A Week in Politics

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I’m with him on that: it’s smelly, disgusting to watch, the quality of what goes in is shocking and it leaves you faintly disappointed in yourself – and sausage factories aren’t very nice either.

So I’m afraid that with the greatest of respect, I have to disagree with Deputy Roy Le Hérissier about televising the States or streaming the debates on the internet.

Given that there’s normally two or three people watching from the public gallery, occasionally rising to about a dozen if the debate is a really serious one, I have a sneaking feeling that no one’s interested.

And I have a further sneaking feeling that even if anyone does log on and watch, they’ll only ever do it the once.

My third and final sneaking feeling on the subject is that it will not do wonders for voter turnout.

ON to brighter and more encouraging news…Senator Ian Le Marquand rules, and that’s it. No discussion necessary, no debate required, no argument possible.

There should be statues of him on street corners, school children should sing songs about him every morning, and his face should be on money.

If that sounds a little biased, well, so be it. I don’t care. Because everything that I thought that I wanted from politicians turned out to be nonsense. Leadership, honesty, ability, humility – over rated, all of them.

What it turns out I wanted all along was a politician who would explain to the whole Island in simple legal steps how to take car clampers to the cleaners.

Senator Le Marquand, we need more of this. Next week I want to know how to sue somebody else. Let’s start with traffic wardens, UEFA referees or tax collectors.

STAYING with Senator Le Marquand, here’s a vaguely interesting fact about him.

He was the first person since 1993 to top the Senatorial poll without getting more votes than the Millennium Town Park petition got signatures.

In 1997, 14,404 Islanders signed the petition demanding the new park on the Gas Place and Talman sites.

Only Senatorial poll-toppers get more votes than that: Stuart Syvret has twice in 2005 and 1999, Philip Ozouf did in 2002, Pierre Horsfall did in 1996 and Vernon Tomes did in 1993. In 2008, Ian Le Marquand polled 14,238.

So, that’s enough votes to put somebody in ministerial office and give them a quarter of a million pounds over six years. It’s also more votes than all but four Jersey politicians have got in any election since 1993 – but it’s not enough to build a park.

Which leads me to this, all but two of the bids for funds from the States economic stimulus package are by States departments.

There’s £44m in the pot for projects that meet the three T’s targets: temporary, targeted and timely.

The bids include making up for long-neglected maintenance of social housing and improving mental health wards, ie, spending that the departments really should have done themselves, but never mind that for now.

So if those public sector projects are eligible for funding, how’s about the Millennium Town Park?

It’s temporary – the work will not go on forever.

It’s targeted – the money will go to construction and landscaping firms who are struggling with the recession.

And timely? It’s the Millennium Town Park. It’s now 2009.

AND finally, does anyone believe, really believe, that Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur’s agreement to meet union leaders over approved cuts will accomplish anything?

To recap, the union leaders demanded showdown talks over the Business Plan cuts and threatened as yet undefined ‘collective industrial action’.

Senator Le Sueur agreed to listen to what they had to say, but said that they would have to hear him out about the need to rein in spending.

Even before you take account of Senator Le Sueur’s previous reaction to a 19,209-signature petition against GST – the short version would be ‘I don’t care if 100,000 people sign it’ – there’s not a lot of evidence that either side is seriously entering into the spirit of negotiation.

Senator Le Sueur is adamant that cuts have to be made and isn’t going to budge. The unions are equally adamant that they don’t and they’re not going to budge either.

We all know where this is headed.

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