Thursday, 15 October 2015

One Year On - My 'Report Card'

So it's been exactly one year since those who came out to vote in St Helier No. 2 district put their faith in me to serve out a full term in office, just a few months after offering me a trial run after the March by-election.

Although it's been one hell of a learning curve and a (mostly) enjoyable experience on a personal level for me, I believe that this has been the worst year for Jersey politics in a very long time.

The one thing I can't stand in politics is people who break their promises and just say whatever they think the person listening to wants to hear.

The past year has already shown that some candidates elected never meant a word of what they said and for them the political office is merely about their personal aspirations and not about actually playing a part in the democratic process to further the causes that the community are concerned about.

I won't name them but it's obvious who they are. To those who voted for them and are now disappointed I say - don't become disillusioned. Angry, yes, but not disillusioned. Your vote is your weapon and the experience of this States Assembly should motivate you to wield it differently next time round.

Those who stood for senior positions in the States had a very clear and effective election plan and it was this - lie and prevaricate as much as possible.

You can still find most of their "manifestos" online and can see that they contain virtually no mention whatsoever of the plans that they must have had in store since well before the election.

When you have been in government for 3 years and know that you are facing a forecast blackhole of £145m, you know exactly what the score is and you know what the direction will be to solve it. Yet not one of these people decided to put it in their manifesto what their plan would be.

There was no mention in any of them of the £45m worth of tax rises and userpays charges. There was no mention of £10m of cuts to benefits for the most vulnerable Islanders. There was no mention of the hundreds of people who they intended to sack.

I can only think of a few commitments which were actually made.

One was Andrew Green's commitment that if he was made Health Minister he would commit to reviewing the options for a site for a new hospital in the first 100 days. It's now almost 365 days and we are still waiting.

Senator Ozouf made the "1,001 Days Manifesto" one of his pledges. So when Reform Jersey lodged a proposition to put that commitment in the government's Strategic Plan document, he and his colleagues all voted against it.

Today one former candidate has suggested that members should do a report card to show their progress in achieving what they had set out in their manifestos. So here is my attempt.

Both of my election manifestos are available by clicking on the "Election History" tab at the top of this page.

Since my elections were so close together I will refer to both.

My Report Card -

From my manifestos

"If elected, I will be active from day one, looking out for your interests".

Promise kept. Immediately after being elected I was contributing to States debates. I lodged a question for my first sitting (some members have never asked questions at all), I gave my maiden speech in my first sitting (some members took years to make theirs) and my first proposition was lodged within a few weeks of being elected. Being a States Member is a privilege and I have used my position to attempt to advance the causes I was elected to pursue.

On the States paying Parish Rates - "The Treasury Minister has committed to bringing forward a proposition to achieve this. If he does not fulfill this promise I will lodge it instead"

As other members have lodged propositions to achieve this it was not necessary for me to do it myself, but I have supported every single one.

"I will propose that the Chief Minister is directly elected by the public".

Promise kept. I lodged a proposition to this effect just weeks after being elected. Sadly a majority of States Members voted against me.

"I/Reform Jersey will oppose any attempt to increase GST and support any measure to remove it from food and utility bills".

Promise kept. Shortly before the general election Deputy Tadier (on behalf of Reform Jersey) lodged a proposition to remove GST from utility bills which we supported. However it was a majority of States Members (many of whom had previously promised to support removing GST from food and utility bills) voted against it.

"We support the introduction of a 'Living Wage', higher than the minimum wage, enough for someone to live off without having to rely on Income Support"

Promise kept. We have previous proposed increasing the minimum wage to a higher level than the government proposed, and it is my intention to see us do this again when the next opportunity arises.

"I will oppose cuts to public services that will hurt the vulnerable and those on low incomes".

Promise kept. I have consistently done this at every single opportunity and have lodged my own propositions in support of this. Most recently I opposed every single part of the Medium Term Financial Plan and supported all amendments designed to make it more progressive.

"I will oppose the proposed development at Gas Place. Instead, I support extending the Millennium Park with an underground car park".

Promise kept. I have attended and spoken at planning application hearings on this subject and have supported every proposition in the States to prevent the development from going ahead and to commit the States to extending the park over the site.

From Save Our Shoreline's pre-election questionnaire -

(On the Esplanade development)

"I am skeptical of the need for such a drastic development and the risk of the States taking on such a large project without any certainty about secured tenants for the offices etc."

No promise made, but I voted in the States to halt the development on these exact bases.

Whether you agree or disagree with my politics and my policies, at least they are clear and I have stuck to them. That must surely be worth much more than somebody who stands for nothing and achieves even less.

Opposition is frustrating because you don't have the power to enact what you said you would, the only thing you can do is vote according to those promises and hope the rest of the States does the same. Sadly this isn't the case in Jersey. The only possible solution is to pledge to support my Reform Jersey running mates in the 2018 election to stand on a joint platform that we have a clear track record of sticking to.