Friday, July 9, 2010

The Wiltshire Report. And Yet Another Abuse of Process

Here are two self-explanatory open emails to Senators le Sueur and le Marquand, from Trevor and Shona Pitman. Even to the bitter end, any substantial fault there may or may not have been on Chief Constable Power's part continues to be overshadowed by ongoing abuses of process by the Home Affairs and Chief Minister's Departments.

"Dear Terry/Ian

Please could you tell us all, why the Wiltshire Report has been sent to the media (embargoed) before Members of Government. Please tell us why this happens so often - the COM are always telling us that 'it won't happen again', but it always does. It shows nothing but disrespect and contempt for your colleagues. Also, could you tell us if this is the full report.

Once again, a hugely important piece of information and States Members (or non-exec Members) are left out. Can we have some answers.


"Ian & Terry

Just to follow this up from Deputy Shona Pitman. Please could you tell us why you feel it acceptable or necessary that the Media should be given this document (much redacted of course) to go over for three days longer than States Members? That it is embargoed for reporting is irrelevant.

With several hundred pages wouldn't it be far better for all involved if the rest of us States Members were given time to digest this and come up with appropriately informed, searching questions for the presentation? Perhaps not, eh...

Could you also tell us all why I only found out about this issuing of the document through a media contact?

Could you also tell us why, even as a States Member, upon inquiry I was initially fobbed off that nobody knew if the media were getting copies - when it was quite clear from my earlier inquiries that ten lovely shiny new copies hot off the press had winged their way to the Chief Ministers Department this Friday afternoon?

Why I was eventually told by the Deputy CEO that it was simply all down to a problem with the printing, and you were hoping to send everything out but couldn't because of the rush with the Business Plan.

But then told I still couldn't - as a States Member - have one even if I drove down that minute and saved the taxpayer the postage? Where was the inconvenience - I could have picked mine up along with Channel, BBC, 103 and the JEP!

Finally, as per Shona's e-mail, please tell all of us, right, left, centre and greens amongst us - what kind of 'government' deems it correct or conducive to the development of 'inclusive' government to send out such a hugely important document to journalists before other elected members of that government?

Actually, don't bother answering the last one - I will do that for you. It is the kind of government that time and time again treats non-executive members with utter contempt; a COM so arrogant and bloated with self importance that it just doesn't care about acting in this fashion; it is the sort of COM for which the first priority is always to spin the angle they want the public to buy.

Out of interest will States Members also be issued with the full details of the complaint the IPCC instructed the MET to investigate reference alleged evidence and witnesses that the authors of the report would not incorporate? Having no axe to grind for anyone but purely being interested in fairness and transparency as I am I am certain you will make sure that this is done...

Just for the record, Ian made mention of people eating 'humble pie' in the States this week. Though I wasn't referred to as one of them, fact is that as I have focussed all my questions on the truly appalling handling of this incredibly flawed suspension process from start to finish - I have already been proven right a 100 times over. This latest shambles really puts the icing on the cake.

I now just can't wait to hear first-hand about the senior civil servant who wasn't involved in any way in receiving illegal police reports on the backgrounds of States Members...


Monday, July 5, 2010

They Missed A Trick - Let's Not Give It To Them

The Jersey Establishment missed a trick when they carried out their infamous cherry-pick of the Clothier proposals for government reform. Most of the political representation for a Jersey citizen is by the twelve Senators: You get one Connetable and one to three Deputies, depending where you live, and then at least three-quarters of your votes are for Senators. That is quite important, as it lets in a wider range of politicians. To be a Deputy, you have to find an electoral district where most of the voters agree with you, and no other candidate there does, or come through the middle of a split vote for like-minded candidates sharing the majority between them, for want of a party to organise such things. To be a Senator, it is usually enough to command a substantial minority around the island overall, without having to find a concentration of your potential supporters. From the voter's point of view, picking six at a time from a slate of candidates enables a degree of ticket-splitting, in which both some candidates focussing on economic issues and some on social issues can be chosen, with a view to electing a well-rounded and balanced government.

Now, given that there is an inbuilt conservative majority in almost every one of Jersey's constituencies, the right-wing could have further consolidated their hold on power by seizing on the Clothier Report's recommendation that the Senators and Connetables be replaced by Deputies, for a single type of member. Just think, no more maverick populists soaring to the top of the polls as everybody's fifth or sixth choice, just a collection of bland parish bigwigs toeing the establishment line.

The tiresome rigmarole of the recent by-election, so needlessly caused by a wilful breach of an erstwhile Senator's oath of office, has once again set people to wondering whether Senators are worth having. Even amongst the progressive wing, with the most to gain from their continuing existence, “one class of Member” seems to some to be a more tempting principle than “Fourteen votes, not one”. This thought must be firmly and vigorously resisted. An all-Deputy Chamber will marginalise voters, and especially minority voters, and suffer a greatly increased democratic deficit. And “one class” will be the misleading spin put on this failure to fool unthinking electors into believing that they have been done a favour.

Some people say that Senators should serve an “apprenticeship” as a parish Deputy first. But to what end? The work is the same, the powers, or lack of them are the same. But if a candidate has confidence in another in their home district, or believes that the electorate will, then the only constituency where they can offer themselves as a resident rather than a carpetbagger is the island as a whole.

Perhaps the class of Member that should be removed is the Connetables. They are elected to be community leaders of their parishes, not the island, and voters may have different opinions of their municipal and state governments. Certainly, up here in Trinity, the Parish functions perfectly, but the States work no better for us than the rest of Jersey.

We need all the talent we can get in our government, and as strongly democratic way of electing them as possible. An all-Deputy assembly would be an impediment, not a boon.

David Rotherham

Friday, July 2, 2010


Does anyone genuinely think any States member actually enjoys going back to an issue again and again and again? Well, maybe there are few out there who do believe such nonsense. But the truth is the answer is no. That it sometimes has to be done – if you don’t fall for the calculated ploy used by some Ministers of trying to grind you down until the question is dropped by attempting to belittle the issue’s importance – is just another example of the sorry state of ministerial government.

Indeed, one more reason why I and a rapidly growing number of other Members sick to the back teeth of the mockery of democratic government that this system has become under Chief Minister Le Sueur will be backing Senator Breckon’s proposal for a complete overhaul. But that is a story for another day.

The fact is that just as I have stated in the Assembly on more than one occasion, I have no personal axe to grind on behalf of the suspended Chief of Police underlying these questions. All I am concerned with is getting to the bottom of a process that would not be tolerated in any self-respecting democracy; about finally getting some transparency. About ensuring that people – no matter who they are – should be treated as innocent until proven guilty; not to mention how under this Council of Ministers it is possible to hide behind guff like ‘neutral acts’ whilst spinning lies about investigations that will only take ‘weeks’, yet then are allowed to drag on for months, even years.

If all of this upsets a few people I’m afraid all I can say is – tough. The number of people who have contacted me supporting continuing this line of questioning until we finally get answers, set against those who would just see the issues dropped indicates that most people think natural justice is something worth being tenacious about.

As per the written question regarding the Senator’s comments suggesting that everything would be made clear come July, it is interesting that I had to remove reference in the question to the globally established practice of governments looking to ‘bury bad news’ by revealing information when it would largely go unnoticed. The point I was seeking to highlight here is that if ‘July’ was to mean after the next but one States sitting of the 19th then any opportunity for asking questions would be put on hold for two whole months.

Wouldn’t that be a shame? Mr. Power would be gone, and as we all know it has never been the intention to allow a full and proper disciplinary process to be undertaken: a process where both sides of the story could be heard and allegations defended.

As to the other questions I hope to be writing something on the taxation issue shortly, having raised questions on this and the related subject of 1.1. (K) s a number of times. The other questions which relate to St. Helier No. 1 District are self-explanatory. One relating to long-standing work in support of constituents, the other to explore the possibility of whether the Minister for ESC could manage to find any alternatives to a cutting of a frontline service, rather than the rather populist approach in a proposition of just telling the Minister he couldn’t do it: period.

Deputy Trevor Pitman

*A final point for Jaime. Sorry, Jaime, but in answer to your question I get my information from a number of sources which obviously vary considerably in line with the issues. If similar concerns/issues/also surface on other blogs sometimes, then great. The fact that some people are actively seeking transparency should surely be applauded whether one agrees with those people’s views or not

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following oral question of the Minister for Home Affairs ­

“Will the Minister advise whether the alleged author of the Metropolitan (Met) Police Interim Report is himself under investigation by the Met regarding alleged anomalies in the report’s construction and whether the author neglected to interview crucial witnesses who could have refuted allegations made by the Former Deputy Chief Officer against the former Senior Investigating Officer and the suspended Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question oral of the Minister for Treasury and Resources ­

“Given that in the Fiscal Strategy Review public consultation document it is stated that a key consideration in implementing a 30% Income Tax rate for those earning above £100.000 is the possibility of such individuals choosing to leave the Island, will the Minister advise what firm evidence, if any, his department has to support such fears?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following written question of the Minister for Home Affairs ­

“Under questioning about the lengthy suspension process of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police on the 22nd June 2010, the Minister asked for patience, advising Members that all would be revealed in July, will the Minister now give assurances that when referring to July he meant that information, including access to the so called 'Metropolitan Police Interim Report' and information as to whether the former Chief Minister and current States Chief Executive Officer received briefings on other States Members as a consequence of 'Operation Blast', will be provided to members before, or during the last States sitting prior to the summer recess; or will the Minister be seeking to delay the release of such information until the summer recess has begun, thus preventing the opportunity for Members to ask questions?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following written question of the Minister for Economic Development­

“Will the Minister advise what action, if any, the Harbours Department has taken to address the long-standing anti-social behaviour problems suffered by residents at Albert Quay Apartments; specifically whether the promised speed bumps are yet in place; what, if any, impact the new speed cameras have had and, if no action has been taken when will these matters be progressed?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following written question of the Minister for Education, Sport & Culture

“Is the Minister able to identify any alternative efficiency savings, other than cutting the three life guards at Havre des Pas swimming pool, which would have less front-line impact on services, and, if so, what might these be?”