Thursday, 6 August 2009

Catching Up

So many subjects to write about . . . ., so why not write about them all? There's nothing quite like excess, after all.

Jersey - is two places. Firstly, it is a small island with beautiful scenery, an interesting history and population mix and a low crime rate. Secondly, it is an international finance centre. Which one is more powerful? It's the one with all the power (money). The first Jersey has become a peripheral community to the second.

Spending time at Fort Regent recently, everywhere I turned were the results of the precedence of Jersey no2. Where there had once been a swimming pool, playground, dodgems, etc, now there is nothing. Isn't that strange, bearing in mind that since the 1970s, income has grown and population has grown? But then what use is all that to the finance centre?

This drift away from residents' needs towards the servicing of international business goes unremarked in the local media. But to give credit where it's due: Christine Herbert stands alone at the JEP as an investigative journalist. Marrett-Crosby is diplomatic and respectful on the radio phone-in. Maybe loads of them are great, but with limited time to look and listen, that's all I've noticed. BBC Radio Jersey has one major purpose as far as I'm concerned and that is as a reminder to tune in to Radio 4 instead. I often start to listen to it and it doesn't tend to be long before I can stand it no more. Just off the top of my head an example of their irritatingly middle-classness I remember concerns a programme they were running aiming to help people manage their money. You know the sort of thing, where rich people advise poor people to spend less. Anyway, before the programme started, a couple of the presenters mentioned credit cards. They smugly discussed how they had no problems themselves with credit card debt because they did not believe in them. Well, we do not all have a trust fund to call upon. Credit cards, as awful as they are, provide loans to the ordinary person. Accordingly, I should mould myself on the Radio Jersey presenter, and when my baby was ill and needed an operation in London, I should have told my two year old that she could not come with me because "I do not believe in credit cards". Those were the only excess funds available in an emergency. As for the JEP, it often disgusts me. It appears to have a long running campaign against young people. I don't expect to see the word "thug" or similar there without "teenage" in front, even though many violent crimes are committed by people ten or twenty years older. They publish comment which alludes to young people being "animals". Secondly, many times they have articles about Ministers' plans, which are totally and absolutely positive. No critical comment whatsoever, just a big JEP photo and a lot of twaddle about how we'll all be much better off with these lovely new policies.

As a way to forget it all, I recommend watching back to back "Prison Break". Great fun.

Now, as to Stuart Syvret's predicament. I have read the States Members' code of conduct. I can't find it now. But I do remember that there is an over-riding principle, more important then politeness, etc, and that is a States Member can break the rules in the code of conduct if it is in the interests of the public. I think it is an actual requirement that a States Member must act in the best interest of the public. Would that not exonerate Stuart from the data protection charges, and also from the criticism/censure/whatever from the other States Members? I was going to write a lot about this politeness gumph, but to put it briefly, Jersey is about 400 years behind England. Politeness was the big topic in England then.

As to the need for change in Jersey's legal system, who doesn't want the legal aid system to change? Perhaps millionaire States Members who don't give a toss about whether it's fair and right to push the whole thing on to the legal profession, and whether justice is attainable by the ordinary person. Legal aid, in my experience, is a lottery. I once won the jackpot, being assigned Advocate Anthony Messervy, who was very professional, gave his time happily (about 3 or 4 meetings) and charged a reasonable amount. Another time I was assigned Bailhache Labesse. I never had a face-to-face meeting with anyone, never got to speak to an advocate, even on the phone, was made to feel like dirt in the reception - I was asked to sit in a special (not too noticeable) place as I was on legal aid and finally was advised to drop my case. For this I was charged several hundred pounds.

And finally, I heard some of the swearing-in (or whatever it's called) of the new Bailiff, Michael Birt. Something like that is a great milestone in a person's life and despite the criticisms regarding past decisions he has made, I wanted to feel good about it. After all, to reach that position must take a fair amount of intelligence, hard work, charm, etc, but when he spoke about how his father had always wanted him to become Bailiff, I got an uneasy feeling, that he is playing a role. He is now "Bailiff". He has got there. But what we need is someone ready to embrace a challenge, to face change and demand justice and what I think we may have got is someone who is playing a part.


Anonymous said...

From someone far away who found this site through researching your Senator Stuart Syvret's political persecution, I must say this is a joy to read. As far as I can find, you are the first to point out the legal OBLIGATION to do what is in the greater public interest. It seems this argument should make make Senator Syvret's case even stronger. Well done.

ratleskutle said...

Aw, thanks [Ratleskutle wipes paw across brow, leans back in creaking office chair, reaching for pipe]

channelislandsauthor said...

The JEP confounds me. I have just published an historical novel about the Jersey occupation, War on the Margins, in the UK, and the Post declined to review it. Is history inimical to international finance?

Libby Cone

ratleskutle said...

Libby, did they give a reason for not reviewing?

There is a determination among the powerful here to "not rock the boat", they are scared of anything that casts Jersey in an unwelcome spotlight and that might make this place seem a little less secure for hoarding a huge stash of money. Also, following the Occupation, once the German soldiers had left, there was not a great change in people in power or government generally, so I suppose you could say that there has been an unbroken chain. What we have now has grown from then, if you see what I mean. Another reason perhaps for reluctance to look at an outsider's perspective.

channelislandsauthor said...

My publisher didn't say, but I'm sure the embarrassment over the past and the urge to paper it over was the reason. I did use a number of documents from the Archive that may not cast the island government in the best light, but what country can say they were exemplary? The US imprisoned US citizens of Japanese descent (not to mention dropping the A-bomb), everybody bombed civilians, the Russians savaged the conquered Germans. I do highlight the contribution to the Resistance made by the St. Brelade residents Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, well-known (at the time) Surrealist artists who wound up in military prison in St. Helier for their Resistance propaganda activities. They feature much more prominently than any government people, and my publisher emphasized that as well, but JEP wasn't interested. I have to say, I made two trips to Jersey for my research (the second one with my husband), and I found the island completely lovely and the people very nice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ratleskutle,
Glad to see you posting again. And a good one too.

1204 has a lot to answer for. Not rocking the boat is certainly ingrained in the Jersey psyche. But rocking the boat is what got us advances like realising the universe does not revolve around the earth.


ratleskutle said...

thankyou st ouennais. i have lots of things to post but not enough time. right now i want to write about hamptonne and jersey heritage generally.
libby, in answer to your query, 1204 is the date when jersey established its relationship with england, allowing it to govern itself, not subject to parliament but to the monarch instead.

Anonymous said...

do some research on what the 'law'
defines as 'public' and 'private'

you may be surprised

speaking for myself I exist in the private not the public