Reform Jersey
Reform Jersey

I admit that I am nervous about the coming months and years. Not just because of the political decisions made in the UK and further afield. But because of the significant decisions we have to make in the coming months here in Jersey.

In the first half of this year, we will be asked to make a decision on one of the most important changes for the future of Jersey. And in this case, I do not mean the hospital. I refer to the vote on electoral reform. The proposition is here. It is due to be debated on 4th February 2020. 

So why do I see this as so important? Put simply. It creates an equal representation for all Jersey voters. At present, we do not have this. Some votes have more value than others. This is undemocratic. And as such, we must change our voting structure. 

I urge you to read this proposition. And to get anyone else you can to do the same. 

I will be supporting this change for a number of reasons. As already mentioned, it redresses the imbalance we currently have in voter equity. Put simply, some votes hold greater weight than others. For example, there is one parish with 1 representative for every 800 voters. Whereas another has 1 representative for every 3000 voters. This cannot continue. 

One of the arguments against this change is that it will destroy the parish system. I do not believe this to be the case. The parish hall will still exist, as will the constable of the parish. Parish assemblies will still happen. Parish events will still go on and remain integral to our communities. The battle of flowers will still be a proud parish competition. 

But there is more to this. I believe this change will strengthen the parishes. It will allow the constable to focus on the parish and enable a strengthened relationship with the parish deputies. I will say that this exists in St Helier and is allowing meaningful dialogue that strengthens our representation. 

I recognise the concerns of deputies in the proposed new constituencies about being part of a larger area and perhaps losing the local parish connection. But that is the role they have to develop within the structure so that this does not happen. We cannot allow a continued disenfranchisement of so many just because roles may change. 

And this links to the concerns over constituents wanting a representative from their parish. It is the quality of the representation that must take priority. And it is up to candidates to convince the constituents as they fight the election. Remember that this change will make uncontested seats much less likely. This can only be a good step. 

And as for the idea that the constables need to be in the assembly. They can stand for election and continue their dual role. 

So. We face a huge decision. One that gives the opportunity to move our democracy forward and give the real hope that more will vote. More will engage in politics. And our government is more representative of our population. Either that, or continued inequity of vote, voter apathy and too many uncontested elections. 

If you agree. Contact your Deputy, Senator and Constable to tell them. 

Until next time.