Electoral Reform and Parties
When I was first elected, the States operated under a Committee System of Government. There were no Ministers and no Scrutiny function; instead we had Committees made up of five or six States Members led by a Committee President. If you asked me which style of Government was better for Jersey, I would have to say the Committee System, as every Member had the opportunity to contribute to policy-making. There was also a good deal of ‘cross referencing’ as Members could sit on two or three Committees. I still believe that with a few changes and some streamlining, that system could better serve the Island.
Whilst the current emphasis is to try to give equal weight to an equal number of votes, I believe we are slowly eroding what makes this Island special. I fought hard to stop the abolition of the office of Senator, which had an Island-wide mandate and arguably the most democratic legitimacy – especially to determine who the Island favoured as a potential candidate for the next Chief Minister. That office will disappear in 2022, along with the ability of each Parish to elect its own Deputies. From this year, most Deputies will be serving two or three Parishes instead of one.
I have always enjoyed serving and representing my Parish in the States, and with the new system of amalgamated ‘Electoral Districts’ I believe that the electorate have lost out. Take Grouville and St Martin’s as an example: instead of being able to vote for 10 States Members (eight Senators, one Constable and one Deputy) you will be returning just four representatives. Your Deputies will be serving two Parishes instead of just yours (three in more rural areas!). Outside St Helier, it is possible that nobody from your Parish will be elected to serve your interests. I fear this will erode the Parish Identity.
The changes were a democratic decision, passed in the States Assembly, and therefore we must live with them. All I can hope is that it will engage more people in what is promoted as a fairer system.
I have not joined a party. I am still waiting to see what they stand for, and most are still silent on their positive aims and policies. However, as my 20-year track record demonstrates, I am effective at working with others to get things done. I will continue to reach out across parties and ideologies to do what’s best for my constituents and the Island, and I hope you will read about some of my successful campaigns on the other pages of this website.