13 April 2013

Bailhache to (re)declare for Option B

Non-Politician Commission Member, Dr Jonathan Renouf
is supporting Option A

On Monday, Electoral Commission Chairman, Senator Philip Bailhache is set to re-affirm his support publicly for Option B. I say reaffirm, because we have known that he favoured this model in 2011, even before the Electoral Commission had officially come up with it from months of ponderings. The question is whether any of the other members will 'come out' too.

Senator Bailhache made his position quite clear, before he was elected that he favoured the yet-to-be-proposed Option B model. 'I do not support the removal of the Constables from the States... With 12 Constables there would then be 30 other seats. There are ways of dividing up those seats which require discussion. Once the States have found a solution, it should be put to the people for their approval in a referendum.'
Commission Chairman and pre-declared supporter
of the ex-officio role of Constables, Senator Philip Bailhache
It seems that he was clairvoyant because that was actually a recommendation of the Commission, that he chaired. However, his hopes of 'a solution' being found did not quite work out, because the non-States Members on Commission were not willing to run with the idea that only Option B be put to the electorate. This would have been unconscionable for them. They knew that all the independent academic advice and the Commission's own key principles, pointed away from the retention of the Constables with 30 deputies in 6 large districts. And so, we were given this fudge. Not just any fudge, but a Jersey fudge

Advisor to the Commission, Dr Alan Renwick, wrote that 'The option of retaining Constables makes overall apportionment worse than at present and in multiple parishes violates the Venice Commission’s criterion. Whether that is considered justifiable is not for me to judge.'

For one Commission member, Dr Jonathan Renouf, this certainly was not acceptable - prompting him, yesterday to come out and declare his support for for Option A as it is the only option to meet the basic democratic test of fairness and equality. 

'Its really very simple - if you support Option A, it is because you believe the electoral system should be based on fairness and equality.' said Dr Renouf. 
'The basic principle of any electoral system is fairness; everybody's vote should count for the same. If you don't have that then you have a situation where people are going to feel aggrieved, bitter and cynical about the system, because ultimately they know their voice is not heard as loudly as other people's voices.'

For some reason, Channel TV and the JEP did not take up the offer of a press conference with Dr Renouf. Apparently it was not newsworthy. However, expect Bailhache and Gorst's support to be front page news and a lead story on Channel, which we know are run by Establishment lackeys, despite some competent reporters. 

This 'outing' of support by such an articulate and erudite Commissioner will surely worry the other campaign teams, not least Senator Bailhache who desperately wants B to succeed in order to stymie any opposition within the States Assembly. It is possible that the other two political members may also join him by declaring their support - certainly Deputy Baker will do as he's told. However, Senator Bailhache will also be mindful that it may not be helpful for him and the other two politicians on the Commission to come out in favour of keeping the Constables and therefore further worsening voter equity in favour of the country, again at the cost of the urban voters. It is entirely possible that he is emailing round the two remaining independent Commissioners right now, in the hope of co-opting their support, however, he may be disappointed that they have integrity and will not simply bow and scrape to his presumed authority, as so many States Members do, unquestioningly.

Footage courtesy of Stewart Lobb via HERE

04 April 2013

Cognitive Dissonance and Jersey Reform.

Sen. Philip Bailhache, Chairman of the Electoral Commission
A referendum is coming up in less than 3 weeks. Two campaign groups, the States Assembly and the electoral commission acknowledge the need for States reform, members of one group - Option C - are questioning the need for reform at all. 

So what is the case for reform?

Well, first of all, here is a little teaser. Can you tell me who is the originator of the following quote?

'There is widespread disillusionment with the political process. Some might say perhaps that this reflects the absence of party politics, but it is also a reflection of the relatively complicated and unfair system whereby we elect our representatives.'

When I saw this quote, I wondered who had said this. I thought it might have been me, but it was not particularly my idiom. So I thought it might have been Geoff Southern or more likely, Roy Le Hérissier. But no. Who was it that dare suggest that there could be anything even slightly wrong with our current system of government, and the way in which we ran our elections in Jersey?

Avid JEP reader, Jimmy Perchard

It is certainly a far cry from the idyllic picture painted by former Senator Perchard (who I hear is now campaigning for the abolition of the Senators) who said, on 30th March 2011 that 'Jersey is a great example of democracy; a beacon of democracy that we should hold up high for the world to look at.'

Hide it under a bushel? No! Not Jim, in any case. He was loud and proud of the Jersey system, which he is now, 2 years later, campaigning to change.

So let's put you out of your misery. The person who disagrees with Senator Perchard, that thinks Jersey is a not shining beacon of democracy, but a 'relatively complicated and unfair system' is none other than Seigneur Bailache lui-même

So the question is, now that it has been established beyond doubt, that Jersey's system needs change: what do we do about it?

Well, we have two options on the table. A or B. So which should we go for?

Senator Bailhache told us on 20th February 2013 that:

 'Reform option B creates greater voter inequity than we have at the moment.'

So, that naturally means that the Senator is supporting option A, (right?) which is fairer, more democratic and less complicated (his original reason for bringing reform). WRONG. Senator Bailhache is supporting Option B because he wants to make the system even more inequitable that it is at the moment. 

This is the man who topped the poll islandwide, but he has campaigned to change our entire electoral system which he thinks is unfair and he wants to replace it with something that is even more unfair.

This is an example of cognitive dissonance of the highest order. 

Of course, the Jersey mainstream media do not pick up on this contradiction in the system, in the same way they do not ask why Pierre Horsfall has done a U-Turn on the Constables, and is now supporting Option B. 

02 April 2013

Option A - the Fairest Way

As part of the series of posts on Reform, ahead of the referendumon 24 Apil I am pleased post this latest interview which summarises some of the arguments in favour of Option A.
The first video is a short. The full interview can be seen below.
Thanks go to the prodigious Tom Gruchy for providing the filming and uploading. 

Short Version

Full interview (10 minutes)