CHIEF MINISTER’S DEPARTMENT

WHAT WE WANT

“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

We believe that the most important responsibility of any Government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens and then work ceaselessly to protect and increase those rights and freedoms, not seek endless excuses to curtail them.

We believe that Government should be as big as necessary to provide only the most essential public goods and that a happy, well ordered and prosperous society is achieved through the exercise of the maximum degree of free choice out with the scope and coercion of the dead hand of the State.

 

Political Reform

We believe that the Chief Minister’s department should get fully behind and take a very public lead on political reform in Jersey. We believe, the current system; Cabinet Government under a Chief Minister, beginning with Frank Walker OBE, in 2005 has been an unmitigated disaster for democracy in the Island and most importantly for the people of Jersey, though undoubtedly a boon for a small group of political elites and unelected insiders.

We believe that Cabinet Government has concentrated power in the hands of a tiny cabal, mostly unelected and unrepresentative, who have then used this power to marginalise the backbench members of The States and ride roughshod over the wishes of the people. This needs to end and an alternative must be found, one which hands power back to the people as a matter of urgency.

There are many different ways of doing this. Implementing “Swiss-style” direct democracy is one, declaring an end to this decade long experiment and reverting to the consensus Government which preceded it is another, as is looking at how our friends and neighbours in Guernsey do things i.e. Ministers with Committees. The larger pool of people involved in the decision making process may slow things down slightly, but the democratic dividend would be worth it.

We further believe in the decentralisation of power, and wherever possible, power should be devolved via the principle of subsidiarity to the most local level consistent with any solution. In Jersey’s case the Parish always was well placed to deal with many community issues which have now been subsumed by central Government. We see no value to the Jersey people in this and would see a return of power to the Parish Halls as a matter of urgency.

We believe there are options which would serve the people of Jersey better than the current system and we believe these should be investigated as a matter of urgency.

We believe, at the minimum, political reform should include the following:

We believe that people are best placed to judge how to organise their own lives and to understand how the societies and communities in which they live and work, work best for them. We are not afraid of the will of the people. We therefore, believe in citizens’ initiatives and in particular the use of referendums. We would propose that a minimum of two citizens’ initiatives per term of Government (decided by public ballot) be put to a referendum of the people at the same time as the next election in the cycle to minimise cost.

We believe in implementing a system of recall, enabling voters to remove poorly performing politicians, whether these are Connetables, Deputies or Senators.

We believe in open confirmation hearings for all appointments of senior civil servants, heads of QUANGOs and all other partly or wholly publicly funded bodies.

Written Constitution

We believe that Jersey would be well served by adopting a written Constitution. Such a document, as per the Second Interim Report of the Constitution Review Group would set out the basic institutions of government (i.e. Head of State and government, legislature, executive and judiciary) and would have the power to establish various Commissions including a Judicial Appointments Commission, but would leave it to legislation to supply other details.

Bill of Rights

We believe that Jersey would be equally well served by a Bill of Rights identifying and protecting the basic human rights accorded to each individual citizen including an American style 1st Amendment provision protecting, particularly; the rights to Free Speech, a Free press, as well as Freedoms of Expression and Assembly.

We believe that the current drift of States of Jersey legislation, particularly around freedoms of speech, opinion and expression is worryingly authoritarian. This trend needs to be halted and reversed or those core civil and political rights should be protected absolutely in Law.

Openness and Transparency

We believe that as part of a significant package of political reforms the cost of Politics and of Government as a whole should be critically assessed and cut radically. We believe the number and make-up of the States should be looked at with a view to reducing cost.

We believe that where possible states Departments should be merged to save on personnel and premises costs.

We believe that Departmental costs should be cut where they do not deliver real value for money to the people of Jersey.

We believe the use and cost of unelected and unaccountable advisers has got completely out of hand. At the very least we believe transparency (in all but the most absolutely delicate situations of commercial sensitivity), should be the standard and not the exception.

We believe that in an era of high definition video conferencing and high speed internet communications the occasions where expensive overseas trips to conferences and meetings must be taken are few and far between.

We believe that ending tax-payer funded, overseas junketing and non-essential ‘fact-finding’ missions is a priority. Overseas missions should only be undertaken where there is a direct and demonstrable benefit to the people of the Island by the physical attendance of politicians, civil servants, and their advisers. All such expenditure should be publicly audited and scrutinised.

We believe that all States Members, advisers and Civil Servants should be prevented from claiming expenses that are not incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of their duties.

Leading on Poverty

We believe that Jersey, being one of the most prosperous and economically vibrant communities in the World should be ashamed of every food bank and every instance where a Jersey person is facing the very real prospect of homelessness in their own community.

It was reported in September of 2015 that Jersey had the best performing economy in Europe. Since then the economy has improved further. We now have the largest ever workforce, wages are outstripping inflation and the private sector is providing more and more jobs, as it should. Congratulations must go to Senator Farnham on Economic Development, though we do not agree with his embrace of zero-hours contracts which we see as largely unnecessary, damaging and in some cases an abusive business practice. Whilst we believe in laissez-faire free market economics and a reduction in regulation and red tape for business, we do not believe this should be achieved by any means necessary.

We believe the Chief Minister’s office acting as a People’s Champion should lead the fight against poverty in Jersey.

We believe that the role and function of a Chief Minister, in any reformed States of Jersey should be that of “Minister for the People” a People’s Champion dedicated to placing the people at the very heart of the Government which is supposed to serve them.