30 November 2011

JEP - Not Fit for Purpose: Part 2

The second part of this blog on the Jersey Evening Post co-incides quite appropriately with the latest post of Team Voice,  which features an interview I did with them earlier this week. Later on in this blog, I want to focus on the astonishing media bias that all three of the main Jersey media outlets displayed during last month's Senatorial (General) Elections. However, first of all, I want to follow on from and contextualise the recent 'spat' I have had with Lucy Mason and particularly Chris Bright from the Jersey Evening Post.

One of my respected friends, and political supporters, had suggested I was a little harsh. Following Lucy's misreporting that I had spoilt my paper, when I had not, I responded with a twitter message saying: 'Lucy Mason is either incompetent or telling deliberate malicious lies.' True, the lying part was probably a little harsh, which is why I qualified the statement with the option that she was simply being incompetent.

My esteemed friend wrote,'I'm not sure one mistake deserved the phrase "incompetent". I've made a mistake today at work, which was picked up, and I corrected, but it doesn't happen often, and I'd had to be called incompetent because of that.'

I quite agree. We all make mistakes including (especially) politicians. I responded to my friend saying: 

'I agree that we all make mistakes, but a) this was not a one off and (b) it was the 'process' that was at fault. Lucy said that she did not hear what I said as my microphone was switched off. Rather than come to me ans ask what I said, she then went to colleagues who also misinterpreted my words as an admission. I told her on the phone that (i) she should not be reporting stuff if she did not hear it and (ii) if she wanted clarification, she should have come to me in the first instance.'

Jersey Evening Post Reporter
Lucy Mason
My main concern here is to do with process and 'good/best practice'. Lucy quite openly admits to not hearing what I said (which was a response to Constable John Refault's comments about how awful it was that any States member should see fit to spoil their paper - I responded that any member was quite within their rights to spoil their paper if they could not bring themselves to vote for an individual on ideological or personal grounds. This was taken as an addmission by some, although it most certainly was not). In such a circumstance one should (a) either not report anything which is not clear or (b) ascertain the facts before reporting something. Lucy did attempt to establish what had happened - by talking to other members, at least one of who had misunderstood. What Lucy should have done was to come directly to me, ask if I had spoiled my paper and proceeded from there. This is usually what happens when good practice is operating - and other journalists normally  do that. (Harry McRandle made the same error of practice when he misreported my comments at a Jersey Finance meeting earlier in the year. When confronted with the mistake he apologised and said, 'He was momentarily distracted' and so did not catch what I actually said... If in doubt, make it up)

But it is not simply me who has been affected. Deputy Shona Pitman has also fallen foul to the paper's sub-standard reporting when they reported on the closure of the Market Post Office, against which Shona was fighting. One 'mischevious' shop-owner did not agree with Shona and told the JEP reporter that the market stall holders did not support Deputy Pitman. This single view, which was not representative, then became a story.

Historically, the J.E.P. has a record of getting it wrong: and I can think of 5 occasions off the top of my head where apparently innocent mistakes were made in reporting either my manifesto or my words which all had the effect of portraying me in a bad light. This is without mentioning the 'fake' letters that they have attempted and do still publish from time to time.
Editor, Chris Bright

And now, we turn our attention to the Editor, Chris Bright. The following is the email that Chris sent me following the letter I sent to him (which can be seen on my previous blog). Note its tone and how rather than simply apologising or giving an undertaking to brief his staff to take more care in future, he prefers to go on the defensive - even threatening me. I have published my response to him below:

From: Chris Bright [mailto:CBright@jerseyeveningpost.com] 

Sent: 24 November 2011 12:34
To: Montfort TadierSubject: Spoilt papers

Dear Montfort,

In response to your email of yesterday, we have published a correction to the report mistakenly stating that you had admitted spoiling your ballot paper in the States.
Please note that the operative word here is ‘mistakenly’. The error was not intentional and it is you who owes Lucy Mason an apology for publicly calling her a liar on your Twitter feed, a nasty piece of juvenile name-calling which is simultaneously untrue, offensive and defamatory. Kindly remove the tweet and note that, should you continue personally insulting or maligning  Lucy or, indeed, any other member of this newspaper’s staff in similar fashion, I will have no hesitation in complaining about your conduct to the Privileges and Procedures Committee.

Chris Bright.

From: Montfort Tadier
Sent: 24 November 2011 15:11
To: 'Chris Bright'
 RE: Spoilt papers
Dear Chris,

I regret the antagonistic tone of your email and that you did not see fit to call me in person. If you had taken time to read my twitter post you would be aware that I said 'Lucy Mason at the JEP is either incompetent or telling deliberate malicious lies.' The operative words here are 'either' and 'or'. 

With this in mind, I will not be apologising to Lucy nor removing my post. If you see fit to refer this to PPC, that is your decision. But I will not be lectured on moral standards by the editor of a newpaper which constantly falls below reasonable standards of balanced, fair and competent journalism - something which was demonstrated very clearly in the recent general elections.

I will be sending a full complaint in to you and the press complaints body, and I will be encouraging my colleagues and members of the public to do the same where they have grievances.

Warmest regards,

Montfort Tadier

25 November 2011

JEP - Not fit for Purpose: Part 1. Letter of Complaint to the JEP

Chris Bright
Editor of the Jersey Evening Post
JEP 'Journo', Harry McRandle
The Royal British Legion Poppy
which 'Mr Fly' thought was a 'Sheriff's badge'
This blog will be the first part in a look at Jersey's only paper, the Jersey Evening Post. I will not be looking at the obvious biased coverage that the paper gave to its preferred candidate, Sir Philip Bailhache during the whole of the Senatorial Elections, last month, nor the lack of balanced reporting (not yet).
Today, I am simply doing in this post is putting up a copy of the letter I sent to the editor, Chris Bright, yesterday complaining about repeated inaccurate reporting from his paper, which is either down to staff incompetence or institutional bias. I am compelled to publish it here as I doubt it will see the light of day in his paper.

I will expand more on the circumstances and Mr Bright's attempt to threaten me in the next post, but for now, here is the letter. 


States Chambers
Royal Square
St Helier

23rd November 2011
Dear Sirs,

I am obliged to write to you to correct an inaccuracy in yesterday’s JEP by your political correspondent Lucy Mason. Your reporter stated incorrectly that I had ‘admitted spoiling [my] paper in the third round [for the election of Privileges and Procedures Chairman].’ This is untrue. Firstly, I admitted no such thing and secondly, I did not spoil my paper (I am happy to confirm that I voted for the winner).

This is by no means the first time that your political correspondents have misrepresented me. Only three weeks ago (2nd November), I was given a written apology by another of your political correspondents, Toby Chiang, following a curious report in the fly which said I was wearing a ‘badge’ that was either a Sheriff’s badge or some left over from a Halloween costume. It was in fact the Royal British Legion enamel poppy, which was also being worn as a sign of respect by a number of my colleagues. Why I was singled out for misreporting, I have no idea.

Again, earlier in the year, I was given a written apology by Harry McRandle, who had misreported comments I made during a Jersey Finance forum. An apology was printed and Mr McRandle said in his email to me on 2nd February 2011 that ‘this happened inadvertently because he was distracted and missed some of what you said.’

I would ask that in future, such errors are avoided, as intentional or not, they have the effect of conveying a false impression which is all too easily picked up upon by those who would seek to disparage the valid work which any political representative legitimately seeks to undertake.

Moreover, I would like to take this opportunity to register my disappointment at the coverage which the Ministerial and Chairmen’s elections have received in your paper. Apart from the Chief Minister’s election, no coverage was given other candidates who did not manage to secure positions, even though their speeches and the questions which followed were equally relevant and sometimes better than those of the successful candidates.

It seems to me that rather than making up words and attributing them falsely to States Members, your reporters would do better to actually report on what was said, or else get out of the business of journalism altogether.


Deputy Montfort Tadier

Next time: Chris Bright's defensive and threatening response

17 November 2011

Housing Minister Speech

Below is the extended version of the speech I gave today. It is unedited.
Why I’m standing for the position

I know the difficulties of young people and families who face the prospect of never being able to afford their own homes in Jersey.

Very much Catch-22

They are paying rents which are higher than what the monthly mortgage repayments would be, but who cannot get a loan either due to a lack of a deposit and/or because the banks are not lending sufficiently.

(Point about student debts – no point in going to university and coming back with £30k in debt.)

This is why it is imperative that we take a joined up approach to the dual issues of providing truly affordable homes for those who might be able to purchase; and reasonable rental prices for those who cannot or don’t want to buy.
Before that, I want to talk about the Department itself.

The housing department manage 4, 500 homes and provide housing for some 13, 000 islanders.
It’s a very challenging and diverse portfolio – not just in terms of property, but also in terms of the individuals they serve.
The first thing to say, is that we are fortunate to have good staff. I have met with the Chief Officer. He is an individual who is clearly committed to tackling the pressing issues at housing; we are on the same wave length when it come making progress.
And the positive side is that the department is relatively successful.
Economically - It more than washes its own face – it generates an income of £36m annually

It also provides a social function, housing the most vulnerable and least well off in society.

Therefore, social housing is something we should be proud of; it is something we should do more of: - it makes economic and social sense.

However, the department has been hampered with making progress and, as a consequence has under-delivered.
Fundamentally this is due to political failings and poor decision making by past assemblies and past presidents; more fundamentally, there is a structural failing in the way the department has been allowed (or not allowed to work).

There is an £48m maintenance Backlog

Some of the properties are substandard. – Recent Whitehead report stated that 27% of States owned social rented homes would fail the UK Government’s ‘Decent Homes Standard.’

Of the £36m income, the majority (£24m, I think) is returned to the Treasury – leaving insufficient funds for maintenance – let alone new building or property acquisition.

As a result waiting lists for social housing have been increasing year on year. (see second hand out)
There are currently 425 applicants on the waiting list – and this does not include those who are considered ineligible by the department. This figure has increased steadily from the 2005 figure of 192.

Positive steps have been taken more recently, and the recent draft residential tenancy law was generally positive. Security of tenure is something that is lacking for many in both the private and state sector.

For private tenants, the notice period will be increased to 3 months. I would look to increase this for long term tenants.
The Whitehead Report noted that it was also very unusual that social tenants in Jersey have no security of tenure. This is a consequence of the lack of adequate housing stock available to the department.
I am unhappy about the provision made for those in the non-qualified sector.

1) they will not be covered by the deposit protection scheme. A way must be found to include them.

2) Substandard accommodation is also a problem. Lodging houses are inspected regularly, there are no such checks for other landlords – in either A – H or non-quals.

This is why I favour the extension of the landlord registration scheme, administered independently, so that ALL units of accommodation can be regularly checked to make sure they meet the required standards. It would also have the advantage of separating the roles of the department as regulator and landlord.

I am supportive of the social housing gateway, it makes sense to consolidate all providers of social housing under one roof.

We also need to consider radical schemes such as ‘buy as you rent’, where part of the monthly rental can be ring-fenced and after a certain time, the property can be offered to the tenant with the accrued money acting as a deposit. This will assist the transition from renting to buying.

Steps such as the reduction in stamp duty and a potential loan scheme are useful but do not address the fundamental issue of high cost property.

Indeed, an unintended consequence may be that it keeps prices high.


Uncertainty over the homebuy scheme needs to be resolved very quickly. It has been divisive and families have been let down. However, we need to make sure that any given scheme is viable and more important, legally enforceable.

I may be unpopular for saying this, but I have my reservations about shared equity, for various reasons. People who buy want to own their own homes, not 2/3 of it.

It is much better if we can build property on land owned already by the States or recently acquired, sell the properties without the profit motive, so long as those homes remain ring fenced for adherents to the scheme.

Similarly, first time buyer homes must remain so if they are sold on.

Tackling the affordability of housing prices in a system where those prices are dictated by market forces is not an easy one – and there are all sorts of contradictions (and potential unintended consequences – for example the creation of a two teir housing market, negative equity) – however, just because it is a complex area, does not mean it not something the States should shy away from. States policy can and does influence the market.

Here are some steps we can take:

The rental component of Income support must be phased out. It is completely unsatisfactory, particularly in a time of austerity, that we should be giving £7.0m of tax payers money to private landlords. This simply maintains up prices and is a perverse form of economic redistribution in which the tax payer is subsidising – probably wealthy – lanlords. There are even cases where speculative landlords are having their mortgages paid for by the tax-payer. This phasing out will be achieved by the building of and acquisition of more social rented housing. I think we can all agree that that £7m of taxpayers money is better of in the pockets of Housing than in that of private landlords

The loophole which allows foreign landlords, who do not have housing qualifications, to purchase local properties and rent them to those who do must be closed. This may not be such a common practice as it was in the past, but even if these buy-to-lets only represent 5% of such purchases, it still needs tackling.

Similarly, if prices are to come down, both for rents and buyers, buy-to-lets should be discouraged in general. I propose a sliding scale tax on homes which are not a person’s primary place of residence, small taxes for second homes, going up for 3rd, 4th and 5th. This won’t be popular with rentiers or some estate agents, but frankly, I can live with that. My main concern is bringing prices down for ordinary islanders.

We should also consider capital gains on homes which are ‘flipped’, as is the case in France. So that if you sell a home within 1 – 5 years of purchasing, which is clearly for speculation purposes, any uplift is taxed – again on a sliding scale.

Empty Property taxes.

Of course these are ultimately matters that would need to be taken up by the new treasury minister and approved by the assembly, but it is still important that any housing minister is central when it comes to bringing ideas to the table to tackle the very pressing issues of affordable housing.


One of the key suggestions of the Whitehead Report, which I think needs to be critiqued somewhat (will do shortly if I have time) was the creation of a Housing Association. This has pros and cons, and would very much depend on the detail, but one consequence of this would be a reduction in revenue for the Treasury, at a time when we seem to have more black holes than the entire milky way.

Some of the revenue raising measures above could go towards meeting this shortfall.

Talking of Savings, there are other common sense steps we can take to make savings.

One very simple example is working more closely to avoid duplication of work.

Give examples of Property Holdings vs Housing in Le Clos des Sables

Sharing of resources makes sense – genuine efficiency savings. I can deliver genuine savings if necessary.

‘Piece of grass across the road is not mowed because it belongs to a different department. This is nonsense.

Other positive steps I would take

In terms of new builds, I would seek to gradually increase the % of houses that developers are required to allocate to first time buyers AND social housing.

I would make sure that local contractors are given priority, that we use as much local labour as possible; and that companies whose shareholders do not pay tax locally should be avoid where possible.

We should also use a carrot and a stick (depending on which way you look at it) to prioritise the companies with apprenticeship schemes.

Critique of the Whitehead Report

The Whitehead report was a long overdue piece of work. It would not have been necessary if we had been managing our portfolio property properly in the past

It has pointed out very clearly challenges facing the department and the urgent need for its relationship with Treasury to be review.

Two areas I am concerned with are:

Whether a the creation of an ‘association’ is in fact needed to resolve the problem. There are pros and cons – clearly, it would be easy for the roles of regulator, policy maker and landlord to be separated under an association or similar. However, I have grave concerns that the association should not be allowed to become a mechanism for privatisation. The condition should be that it remain always in public ownership, but managed at arms length.

I acknowledge Prof. Whitehead’s analysis that social housing ranges from 60% - 90% of market rates, however, I do not agree that it follows that rents should be put up automatically.

Nor is it correct to talk of social housing being subsidised. It is only so if viewed in relation to private sector prices – which are highly inflated. The rents themselves more than cover the costs, so that they make money.

However, there is no reason why housing – either as a department or as an association – could not be extended their portfolios to the higher end of the market. There is no reason in the future that housing – once it has met the demands of urgent housing needs, that it could not look to cater for J cats, non-quals and luxury accommodation, if it were cost effective. This is of course a long way off, but blue sky thinking has its place and it does pay to think outside the box.


With that in mind, I am asking for your support today as Housing Minister. In this new (false) spirit of inclusivity, I believe I would bring much needed dynamism and energy to the council of Ministers, as well as a young perspective, from someone who knows the issues by experience.

Moreover, I have no property of my own and I am not conflicted in anyway about wanting the value of my property to increase or hoping that my green field will be rezoned. My priority is and will remain housing the population in all sectors in a satisfactory and affordable way, so that all can lead a fruitful and contented life in our beautiful island.

I thank members for their attention and ask for their support.

16 November 2011

The Bland leading the Bland...

Chief Minister Designate, Ian Gorst

The Chief Minister (designate) this morning announced his 'slate' for the Ministerial Cabinet. They are as follows:

Treasury and Resources
Senator Bryan Ian Le Marquand
Social Security
Senator Francis du Heaume Le Gresley
Deputy Andrew Kenneth Francis Green of St. Helier
Education, Sport and Culture
Deputy Patrick John Dennis Ryan of St. John
Economic Development
Senator Alan John Henry Maclean
Home Affairs
Senator Lyndon John Farnham
Planning and Environment
Deputy Robert Charles Duhamel of St. Saviour
Health and Social Services
Deputy Anne Enid Pryke of Trinity
Transport and Technical Services
Connétable John Martin Refault of St. Peter

he Chief Minister designate has the ability under Standing Orders 117(15) and (16), to vary the list during the appointment process in respect of remaining nominees if any of the candidates nominated by him are not selected for the position indicated above. Standing Orders 117(15) and (16) read as follows -

117(15)  If, during the process, the States select a candidate who was not nominated by the Chief Minister designate, the presiding officer shall invite the Chief Minister designate to make a further announcement, in the order in which he or she wishes the States to vote on them, of his or her remaining nominations and proposals for assignment to the remaining Ministerial offices.

117(16)  The order, nominations and proposals in respect of the remaining appointments and assignments may differ from those previously announced by the Chief Minister designate.
As announced previously, I will be contesting the post of Housing Minister. I look forward to that challenge tomorrow

14 November 2011

New Assembly - New Chief Minister

After a short break from the blog, I am pleased to be back.

First of all, I would like to thank the 1, 428 electors of Les Quennevais and La Moye who cast their votes for me last month. In particular, my supporters; and a special thanks to my proposer Pauline Paintin and her husband Tony, who provided encouragement and help throughout the long election period.

Whilst there was a swing towards new, perhaps younger candidates, there is little doubt that there has also been a shift to the right. 

From a 'progressive' (i.e. centre or left) perspective this swing to the right was evidenced by the fact that the offerings for Chief Minister Candidates were limited to a choice between a Jersey Nationalist (Bailhache) and a good old fashioned, 'One Nation Tory' (Gorst). Their policies may not be vastly different, but it was the perceived difference in approach that I suspect secured Senator Gorst the top spot. He was also the better speaker on the day, certainly in terms of content.

The results of the vote are as follows (I have highlighted some of the 'surprise' members who voted for Senator Bailhache):



Senator P.F.C. Ozouf
Senator A. Breckon
Senator A.J.H. Maclean
Senator L.J. Farnham
Senator P.M. Bailhache
Connétable A.S. Crowcroft of St Hélier
Connétable J. Le S. Gallichan of Trinity
Connétable D.J. Murphy of Grouville
Connétable L. Norman of St Clément
Connétable J.M. Refault of St Peter
Connétable P.J. Rondel of St John
Connétable M.J. Paddock of St Ouen
Connétable S.A. Rennard of St Saviour
Deputy C.F. Labey
Deputy S.S.P.A. Power
Deputy E.J. Noel
Deputy P.J Ryan
Deputy J.P.G. Baker
Deputy J.H. Young
Deputy S.J. Pinel
Deputy J.M. Le Bailly
Deputy S.G. Luce
Deputy R.G. Bryans
Deputy K.L. Moore


Senator P.F. Routier
Senator S.C. Ferguson
Senator B.I. Le Marquand
Senator F. du H. Le Gresley
Senator I.J. Gorst
Connétable D.W. Mezbourian of St Lawrence
Connétable J. Gallichan of St Mary
Connétable S. Pallett of St Brelade
Connétable M. Le Troquer of St Martin
Deputy R.C. Duhamel
Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier
Deputy J.A. Martin
Deputy G.P. Southern
Deputy J.G. Reed
Deputy J.A. Hilton
Deputy J.A.N. Le Fondré
Deputy A.E. Pryke
Deputy S. Pitman
Deputy K.C. Lewis
Deputy M. Tadier
Deputy T.M. Pitman
Deputy T.A. Vallois
Deputy M.R. Higgins
Deputy A.K.F. Green
Deputy J.M. Maçon
Deputy G.C.L. Baudains
Deputy R.J. Rondel