My answers to every vote.je reader’s questions will be published here, in batches, as I go through them. I will also add some questions by other special interest groups.
Many are variations on the same subject and I will give a single answer to several identical questions, joining them with + signs.
You are welcome to comment or ask further questions on my Facebook page: guida4stlawrence.
Q: What are your views on the new student funding grants?
A: The Island will only benefit from an easier access to education so I favour helping Jersey families send their children to university. We can probably tweak the system to make it fairer, but the important thing was to get it going as soon as possible.
Q: The States payscales are determined by an arms length body and pay for Jersey civil servants is far in excess of that which is paid to UK civil servants who have far greater responsibility. How would you solve the problem of out of control Civil Service wages?
A: This is being dealt with right now by the new Chief Executive and we will have to judge it as it happens. I am sure all of the new government will be keeping an eye on his progress.
Q: Jerseys ecosystems are collapsing. Reservoirs poisoned, uncomfortably high nitrate levels in our drinking water etc. Would politicians if elected put clean air, safe water, healthy food with soil at the heart of all policy?
A: “Collapsing” might be a strong word for the condition of Jersey’s ecosystems but I agree that ecological impact needs to be factored in any new policy. As we factor in the monetary cost, we have to evaluate the environmental cost.
Q: Do you think it is fair if someone personally invests in solar energy alternatives in their own home that they should then be charged for reducing the power company’s profits?
A: Maybe Jersey Electricity has a credible explanation, but one way or another, I would really like to see solar panels developed at the household level. Not only it increases our energy independence, it also makes each individual household more responsible for their energy use. The technology is mature and the prices have never been so low. I want it on my own roof.
Q: The Secretary of State Michael Gove MP has recently stated he is bringing a new bill before Parliament mandating, for the first time, measures and targets to preserve and improve the health of UK’s soils, amid growing concern we are sleepwalking into a crisis of soil fertility, which could destroy our ability to feed us.
“The air, water and soil are a loan from our children, not a gift from our parents,” With three resevoirs poisoned in two years and uncomfortably high nitrate levels in our drinking water, without mentioning sea lettuce blooms, blamed on agriculture practices.
What are you going to do to change this terrible situation of failing ecosystem services as a result of degraded soils if elected?
A: Agriculture is a major part of the character of Jersey and we need to nurture it but the farmers understand that they have farm sustainably and ecologically for their own good. As part of the new Rural Economy Strategy plan for 2017-2021 is the adherence to the LEAF Marque Global Standard (Linking Environment and Farming). Among many other requirements, it includes protection of soil and water. The RES plan is quite good, if we make sure it is funded adequately.
Q: St Saviour
My question relates to the Duck Pond and surrounding area in Grand Vaux. There is a distinct lack of public spacing around this part of the parish and given that the population of the area is due significantly increase it would be great to see this area taken care of.
The Duck Pond in Grand Vaux is currently fenced off with barbed wire and used as somewhat of a dumping ground, which is both hazardous to the local wildlife and unpleasant for local residents.
Will you help support and rally for a public / park area to be built around this potential beauty spot, there by increasing the attraction and general enjoyment for residents of this rather run down part of the parish?
A: It would be a really good idea to develop the Mill Pond. The problem is who owns it and how much it would cost to make safe for children, open up to visitors and maintain. It would mainly be a Parish issue. Another good, and probably easier project would be to open up the Grands Vaux reservoir path.
Q: In 2021, it will be the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Fort Regent. Now is the ideal time to put in action a plan to rejuvenate the site in time to celebrate this milestone. What will you do to support this initiative?
Q: I have been a long standing user of Fort Regent and am currently a sports club tenant at the centre. I have been passionate about this facility since it opened in the early 1970s. If elected, what are you going to do to support the much overdue regeneration of Fort Regent?
Q: Over 40 Clubs and Associations call Fort Regent home and, in a world where obesity, diabetes and lack of leisure facilities are rife, restoring the Fort to facilitate part of the Health and Social Services job of creating and maintaining a healthy population is of paramount importance. Do you agree and how would you proceed?
A: I am very fond of Fort Regent and my partner pretty much grew up in it. I would really like to see it improved but I am not sure that it should be a States project, apart from some infrastructure investment, as I would want it to be self-sustaining in the future.
Q: What do you intend to do to support the development of the charity sector in Jersey?
A: Jersey charities are at a crossroad. All of a sudden, they have to comply with dozens of new regulations they are ill equipped to satisfy. This will be very difficult for most of them and if we don’t help them, I expect we might lose half of the charities in the Island. The States are already trying hard to comply with international standards while minimising the scope of local liability and they do provide a lot of free training and information. We could go further and find a way of offering “common officers” so that smaller charities do not have to dedicate several volunteers to purely administrative functions or, even worse, have to pay professionals. The upside, is that local Jersey charities will be able to fundraise in the UK.
Q: What are your views on implementing direct and participatory democracy in Jersey, in which the electorate vote on issues directly, as is conducted in Switzerland?
A: I am very fond of referendums but they are very expensive and difficult to organise safely. When we transfer to an online voting system, which will take time, we will be able to use it for frequent consultations. I would definitely favour that: if in doubt, ask the public.
Q: Should constables concentrate on their parish and not have any say in the government. Especially when they have not been voted in?
A: Constables have a lot of work to do in the Parish but they are also the politicians most in contact with the public. They know of all the real issues first hand. I think it is one of the most important strengths of Jersey that the Constables can vote in the Chamber. Contrast that with other countries where you will never meet any of the politicians face to face and their daily work never puts them in contact with you.
Not being voted in is less of an issue than it seems. Why would you oppose somebody who is doing a good job? The real problem is that being a Constable is much more work than being a backbencher Senator or Deputy. It should be made a more attractive job then it might attract better people.
Q: Is it right that standees from other Parishes are standing for election in St Brelade?
A: It is part of the law. Only Constable candidates have to be resident in the Parish. Jersey is a small place where people move a lot and their loyalty may be to the Parish of their birth, schooling or place of work rather than that of their residence.
Q: Should States Members be paid according to their responsibilities in the States like elsewhere, and not the same wage across the board?
A: That is a good idea but it would make the government more expensive and there is strong resistance to that.
Q: If you are already in the states due to getting the votes on the last election the promises you made to get in the states last time how many or any at all did you succeed in completing we need doers not liars
A: Unfortunately, a member of the Assembly is only a small cog in a large machine. Maybe they fought very hard on an issue and got outvoted . Check the States Assembly site and theyworkforyou.je to see who voted for what and how hard everybody worked. Then reward them with your vote only if they deserve it.
Q: Why do you think that you are qualified to serve the people of Jersey?
A: I have already been serving the people of Jersey in a small capacity as a Centenier and I feel my broad experience of business and life in other countries could be useful in the States.
Q: What is your most notable contribution to the Parish over the last 5 years (either as a standing Deputy or a new candidate)?
A: I was a C.O. and then a Centenier in the Parish of St Lawrence for the last 5 years.
Q: As a Deputy representing a single constituency do you think it is right that a Deputy hold a Ministerial or Dep. Ministerial office?
Is it right that a person that 90% + of the electorate who haven’t had a chance to express their opinion on a candidate at the ballot box, might have a rural Deputy be Minister with responsibility for, for example, Planning?
Why should you as, potentially, a rural Deputy with a mandate from just 3% of the population have an equal vote as a Senator with a 100% mandate?
A: No Senator has a 100% mandate: you don’t actually know where their voters came from. One of the most important particularities of Jersey is that it is a small community with politicians that are completely integrated in that community. In France, by contrast, once a politician, you become a member of a sort of aristocracy and never mix with the rest of us again. Journalists with enough courage take great pleasure in asking them how much a baguette or a bus ticket costs, which none of the chauffeur-driven, chef-fed elite can answer. Here, if you’re unhappy with one of us, you can have a go at us in the supermarket on Saturday morning. Cherish that.
Q: Please confirm that you will Not be talking the **Donation** from the UNION??? Question for Sam Mèzec
A: I just hope that all the candidates are using the same rules and are on a level playing field.
Q: Many candidates we see in this election choose to use social media as a means of communication with the public. Is it right then that those same candidates choose to block individuals from seeing posts which may affect the island if they have previously disagreed with a specific person?
A: Candidates have the same rights as anybody else, so if they barred you from their timeline, that’s it, it is their choice. Just don’t vote for them and tell your friends to do the same.
Q: We have witnessing in the last three years a raise in the number of Xenophobic and Islamophobic comments on the local social media ( in pages like The Real Rock), so my question is..Are you going to push for a Online Hate Speech legislation if elected?
A: Freedom of speech is also a human right. I have lived without it and I actually prefer to have it, even if it means I get abused on the Internet.
Q: We hear the same promises at every election – more affordable housing, controlled immigration, controls on taxes and prudent Government spending. Jersey’s only Political Party is even promising to eradicate poverty this time around. Is it no wonder people cannot be bothered to vote when candidates forever promise unrealistic pledges because the affordable housing pledge has been going on for 30 years?
A: Everything is interconnected. If you improve housing, you worsen immigration, if you reduce immigration, you worsen the economy. You have to compromise everywhere, hoping that the only two things that can improve on their own do so: productivity and balance of payments. In general, less government means better productivity and better exports so prudent government spending is an easy priority.
Q: Will you support a ban on PR firms, spin doctors and consultants across the States, both for Departments and Ministers?
A: I am not fond of using consultants in general (you are paid to manage, not to hire other people to manage for you) and I certainly think the government doesn’t need its own PR.
Q: Are you supportive of the methods being used by the SOJs Chief Executive and his team to make changes to the civil service?
A: We will have to judge him on results, but I am very worried about the social impact. Civil Servants left on the wayside here can’t just go try in another council like in the UK. I would have favoured a more gentle approach.
Q: With Jersey being on the international stage for Finance, and this now being the primary industry and source of income for the island, do you feel you have the depth of understanding and knowledge to make an informed decision if called to vote on any Finance issue that may arise? It may require a very quick decision as a reaction to external political changes and pressures with no time to do any research
A: Outside of war time, they are few political decisions that need to be taken in minutes. If you have hours, then you have the time to consult with the industry, which I would do despite the fact that I am already quite familiar with it.
Q: Will you promise to attend every States sitting and vote in every decision made in the Chamber, to the best of your ability?
A: Yes, of course, what would be the point of getting elected?
Q: What is your first priority on your political agenda and how do you want to achieve it?
A: I want to keep what can be saved of Jersey’s system and traditions, which are being destroyed wholesale for no obvious reason other than being different to that of the UK. I am looking at all the current proposals to see which need immediate attention and I intend to lobby strongly inside the States to make sure we protect our uniqueness and independence.
Like other active States Members, I expect that I will be offered a choice of positions but they could be very different so I could end up in external relations, on the Police panel, in scrutiny for the economy or judicial review. I’ll accept whatever is offered and try to do my best for Jersey in that role. I will not be a backbencher.
Q: (to Senators) The elected unopposed represent considerable harm to the credibility of government in Jersey as well as allowing some politicians to remain in office in successive terms with no mandate. Attempts to bring in a watered down version of the Clothier recommendations, that could have prevented many of the unelected deputies from taking office, was allowed to fail again at the referendum.
As the only true representatives of the opinion of the island, thanks to your islandwide mandate, what steps will you take to rid island politics of this anachronism, that allows a third of the governing chamber to be populated with politicians with no mandate? Could I suggest at the very least, that they are restricted from the positions that they can hold, such as ministerial or senior scrutiny roles.
A: Most of the candidates who stand unopposed do so because people think they are quite good at their job and don’t need changing. If anybody else could get the job, Reform would certainly find somebody for that purpose.
Q: Only party politics offers voters some reassurance that our views might be acted upon. A single candidate just doesn’t wield any influence. Should we move to party system?
A: Not having, so far, a party system, is one the ways Jersey is superior to almost every other democracy in the world. Members of the States talk with each other and form alliances based on each individual subject rather than going blindly for the party line if they are in the majority and systematically against if they are in the opposition like in the UK.
Q: With the vast majority of Connétables elected unopposed and with massive discrepancies in the size of each constituency, in your opinion, is the role of Connétables incompatiable with modern democratic principles?
A: Constables sitting in the States are one of the best features of the Jersey government. The Constables are in direct, daily contact with the real issues of their Parishioners and then can represent those real people in the States. Not statistics, not surveys, actual people. There is no other country that has such a flat hierarchy between citizens and the head of state and we should really cherish it.
Go talk to your mayor in the UK, if it is even possible, and see what good that does you in Parliament.
Being a Constable is a hard job which is not properly rewarded so not many people want it but you will find that those standing unopposed are usually so because they Parishioners think they are doing a good job. Why change a winning team?
Q: How much of a priority is electoral reform to you?
A: Sorry, but I do like our existing system. In fact, I would even like to come back to staggered elections so we have Island-wide Senatorial elections separate from the Parish-bound Deputy and Constable ones.
Q: Do you think it is appropriate and proper for politicians to harass people and make derogatory comments about individuals on social media?
A: If they are just candidates, they benefit from the same freedom of speech that you do. But please don’t vote for them. If they are elected politicians, they actually have a very strong code of conduct to follow and that sort of behaviour is unacceptable.
Q: With reflection of past PPC complaints upheld against a States Member for their online behavior, a libel case against the Local Paper over a satirical cartoon by 2 former Deputies and a former ex Senator being found guilty of breaking the Data Protection Law, for causing distress to 4 members of the Public from a Blog?
Do candidates believe a Politician has a duty to treat everybody with respect, and should be able to deal with criticism either online or by the accredited Media professionally and maturely?
A: Besides being naturally expected to be professional and mature (we can always dream..), elected politicians must follow a strong code of conduct. A thick skin and a sense of humour would help.
Q: Will you stop the States wasting our money?
A: Waste is the one true sin and I hate it. Whatever I am ultimately involved in, I will make sure it is not wasteful.
Q: Do you think the Social Security benefit system is fair. When pensioners who have paid income Tax and stamp all their lives receive less than those who do little to support the Island. Should fathers who don’t pay support for their children have their wages garnered by the Court to reduce the burden on the system which often has to support their family.
A: You are right. The problem with universal Social Security is that it is very difficult to tailor to fit all circumstances. The states are already trying hard to close the loopholes but I would surmise that we are a small enough community to deal with some cases face to face like the Parishes did only a couple of decades ago. I intend to have a close look at the pension system if I am elected.
Q: When are you going to stop preventing decent reasonable priced shops coming to Jersey? People want to be able to go into a shop and get something they need not have to fly of the island shop like a maniac and bring cases of stuff back or buy on the internet. I Avoid jersey town centre as much as possible as it had no decent affordable shops.
A: We have everything from Hettich to Pound World. Which decent, reasonably-priced shops are we missing? Jersey is a much too small catchment area for most of the large retailers such as Ikea which need about 800,000 people within a 30 minutes drive to set-up shop. Primark, Zara, H&M, Matalan and T.K. Maxx have the same problem although they could give it a try. Certainly, the Government has no influence on who decides to set up shop in Jersey.
Alternative for Jersey questionnaire:
Q: 1) Many people feel that, for a very long time there has been deliberate attempt from various members of the States of Jersey to make the Island more like the UK. As a result, there has been what many describe as a form of cultural and social vandalism known as “de-Jerseyfication”. What would you do to stop and reverse this trend, or do you not think it is an issue at all?
Q: 3) The average wage in Jersey is on a decline yet the cost of living and inflation are rising out of control, as a result, Jersey is becoming un-affordable for many to remain here. What action would you take to remedy this?
Q: 15) Do you agree with the reinstatement of the single parent supplement? What are your reasons for the answer given?
Q: 5) What are your thoughts on candidates who are “elected” unopposed?
Q: 1) What are your thoughts on the Future Hospital and the Future Airport?