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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The battle to be Jersey's third figurehead

Sir Phillip Bailhache and Ian Gorst
I like Ian Gorst, he is a most amiable person. I must admit that it has come as a shock to see him elected as Chief Minister. I even had to re-write the blog post!

Fundamentally neither candidate met my primary criteria - a basic understanding of economics. Nick Palmer on his blog expresses similar concerns. I'm afraid that like it or not the economic reality is going to come home and it is going to hit hard.

For far too long the entire western world has been spending beyond its means, driven by the demands of the electorate to provide ever more extravagant public services coupled with the natural and inevitable inefficiency of bureaucracy. Jersey is perhaps the worst culprit for this, but we have had unusually high revenues which have masked the problem until now.

Sir Phillip was right about one point which you may have missed during the hustings - he accurately points out that the inability of the Chief Minister to appoint his 'team' of Ministers does limit the ability of the Chief Minister to effectively put his manifesto into place.

Frank Walker
The power of patronage that the Prime Minister of the UK holds, that is the ability to hire and fire ministers, does ensure a certain degree of restraint on individual ministers ensuring that the Cabinet works as a team. As a result the role of Chief Minister to date has been that of a non-entity and the Council of Ministers is necessarily less effective at implementing a policy program than it might be. I make no value judgement as to whether that is a good or a bad thing.

Frank Walker spent his time travelling the globe signing agreements such as an historic, but seemingly pointless, 'arms limitation treaty with Uzbekistan'. His biggest 'success' was signing away Jersey's independence with an official agreement which grants the UK the right, in no uncertain terms, to enforce legislation on us albeit only after a period of due consultation, (the electors of Jersey of course know that consultation really means - they will listen and then completely ignore what we have to say, we enjoy public consultations on a regular basis already).

Terry Le Sueur
Terry Le Sueur well, what did he really achieve during his tenure? I can't think of anything...

I see Sir Phillip Bailhache as the ideal figurehead. You cannot deny the aura of dignity and respect he exudes. He has had many years of listening to lawyers and States Members speak an awful lot of repetitive, meaningless drivel to justify high fees or their place in the States. Sounds like the perfect Chair of the council of ministers.

I did not want to see him elected at all you must understand. I consider his decision to run 'ill advised' and it will cause a constitutional crisis before too long, but having been duly sworn in well, I think the States have made the wrong choice. It is not that unusual for me to be in the minority of course.

The 'consensus' of which Ian Gorst speaks is a phenomenon of UK politics too... consensus usually arises at times of great uncertainty and/or economic hardship. In the 1920's power was shared between all three major parties, in the 1970's and again currently.

Gorst did not spell out as clear a vision as Sir Phillip in his election speech, I recognised much of it from the hustings, it was a politician's speech which was aimed more at not losing votes than offering something that people could vote for.

Neither candidate grappled with what I perceive to be the fundamental issue... implementing the sort of spending cuts which are going on around Europe, lowering taxes and thereby boosting the local economy, which is choking under regulation and taxation.

So we move on to the appointment of Ministers where the real interest lies; will Gorst get his team or will the States elect a few alternates instead?

What will be the fate of the newly elected Deputies who voted for the wrong man? Deputy J.P.G. Baker; Deputy J.H. Young; Deputy S.J. Pinel; Deputy J.M. Le Bailly; Deputy S.G. Luce; Deputy R.G. Bryans; Deputy K.L. Moore. Interesting the only newly elected Deputy who voted for Gorst was Richard Rondel.