Friday, August 27, 2010

Anyone for a Bring-A-Policy Party?

When I was a much younger man, I sometimes went to the kind of party where lots of young adults arrived bringing various kinds of alcohol, which went on the table for each to help themselves to whatever selection they fancied, from whatever had been brought.

The other day, suffering a less physical kind of hangover from too much time in a very different sort of party, I was musing on the contrast between the two meanings of the word. It suddenly occurred to me that the model of the Bring-A-Bottle drinks party could actually be viably applied to creating some kind of political coalition of independents in a culture of no conventional parties.

My idea was that politicians and potential candidates of broadly similar views pool their manifesto ideas. But, instead of a conventional party process of whittling down the differences to come up with a single party line for all to follow, each area of policy would have a series of numbered alternative manifesto proposals or positions, being all the items any of the participants submitted on that topic. Then, when all items were submitted and collated, each participant would select their own favourite item numbers, be they their own work or another's. The scheme collator could then paste the chosen items into a standard format with the candidate's personal details and colours.

The result would be a display of obvious unity and mutual assistance, and yet, importantly, nobody would be having to compromise any principles, nor sacrifice any independence, to toe a party line.

The next step will be to sound out possible invitees: Too few takers would mean too little substance to be worth the bother. But, what do our readers think? Would you be happier voting for somebody who has collaborated with others in developing their strongest possible manifesto, or somebody who has done all their own work, for better or worse? Comments, please.

David Rotherham

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nothing More To Say

As promised, we have now published our definitive statement on our departure. This press release, from 10pm, 15th August, is as much as we wish to say on the subject. Now we shall move on.
"In the light of the press release of Friday 13th August from the JDA Honorary President we believe it to be necessary to clarify the following:

Due to a growing difference of opinion between leading JDA members regarding issues of strategy and political direction all JDA Council Members and the party’s membership were contacted on the 11th August to advise them that JDA Deputy Chairman, David Rotherham, Deputies Trevor and Shona Pitman and Deputy Debbie De Sousa were resigning from the JDA as of this date.

Though this was a difficult and painful decision to make given the number of years of blood, sweat and tears that we have given to developing the JDA, we took this decision in the hope of preventing irreconcilable differences developing into, or being spun as an acrimonious public quarrel. To this regard we intended putting out only the briefest of statements to the media.

All four of us believe passionately that to ultimately bring about the change our island so desperately needs, we have to engage a wider cross-section of Jersey’s ordinary working people in line with our centre-left political principles; as opposed to allowing ourselves to be wrongly portrayed as representing the interests of only a certain section of society.

Unfortunately, even in the light of the Honorary President’s surprising press release we perceive this narrow base to be the current direction of the JDA pursued by a minority Council. This is simply not the political ideology that we signed up to when we joined, and is not what we have worked so hard for. It is also certainly not true of the diverse constituent base that Deputies S. Pitman, T. Pitman and De Sousa all work with on a day-to-day basis.

Nevertheless, though existing on a number of levels it is fair to say that these internal differences have been brought to a head by two key events. The first of these was the split decision to support the JDA standing a sitting States Member, Deputy Geoff Southern, in the recent Senatorial by-election; a decision driven through even though it was clearly apparent to a number of us that this would be a politically muddy campaign where a skewed and split vote was inevitable.

The second has been the recent press release and media interviews given by Deputy Southern regarding the union alternatives to the Council of Ministers proposals on taxation and cut backs. Whilst it must be reiterated here that we are all wholly committed to recognition of modern Trade Unions as an essential check and balance to ensure industrial best practice, the fact is that neither the proposals nor our stated collective support for them was discussed with or agreed with us or any other JDA Council Member beforehand. This we find wholly unacceptable.

Viewed in the current wider political perspective we have thus come to the conclusion that for the immediate future the best way forward to achieving positive change is via way of a political coalition with other similarly minded States Members; and, indeed, like-wise motivated individuals outside of the States - a coalition where all members are willing to sign up to, and work together to achieve a small number of clearly defined principles. Having already been involved in such initiatives this is what we will now be striving to do.

A constituted ‘party’ on the other hand, as put forward in the JDA Honorary President’s press release with people of both left and right political leanings brought and held together only by a desire for reform we simply do not believe can work and is something we will not be involved in. We nevertheless wish all our former colleagues in the JDA the best of luck in their endeavours for the future. Whilst we can no longer agree on the path forward we fully recognise that they too want only the best for the working people who are the backbone of Jersey’s success; and who, indeed, make Jersey the special place that it is.

We shall not be making any further comment.

David Rotherham (Deputy Chairman) Deputy Shona Pitman

Deputy Trevor Pitman Deputy Debbie De Sousa"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Package, Same Goods

As hinted at recently, the main author of this blog left the JDA today, and I am taking the blog with me. So, I have contrived something else to fit the initials JDACMB and renamed it. Without the JDA link, we can accept copy from anybody, if it is suitable. Breaking down the email to avoid spambots, I have an account at the "" domain of "yahoo" in the name of "cdrotherham", that you can send submissions to.
The comment policy will continue to be that, you may disagree with us, but you may not be grossly offensive.
We hope that you will continue to read.

David Rotherham

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reader Feedback Needed Urgently

As Ted and Geoff prepare their new team for their 2011 campaign, so some of the longer serving JDA Council Members will be standing down from it very shortly. Including most of the contributors to this blog.

So, we could go two ways, depending on public demand:

The default, if we don't get significant demand for the other option, will be to rebrand this blog, keeping these authors, and launch a new JDA Council blog, with a new URL, for the new Council.

The alternative is that the current authors simply walk away from this one, and our current readers go look for us elsewhere on the web. So this URL remains the JDA Council's.

Tell us now, if you care which we do.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Outlined below is a written question (with answer) I asked at the last States sitting with regard to the ridiculously overdue ‘Napier Report’. The question is a straight-forward one and needs comparatively little explanation. I post it now only in the light of the latest saga encountered in trying to finally get the author’s long-overdue findings into the public arena.

As some readers will have heard by now this latest delay is being put down to the sending of official letters to a number of key players in the suspension of the former Chief Police Officer. These letters are known in the trade as ‘Scott letters’. When utilised they are meant to provide a last chance for any individual about to be criticised, and possibly even face disciplinary proceedings, as a result of aspects of their conduct to attempt to explain or justify this.

At least that is how it works in the UK. The process is not meant to be a means of manipulating the findings of a report in order that potentially embarrassing elements of those findings might then be watered down or be kept out of the public arena. Will this same above board process be carried out here in Jersey? Just consider the answer to my question below for a moment:

“it (the report) will be published in full.”

Even long overdue, a clearer promise one could surely not get, and I hope that it ultimately proves to be adhered to. However, whilst not only have politicians subsequently been unable to get an answer to the question of when exactly did the Chief Minister and the senior civil servant at his department receive a copy of the report, I also have it from a pretty reliable source that attempts will be made to keep certain key details likely to lead to disciplinary measures confidential.

And this simply can’t be right.

One good thing about having focussed so much on what was obviously a deeply flawed process surrounding the suspension of the Chief Police Officer as I did has been that – and in stark contrast to the Home Affairs |Minister’s temper tantrum in the States last month I can’t help but point out – I knew that I for one would not be eating the Minister’s much-vaunted ‘humble pie’. The process and its handling has, after all, been a total shambles. This is I’m afraid cold, hard fact no matter how much he might try to deny it.

Not least in the simultaneous use of material meant specifically for a full disciplinary procedure whilst all disciplinary measures were in fact unceremoniously dropped. Indeed, if one is to go by the inconsistent statements from the Home Affairs Minister between Scrutiny hearings and the States Assembly itself suggest most likely were never genuinely to be pursued at all?

Now, while I believe that all must be accountable for their actions if things don’t go as they should, criticism of the Chief Police Officer’s failings have been played out in full view of the public – some might say to overkill by certain sections of the media – yet this has been done, as I say, without the proper full and fair disciplinary process that both the individual at the centre of it all and we, the taxpaying public, should have been able to expect to be certain no stone was left unturned.

Could it really consequently be right if some of the equally significant failings – I can say no more than that right now – of some of those deeply involved in the very same process are allowed to be hidden away by means of a quickly cobbled together excuse of ‘confidentiality’; likewise the outcome of any resultant disciplinary action?

The answer has to be 100% that it is not. Neither will the presentation to politicians and the public of a report ‘redacted’ until it is only 30% of the original text; 10% of the overall material - thus removing the bulk substance of the issues at hand. Will such a ploy be attempted? With the Chief Minister apparently now back from a break it is high time he laid any such concerns to rest. Maybe he will even let us know if the now retired former Chief Police Officer got the offer of the Scott letter process…

Written Question to the Chief Minister 22nd July 2010

'Will the Chief Minister clarify the full reasons as to why the report into the issues surrounding the suspension process of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police - promised to the Assembly to be completed in six weeks - has instead not been completed prior to the announcement that all disciplinary measures were to be dropped; further still, when will this report be completed and made available in full to all States Members?'
The original timescale for the completion of the independent review into the suspension of the Chief Officer of Police was six weeks as stated in the Deputy’s question. Unfortunately, due to difficulties in arranging convenient dates for interviews and travel disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud, it was not possible to complete the interview process with one of the key witnesses during the Mr Napier’s first visit to Jersey. A second visit had to be arranged to that suited both people.
All of the interviews were completed by 9th June 2010 and I am awaiting the final report. Unfortunately, due to other work commitments, Mr Napier was unable to complete his final report immediately after the interview process was complete.
I have been advised by Mr Napier, that he is currently writing his final report which should be completed by the end of July. Once the report has been issued and all parties concerned have had the opportunity to consider any findings, it will be published in full.