Monday, 22 August 2016

Are you sitting comfortably?

I was interested to hear reports today that Germany has issued new civil defence advice to citizens.  There is a summary at security-stockpiling . Sources differ slightly in the details of the leaked 60+ page report, but include up to 10 days water & food, blankets, cash, medicines, coal and wood, candles, torches, batteries and matches. It is also thought the government is setting up stocks of antibiotics, and dumps of petrol and oil round the country.

Given Germany is one of the strongest economies on Europe, and has very good air, rail and land links across the continent and beyond, this should be prompting some questions locally.  We have but one airport, and one port, no road or rail connectivity to the rest of the world.  We are far less self sufficient in physical material resources than Germany is. How much more precarious our position compared to Germany?  

Still think my one man campaign for a proper government food security strategy is irrelevant?

Friday, 19 August 2016

By election husting at St Lawrence

In a complete volte face from a couple of days ago it is now too wet to be working in the field.  So another chance to review a video recording of  hustings.  This time it is St Lawrence

By good fortune the first question was from my friend Nick Palmer. He asked 'I looked at your online manifestos and, bar two, I found no mention of your policy on climate change. Was this an oversight or do you consider it an unimportant side issue?'

As before I'll list the responses in the same order as on  the night.  Alvin  Aaron is no longer attending hustings so no answer is given.

SF        It is not clear what are the reasons for climate change.  She has been working with the Organic Community Garden at Le Marais.  Not doing gardening, just the administration!

M O'K B 'We have to protect the environment'. She has been talking to the chair of biodiversity.  We should do more with children in schools. We should engage finance industry on green finance.

GdeF    I take climate change very seriously it is a major global problem though our impact in the Channel Islands is very small. The renewable and marine energy efforts have stalled.  We have lots of rooves, little solar.  Is that Jersey Electricity's fault?

JY       Former chair of the Environment scrutiny panel. Oversaw a major report on renewables. Agreed by States but no action.  Wants to see utility scale renewables and become exemplar in electric vehicles.

MD     He is unhappy there is no Green candidate in the by election ! Brexit covers the issues such as fishing and pollution.  The last Island Plan stated we are signed up to 300 international agreements.  No one can elucidate what they are though. 

NLeC  Agreed with MD - have to intervene and push an agenda.

CM      It was in his 10 point manifesto. Effects are critical such as sea level rise. 2015 report was damning.  Have had no action.  Have to cut cars at least have more of them electric.  Tidal and wind power needed.  Clearly arises from human activity.  We will all be living in a desert, apart from those who are living under water.

SM      'Very fair question'. The 500 word manifesto focus is on things most pressing on voters minds. It is the greatest threat affecting humanity.  We should be self sufficient in generating energy, but States deficit prohibits investment.  Support public transport - stop  increasing bus fares to help get cars off the roads.

HR     We have 32,000 private cars for 100,000 population. Needs to reduce and look at electric vehicles and public transport.

SO      Parts of St Helier are blocked off. So many things we could do. Electric cars are expensive.

Quite why the 'greatest threat to humanity' isn't  important enough to appear in a manifesto, or why you have to have a 'green ' candidate to have such vital things considered is beyond me.  Perhaps if elected representatives and those aspiring to join their number took these issues seriously they might resonate with the electorate and we wouldn't have such a high electoral abstention rate? 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

An abandoned generation

It gets far too hot in the middle of the day for me to be working in the field.  So I took the opportunity to watch the first by election hustings over a long lunch. I wish I hadn't - it was unsavoury, unappetising and nearly made me wretch. I'm not referring to  the food.  The video is at St Saviour husting

I won't run you through a critique of all the opening 3 minute speeches.   I'll cut straight to the answers given to one very good question from the floor.  What are the three greatest challenges to Jersey over the next 20-30 years? 

I'll summarise the responses in the order candidates gave their replies.  There was a time limit to answer jointly two questions so some could not give three priorities.

M O'K B  Brexit, economy, education
AA           Economy . immigration (no third)
HR           Brexit, (no second, no third)
JY            Brexit, finance sector growth, population growth
SF            Brexit, banking industry, falling productivity
MD          Brexit (no second, no third)
CM          Diversify Economy, education, ageing population
NleC       Alternative for finance industry, Brexit, Inequality, Constitutional reform   (YES That is 4!)
SM          Culture of Complacency, Brexity, population
GdeF       Transport links, creative thinking (no third)
SO           Establishing a film commission , Brexit.

I'll happily accept population, and diversifying the economy is a tolerable answer, but as to the rest, I have to ask really, I mean really?   Brexit may not even happen.  If it does we cannot yet foresee the impacts or manner of it happening, it may even be beneficial.  Compared to the certain increasing challenges of climate change, food security, resource depletion, ecosystems collapse over the same timescale, I want to ask the candidates what f**king planet are you on?  It is certainly not mine! 

OK so you are not really internationalists, but what about local issues?  Does no one expect or hope for any major impact of the COI over the coming decades.  The evidence is there we  had kids in care abused over decades, but it is now just sweetness and light , all dealt with , is it? Justice?  Is there really no challenge or change required in our justice system over the coming decades? What about the galloping rate of science and technical change and the impact it will have - the surveillance and personal intrusion of having everything tracked and monitored?  Have we no ambition on renewable energy, self reliance for the coming decades? What about inclusion, participation, democracy itself? 

My overall assessment.  FAIL , the lot of them.  I'm bitterly disappointed in Sam Mezec and John Young who I had hoped might have a grasp on a few of these issues and be prepared to take them on.  The best prospect on those criteria based on the St Saviour hustings was Christian May.  He mentions climate change in his profile (as does Hugh Raymond). He talks of standing up the COM and power, but he uses all the CoM current buzz words and favoured topics (like ageing population and digital). When a One Nation Tory (as I believe he probably is) is your best bet you now things are pretty dire.

And as for my children's generation.   They have been abandoned by our aspirant politics it seems.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

It is all too personal

In an Island of just over 100,000 people officially, I guess I know about a thousand with some chance of remembering the name that goes with the face.  What does it say about our electoral system and its representativeness then that I personally know 8 of the 11 candidates nominated for the by-election tonight, and two others are somewhat familiar to me from previous elections.  I expect six of those would recognise me too.  Elections shouldn't be that personal, it really isn't a healthy sign.

Here are the candidates

Alvin Aaron
Nick Le Cornu
Mike Dun
Guy de Faye
Sarah Ferguson
Christian May
Sam Mezec
Stevie Ocean
Mary O'Keeffe-Burgher
Hugh Raymond
John Young 

Yes, I'm not one of them.  Yes, I was asked by a few people, but really what would standing achieve?  Without a detailed wide ranging and coherent thought out manifesto for government and an organisation  and some support by other elected members for that programme, nothing will happen. There are only 2 candidates on that list who from my knowledge have any grasp of the ecological and environmental issues, but I suspect neither will make it a major element of their election bid.  

Hustings as in number of are being hotly debated, but why I wonder.  In all my time campaigning in local, county and national election in the UK I never had a candidate hustings.  That only ever happened in student elections and in candidate selection meetings.  The format with more than a handful of candidates leaves no scope for debate , no means to challenge other candidates positions and policies.  Just like the vapid statements so often put out as manifestos, it reduces the whole affair to little more than a name recognition  exercise for the public.  I guess that suits those with dubious to shredded records to defend , or in our system not have to defend. 

I am not against having hustings.  I've done them and I think it is good the electorate have an opportunity to see the candidates and hear someething of them.  However it is to my mind inadequate and insufficient for the reasons given above.  

Friday, 29 July 2016

Must try harder...

I did a piece for ITV Channel News yesterday in response to an item the appeared on the Bailiwick Express site.   I believe it wasn't used.

The original piece was childcare recruitment jersey has serious image problem

I do not doubt they are having problems recruiting, but I am sceptical to say the least about the reason given.  We know other caring professions - nursing and teaching come to mind- where recruitment is also a problem. That indicates to me there is a systemic problem.  Further, I have seen no evidence of a properly conducted survey on the reasons recruitment is so difficult  in social work, let alone the results of any such survey.  

I have one other reason  why I am doubtful.  It is the nature of vocational work  like childcare.  People who have a vocation want to make a difference .  You do that by going where there is a problem or a need, as long as you feel you can change or improve things.  Well Jersey has a need, and any quick online search would confirm that.  It isn't a deterrent, if anything the opposite.

But my real anger is the  use of that tired  meme  the 'Image of Jersey'.   It has been used all along by those who wanted to refute the evidence of abuse in our care system, and by those who wanted to deny having a Committee of Inquiry. And it is the mindset that is at the heart of the problem.,  The moment someone in authority -a manger or a politician decides himself, or instructs a junior to prioritise the Image of Jersey there is a problem. The idea that it would be better to keep this quiet, not make an issue or a fuss, because it would look bad of the island, that is where the canker festers and the cover ups begin. It is the most rotten of mindsets.

I was reminded of a quote of Gandhi - first they ignore you , then they laugh at you , then they fight you , then you win.  Survivors in Jersey were ignored, their claims were ridiculed, they have continued to fight, so the next step....  It may take a long time.  You only have to look at  time it took for campaigners at Hillsborough or North Wales to see justice ( Indeed I am coming to the conclusion it will take the passing of a generation of vested interests before the real truth gets out.  Too late for far too many who suffered so much, and denying justice to many.

The piece that ITV did show:

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A consultation offer from the Borg.

If you have a mind to you can read the grand plans for the digital takeover of Jersey .  See  Digital Policy Framework  Helpfully they even tell you what questions you should consider and respond to.  My advice - dont' bother. There are much bigger better questions and issues then those you are invited to consider.

You might also wonder if it is worth your time.  As this press released item digital jersey and population office  demonstrates it has already been agreed that 30 licenses will be given to the digital sector ahead of any outcome of  the consultation. As they say in politics: never ask in public a question to which you do not already know the answer.   Where I would like to know is the research to demonstrate we do not have the skills and knowledge locally?  How does Digital Jersey  and the Population Office account for having highly skilled and experienced local software developers in the island working in other sectors ?  Why cannot it attract them (hint: it isn't about the money).

The policy document reminds me of the sort of think I used to read in the '90's working on AI systems and research.  Lots of overblown and politically unacceptable stuff from business and tech heads on what is possible, lots of big claims economically about transformation etc, but almost nothing on societal impact, ethics or principles. More of a sales and marketing pitch than a policy discussion  and certainly not a well rounded integrated piece.

How about a few quotes from the draft.

'Where will Jersey be in another 10 years?'  That is the only time frame I can see in the document.  It is not inappropriate to have a 10 year view, but tricky  - I'll come on to some the technological changes others expect to happen in the next ten years another day. See if you think some of these other quotes make sense on a ten year view, if  they are in fact acceptable at all.
“Digital technology will be the backbone of Jersey's economic activity”.   Bye-bye finance?

“Digital will be the default format for all economic activity”. Yes by default Jersey Royals will be exported digitally.  3D print your own Royals on demand , perhaps.   

How about page 7 " Government has responsibility to ensure every Islander has the skills they need to thrive in a digital economy."  Sound sensible to you?  How about if I rewrote it as Government has responsibility to ensure every Islander has the skills they need to thrive in a finance based economy  or Government has responsibility to ensure every Islander has the skills they need to thrive in a car based society." NO.

The centrally planned economy dictated from our authoritarian overlords doesn't stop at telling us what jobs we may work at.   Under government digital transformation we have 9. Develop and implement an effective Digital ID for all Islanders.
Yes under the new totally digital economy you will be uniquely identified.  Every move interaction and location will have the potential to be tracked, logged  and preserved by the government for what means?     You think they wont?  Not our nice friendly cuddly Government, surely! 

Try this then, they are thinking to collect your personal data to sell to private companies.  Truly.  
Make better use of government data for the benefit of the public and private sector: Alongside the direct advantages of moving government services online, Islanders will also benefit indirectly from the wealth of data these services will provide. This data will enable public officials to make better policy decisions, based on more detailed and up-to-date evidence. Furthermore, if this data could be made available to the private sector, the benefits could be multiplied. The public sector – both government and state owned companies – in Jersey collects a wealth of data that, if disseminated appropriately, has the potential to be a useful raw material for digital businesses in the Island.

I like the throw away comment, cited as a challenge " A small minority of Islanders still do not have access to the internet".  They will be complaining that using cash  undermines the digital economy next.  That is the choice people must have in an open society.  It may be very inconvenient  to Ministers perception of the Island as a business , but we are not all slaves or State employees. 

I have a different way of looking at these things.  I see computers/ IT /digital to be the servant of people, not the tools to trap, ensnare  and control them.  I think Government should be a tool of the people....

If you give up your freedom to really choose for a few paper token of fiat currency , you will end up with no individual identity, no personal choice beyond which part you would like to be in the great machine.  

Sunday, 26 June 2016

We can have our say , sort of.

There's a lot more to the arguments both ways over this if we're being serious.  But with so many constitutional issues  around we really ought to give some thought to this Facebook posting.

"There is an impish thought that came to me while I was directing traffic for the Sunset Concert yesterday. It just wont go away, so I'm going to put it on paper and see if that helps.

Quite a few people in Jersey were pretty peeved that we didn't have a vote in the recent referendum. Logical of course as we have never been in the EC/EU we cannot have a referendum to leave . The only way we could have a vote would be to have a referendum to join the EU ! What constitutional merriment that would be for the UK trying to leave. 

The main obstacle to us being in would be open borders. We are already densely populated. But the States population policy is such a dire failure even on their own targets would it actually make any difference? Worried about VAT, why? - we already have it effectively called GST. If Luxembourg and Gibraltar can survive in we surely could too.

Membership would get rid of the discriminatory passport stamp for Islanders, would allow farmers to claim agriculture subsidies. We might even be able to get help for projects like rebuilding sea defences and putting in solar and tidal power. Our finance and local banks would keep passporting rights so they could trade around Europe when UK entities might not when they leave.

In effect we flip the whole relationship to retain a degree of distinctiveness and differentiation from the UK. Jersey and the other Crown dependencies have always thrived on being the same but different.

So there it is. The proposition - Jersey should seek formal membership of the European Union."