Tuesday, 17 November 2015

"Our failing government system" unedited letter to the JEP

The unedited version of my latest letter to the JEP on our failing government system -

As I read the JEP coverage of Senator Maclean’s new idea to tax foreign companies trading in Jersey I couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. Haven’t we been here before?

I remember in September 2008, when I was 17 years old, sitting in the hall at Hautlieu School for the senatorial hustings hearing Alan Maclean and the other ministers giving exactly the same platitudes they are giving today. 7 years and 3 elections later and we are still not an inch closer to a solution to our tax problem. In fact, things have steadily gotten much worse under these ministers’ leadership.

How long are Islanders prepared to put up with election after election of candidates coming forward with all sorts of nice statements like “I’ll find a way to tax foreign companies”, “I’ll support moves to take GST off of food” or “I’ll oppose the development on the Esplanade” only for those candidates to break every one of those promises and expect to get re-elected 3 years later by just repeating the same lines again and hope the public have forgotten all about it?

Sadly this is what inevitably happens when we have a system of so-called “independent” candidates who can get away with simply saying whatever it takes to get elected, then go ahead and do whatever they wanted anyway.

Deputy Vallois made it clear when she resigned that she doesn’t believe the ministerial system can work without party politics, and she is absolutely right.

Some who don’t like the idea of parties might therefore suggest that we go back to the committee system. But of course the problem there is that it was the committee system that dreamt up the 0/10 tax system which has caused this £145m black hole in the first place!

Whatever your views are on Reform Jersey’s particular brand of politics, it is clear that the Ian Gorst-led government is failing this Island and has been dishonest at every step of the way. Islanders who are more ideologically aligned with Gorst’s brand of conservatism (as opposed to Reform Jersey’s social democracy) should demand better from these people.

We need a system where competing visions for the Island contest power with comprehensive packages that have been subject to consultation before the election and which they are ready to just get on with and implement if they are elected to government. We spend far too much time talking and not enough time doing. Full party politics would streamline our government system and produce better results.

Gibraltar is currently having a general election where the main parties have produced manifestos of over 50 pages, analysing every detail of the current government’s record and providing all the minutia for their plan for the next 4 years. The best vision will win and Gibraltarians will get what they voted for.

If a rock with only 30,000 people can do it, Jersey with 100,000 people can do it even better!

Deputy Sam Mezec, Chairman of Reform Jersey