A Week in Politics

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Sadly, the losing party to the wager — who, I regret, has declined to be named for the purposes of this column — is a little slow in paying up. I’m about eight pints away from final closure, but that’s not the point.

The point is this: if you’re lucky enough to bump into someone willing to bet you 50 pints of anything on this week’s rescindment getting approved, take it.

Deputy Daniel Wimberley’s proposition isn’t just a long shot — it’s telescopic. That’s not to say he’s wasting his time, or anyone else’s — he made an election pledge and he’s sticking to it.

Besides which, the incinerator contract (will people please stop referring to it as an energy-from-waste-plant — we’re not that stupid) was a big deal at election time, and it’s a big deal still to people who live in St Helier No 1 and to the green lobby.

The estimated cost of £106m (and rising, thanks to the sterling/euro rate) is epic. It works out at two years GST or the whole annual bud-get for the Education Department.

The size of the plant adds fuel to the fire of those who think that ministers are on to a secret agenda of increasing the population to 100,000, and there are legitimate concerns about whether we might come up with some better, more insightful and greener way of dealing with our waste than just setting fire to it.

But the problems attached to the proposition are insurmountable.

Effectively giving away £50m by cancelling the contract — which is what Transport say would happen — would be lunacy. It would also mean, despite what anyone says, keeping the Bellozanne plant open even longer past its shelf life and pumping out whatever it pumps into a residential part of town.

Those two factors put the debate long past the point of raising alternatives to incineration or finding alternative sites. Should Transport be doing more with poisonous recyclables like tyres and batteries than burning them? Sure — 100%.

Is the cost of the plant ridiculous? Again, yep. But anyone who votes against this proposition would vote against just about anything with a ministerial tag on it. That’s not the worst crime in the world: there are a fair few in the States who would vote in favour of whatever the Council of Ministers came up with.

This debate, if it serves no other purpose, will put down a marker. It’ll give a pretty good indication of the balance of the new House.

TO quote, ahem, Week in Politics, 24 November 2008 . . . ‘I’d stick a fair bit on yet another crack at the old should-ministers-get-more-loot chestnut.’ Just call me Nostradamus.

Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf dug up this mouldiest of old chestnuts just the other day at the Senior Citizens Association.

Without overstressing the point, and without being unnecessarily harsh on the Senator, this is the kind of bizarre rubbish that gives nonsense a bad name.

It’s just not true that all ministers work harder than other Members. Most do, sure, but not all of them.

The argument that some Members (read ministers) should be paid more because they hold more responsibility is slightly more appealing, but it turns out to be utter tosh as well.

Here’s why. When was the last time you saw, or heard, any States Member take responsibility for anything that had gone wrong? How can you reward someone for responsibility when they don’t take it?

On a similar note, it’s interesting to see St Peter Constable John Refault picking up the suggestion by Senator Ozouf and Social Security Minister Ian Gorst that States Members should take a pay freeze.

Nice. Doesn’t mean a lot, but it makes a symbolic point, what with States Members being entitled to a month’s resettlement pay, unlike, say, Woolworths staff. This should sail through the Chamber (he wrote, giggling knowingly).

I’VE been accused by a colleague of being a bit hard on the Council of Ministers recently, so let’s celebrate something awesome about the new bosses.

Last week I met two of the new ministers for a catch-up and a chinwag. Not in a dark shadowy corridor, not in a fancy restaurant, not in a room surrounded by press officers and civil servants. I met one for a bacon roll, and another for a beer. Like actual real people. This is a step in the right direction.

Right, I leave the Island for ten days — ten days — and what happens? I get back and Freddie Cohen has become the acting Chief Minister. Freddie Cohen. The one who, it turned out, hadn’t read the Planning and Building Law until a year into taking over as Environment Minister.

What. The. Hell. Is. Going. On. With. You. People? I can’t leave you alone for two minutes, can I?

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