So we seem to have a new dawn of party politics. Obviously not new for me or my Reform Jersey colleagues. We have been consistent in our approach for years, and taken all of the criticism from those that appear to be born again party people.
So what will this new dawn look like? Well it seems it will be very mixed.
A quick search of a definition of politics produces this:
“the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power”.
So how has Jersey done politics before parties? Simply, it has always had parties. But the parties having power are more like an exclusive club than a formally declared political party. With hidden alliances and behind the scenes deals being made to control the reigns of power. Always whilst claiming to be fiercely independent and denigrating those who declare the role of the party.
Take the vote this week on the Children and Education Minister role. Straight after this there was a taxpayer funded event to “Meet the Ministers” chaired by the Institute of Directors. The question arose of why two more qualified candidates were rejected. One telling answer was from Senator Gorst who stated that the Deputy Wickenden “shares the ideology of the Chief Minister and government”. It is an interesting response. And will be more interesting if and when a new party of government members is formed. Perhaps then they will expand on this ideology. I believe it will be called the ‘Alliance Party’.
It will be interesting to see if Senator le Fondré, Deputy Wickenden, Deputy Martin and Deputy Russell Labey are part of this party. Especially as the last three in this list stood on a joint platform at the last election together in St Helier district 1. And if so, should they be using government resources (and of course tax payers money) to promote themselves in these “Meet the Minister” events? And who else will be part of this party from the list that voted for Deputy Wickenden? That's a question for another time perhaps. A time when we have transparency re party members through the Assembly. For your reference, here is the vote from Tuesday. Make of it what you will.
So effectively, the government voted for its party member and pulled out all the stops to gain support for him. But not in a transparent way. Behind the scenes. Indeed the new Assistant Minister (Constable of St Peter) may have been offered this role up to two weeks before the new Minister was even declared to the rest of the Assembly. Members received an email at 11.57pm on Sunday 27th June to inform them of the Chief Minister's nomination.
So we need transparency over the alliances that exist. The club members one might say. And it is clear that our government does not understand governance. They simply do not get the need for three branches for good governance; Government, Scrutiny and Opposition. Instead it seems our government wants compliance from the Assembly and scrutiny process that rubber stamps decisions. At the same time wanting no formal opposition because they want “consensus” politics. But the mask has slipped. What is wanted is allegiance to an undefined ideology and loyalty to the undeclared party. This is failing the people of Jersey. We deserve more and better than this. More than the hidden agendas. Better than inconsistent politicians who do not have the appropriate skills for the roles they take on. And more than a cabal of ‘yes people’.
Party politics is here in Jersey. Reform Jersey have worked tirelessly to develop as an organisation and to bring a coherent and considered manifesto to the electorate. We will do so again at the next election.
Finally, I want to encourage anyone who shares my concerns and ideas around the politics of this island to consider becoming a Reform Jersey member and getting involved. You can join here: https://www.reformjersey.je/join