‘Whoever authorised this utterly pathetic and embarrassing banner needs to have serious words with themselves,' says minister
A BANNER criticising proposals for electoral reform – which include removing Constables from the States – has been branded ‘pathetic and embarrassing’, by a minister.
Ahead of a 12-parish roadshow outlining the proposed changes to the composition of the States Assembly, Trinity Constable Philip Le Sueur has placed a banner outside the parish hall urging his parishioners to attend the meeting.
The Privileges and Procedures Committee have lodged wide-ranging proposals which would scrap the Islandwide Senatorial vote, remove Constables’ automatic right to a seat in the Chamber and see 46 Deputies elected across nine districts.
Mr Le Sueur believes the proposals would ‘destroy the parish system’ and has accused the PPC of ‘putting the cart before the horse’ by lodging the proposition before gauging public desire for reform.
However, Senator Sam Mézec, who has regularly championed electoral reform and chairs the political party Reform Jersey, has accused the Trinity Constable of lying to promote his own views.
Mr Le Sueur said: ‘I want to encourage people to attend these meetings. Whether people agree with my view or the opposing view, it is important that the public should have a say in such wide-ranging changes.
‘I believe the parish system will wither and die [under the proposals]. That is my personal belief. Jersey is about community, about where we live and why we enjoy living here.’
He added that the regular debates on reform were diverting attention from topics more important to Islanders such as the new hospital, population and the cost of living.
And Mr Le Sueur said the criticism levelled towards Constables for not facing contested elections is largely unfair.
‘Everybody in the parish had the opportunity to put somebody else up in opposition. I, and the other Constables, shouldn’t be pilloried because no one stood against us. If only five candidates put themselves forward [under the proposals] we will still have uncontested elections.
‘If there is a groundswell of opinion in favour of change then who are we to say it isn’t right to do it. But, from the soundings I have heard, that it is not what I think my parishioners want. I don’t think we should allow ourselves to sleepwalk into such radical reforms.’
The reform proposition was lodged in response to a visit by election observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association last year, which found the Island’s political system lacking in key areas including voter equity. A sub-panel of the Privileges and Procedures Committee say electoral reform needs to be urgently addressed, but despite numerous reports and debates over the years, meaningful change has not been forthcoming.
The banner placed outside Trinity Parish Hall says: ‘If you value your parish system please attend a meeting at Trinity Parish Hall on Thursday 23 May at 7.30pm and hear about the radical proposals designed to destroy it.’
Senator Mézec said: ‘Whoever authorised this utterly pathetic and embarrassing banner outside Trinity Parish Hall needs to have serious words with themselves.
‘The electoral reform proposals are designed to give every single Islander an equal vote in our elections, no matter what parish they live in. The only thing it seeks to destroy is the “jobs for the boys” system which lets people get elected uncontested and rake in £47,000 of taxpayers’ money each year for the privilege.
‘The fact that some people are so scared of Jersey becoming a proper democracy is proof of why we so desperately need this change.’
If given the go-ahead, at the 2022 election, each electoral district would be represented by five or six representatives.
In a further comment, Senator Mézec added: ‘I don’t have a problem with him having an opinion. But I do have a problem with people using lies to steer people to their point of view.
‘The banner says that the proposals are “designed to destroy the parish system”. They aren’t. They’re designed to bring equality and strengthen the parish system. His banner is a lie.’
The dates for the public meetings, which will start at 7.30pm and finish at 9pm, are:
- Monday 20 May – St Clement’s Parish Hall
- Tuesday 21 May – St John’s Parish Hall
- Wednesday 22nd May – Assembly Rooms, Town Hall, St Helier
- Thursday 23 May – Trinity Parish Hall
- Friday 24 May – Communicare, St Brelade
- Tuesday 28 May – St Lawrence Parish Hall
- Wednesday 29 May – St Ouen’s Parish Hall
- Thursday 30 May – St Martin’s Public Hall
- Friday 31 May – St Saviour’s Parish Hall
- Monday 3 June – Grouville Parish Hall
- Monday 10 June – St Mary’s Parish Hall
- Tuesday 11 June – St Peter’s Parish Hall