Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Geoff Challenges Water Redundancies

Deputy Geoff Southern has sent this self-explanatory open letter to Senator Alan Maclean, the Economic Development Minister:-

To: Economic Development Minister

18th November 2009

I was invited yesterday to put in writing my complaint as a consumer of the services of the JNWW Co Ltd about the actions of this States owned monopoly utility. You suggest that the receipt of a complaint is a necessary requisite for you to request under Article 6 (4) of the Competition Regulatory Authority (Jersey) Law 2001 a report from the JCRA.

My complaint rests on the following issues, which I believe fall within the remit of the JCRA in its role as regulator of utilities and a requirement to report to the States through you as the minister responsible:

1.Is a profit of over £4 million on a turnover of only £14.3 million an appropriate return from its monopoly position or could it be excessive?

2.Is the decision to outsource or privatize this mains engineering activity, with the loss of 20 jobs, solely to further increase profits and dividends in the best interests of the island and the economy overall?

3.What skill levels exist among the JAYEN employees by comparison with the current highly skilled and experienced workforce? Is there a risk to standards of service provision?

4.Is the States conflicted? Many would consider that is acting against its own best interests and against its policies in allowing these redundancies, which will further depress the economy at a time when the Economic Stimulus policy attempts to maintain and stimulate the economy through the recession.

5.Is the States fundamentally conflicted as majority and controlling shareholder in balancing its interest in pursuing higher dividend (currently £1.6 million) against its interest in reducing prices to residents?

I look forward to your prompt response.

Deputy Geoff Southern
La Rochelle
St Helier

Monday, November 9, 2009

Geoff holds ministers to account on Water redundancies et al

Deputy Geoff Southern has hatched a whole clutch of written questions regarding the implications of the proposed redundancies at Jersey Water. He also will be challenging Terry le Sueur's complacency about the Foot Report.
Here is a preview of his questions:-

To Treasury & Resources min

1. As the representative of the States majority and controlling shareholding in the JNWCo ltd (holding 100% of the issued “A” ordinary shares, 50% of the issued ordinary shares and 100% of the 7.5 – 10% cumulative fifth preference shares), will the minister inform members of his position on the following aspects of the JNWC ltd announcement of the company’s intention to make 20 of its employees redundant?

Given that the company announced a profit of £4,034,000 for 2008, an increase of 14% on the previous year, and a dividend of 194 pence per share (up by 15%) on the ordinary and “A” ordinary shares of the company, does the minister accept that the States in condoning the actions of the company, appears to put potential increased dividend above its support for employment?

Will the minister inform members how much the States received in dividend on its shareholding in 2008 and what additional dividend might be generated by these redundancies in 2009? Will he further produce an estimate of the likely impact of these redundancies on States revenues in lost tax and social security collected and additional Income Support payments?

2. Will the Minister use his powers to act in the public interest contained in article 23 of the Water (Jersey) Law 1972 to reduce water rates across the island in the light of the Water company’s actions in exploiting its monopoly position to pursue increased profits and dividends at any cost?

Economic Development
3. Will the minister use his powers under the competition law to request the JCRA to investigate the level water rates and charges of the JNWC ltd and to act to reduce the level of profits produced by its monopoly position?

Social Security
4. Will the minister inform members whether the “redundancies” recently announced by JNWC ltd fail to meet the conditions set out in Article 2 of the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003?

Chief Minister
5. Will the CM accept that the Deloitte estimate of lost tax to HMRC through the activities of offshore centres given in the Foot Report as £2 billion is a gross underestimate which cannot be relied on, differing as is does from the figure of over £11 billion derived from the TUC investigation, for the following reasons:

The Deloitte estimate:
a) used one amazingly aberrant year - 2008 - as their sample base when a lot of companies - especially banks made losses

b) Used a different definition of profit

c) On some occasions used a different definition of tax

d) Consciously turned a blind eye to a lot of avoidance saying it was 'officially sanctioned' ?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Not Enough Birds of the Right Feather

Today, our old friend Monty Tadier was on the radio announcing the formation of a Reform group amongst the States Members – a long-held tactical objective of the JDA, too.

Disappointingly, though, he put the number at a maximum of fifteen. Fifteen swallows do not a summer make, when there are still nearly forty turkeys not wanting to vote for Christmas.

To achieve anything, the aspiring reformers must convince as many more again that they will be able to deliver their political objectives better in a reformed House. And the catch to that will be that some of them seem to have political objectives that are best served by a dysfunctional institution.

Anyway, good on them for trying. I just think the odds of success are very poor, and so we must not judge the probable failure harshly.

David Rotherham

Friday, October 30, 2009

The C-Word: Don't read this if of a Sensitive Disposition

Already, it is time for the JDA to be looking through our 2008 policies and scrapping the many things that have been overtaken by events, and then to be shaping a new raft of policies to take us into the 2011 elections.

The hard thing with looking two years ahead though, is that the short-term future is looking exceptionally unpredictable right now. Will our economy return to growth? Will it continue to gently decline? Will something spook the finance industry and leave our economy with bricks where the wheels were? All three possibilities are two-figure percentage chances from where I am looking.

If growth returns, then it will be easy to write a nice manifesto. There is a need for some alternative taxation to fill the “Black Hole” that is Terry le Sueur's legacy, but with more money about, it would not need to bite too hard. All we have to do is firmly outvote any expensive pet projects that anyone might put forward for the party, and we should be all right.

The tougher parts will be to prepare for further decline and outright crash. One senior member of the JDA was appalled that I even mentioned cuts at a recent Council meeting, but if the money is not appearing in the income column of the ledger, it should not be in the expenditure column, either.

The only eager votes for a manifesto of cut this, slash that and snatch the other are going to come from the hard-right wingers we exist to oppose, so we can't be shouting too loudly about intentions to do it. However, if things are grim by 2011, and the old guard are the scapegoats in the General election, then the erstwhile opposition are going to be faced with a dirty job that someone has got to do, and we really ought to have a clear idea of how we are going to go about it.

A fall of a few percent in revenue can largely be made up in the traditional manner, by corresponding rises in the rates of existing taxes and duties. However, these have already been jacked up faster than many people can easily adjust to in recent years, and any government doing much more of that will rapidly lose public confidence. Therefore, the C-word does have to be bandied about:


In a diverse career, I have been an established officer in the UK Civil Service for a spell, and I get a little irritated at attacks made on a stereotype sixty years or more gone in real life. I think the popular image of the idle and arrogant man in a pinstripe suit and bowler hat leisurely making arbitrary decisions about the affairs of the hoi-polloi may have been true to life once, but not in my lifetime, or at least not at the levels that commonly interact with the general public.

However, any organisation will tend to gather dead wood over a few decades, and a thorough audit, once in a generation, on the principles Leslie Chapman laid down in the 1960's, will inevitably show up a few jobs that are there because they have been done, rather than because they still need to be done. I know that the States of Jersey do already have an Audit Department that does these kind of surveys, due to a small quango that I used to be involved with receiving their attention, but they don't get the publicity they deserve.
So, the first level of cutting should be a rolling out of this thinking on a broad front. If a few percent of public sector jobs can be identified as dispensable, then their holders can be transferred to other more essential posts as they fall vacant through natural wastage, and the overall size reduced. A key factor will have to be the independence of the audit, though. If senior management are challenged to produce plans for reducing their own empires, then, humans being human, they tend to select those who would be most sorely missed as the priority for cuts, so making the plans unacceptable.

The big challenge, though, is how we would cope with a big fall in the size of Jersey's economy, say a quarter or a third. There would need to be expenditure on helping the unexpectedly destitute, on top of all the usual business, so even more of the latter would have to be stopped. Law and order, and sanitation infrastructure would remain essential, and nobody would want to see medical care or education shaved too closely. But what of the rest? Opinions will be shaped by individual circumstances, but where would the consensus be found? No more roadworks, save essential utility repairs? Close the States Communication Unit, that just produces derided propaganda, and the Statistics Unit that only publishes useless and misleading “information”? Refreeze the Town Park, and halve the gardening in the existing parks? Across-the-board culls of Civil Servants? Whatever you look at, there would be more losers,than winners, but don't forget I am not asking how do we want Jersey 2012 to be, but how would we cope if the bottom had fallen out by 2011?

I am writing this to open a debate, not have a rant, so I beg you to consider what your idea of the “least-worst” cuts in a collapsing economy would be, and submit them by clicking the Comments option. (Tip: If you have never commented on a website before; if your answer is more than a few words, then draft in a word processor, copy and paste, because blogs don't reliably save at the first try.)

David Rotherham

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We Told You So!

The JDA have never had any confidence in the Zero-ten tax scheme, especially after our expert, Preston Hobbs, submitted the damning report, which we published over two years ago.
Now, it seems that we were right, and the EU have seen through it. Terry le Sueur's position as Chief Minister will no longer really be tenable after the inevitable questions are asked, and Geoff Southern will ask them, if noone beats him in the queue. However, the man has more than enough brass neck to make up for any shortcomings in his abilities, so I suppose we can look forward to two more years of his "leadership"
David Rotherham

Monday, October 12, 2009

Geoff responds to Kevin Keen on Pay Freeze

The letter from Kevin Keen, until recently the manager of the Dairy, “Sorry, States workers” (JEP, 9 Oct), demonstrated not only a deep prejudice against the public sector workers but also a fundamental misunderstanding of basic economics and industrial relations. It also gave a less than accurate picture of the state of the economy.

To suggest that they should feel lucky not to be made redundant or be forced to take a pay cut is simply offensive. The first draft of the Health Business Plan did indeed threaten redundancies for some staff. Thankfully these were later withdrawn. Whilst, regrettably, there have been some redundancies in the private sector, their numbers have been fewer than many anticipated.
As to pay, whilst some employers have taken the opportunity to cut or to freeze their employees pay, this has not been the rule, but the exception. Cost of living pay rises have been awarded by many companies and bonuses have continued to be paid, especially in the finance sector.

The difference is one of representation. Where employees are represented by a trade union or strong employee association, they have been better treated. I have a list of 14 private sector groups where the workers are represented by Unite, whose representatives have negotiated pay awards at or above the March RPI of 2.1% through the normal process of collective bargaining. The public sector has similar representation, but they have had their rights to bargain removed by the arbitrary, unilateral and late decision to impose a pay freeze.

In the meantime the details of the Fiscal Stimulus Plan have been announced, with some £26 million going into building and renovation projects and a further £6 million on infrastructure. The vast majority of this money will be pumped into local private sector companies. This is exactly what government should be doing in a recession; spending money to keep the economy going and save jobs. This is £32 m to support the private sector. Does Mr Keen and the Chamber of Commerce object to this? Of course they do not. But in the same breath, he objects to some £3.5 m going to the public sector to stimulate the economy. This is sheer hypocrisy.

The need for government to maintain spending through a recession is a basic tenet of economics. As David Blanchflower, until recently a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee recently commented “Lesson one in a deep recession is you don’t cut public spending until you are in the boom phase”. Commenting on the Tory party proposals to cut public spending and freeze pay, he said that they would “push the economy into a death spiral”.

All the public sector representatives are asking for is the restoration of their collective bargaining rights. The Chief Minister, along with his supporters should recognise the justice of the public sector workers’case and step back from the confrontation with their employees that they have provoked.
Geoff Southern

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Missing Sin

The missing sin from the list of 7 deadly sins is:
Knowledge without character.
Thanks to our alert follower who drew my attention to the ommission.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Hidden Proposals

The Health department have rapidly created new proposals for their spending cuts following public outrage at the original plans.They have not been formally announced but we should be ready to act now.

Buried in the list of new proposals is a £43,000 cut from mental health service efficiencies and reprioritisations. Are people aware that the psychiatric service is already collapsing due to lack of funding? In the last 18 months ,3 different consultants have been recruited from the UK.They all left after 3 months after finding it impossible to work within the bureaucratic shambles this Island has become. Community Psychiatric Nurses are pushed to the limit and seem unable to attract new recruits.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their lives; Jersey has a population of about 96,000 and there are less than 20 beds available in Orchard House ! Citizens Advice group are currently campaigning for more volunteers to cope with the large increase in people needing help
Where are vulnerable people to go for help? Jersey already has a higher number of suicides per head of population than the UK and with rising job losses, relationship problems etc this figure will increase.
We must lobby against these proposed cuts before the States Business Plan is accepted. Pandora

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Seven Deadly Sins

Mahatma Gandhi devised his own list of 7 deadly sins:

Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice

These words should be nailed to the door of the States Building for all to read as they enter.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Give up Apathy

We all need to become 'active' citizens instead of paper members.Everyone can play a part to help make this Island a better place to live in. You really can make a difference.

First identify the problems which you believe are really important. What do you want changed?
Share your ideas and possible solutions and together we can make it happen.

Decide to give up apathy,become active.
Change can come if enough people demand it.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Economics lesson

My father-in-law forwarded us this email, that is doing the rounds. It looks like a joke, but it is actually a neat and nail-on-the-head explanation of credit-based economics:-
It is the month of June, on the shores of Britain . It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town.

He enters the only hotel, lays a £100 note on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one.

The hotel proprietor takes the £100 note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher.

The Butcher takes the £100 note and runs to pay his debt to the pig grower.

The pig grower takes the £100 note, and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel.

The supplier of feed and fuel takes the £100 note and runs to pay his debt to the town's prostitute that in these hard times, gave her "services" on credit.

The hooker runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the £100 note to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.

The hotel proprietor then lays the £100 note back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that moment, the rich tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his £100 note, after saying that he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.......

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the British Government is doing business today.

Modern day economics
Dave Rotherham

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Geoff dismantles Ferguson's defence of Ozouf

When I pointed out last week that the Treasury Minister’s new initiatives to centralise powers under his control looked like a dangerous bid to create one-person government, I did not expect the head of the Corporate Affairs Scrutiny Panel, Senator Sarah Ferguson, the person charged with holding him to account, to rush to his defence. But in the weird world that passes for politics in Jersey, I suppose I should not have been surprised. After all they share very similar political views on most subjects apart from climate change.

I was not surprised in the least however by the loose way in which she marshalled the work of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in support. After all her election platform was almost entirely based on a misrepresentation of the CAG’s report into the potential for £35 million of further budget cuts. He said they were extremely difficult and many would result in service Business Plan cuts surely indicate who was right.

Worse still in her defence of Senator Ozouf was her use of selective quoting from the CAG: “… the lack of discipline in financial recording has assisted departments in obscuring cost profiles and this has been regarded by some as convenient.” The fact is that the past master of “convenient lack of discipline” is none other than Senator Ozouf himself, in his time in charge of Economic Development. He it was who restructured the ED budget under large generic titles such as “Promotion” and “Marketing” to hide subsidies of the order of £1m to prop up airline routes, many of which have now ceased.

That policy may have been right or wrong. Who knows? Whatever it was, it was not transparent, and it certainly lacked accountability.

To obscure costs in the larger budgets of Health and of Education is one thing; to do so in the ED budget of only £14 m requires rare talent and dedication. Senator Ozouf managed it. Apparently, the poacher has now turned gamekeeper, and according to Senator Ferguson we should now place our trust in him. I hope she will understand if I withhold mine.

Geoff Southern

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Those who chose to ridicule the views of Lord Wallace of Saltaire should take more notice of the following report in today's newspapers :

Britain assumed day-to-day control of the Turks and Caicos Islands amid allegations of corruption.Local government in the islands will be suspended for up to 2 years while the overseas territory's are put back in 'good order' according to the Foreign Office.

Jersey could be next!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Geoff Lambasts Terry's Slippery and Misleading Tactics

How clever and slippery is our Chief Minister. He appears to have convinced representatives of States employees that he has reopened negotiations over 2009 pay and public sector cuts, when nothing could be further from the truth. In the words of the report (JEP 12th August) “they won’t budge over £4m cuts and the pay freeze”.

Negotiations may take place, but they will be “within policy”. That policy, decided not by the States, but imposed by the States Employment Board (SEB) and sanctioned by the Council of Ministers, is simple: there will be a pay freeze and service cuts. These are not negotiable; the Chief Minister is just playing for time.

It will surely not take long for union representatives to realise that they have again been misled by Senators Le Sueur and Ozouf. It is highly unlikely that a meeting between representatives and SEB can take place before the first week of September and yet the Business Plan will be in place and set in concrete by the 22nd. Such a timescale makes real negotiation impossible.

Earlier in the year, whilst the Treasury Minister presented zero pay awards as the norm on the basis of zero evidence, the Chief Minister was equally slippery with the facts in debate over the pay freeze in the States. He presented comparisons which purported to show not only that public sector workers were better off than their counterparts in the UK, but that they were also better paid than those in the private sector in Jersey. His figures were designed to mislead.

To start with, he failed to compare the cost of living in Jersey and the UK before comparing wages. The best data can be obtained from the Jersey Household Expenditure Survey (HES) 2004-5. This reveals that the cost of living in Jersey is a massive 46% higher than the UK. This is the benchmark for any real comparison of wages, and yet it was not mentioned in the report to the States.

Figures presented by the Chief Minister suggested that public sector workers were far better off than their colleagues in the UK. On average Jersey States workers were 39% better paid. This does not make them 39% better off. To be better off, Jersey workers would have to be paid at least the benchmark figure of 46% more to match the cost of living here. They are in fact 7% worse off.

Similar remarks could be made about the figures presented for comparison of Jersey public and private sectors in order to justify a pay freeze. For example, public sector nurses are supposed to be 1% better off than their private sector colleagues. The data reveal that they are in fact 6% worse off. In the meantime recruitment and retention rates for nurses are hitting all-time lows, an entire ward has been closed because of staff shortages, and a waiting list is looming for cancer treatment.

The Chief Minister may sit back and think he has got away with his handling of a pay freeze for the moment, but he is merely storing up long-term pain as a result of his short -term political gain.

Geoff Southern

Migrating jobs

The Minister of the Inferior has stamped his foot and told local unemployed people they will be forced to take low paid jobs normally reserved for immigrant workers.

At the same time,the Big Plan boasts that at least 325 immigrants a year will be allowed into the Island for the next 5 years. Meanwhile the economic downturn is causing job losses for immigrants who have been here for less than 5 years.

What does the Minister intend to do with the resulting cheap labour a pyramid on the Waterfront?


Blog on the Run

Someone hacked into my computer, crashed it and killed my internet connection. Was it something I said ?

I will not be silenced, so will continue to blog 'on the run' whenever possible.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Technical Hitch

Someone close to "Pandora", our most prolific contributor, tells me that she is having technical problems with her internet connection.
She has not run out of things to say; she just is physically unable to post them on here at present. Don't give up - she'll be back soon.

David Rotherham

Friday, August 7, 2009

Black Hole in the Treasury

States Treasurer,Ian Black, has not been sacked or even suspended following a secret disciplinary hearing over the incinerator fiasco. By failing to fix the exchange rate for the new incinerator contract, he has probably cost the Island millions of pounds.

The Chief Minister's department refuses to comment on disciplinary matters involving his staff but did say : " ..we have a contractual obligation of duty of care to our employees."

Excuse me,what about your duty of care to the electorate who were promised transparent and honest government? What about your duty of care to the taxpayers whose money has been lost and who are still expected to pay the final bill?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hidden Agenda

Does the Treasury Minister have a hidden agenda behind the public outcry he is causing as he slowly releases details of the Business Cuts? Is he deliberately targeting vulnerable groups to create as much public opposition as possible ? Then he will u-turn round & say that if we won't do what he wants,then he has no option but to increase GST.

Whatever the plan,we must watch very carefully. Now is the time for all good men(and women) to come to the aid of the Party!!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Open letter on Business Plan:- What is Going on?

As the debate around the 2010 Business Plan (ABP) plumbs new depths of incompetence from the Council of Ministers, one has to ask whether the Jersey electorate can retain any measure of faith or confidence in its government. One thing is apparent – with two ministers already changing their minds on what to support – it is not the Council of Ministers’ Plan. Nor does it appear to be the Chief Minister’s Plan; it bears all the marks of being the work of the Treasury Minister, Senator Ozouf.

First we had an air of mystery and secrecy. In presenting the ABP to States members on Monday 20th July, the Chief Minister and Treasury Minister managed to bring the usual stock of well-spun platitudes, but failed to produce a copy of the Business Plan itself. Of course the media had seen their copies on the previous Friday, but mysterious last-minute changes meant that States members could not see it either in hard copy or electronic form.

Within an hour of the close of this meeting, the first group of States workers at Grands Vaux Family Centre were being told that their centre was to close, and their jobs were under threat. The following day, it was the turn of Patient Transport workers to get the same chilling news that their service was to be cut. States members did not finally see the Annex to the ABP, containing the details of how some cuts were to be delivered until Friday 24th, well after the final States meeting, thus preventing any detailed questions to ministers.

Even now, no-one knows exactly what cuts are to be delivered. The Health minister has abandoned many of the proposals she had previously sanctioned. The Education minister opposes many of the changes forced on him. States members and scrutiny officers are studying the figures and seeking clarity from ministers. The answers are few and far between. Who has the definitive list of where the axe will fall?

The Treasury Minister says that the 0.8% across the board savings he imposed must be achieved and if some cuts are aborted others must be found. On Sunday, he stated that some ministers have yet to finalise their priorities. When will the workers, the public and States members know? The Chief Minister has offered a meeting for the 3rd September to finally explain it all – just too late to finalise amendments to the plan. This is sheer incompetence.
Of course the spin machine rolls on. If we are to believe Senator Ozouf’s thatcherite dogma, cuts are “efficiency savings” and every business can bring in 0.8% savings each and every year. This of course has no basis in reality. He describes the funding of front line services (such as Williamson proposes) as “new money”. This is a lie; the money comes from cuts made elsewhere, and he knows it. The driving force is “value for money”, he says. Here speaks a man who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

The nostrum he peddles is one beloved of right-wing politicians and economists everywhere: small government with low public service spending accompanied by low flat-rate taxes. He is aware that Jersey is bottom of any league table comparing spending on social protection. The quality of our public services is remarkable in the light of the low spend, but it is not out of the ordinary. Yet he continues to portray it as either grossly inefficient, or as a luxury “Rolls-Royce” oversupply. Neither is remotely true. Having set himself against my proposals for progressive tax measures, proper reform of Social Security supplementation, and evaluation of Land Value Tax, his only option is to substantially reduce public services and the cut standard of living of ordinary workers with a wage freeze.

The real driving force behind these policies is Senator Ozouf’s political ambition. He knows full well that increased spending by government is an appropriate and correct response to a recession. After all he has a Fiscal Stimulus war chest of over £100m to do so, with £44m already allocated to spend this year (again only he knows the details). Yet that pragmatic approach cannot be applied to public sector services and wages to the tune of £17m. “Why not?” one may legitimately ask. Could the answer be that the Fiscal Stimulus money is almost entirely within the control of the Treasury Minister himself, whereas the other funding is not?
Perhaps a little light is shed on his motives by his recent initiatives. A drive towards a centralisation of power and control is evident. At a time when the financial advisers employed by the States to invest a variety of funds have managed to produce a loss of around £250 m from stock market holdings, the Minister proposes to increase the level of risk by increasing investment of the Strategic Reserve and other funds in shares to 50%. Control of these funds would rest with the minister (subject to advice).

The minister’s ludicrous attempt to use standing orders to prevent scrutiny from examining the Banking Depositor Compensation Scheme (DCS) is also revealing. It showed his already well-known contempt for the scrutiny process. While standing for election in November Senator Ozouf informed voters that a DCS was not needed. Six months later not only was DCS vital, but Scrutiny was not to delay his plans. His subsequent involvement in organising a vote of no confidence in the Scrutiny Chairman concerned was shamefully anti-democratic.

A further glimpse into the ambitions of Senator Ozouf is revealed by his move to centralise control of departmental budgets. By making departmental finance officers report to him, the minister will at one fell swoop reduce the number of decision–makers from ten down to one. Incidentally, while all other departments suffer budget cuts, Treasury funds will increase by £600,000 to enable this control. If this proposal succeeds, we will have witnessed a bloodless coup and one–person government will have arrived.

What is going on? A fundamental and anti-democratic shift in the balance of power is under way, led by Senator Ozouf. It must be opposed.

Geoff Southern 07797 772 632
La Rochelle
St Helier

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pulling the Purse Strings

Our Treasury Minister has orchestrated a new plan; has he changed from the oboe to the fiddle?
Does he really believe we will let him hold all the purse strings?

Somebody remind him that we are not a dictatorship and he is not chancellor.

People of Jersey we must unite to stop this abuse of power now!!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Treasury of Poems

Little Tom Thumb sat on his bum,
Eating his Treasury pie.
He put in his thumb,
Pulled out a lump sum;
Said 'What a bad boy am I !"

Little Miss Muppet sat on her tuffett
Plotting, the Jersey Way.
Along came a spider,sat down beside her
Growling "I'm from the JDA."


A Grim Fairy Story

A group of unemployed friends,a donkey,dog,cat and rooster decided to travel together in search of work. As darkness fell,they noticed lights beyond the trees and decided to seek shelter for the night.

Looking through the nearest window, they were able to see a gang of good-for-nothings feasting and counting lots of money. The alliance decided to make as much noise as possible to frighten the gang out of the house. So,the rooster flew onto the roof next to a stone owl and the others hid next to doors and windows.

Their plan was successful as the gang ran for safety under the trees. For ever after they told the tale of the demons who had invaded their house shouting " Waterfront", " Child Abuse", "Business Plan" and,worst of all, " Come to Look at Your Books! "


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Spread the Word.

Can't tell Talk from Mutter?
Fed up of double-talk,spin,rumours and outright lies?

Listen to the words of the JDA, much more spreadable than any other establishment brand.

Join the JDA today.

Help us put a better flavoured future on your table.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Skip to the Loo ...

According to the JEP, St Helier parishioners have voted in favour of purchasing a secret site on which to build ' state of the art ' public toilets .

I bet it's going to be the States Building, after all it is a very suitable site, used to dealing with effluent emissions.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mixed Messages

Those good citizens who have taken the trouble to read the Strategic Plan 2009 - 2014 must be feeling very confused after seeing last week's newspaper headlines. For example, Priority 16 of the Plan says that the States want to ' support the development of arts and heritage in Jersey...need to preserve , enhance and promote our rich heritage.

Yet,the headlines are saying museums are going to close, staff made redundant etc. The electorate are receiving mixed messages daily ; how can they be expected to support and vote for political representatives if they don't understand the policies they represent.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Muppet Show

What a brilliant idea to video the States sittings and show them on the internet. We could advertise them as remakes of Big Brother or, even better, the Muppet Show -- remember , the one where strange looking creatures were manipulated by unseen hands.

Suggestions for the cast list would be greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reality Check.

So the Chief Minister and his Chief Whip are confident that they can justify reducing the standard of living of 6,654 states employees. The Chief Minister has rubbed salt into the wound by telling the union leaders they " must face economic reality."

I suggest the Chief Minister looks beyond his fantasy world of smoke and mirrors to face political reality . The electorate did not vote him into the job, and 6,654 workers make up a substantial pressure group to lobby for his expulsion from the States.

As a former physics teacher he ought to remember Newton's Laws of Motion :
'For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction '


Monday, July 27, 2009

A Modern Fairy Tale.

Cinderella desparately wanted to go to the Jersey Live Aid concert but her income support payment did not stretch to a new outfit plus travel expenses. Her stepmother refused to help as she said she had given all her spare cash to the two Ugly Ministers.

As a last resort, Cinders e-mailed her Fairy Social Worker to see if she could get a special payment in time for the event. Fairy Social Worker said they'd be lucky to get a reply before Christmas ,she added that concessionary bus passes had been abolished so there was no help to be had there. However, she could use some old fashioned magic to turn a pumpkin into a coach but warned Cinderella that she would have to return home before midnight as the driver would be working to rule in support of the public workers' pay freeze dispute......

Anybody want to finish the story ?


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pick A Pocket Or Two

When Oliver dared to ask for more, he ended up penniless and sharing poor standard housing
with Fagin and his gang of thieves. They were suffering from the effect of spending cuts due to an economic downturn so Fagin was reviewing the situation.

He decided that the solution was for the boys to go out and pick a pocket or two ,however,they were instructed to only pick the pockets of the rich not the poor.

Are you reviewing the situation Chief Minister ?


Friday, July 24, 2009

Unfortunate plan.

I think the Chief Minister has been perusing the history books to find a solution to the financial black hole. He has secretly planned a return to the preindustrial age when the local authorities persuaded families to take in the 'unfortunates' from the community. These people were orphans,elderly,sick and infirm,delinquents and the mentally ill. This meant that the authorities did not have to pay out a penny to support those unable to fight back.

Unfortunately for you,Chief Minister,this is the 21st century where the 'unfortunates' have people like the JDA to fight on their behalf.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Minister A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

When will we get joined up thinking in the Big House?
It was announced not long ago that everybody would have to extend their working life and not retire until the age of 68+. Now we are being told to expect noticeable cuts in health services.
How can we stay fit enough to work that long if services are not available to help keep us healthy?


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pennies From Heaven

I was helping someone to complete a Social Security application form for the " Personal Care Element of the Impairment Award ( I hope this is not a political crime! ) and I was rather bemused by the following question:
' Can you pick up an object such as a 2 pence piece with either hand?

Does the Minister of the Inferior know something about the economic downturn that we don't ?
Perhaps he is expecting a shower of pennies from heaven to help fill the taxation black hole.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dual Role Dilemma

Our big cousins across the water have for two years been disputing the political role of their Attorney General. Constitutional reformers want to depoliticise the role to make it completely independant. However, Jack Straw's constitutional reform bill, published yesterday, leaves the power of the Attorney General unchanged.

As the States of Jersey will shortly be arguing over the same dilemma, it is hoped that they will not need to seek advice from the Home Office as it will not be unbiased.


Monday, July 20, 2009


Income Support claimants received a letter from the Ministry of Misinformation last week regarding payment of parish rates. It stated that that income support payments were calculated to include the cost of rates, so anyone who says they cannot pay their bill will receive a slapped wrist, but no further help from the Ministry.

Unfortunately, the Minister Without Portfolio has conveniently forgotten that when he sabotaged the rules regarding medical costs, many people on low incomes were forced to beg for HMA accounts. It wasn't made clear at the time that the amount paid weekly into the claimant's HMA account was subsequently deducted from another part of their income support allowance. No such thing as a free lunch!

So, when the Minister was publicly announcing what a good boy he was for helping the poor receive medical care, he was secretly deducting money from other allowances. Result: claimants have to pay more towards their rent, reducing the amount they can save towards their rates bill and are now been told it's all their own fault if they can't pay up, when it was the Minister who caused the problem in the first place.

" Politics is the art of looking for trouble,finding it whether it exists or not,diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy."
Sir Ernest Benn 1930

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ministry of Misinformation

Down at the ministry of misinformation,otherwise known as
the Social Security department ,a notice has appeared inviting people receiving Income Support to make an appointment to chat to the Minister and his team. Perhaps after Geoff's scathing report they are going to offer free courses in Gobblygook so we can all make sense of their claim forms.

For example,someone applying for a special payment towards the cost of a washing machine had their claim rejected because they " had not been awarded the personal care component of the impairment award." Has anybody heard of this? Has this been advertised for all to see?

Said claimant is still wading through pages of irrelevant gobbledygook and may have to resort to washing clothes on La Mare slip. No doubt it will be a crime to wash dirty linen in public....just a minute,the Council of Ministers do that every day .Perhaps they can be arrested for polluting the environment!


Friday, June 12, 2009


The JDA today announces the launch of a “Fund for Justice”.

We have received many calls and letters from supporters and others who are shocked by the punitive and disproportionate level of the penalties imposed by the Royal Court on the two JDA deputies, Shona Pitman and Geoff Southern for breaching the notorious Article 39A of the Elections Law, .

This law, which exists nowhere else in the world, prevents those who need help to apply for a postal vote from receiving such help from a candidate for election. We believe it is an attack on the democratic process, and a breach of the human rights to protection from discrimination and to participate fully in free and fair elections.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have offered to help at this critical point in the development of our democracy and I invite those who wish to make a contribution towards meeting the £12,000 court fines and £10,000 legal costs.

Donations should be sent to JDA Treasurer, 8 Winchester Street, St Helier. Cheques should be made payable to “JDA Fund for Justice”.

Further information: Christine Papworth: 07797 788603
Christine Papworth, JDA chairperson

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Conscience is the best moral compass

The Law is supposed to be our guide and rule in all that we do. Two fundamental maxims are "Be you ever so high, the Law is above you." and "Ignorance of the Law is no defence."
In practice, though, it is not a lot of use for determining most of our behaviour. Which all too easily leads to a reckless disregard of it, even when it does provide a clear and pertinent guide to what should, or more often should not be done.

It does not help to keep the Rule of Law in good repute, when the first maxim above is widely seen to be interpreted by the authorities as "Be you high enough, the Law will ignore you." Even so, statute common and customary laws are full of conflicts and contradictions. These are sometimes resolved at a high level by judgements on points of law. It is interesting to note, however, that until the definitive judgements, learned lawyers and, sometimes, even more learned judges insist that the true meaning of the law was otherwise. If they cannot get it right, until they see the judgement in front of them, what hope has the ordinary lay person?

Of course, and very relevant to a Jersey context, some people need to earn their livings by taking great care to go through all the motions of obeying the letter of the law, without regard to its purpose or spirit. Once one travels in a direction not indicated by one’s moral compass, the Law is all that remains to distinguish the shrewd from the crooked. But, in quotidien life it is not practical to seek expert legal opinion for one’s every deed. Thus, one must rely on conscience to be one’s guide.

Most of the time, and for most people, law and conscience coincide anyway. Even professional thieves usually know that they are doing wrong to steal, they just don’t let that stop them. On the other hand, there are many more occasions when even quite reasonable actions fall outside the letter of the law. It takes an evil mixture of shamelessness and arrogance to drive at 5mph over the speed limit through a busy town centre, with a mobile phone wedged against one’s ear. In contrast, to drive at 25mph over the limit on a straight and empty country road, giving it one’s full attention, is not going to matter to anybody except a bored policeman with a radar gun. It is still just as illegal, though, and likely to be more heavily punished. If one is not caught though, one is hardly going to be stricken with remorse.

Once in a while, a law comes to be passed that is far more of an outrage than whatever it is intended to curtail. This is a tough dilemma for those who would be both righteous and law-abiding. If the penalty is sufficiently deterrent, then one will feel compelled to comply with the law, and absolve one’s conscience by holding the law responsible for one’s behaviour. If the penalty is bearable, however, taking a chance on being caught doing the right thing is not so much a temptation as a moral obligation.

A curious concept that has been bandied about, locally and recently, is that the disrespect for the Law implicit in its breach is a further aggravation in itself. This idea has been applied to giving unauthorised assistance to pensioners with difficult paperwork, a triviality attracting five-figure fines. The weakness of this idea can be illustrated by simply imagining its general application: Parking on a yellow line - £50, Disrespecting the Traffic Law - £5,000; Shoplifting a chocolate bar - £75, Disrespecting the Theft Law - £10,000; Robbery with violence - 3 years, Disrespecting the Theft Law - Life without parole in solitary confinement. No, this one is just silly. The penalty for a breach of the law should sufficient to deter the breach, but it also must be proportionate to the offence itself, and to inflate it because the offence is an offence is an absurd injustice.

All anyone can realistically do is to live their lives as well as they can, and just hope not to trip over the Law anywhere. However much one may wish to be law-abiding, the complexity and nebulosity of the law makes it a vain pursuit in the long run.
David Rotherham

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Justice seen to be done (choose own punctuation:- "!"/ "?")

21st May
I’m sure that JDA supporters are shocked at the harshness of the fines imposed on Geoff and Shona in their court case, and disgusted with the coverage the JEP gave to Rod (bad loser) Bryans enabling him to express extreme views, in addition to their unsympathetic editorial.
Their fines could not have been heavier if they had engaged in the bribery, fraud and interference with the ballot that some have inaccurately accused them of. Even if you take the view that as they broke the law and needed to be punished, these fines are outrageous for hard-working deputies who have no means other than their States Members’ pay. Moreover, any unbiased person who attended the hearing could not fail to be shocked by the evidence that was presented about the course of the debate that led to the introduction of this law. Many States members were of the opinion that helping someone to complete an application form constituted interference with the ballot, and others seemed to think that this law would bring them into line with the UK when in fact no such law exists in any other Commonwealth country. Even if this was not a deliberate device to nobble Shona and Geoff, it does seem that the IQs and comprehension skills of some States Members fall short of what one would wish.
Meanwhile, I’m sure that Shona and Geoff would like to thank all those who have sent messages of support at this difficult time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sympathy and Hope

Tuesday, 19th May

It was heartening to see that at the recent AGM, members were sympathetic to Geoff and Shona, who are facing sentencing for breaking the electoral law tomorrow. They appreciate that they were giving much needed help to people to encourage or enable them to vote. And yet the JEP still snipe at them when the question of States Members behaviour is mentioned to the point where it is hard to see that they will receive a fair trial. Current behaviour by MPs in the UK should put this into perspective. Geoff and Shona have not acted to feather their own nests, and have not been guilty of deceit any more than they are guilty of self-serving. Some may say that they have unfairly tried to gain votes, but is it wrong for them to help obtain a vote for the very people who would have most to gain from having them as States Members: the over-worked, the housebound and the vulnerable? Wasn’t the law introduced to discourage such people from voting so the establishment candidates could triumph? So please give kind thoughts to Geoff and Shona who will face the ordeal of the Royal Court tomorrow and hope that the powers that be will be lenient.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Wrong Way to Fill a Black Hole

I see today that there is to be another taxation Black Hole. Let us hope that in filling it Terry will look to those who are most able to pay in order to fill it. I fear he won’t because of the sacred cow of not raising the 20% tax rate and the fear that the wealthy, being mobile, will leave. Has he not noticed that the most mobile in our society, who are leaving because they simply can’t afford to live here, are those young professionals – from trainee accountants to nurses – not yet on the housing ladder, that we desperately need. Low and middle earners are suffering from 20 means 20 on top of the burden of GST on essentials, and I know several who are planning to leave. Of course the zero/ten policy could be re-examined, but that seems also to have sacred cow status.

This brings me to the plan to freeze public servants’ pay. It always seems to be a popular measure because of the conception of public servants as highly paid fat cats pushing bits of paper around. The reality is that the bulk of them are teachers, doctors nurses, paramedics etc. who are increasingly in short supply. You may be told that there is no shortage of teachers, but whereas this may true in the primary sector, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit specialist secondary teachers. Posts are sometimes filled with applicants that are not ideal. This recruitment difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that pensions for new appointees are worse than in the UK, and conditions of working, especially in terms of lunch duties are worse than in the UK. It seems to me that Terry is being opportunistic in suggesting the pay freeze, and has not really thought through the consequences. There is no real need for the measure at the present time, as 2% has been allowed in departmental budgets. He is exploiting fears of unemployment and the fact that many in the finance sector are suffering pay freezes. Does this mean that when those in the finance sector are receiving whopping rises those in the public sector will too. You can bet your bottom dollar that they won’t. In times of inflation, public sector workers are expected to suffer lower than inflation pay rises in order to take the heat out of the economy. It seems only fair that now the economy needs thawing out, their income levels should be maintained in real terms. Perhaps there is a case for giving flat rate increases, as the lowest paid actually put all their income back into the economy ; the argument Terry uses for opposing this is that the lowest paid in the public sector are better off than those in the private sector. Is it reasonable to justify his actions by those of bad employers who pay starvation wages?

Not Yes-man enough for the Job?

Congratulations to Geoff for putting up such a good showing when standing for Health Minister. Many thought he gave a much better speech than Anne Pryke, but of course the Chief Minister’s choice prevailed. Once again Terry has not dared to have someone who is not a ‘yes’ person amongst his ministers. Interestingly the JEP Comment, while conceding that as a champion of the underdog Geoff would be suitable for the post, said that as a leading figure in the ‘opposition’ he did not seek consensus. But without opposition where is the need for consensus? At the moment we seem to have dictatorship rather than a drawing together of ideas. To quote William Blake ‘without contraries is no progression’.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

An Undesirable Consequence of Zero-Ten

Deputy Geoff Southern has always been willing to stand up for public sector workers, where others see them as scapegoats and soft targets. So, it came as no surprise to me that he was arguing a case against freezing their pay in these troubled times this week.

On the other hand, I do not feel that it was quite as sharp a line of reasoning as I have come to expect from him. Indeed, restricting their spending power does keep that money out of the economy. However, that money has to be withdrawn from the economy by taxation in the first place, to be available to pay salaries with. At least as much, and probably more of the tax will be taken from local taxpayers as will be locally spent by the civil servants who are paid with it.

Before Zero-Ten, of course, we looked to raise as much tax as possible from overseas. In those days, States wages were an effective trickle-down mechanism for bringing that bounty into the local economy. However, the Zero-Ten proposal quite explicitly stated an intention that local residents should become the principal source of tax revenue, and set about slashing the take from those who use Jersey from afar without being genuinely part of our economy and community.

Geoff's ideas could become right again, if we could dismantle Zero-Ten. The catch being now, that it would be difficult to abandon it at this stage, without frightening away more business than we got back into the net. It does need to go in the medium term, but it will have to be whittled away in a subtle series of stealth taxes. Before that, though, we need to find another generation of political leaders as shrewd as those in the 60s, who saw that tax capture would bring us far more prosperity than just skimming what went round inside the island. The present Ministers don't seem to get that they are on an unsound path at present.
Dave Rotherham

Monday, April 27, 2009

Respect Young People

Amongst reports of escalating juvenile crime and disorderly behaviour, it is important to remember that the majority of our young people, even when congregating in large groups, are decent, polite and honest. Recently I walked past such a group, smiled and said ‘Hi’ and as I walked away heard them express amazement that a woman of mature years had treated them like human beings. The young people I know claim that they are constantly treated with a lack of respect.
I remember well how my son was treated as a teenager. He was well-behaved and reasonably law abiding, but suffered from being treated as a criminal by the police. Three cases spring to mind. Firstly he and his friends were told to move on when they stopped by a park bench with a friend who was suffering from an asthma attack. They were threatened with arrest if they stayed to help him. Secondly, he was threatened with arrest for urinating in a public place when merely taking a short cut through an alley that allegedly smelled of urine. Thirdly, he was breathalysed when acting as the designated driver for a group of friends, and when the test was negative, the policeman sneered nastily ‘Well I am surprised!’
The police may be faced with a difficult job, but they need to remember that this generation of teenagers will be tomorrow’s responsible citizens; my son is now a professional man with a life-long aversion to police officers.

Biased Press, Again.

27th April
How can the JEP justify printing a letter today, saying that if 2 members of the House of Lords are suspended for misconduct why aren’t Geoff and Shona also being suspended? The obvious reply is that a) they unlike members of the House of Lords have been democratically elected and b) they would argue that what they are being charged with is not ‘misconduct’ but a challenge to a law that is incompatible with human rights. But in any case, if the JEP refuses to print supportive letters (and it does) how can it be allowed to print unsupportive ones and allow columnists to make inaccurate and denigratory comments when the case is sub-judice. The JEP may publish apologies and corrections but the damage is done. The longer it takes for this case to finally be resolved, and it has dragged on for what, to a layman, seems an unacceptable long time, the more it seems that it will be impossible for them to receive a fair trial.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tax Avoidance - Only for the Rich

But of course Jersey has so many ways in which the rich can avoid tax. Yes, I know it’s legal, but is it moral? Gordon Brown wants to plug some loopholes. Should we? And in response to Clive Tomes’ letter of last night, I don’t consider claiming allowances to be avoidance – no Mr Tomes, that is called redistribution of wealth – something you doubtless don’t favour. In Jersey, the simplest way to avoid tax is to have a ‘roll up fund’. Simple, that is if you have tens of thousands to invest. In the UK you can have an ISA, and avoid paying tax on the interest of up to £10 000. Isn’t it time we did more to encourage saving amongst the less well off, instead of favouring the wealthier?

The UK Budget - Showing the Way on Progressive Taxation

At last Gordon Brown has shown the way by increasing progressive taxation in his latest budget. Those earning over £150 000 will pay 50% income tax, and lose some of their allowances. Can we expect a queue of potential tax exiles? And if so, don’t you think they may be happy to pay a mere 25% of their pay in tax in Jersey. Surely the attraction of a sunny island within reach of their loved ones and London hairdressers will be sufficient inducement to prevent them going further afield, or from sitting under a rain cloud in the Isle of Man in order to receive a lower rate?

The Non-debate

22nd April
I didn’t post anything yesterday because I wanted to check the names of those who did not even want to debate the events surrounding Stuart Syvret’s arrest. I find it extraordinary that any States member does not want to know why the police should behave in such a heavy handed way, disregarding all the rules that protect our human rights. There seems to be no pretence at democracy. Interestingly a vote to even debate a proposition should fall largely along ‘party’ lines, with the honourable exception of Freddie Cohen; Simon Crowcroft was the only Constable in favour. It is interesting to see that Kevin Lewis (ex-JDA member) now virtually always votes with the Establishment – has his Assistant Ministership gone to his head, taking him away from his principles – if he ever had any. So meanwhile, do we all live in fear of a police force rampaging out of control, or can we rest easy knowing that it is only Stuart that will be at the receiving end of police excesses? What do you think?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tame the goose, not kill it!

20th April
Ironic, isn’t it, that some people will not vote for JDA candidates on the grounds that they are against the finance industry. Of course no candidate has adopted this position, as they know full well (in spite of accusations to the contrary) that the levels of welfare and public services that they seek to deliver have to be funded somehow. But change has been imposed from the outside, as we’ve suspected it would be and our aim of a well regulated and ethical finance industry may become a reality.

Lord Bach today has told Jersey that it must continue to tighten its regulation of the Finance Industry and improve transparency. Governments, and especially the US government, are no longer going to tolerate seeing the money earned in their countries, and needed for their welfare programmes, being leeched away. It is a shame that the meeting on tax havens, that took place before the G20 summit, was so poorly reported in the JEP. Harry McRandle left early, and chose to report little more than a list of who was there and a brief sound bite from each of the main speakers.

The assumption is that those who did attend must, of course, be enemies of Jersey – apart from Sarah Ferguson who patronisingly dismissed the meeting on Talkback as being like a student debate – though even when pressed she was unable to explain why. Was this because for the first time since her student days she was surrounded by intelligent and articulate young people?

The JEP failed to report what for me was the most striking message of the evening. This was that people in developing countries cannot be lifted out of poverty, in spite of the best efforts of the charities which Jersey people contribute to with such generosity, if offshore centres have mechanisms whereby the money earned in these countries can be siphoned off with minimal tax paid. The Christian Aid speaker claimed that a government’s ability to collect tax is intrinsically linked to democracy. Horrific to think that excesses like those of Mugabe may only be possible because of the existence of tax havens. And yet the press did not take the debate much beyond the level of ‘Oh look at that hypocritical protester, taking money out of a hole in the wall! See we need banks after all!’ As if anyone said that we didn’t.

Hopefully the finance industry will still flourish if it cleans up its act – but meanwhile, perhaps we should push forward with the JDA policy to have a well balanced economy.

Robert Kisch writes a letter in tonight’s JEP suggesting that the UK government is blaming the economic crisis on tax havens, which I do not believe is the case. He hopes that a change of government in the UK will give us a get–out-of-jail-free card. I think he’s missing the point here. It’s not about the politics of envy (though I certainly envy those that are earning several times more than me and paying a much smaller proportion of their income in tax – a situation that severely challenges my naïve view that life should be fair!) He finishes with that tired old cliché: that we mustn’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. But if that goose is making a racket that disturbs all the neighbours, and stealing the food of the subsistence farmers on the other side of the fence, and pecking at all the geese that lay honest edible eggs and only lets us have a small piece of gold from each clutch of eggs – well perhaps that goose needs to be brought under control!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Athena" introduces herself, and casts a critical eye on Senator Shenton

The time has come for me to stop shouting at the radio, and I haven’t got a cat to kick, so at the invitation of the JDA I am starting a blog which I hope will be a regular feature of the JDA website. I have named my blog after the goddess of wisdom, because I am a female and have attained the age where I might be granted a short space of wisdom before descending into senility. I make every effort to be well-informed, and will attempt to avoid the ranting and invective that Stuart Syvret is prone to. Though I am a JDA member and am largely in sympathy with its policies, the views expressed will be entirely my own. I look forward to readers’ responses.

19th April
So Ben Shenton is to boycott Tuesday’s emergency States sitting, called to raise the issues surrounding the arrest of Stuart Syvret last week. He apparently is unconcerned with the outrageous affront to the rule of law, caused by the police searching the property of a member of the public (and a States Member to boot) and removing goods, without a warrant. Neither is he concerned with the strong-arm and intimidatory tactics, at best a waste of police time, used by the police to take Senator Syvret in for questioning. Instead he chooses to accuse States Members who think they are ‘above the law’ of turning the States into ‘a circus’. Can he not see that it is not States Members, but rather the police, or whoever was behind their actions, who are behaving in a way that suggests they are ‘above the law’ and that places the democratic rights of all of us in jeopardy. As someone who presumably claims to support the democratic process, he should turn up to ensure that the truth is told. Could it be that he needs to spend a further day running his business, rather than give his full attention to the job that he is paid to do? He refers to the public being fed up with the ‘ill-informed minority’. Surely he must be in that category if he is not interested in probing the facts of this case. The politicians he refers to do not consider themselves to be ‘above the law’ (a phrase that is being repeated so often that it is destined to become ‘received ignorance’) but are primarily concerned that the law should be fair and should be applied fairly. (Interestingly, the police are not interested in questioning the witness that suggests a minister, who truly does think he is above the law, is taking back-handers .) There is a mounting body of evidence that the law is being manipulated to the advantage of those that represent the status quo.

Take the subject of the economy that Senator Shenton feels should be a priority. Will any measures taken put money in the hands of those who are likely to pump it straight back into the economy (ie the less well off, who do spend all their money and tend to spend it locally) or will they protect the rich, whose greed created the situation that we are in? And who is likely to promote fairer fiscal measures. Could it be the very members who are under attack? I hope the electorate is able to see through the spin and recognise which politicians are on their side.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Full text of letter from Geoff Southern to JEP

To letters editor, JEP

I have long thought that the introduction of ministerial government has done little to promote coherent joined-up thinking in our government, but the latest pronouncements from the Treasury Minister reveal that it is getting worse. Today we cannot even get consistency within one department. The right hand does not appear to know what the left hand is doing.

Senator Ozouf, no doubt sees himself as the saviour of the economy in these difficult times, when he announces that, thanks to prudent fiscal policies, shared with his predecessor, he can deliver £44 million to boost the economy in this financial year. He is reported to have said ‘There is a need to act quickly and decisively to support employment’ and ‘The sooner we can inject cash into the local economy, the more difference it will make’. He then singularly fails to apply this welcome initiative to the public sector.

Instead, he warns that there is no money for public sector workers pay, and that employees should prepare themselves for a pay freeze. ‘Nothing more than a pay freeze is going to be possible’, he says. However, the Council of Ministers have already offered 2% in the 2009 Business Plan, a figure that has already been stripped of the impact of GST on inflation. Now the Treasury minister proposes bringing it down to zero, taking £7.4 million out of the economy. The right hand giveth and the left hand taketh away.

In the meantime over at Economic Development, Senator McLean, his trusted friend, warns of redundancies in the public sector. ‘Job losses could not be ruled out,’ he told the Chamber of Commerce recently. Another brilliant idea. At a time when ‘we must act decisively to support employment’ he threatens to lay workers off. He can then spend some of the £44 m on redundancy payments, retraining packages, and Income Support, not to mention support for the mortgage payments of disposable civil servants.

For those at the lower end of the pay scales, such as the manual workers, and their private sector colleagues, the pay freeze formula offers only increased dependency on welfare. An additional £2 million is to be allocated to extending Income Support transitional protection for those in work on low pay, many of whom will be manual workers. Senators McLean and Ozouf deliver the opposite of what they promised at election time: A hand-out not a hand-up.
Furthermore, as both ministers must be aware, pay freezes do not work in the long term; they merely serve to delay the inevitable. They store up inflationary pressure in the economy. When the recession is over, perhaps in 2 or 3 years, then employees will raise their demands to compensate for the lean years, stoking inflation at the worst possible time.

Before this fiscal stimulus plan comes to the States in May, I suggest that ministers do some serious thinking and come up with a coherent plan to properly target help in recessionary times, rather than relying on instant, headline-grabbing soundbites.

Deputy Geoff Southern, La Rochelle, St Helier.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It is an Alliance!

After years of joining this committee and that one, I am starting to find synergies in the way the work by one joins up with the work by another.

For example, this week I have registered both the Jersey Democratic Alliance and La Moye School PTA with the Jersey Financial Services Commission as Non-Profit Organisations. A simple process. Yet, when the NPO registration scheme was first announced, they planned something appallingly onerous, without exemption for even the smallest and most casual groups. The Jersey Rights Association, another of the pies I have a finger in, were one of the strongest and most articulate of the host of angry critics, and we had the satisfaction of seeing a massive backing off. We did not do it alone, but we certainly pulled our weight, and now all the organisations, that I am in, have benefited.

Another recent synergy has been that, while the JDA's Deputies have been working to do something about Woolworth's and other future redundancies, the JRA have also vociferously campaigned in support of States action. Unfortunately, neither group seems to have quite tipped the balance yet, but it all adds to the pressure on the Council of Ministers to do the right thing in the end.

Concern, yet another group whom I am with, are preparing a renewed assault on the La Collette “insanerator” project. And there was the JDA's Trevor Pitman alongside Daniel Wimberley at the launch of the latter's rescission campaign. Once again, it all ties in nicely.

In fact, being in the JDA can double the effect for a lot of pressure group campaigners. More of you should try it. When Gary Matthews tried to harness all the groups working on little pieces of a liberal agenda in the 1996 Rainbow Alliance, most were too proud to join in, and it failed. Let us learn from that mistake.
David Rotherham


Welcome to the new JDA Council blog. We believe in the internet as a great way to communicate with the public, but most of us find it hard to find enough time to write a regular blog.
So, we are going to abandon the clutch of stalled blogs we launched last year, and instead pool our efforts into this one. Between us all, we should find enough to say to keep it alive. And your comments will be welcome, to liven it up further, of course.
David Rotherham