and the Chief Minister failure to fully respond to my proposition and fully produce the STAC minutes with the issues around communication, which I also spoke to in my VONC speech is unacceptable. This has to be the first issue I have to try rectify. If this is going to cause an issue I would understand but I have to follow this up."

"My final option which I have considered is bringing the proposition back the assembly. I feel so strongly about being transparent especially with communication and if I can bring that change ASAP then this is a move I can fully justify and agree to."

Translation of Health Minister: You must accept the fact that you would be effectively gagged from raising such issues. And we are not going to publish the minutes. And when we use the term "wide ranging" it actually means "narrow ranging".

Small wonder that while the Vote of No Confidence was won in the Chamber, outside confidence is still ebbing in the shambles that passes for decision making. An example is mask wearing.

The law on compulsory wearing of masks is in place... It’s just not active yet! Never put off to tomorrow what you can put off to next week seems o be how the Health Minister operates. And he was saying... If you refuse to wear a mask, you can be fined. If you say you are exempt on medical grounds – no proof needed at present – this will be sufficient as otherwise it would be a breach of privacy about your medical history.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! That’s like exemptions on seat belt legislation which means if you are stopped by the policy, you just say "I have a medical exemption.... but I don't need to show you! That law doesn't work like that and neither should mask wearing! Totally bonkers!

Your doctor may say you don’t have to wear a seat belt for a medical reason. They’ll give you a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing’. You must: (1) keep this in your vehicle (2) show it to the police if you’re stopped.


Saturday, 21 November 2020

The Return of the King













The Return of the King

The trumpets sound, the choirs sing
Come, O come, the returning King
On horseback he came, from far away
From Northern lands, as prophets say
The Fellowship of Nine, rose with him
Though Moira mines, so dark and grim
Where banged the drums, dark unseen
And Gandalf fell, down dark ravine
The Fellowship split, asunder broken
And Boromir dying, last words spoken
To Helm’s Deep he came, to battle strong
And fierce and savage, lasted long
He fought onwards, with noble band
Then paths of the dead, an evil land
Finally to Minas Tirith, the King came
To guardians of Gondor’s sacred flame
Fought the last battle, the final defeat
Sauron vanquished, victory sweet
And aftermath: they crowned the King
The Lay of Elessar, the minstrels sing
And this was the telling, the story told
Of men and elves, of hobbits bold 
Of dwarves, and Ents, of Wizard's sage
This was the ending of the Third Age
The trumpets sound, the choirs sing 
Come, O come, the returning King 
An echo of returns, and all put right
When our King returns in light.



Friday, 20 November 2020

The Victorian 1983 - Part 4: Some Obituaries






Today's post comes from a 1983 edition of "The Victorian", a magazine published by Victoria College

The Victorian 1983

CONNOR, Francis Hebbelthwaite Powell (VCJ: 1929-1936) died on 1st May 1982, aged 64, after a long illness.

On leaving College he joined the R.A.F, being commissioned in 1937 and trained as a pilot. Was in 22 Squadron (Torpedo Bombers) and in action over the North Sea, Belgium and Norway in early 1940. That June he transferred to 234 Squadron, flying Spitfires, and was in action during the Battle of Britain. At the end of August 1940 he was shot down over the Channel.

After recovery from injuries, he re-trained as a flying instructor and continued in Training Command until 1946. Subsequently returning to Jersey, he served at Jersey Airport for 16 years in the capacity of Air Traffic Controller.

RICHARDSON, William (‘Bill’) (V.C.J. 1924-1930) died on 5th July 1983 at his home in Lymington, Hampshire. He was 70.

Joining Vickers in 1931. He became a Vickers aircraft man for almost 50 years. Being three times managing director of various Vickers companies. In 1940 he was appointed assistant area manager of the Salisbury Group of Dispersal Factories which took over the building of Spitfires. Bill took over production at South Marston where he remained until 1963. During this period he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. He went on as managing director of factories in Glasgow and Bury St. Edmunds. From 1971, until his retirement in 1978, he was managing director and then chairman of Mitchell Bearings in Newcastle, having been the ‘architect’ of the complete redevelopment of the works.

DUPAYS, Andre Louis (V.C.J. 1939-1947) died in June 1983 at Leatherhead, Surrey, from a heart attack, after suffering a heart condition for some 18 months. He was 55.

He gained a Channel Islands Scholarship to Pembroke College, Oxford (Modern Languages), where he obtained an M.A. and Dip.Ed. He taught at the County Grammar School. Dorking, and subsequently became Head of Modern Languages at St. John's, Leatherhead and Commanding Officer of the C .C.F . Andre was accorded the honour of being chosen to command the C .C .F. contingents for the Special Queen's Jubilee Parade in London.

EPHRAUMS, W. Frank, Commander R.N., M.l.E.E.
(The following appreciation was written by L. L. Seigne. Esq. ).

Frank Ephraurns was at College from 1933 to 1939, where I was his House and Class Master, but it was during the holidays that we became close friends, for we shared a deep love of the sea. His wide knowledge of the Jersey mail boats whose movements he followed closely, stems from his boyhood. We were so keen on fishing that we would meet at dawn to sail my boat which he handled with skill while I tended the lines. In 1939 we left College and he went to Faraday House to gain an Honours Diploma and gold medal in electrical engineering. He joined the R.N.V.R. as a Sub-Lieutenant and in 1943 was engaged in minesweeping. After the war he was transferred to the Royal Navy and served in various ships and shore establishments. He was promoted to Commander in 1959 and retired from the Ministry of Defence in 1972 when he joined the RN Engineering Service. After a long spell of ill health he finally retired and died at his home in Bath on 14th August 1982. A staunch and unassuming friend, a born seaman and a keen O.V.

RYAN, Dennis William, Jurat (V.C..J. 1929-1937) died in Jersey on 8th August 1983, aged 64, after a prolonged illness.

This former head prefect and prominent figure in many spheres at V.C.J. was destined to become a States Deputy, the Constable of St. Helier and a Jurat of the Royal Court. On leaving V.C.J. he studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before entering the family business of Ryan Holdings Ltd., which encompassed hotel, garage and building companies both in this Island and Guernsey. He became chairman and managing director of the group, besides being elected president of the Jersey Hotel and Guest House Association and vice-president of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce. His numerous interests and work included the Battle of Flowers Association, the Rotary Club, the Institute of Directors, the St. John's Ambulance Service, the United Club, the Jersey Island Cricket Club, the Caesarean Lawn Tennis Club and St. Helier Yacht Club. He served as a States Deputy from 1948 to1951 and from 1954 to 1956, when he resigned from the States following an illness. He re-entered Island politics when he was elected Constable of St. Helier in December 1961. He also served on many States Committees and became a Jurat in 1969, which office he held until 1976 when he resigned on grounds of ill health.

FERGUSON, Michael Richard (V.C.J. 1958-1963) died in Jersey on 14th September 1983 at the tragically young age of 36 after contracting a rare illness.

Mike was a fine all-rounder at V.C.J. but excelled at gymnastics, where he gained top honours in both 1962 and 1963. On leaving. he joined the family business of clothing outfitters. He leaves a wife and two small children. To them and indeed to the bereaved families of all O.V.s, The Victorian extends its sincere sympathy.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

An Assessment of John Henwood's Letter









John Henwood recently had a letter published in the JEP giving an "inside track" on some aspects of the events leading to Charlie Parker's resignation. Here are are extracts and some comments by me.

 "On 29 October, Mr Parker wrote to the Chief Minister setting out the position from his perspective. The letter was released to the media, but not widely disseminated in full. In it he pointed out that since 2016 he had been on the board of the entity responsible for the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, a huge undertaking." (Henwood)

But as Gary Burgess points out, we are only hearing this now. He also mentions "politicians and civil servants who regularly tell me of their frustration at getting access to the man at the top", something which John Henwood is seemingly unaware of.

Under Article 10 of the Employment of States of Jersey Employees (Jersey) Law 2005 (“the Law”), provision is made for the States Employment Board (“SEB”) to delegate any of its powers or functions under the Law to any of its members or the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”).

John Henwood states that: "In fact, the Chief Minister was entitled to give consent. While it is the case that the SEB is the employer, the Chief Minister is chairman of the SEB and has specifically delegated authority to act."

But this is clearly only under the terms of Article 10, and I would like to see the decision making the delegation which he says is the case in this circumstance. I can't see it anywhere!

"As often happens at such times, politicians’ instincts of self-preservation kick in and there was a brief period of who had said what to whom and who knew what, which the media duly reported." (Henwood)

There is no mention of the Communications Unit press release which was not authorised by any politician and yet somehow came out and completely muddied the waters for the media. That was nothing to do with politicians’ instincts of self-preservation. Why is that omitted from John Henwood's account?

 And finally, John Henwood says:

 "What has already occurred at a political level was not a debate, it was a farrago of misrule led by a few politicians who seized an opportunity to get rid of a chief executive who was making them uncomfortable by doing what he was employed to do – drive change in the public sector.”

 “There’s nothing new in that. Throughout history good people who have tried to transform things for the better have been brought down by those who oppose change, often for reasons of personal position.”

 Although he names no names, his descriptions make it clear where he think blame lies. For example, Kristina Moore is described as “a constant critic of Senator Le Fondré”

 "Mr Parker’s letter did nothing to lower the temperature and States Members were demanding action. On 1 November, Senator Kristina Moore, a constant critic of Senator Le Fondré, seized the moment to announce that she would be lodging a vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister the following day.”

 Deputy Morel is also clearly in the firing line:

 “Deputy Morel, impatient for action, demanded through social media: ‘There should be no “talks”. Any resolution that doesn’t involve CP leaving his NED role will have tremendous consequences.’” (Henwood)

 And yet ultimate responsibility must surely lie within SEB itself:

 “The most revealing part of the meeting was when the vice-chairman of the SEB, Constable Richard Buchanan, said that without a successful resolution he believed the vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister would succeed.” (Henwood)

 “Mr Buchanan later wrote to Mr Parker stating that the SEB was not minded to withdraw its permission for him to take on the NED role. However, it also instructed him to resign the NED position. In other words, you have permission to take on the New River post, but you must resign from it. How bizarre.” (Henwood)

 But that decision was from SEB – of which, let us not forget – as John Henwood omits to remind us here – where John Le Fondre is in the Chair, and not those outside the Government such as Kristina Moore or Kirsten Morel. In other words, if Charlie Parker was a sacrificial lamb, it was to prevent a vote of no confidence succeeding, and surely the Chief Minister must have been aware of that.

In conclusion, John Henwood gives us some extra background information, but that also raises other questions. I would like to be sure that some of the information he says was released to the media, such as Gary Burgess, actually was seen by them, and in what form.

Context is everything. In his version, the noble Charlie Parker, like the noble Julius Caesar, is brought down by the wicked Brutus and disaffected Roman Senators for their own political ends. That’s certainly playing to Shakespearean tragedy, but while the bare events described are not in dispute, the manner of their presentation, and the motivations assigned to others is certainly debatable.

Looking at it as if it was a narrative about historical events, and therefore embedded with a degree of interpretation, John Henwood’s remarks should not just be treated as an unvarnished “gospel truth”. All history, as historians know, except for bare chronology (and even there some selection is involved) is mediated through the lens of the writers.  

To say as the Jersey Evening Post does, “It has been said that falsehood will fly on the wings of the wind while truth lags behind” is to give his narrative a status which it may or may not deserve, and any investigation of what occurred must go further in speaking to other witnesses. 

For example, John Henwood presents the Buckingham Palace case as an argument, but we don't know exactly what form this takes unless we can see original source documents to the media (or at least a lengthy extract). It may have been omitted because it was not made strongly or not exactly the same situation of employment. Do we have the terms of engagement of that appointment?

And the New River blurb states that "In this role [CEO Jersey], he has led an ambitious programme to transform and modernise Jersey’s public services and developed a major infrastructure vehicle for funding the Island’s infrastructure and regeneration plans."

As Gary Burgess comments:

Interesting, in its own blurb, NewRiver REIT plc bigs up Charlie Parker for his “ambitious programme to transform and modernise Jersey’s public services”, but it also puts on a pedestal the “major infrastructure vehicle for funding” which, curiously, the island’s politicians haven’t even yet approved.

Also curious is the official statement from the government which not only says both the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister approved his second gig which it claims he’ll be doing in his own time, but also that it “will inform Jersey’s economic recovery from Covid-19.”

Surely it can’t be both.

Somehow this was not on John Henwood's radar in his presentation. I'm not saying Charlie Parker is as black as some of his critics may maintain, but it is surely unlikely he is quite as wonderful as John Henwood makes out.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Jersey's Coronavirus Plans: Could do Better


Draft Covid-19 (Workplace Restrictions) (Amendment) (Jersey) Regulations 202-

  • Allow Orders that will require customers to wear masks in some workplaces
  • Allow for Orders that will require businesses to take action to restrict the spread of Covid-19, such as collecting contact details from customers.
  • Provide for an enhanced enforcement regime for businesses that do not follow the conditions of Orders under this Regulation

Draft Covid-19 (Gatherings) (Jersey) Regulations 202-

  • Allow Orders that will limit the number of people who can gather

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: “Public health guidance, such as the strong recommendation to wear masks in enclosed public places and limiting the size of gatherings, has been in place since April.

“These Regulations form part of a toolkit we can use to make less restrictive measures required by law, which aim to limit the need for further Island wide restrictions like lockdown and limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Monitoring of support and up-take of mask use is underway and if further action is needed to protect the public, by ensuring the strict adherence of measures, these Regulations will enable the issuing of Orders to enforce the guidelines.

“If we all follow the current public health guidance, which at the moment allows for relative freedoms, we can potentially avoid more restrictive measures being implemented.”

Comments:

I have a good mind to stand outside a supermarket and monitor the number of mask wearers over an hour. While it has increased, as a quick anecdotal survey, I would suggest, shows that at least 25%-30% are simply not taking that advice seriously at all. At smaller shops, like Morrisons, where people just pop in and out, at least 50% are not following that advice. Today I went into Iceland, Pound Magic, M&S in Town, Tesco, Waitrose, and in each at least 25%-30% were not wearing masks.

And just look at the attitude of Gerald Voisin - it is not for my staff to police mask wearing when it is only "strongly recommended". That's what you get when you have a voluntary system.

"If further action is needed..." What planet is the Health Minister on? Clearly he moves in rarefied circles where everyone wears mask. As to following public health guidance, apart from the Chief Minister wearing a mask and then removing it to speak, and as one would expect Dr Muscat wearing a mask before and after speaking, one of the notable things about the press conference today was that when not speaking, the Chief Minister and other Ministers were not wearing masks, when they should have been, if only to set an example!

By the time "further action is needed", it will almost certainly be too late.

And again, with regard to "collecting contact details from customers", while some businesses are diligent, some rely on QR codes alone, with no alternative for people without smart phones, and the current guidance says they should still service customers who refuse to give contact details.

Again a lax state of play which sends out entirely the wrong message to the general public. We do not have a general public in which civic duty ranks high among nearly all of the population, as in Sweden. We have a general public like that of the UK, where a fair few - enough to spread the virus - won't take precautions unless they have to do so. 

There is no good having a toolkit hidden away somewhere when it is urgently needed to be used. It is like the plans from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at present!

“But the plans were on display…”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”




Saturday, 14 November 2020

Landscapes of the Night




One from the archive, from 24/11/2004.

Landscapes of the Night

Dreams swirl into consciousness, alight
Fleetingly, then vanish into the night.
Yet conjure up a lake, hillside and town
Cinderella glorious dancing in her gown
Dark woods, where cries the tawny owl
A strange figure, wearing cloak and cowl
A caravan, an old woman reading cards
Mist swirling around nearby graveyards
Horses galloping furiously in fast pursuit
Gorse flowering, and trees ripe with fruit
The sea cascading on the beach in waves
The cold dark figure beside the graves
These are the denizens of dreaming time
They wander so silently as if in mime
Visions of the landscapes of the night
Vanish like the dew in waking light.

Friday, 13 November 2020

The Victorian 1983 - Part 3




Today's post comes from a 1983 edition of "The Victorian", a magazine published by Victoria College

The Victorian 1983

Association of Old Victorians: O.V.S Here, There and Everywhere
Complied by “Dixie” Landick

The Reverend Stephen P. E. Mourant (1965-1973) Having obtained his Bachelor of "Theology Degree at the University of Nottingham. Stephen was ordained into the Church of England at Southwell Minster on 3rd July. He is now serving his first curacy in a group of six country parishes and is resident at the Vicarage. Granby, Nottingham. If any O.V.s are in the area and "wish to drop in for a cuppa and a chat, they would be most welcome".

The Gurdon Brothers (Charles, Hugo and Alexander) were at V.C.J. between 1967 and 1976. Charles has sent news in telegraphic terms' He himself gained a B A. (Hons.) in economics and geography at the School of African and Oriental Studies. London University. and subsequently an M Sc. Distinction) in geography of Africa and the Middle East. Now working as a consultant with Meapec Ltd., which provides political and economic consultancy for governments, multi-lateral organisations (U.N.. World Bank. F.A.O., etc.). Hugo gained a B.A. (Hons.) in English and history at Bristol University and has been working as a journalist with the Jersey Evening Post. Is now moving to Fleet Street. Alexander has a B.A. in film. photography and television. Central London Polytechnic, and is at present a cameraman with London Weekend Television.

Jolyon J. S. Baker (1971-1975). Having secured a place at Mount View Drama School, London, has now completed two years there and is about to commence his final year. Recently he took the leading role in "Marat-Sade" by Peter Weiss Jolvon ‘went professional' for the first time this summer, performing in Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore" at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Festiva! Theatre, gaining his Equity card at the same time.

Neil B. Wade (1970-1973) and Philip B. Wade ( 1971 -1979). Neil is now an assistant manager at the Bank of America, based in London. He is a keen rugby squash player. Philip, after working for two years and with Barclaytrust Bank, is now taking a management course with Marks & Spencers at Baker Street in London Philip's hobbies include tennis and chess.

Neil Dormand. I have been sent a highly technical BBC TV publication with an article entitled 'How current affairs come up tingling fresh'. I can only quote the briefest extracts here which are self explanatory: "What exactly is the Lime Grove Topical Production Centre, which recently came into operation at a cost of £3 million. The simple answer is that it is a specialist centre for the programmes and the home of the production offices and studios for the BBC's three daily television current affairs programmes. Nationwide. Newsnight and Breakfast Time Neil Dormand is the manager of Vision Facilities for the Topical Centre and his unit is some 60 strong. Neil is the first man in the BBC to have the use of portable single cameras (P.S.C.) for mainstream broadcasting under his control He has been lecturing on their potential and talking about electronic news gathering for the past couple of years at the BBC's engineering training school at Woodsnorton, but now all has been put into practice. Neil has eight P.S.C. crews to man the Centre's units on a 24-hour basis and a radio links van which sends the signal from location into the studios . ."

Anthony A. Pitcher ( 1972-1979). At present studying to he a chartered accountant, articled to John Warry at Price Waterhouse (Jersey) Anthony obtained an Honours degree at Warwick University in accountancy and financial analysis. Was married on 1 1th June this year to Miss Julie Elizabeth Manning. daughter of Mr. John Manning of Taunton. The honeymoon was spent in Norway.

Timothy J. C. Carter (1974-1951). Tim writes: "I'm currently in the third year of a four year B.A. (Hons.) course in modern languages (French and Spanish) at Bristol Polytechnic. This year is being spent abroad to gain practical experience of the languages involved. Here in France I'm spending five months doing translation work in a hospital/research centre in Nancy In February. I'm going down to Spain to spend five months at Madrid University ... I've still got no idea of what I'm going to do after I've finished my course. There's always teaching, I suppose!"

Congratulations to Wing Commander Vernon W. Cavey ( 1940-1946) who has returned to Jersey and been appointed as the States Industrial Relations Officer and to it. Col. `Mick' R. Lanyon (1951-1962) who is also returning to take up the important post of Commandant at Jersey Airport.

To conclude these notes which. I hope, have included some items of interest for everybody. I must mention a letter received from Alan Salsac. It does not contain news of this O.V. but rather a fervent heart-cry for more support for the O.V.A. Alan deplores "the apathy of O.V.'s' and is sad that appeals for news are necessary Above all. however. he deplores the lack of support for the O.V.A. clubroom in Broad Street. Alan points out that the clubroom is open front 9 p. m. to 1 a.m. daily and that the clubroom committee members are working hard to redecorate the premises and to improve its image and atmosphere. Alan continues: "Let us not fool ourselves - things will not correct themselves. We cannot expect to have a vastly improved clubroom and a highly active Association without the full support of the membership. I cannot help but feel that the Association is dying a slow death due to a totally unacceptable attitude of apathy and indifference . " Alan strongly urges all members to support all OVA. activities and concludes as forceful letter with the following .: ''My deepest apologies to those few active members whom we have to thank for having any Association left at all".

Well Alan, the appeal for news has had encouraging results. as you may see from the forgoing pages. pages. I hope your urgent appeal may draw an equally gratifying response and a queue at the clubroom bar!