Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Senator Lyndon Farnham speaks - but is anybody listening?

Two videos.
Top video recorded today - Senator Farnham expresses his views on the Electoral Commission proposals.
Lower video - recorded during the Senatorial Elections - Lyndon Farnham's election address.
His remarks on the role of Senators etc occur at about 2.5 minutes into this recording.

Nothing much more to say here, the Senator speaks clearly enough.
But the defects in the EC proposals are becoming ever more visibly flawed.

How many States Members will decide to dump the Constables  from the States - with or without a public "mandate" - before this reaches the referendum stage?

Following the Trinity Electoral Commission meeting these two videos have been added to this post.
Commission members Dr Renouf (of BBC Newsnight fame) and Constable Gallichan offer their words of wisdom on the role of Senators as seen by the Commission and on "apples and pears" as seen by the Commission and Constable Gallichan in particular.

For some reason Ms Gallichan and I cannot agree why it is unfair (in my view) to divide the Island up into 6 "super constituencies" of 12,000 voters each yet allow them to elect 5 "deputies" each (OK) but different numbers of Constables.
According to Plan B of the Commission, if Constables remain in the States, St Helier will be divided into 2 "super constituencies" (St H No1 and St H No2) of 12,000 voters each but will  return 5 Deputies each and only  1 Constable (ie half to each).
On the other hand the "country parishes" will be grouped together into four  conglomerate "super parishes"- St Clement, Grouville and St Martin (5 Deputies plus 3 Constables) - St Lawrence, St John, St Mary and St Ouen (5 Deputies plus 4 Constables) - St Brelade and St Peter (5 Deputies plus 2 Constables) - St Saviour and Trinity (5 Deputies plus 2 Constables).

I must be crazy but according to my seaweed fuelled calculator this means that 12,000 voters in the St Lawrence/St Mary etc super constituency will return 5 plus 4  = 9 states members in total whereas the 12,000 voters of St H No1 (or No2) will only return 5 plus a half Constable.
The other country parishes are also  joined together so that they will each have either 7 or 8 elected representatives in the States. The residents of St Helier No1 and 2 will be totally out-gunned in the States.
I cannot see how that is fair and it will make the north-south democratic divide even more in favour of the super-privileged and socially favoured "country parishes" against the town parish of St Helier.

Obviously, the simple solution is NOT to allow Constables to remain in the States and to adopt Plan A of the two only options offered by the Commission. That is 6 super "constituencies" of 7 elected Deputies.

My other concern (answered here only by Constable Gallichan again - not Mr Renouf) is about the 20,000 people with housing and work quals who live outside Jersey but for the most part do not have the right to vote here at all. Clearly this number is far in excess of the 12,000 in "super constituencies" now proposed by the Commission - but whilst people all over the world can vote in their "own country" elections if they live somewhere else, this is not allowed in Jersey.
Of course "housing quals" is the nearest Jersey has to the concept of nationality but since it is now possible for foreign nationals to vote in Jersey after just two years residence and it is likely that they will be able to stand for election on that basis soon too - why cannot those non-residents with quals vote at all?

If prisoners at La Moye also gain the vote soon, the Gallichan stance against non-resident voters must be seen as absurd. Obviously, another 20,000 potential voters will be very worrying to those who want to retain a strict control on Jersey democracy!


  1. Attended the St John EC consultation meeting this evening at the Parish Hall.
    Constable Rondel introduced the proceedings and then kept out of the way as just another member of the audience.
    At the end of the evening he agreed to arrange a specific Parish meeting with himself and the Deputy present to discuss matters further when the EC proposals were further advanced.

    Questions were allowed from anybody present after the Commissioners' presentation (Storm, Baker and Con. Gallichan).
    One questioner observed that the audience was largely composed of oldies and wondered how younger people might be interested in political matters...
    Yours truly asked about the apparently absurd "Constables IN" proposal that would mean that St Helier would be divided into two parts with five "deputies" and half a Constable for each - whereas the Northern Super Parishes (such as that centred on St John) would have four Constables besides the five "deputies".

    Absurdly unfair I suggested and just another manifestation of the North-South Divide but the Commissioners did not seem to have even considered the matter and clearly did not understand the concept.

    Hope that Mr Storm was not in charge of stock-taking at Burger-King!

  2. I was the St Brelade meeting and was one of only two people (the other being James Rondel) who looked under the age of 50.

    Despite thinking the parish meetings were likely to be filled with supporters of the Constables, it didn't appear to be that way. Lots of speakers were very eager to get in early to say that it was absurd for the commission to preach 4 principles, but then leave the gap open for the Constables to remain.

    When I spoke I made the point that a referendum on the Constables is a fantastic idea. In fact, it's such a good idea that we should have lots of them! We could have them every 4 years, in each of the electoral districts, where the Constables stand with all the other candidates for election to the States with everyone else for the same mandate as Deputies.

  3. Only two members of the Electoral Commission at Trinity and it does not seem that they come with open minds to any new ideas or challenges to thier existing ones.
    Send us your opinions before Friday 23 November they say - but will they really consider them?
    The suggestion that their one and only option to retain the Constables (take it or leave it)looks ever more flawed especially since several in the Trinity audience did not want to be joined with St Saviour at all.
    Leave us as we are seems to be a part of the "retain the Constables" thinking but that is no onger an option with this Commission.

  4. A certain ex-Senator used to say that "the people of Jersey get the government they deserve". Given that Trinity is a rotten borough and the only way they can have elections is by joining with St Saviour, it would seem their opposition to the reforms makes that point all over again.

  5. Hi Tom.

    Got up the Audio from today. You & your readers can Listen HERE