Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Don't talk to me about....

Today I had one of those uncommon confluences of seemingly disparate items that spurred me into writing this piece. Oddly it started with me wanting to post something in agreement with a short paragraph in the speech CM Gorst gave to the IoD on the 8th December. You can read the entire item at

The excerpt that caught me eye was paragraph/sentence 7 “Globally,  the population is increasing, economic power is shifting and concerns are growing over climate change and future food, energy and water security “. I concur. I said so repeatedly on the senatorial election hustings in 2008 and especially in 2011. In politics as in investing there is a world of difference between being right and being right on time. Nevertheless it has to be said the CM has grasped something very important. The question is what we do about it? But that is not where I want to go today.

Annually we have a social survey in the Island. It one of our few good sources of opinion in that it takes a relatively large sample, meaning the results should be pretty reliable. The latest one is out now at Dismay hardly describes my feelings on seeing the chart at figure 6.4 :

If 60% do not think they have much if any influence over Jersey, who does have influence? Is it any wonder our election turnouts are so embarrassingly low? I do not propose to go into any detail about solutions here, but I will give a couple of exemplars as to the nature of the problem.

Recently the JEP have been running pieces on what various States members have achieved in their year since the elections. Again I'll eschew the opportunity for some humour at their expense. I want to go back the senatorial hustings at the RJAHS. Everyone of the successful candidates said they supported local organic growing when pressed, except arguably the now Chief Minister. So what have they done, these independent candidates? Has any of them bought a proposition, or even questions on the organic sector and its obvious decline locally?? Has any of them written to organic farmers to find out what is needed? Have they been in contact with the Jersey Organic Association about the problems? I can be pretty confident the answer is no, they have not actually done anything conspicuous. So what was the value of those repeated pledges at the hustings?

It was in trying to post a response (positively!) on twitter about the Chief Minister's speech I mentioned above that I discovered the Assistant Minister for digital etc had blocked me. I was somewhat surprised – I have been following him on twitter a number of years, and yes I do challenge some things he posts, but equally I often retweet his occasional blog posts too. For those who don't know twitter, it allows one to post short items and to choose who to follow ie whose postings you get to see. You can block someone from seeing your posts. The only reason I can see for doing that rather than simply unfollowing is to stop them being able to respond to your posts.

If I had to guess I would say the issue arose from a comment I made on another site about the senators recent posting on innovation see .  He had my hackles up before the end of the first sentence “Innovation is about dreaming up great ideas that change the world “ Simply not so, on so many counts. The piece is written from a very narrow and partial view of what innovation is and what it delivers. 

Perhaps the assistant minister knows more about it than I having spent less than a year in office, but it seems unlikely. I was there at the first AI blossoming, I worked for commercial research groups and centres for several years as the programme coordinator of the postgraduate training partnership with Cranfield University. I've been involved in patent battles (proving prior art), two trade sales of tech businesses I part owned, I was even an external supervisor for a couple of PhD students (one on multidimensional project management representation, the other on the application of AI to water asset management). While writing up my own thesis I was engaged as one of two people to set up and run what was them the largest medial trial database in Europe (100,000 cohort colorectal cancer study). My mate Dave and I set up one of the first commercial web sites in the UK, to support our SF and book trading business, before E-bay existed and EPOS software was available to us. Oh yes and I managed and co-owned a software house that grew in 5 years from a 4 person team to being bought out by one of our customers for several million pounds. That's just the software side for starters.

Really I am not bothered that the assistant minister blocks me. There are plenty of people about who will willingly tell him want he wants to hear. What scientists learn early on is that it is your critics and detractors that are your best friends in getting to the truth, the best explanation/model/solution.  Sycophants are of no assistance

Software projects can fail on the misplacement of a single punctuation mark in hundreds of lines of code. (It makes writing for people such a delight, thye being much more forgiving of my typing !) Miss-stated requirements and unacknowledged assumptions are usually catastrophic to projects. Opinion and theory count for little against delivering something that works. My best advice to anyone dealing with innovation and digital work is that practitioners are well accustomed to hearing & ignoring B/S and bluster. If you don't know your stuff, you'd be best to say nothing at all.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Unrequited Correspondence

Another in an occasional series of correspondence to States of Jersey ministers.  I know this one was delivered as I got an 'out of office' reply.  I'm not sure how long the Senator was away, but I'm sure he will have been back at his desk at some point in the intervening 4 months.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Farming conference preparation

I will be walking across to Trinity today to attend the Farming conference.  Some of us are intending to ask some questions.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Unrequited Correspondence

I have a few items of correspondence that have lain unacknowledged or unanswered.

Here's the first in what might turn in to a long running series.  It is to the Environment Minister regarding the woefully late Rural Economy Strategy.  Its current status - unacknowledged, though I know from a recent conversation with another person that it was received.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Not what it says on the tin.

One of the 'features' of our system of government in Jersey is that it is small, flexible, agile. That was the mantra we heard when justifying cutting the number of senators from 12 to 8. No matter that in the opinion polls a few years earlier retaining the Island wide mandate was the most popular option. Notably, least popular– moving to a single election day -was the one that the States implemented. Anyway last Thursday George Osborne presented the UK government budget in parliament. The election had been on May the 7th. We had or elections on October 15th 2014, but still we do not have the medium term plan – in effect our financial plans? Where is the agile, efficient decision making there?

I was intrigued to read that an “acute shortage” of staff for mid-level positions in finance companies means that ministers have to drop restrictions on bringing in staff from overseas. One wonders where those former mid-level staff who were previously employed have gone. It also somewhat undermines the case for the new Finance Centre. If finance companies have not invested in training up staff it suggests they do not see a particularly bright future. Are we to expect the Finance Centre is to be filled by incoming companies and staff? The main rationale for the J-cat system was to ensure we have trained up locals to do exactly these roles. It seems that failed and the new employment and housing set up is no better. No wonder then the Planning and Environment Minister is calling for more empty offices to be turned into flats. empty offices should be converted to flats.

If you are inclined you can download the minutes of States sittings from the web site at If you take the pdf download option you can then search it for items. In this case I did for the sitting of the 23rd June. In 80 pages there is not a single mention of climate change, pollution, the WHO news that glyphosate if likely a carcinogen, fishing, farming, food. Even the word quality only gets one mention in reference to low-quality schools, and environment only appears as part of Planning and Environment Minister title. There are pages on car parks however.

Pressing ahead with waterfront developments planning for more people, where to put more cars and even a sunken road while the latest news, from 2 different teams is that we are pretty much guaranteed 10 feet of sea level rise. All is suborned to the short term growth addiction. Getting it strategically wrong and doing so in the most inefficient manner conceivable. It makes you weep

Sunday, 7 June 2015

London survivor lobby

 I cannot go to this.  Some interesting names listed though.
Survivors Return to Parliament: June 23rd 1pm-5pm

WhiteFlowers “Child Abuse: Action & Justice Now” Lobby of Parliament
Book asap at

Speakers Include –
John Mann MP
Michael Mansfield QC)
Tom Lloyd (ex-Chief Constable, Cambridgeshire Police)
Nigel O’Mara (East Midlands Survivors)
Delma Hughes (co-Founder Care Leavers Association)
Muhammad Al Hussaini (Church Reform Group)
Liz Davies (whistleblower)
Georgina Halford Hall (Whistleblowers UK)
Phil Shiner (Public Interest Lawyers)
Sam Stein QC
Chris Tuck (Survivors of Abuse)
Terri Thatcher (Secondary Survivor)

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Democracy Rally Press Release.

'Democracy Rally'

Deputy Montfort Tadier has said that, now more than ever, Democracy in Jersey is under threat and is asking for all people across the island, and across the political divide, who value and expect the basic values of honesty, accountability and good governance in politics to take to the streets to support Sunday's protest at the handling St Helier's Esplanade Development.

The St Brelade deputy, who is now serving his third term, said,  'On Tuesday this week in the States, the Council of Ministers hit a new low point and their use of political spin is now unprecedented to the point where it is simply insulting the public's intelligence. There was a clear rush to sign a tenant before the Scrutiny Panel have been allowed to report back with their findings. In their haste, SoJDC and their Ministerial puppets have reneged on repeated assurances that the building work would not start unless 200,000 sq ft had been taken up; to say that this undertaking was a 'mistake', which they only realised this week, must not be believed. If and when the situation changed, it was incumbent on the Treasury Minister, as the shareholder representative, to come back to the States to let the Assembly know. This never happened, at it is now time for the Treasury Minister to consider his position.'

'We also learnt, on Tuesday, that there was an attempt by SoJDC to have the Scrutiny Panel sign an unusual non-disclosure agreement, which would have made them personally and financially liable if information had been leaked. This is nothing short of scandalous. Not only did such game playing have the effect of delaying their work, it also sought to undermine the Parliamentary Privilege of elected members to carry out their work effectively - scrutiny is a democratic function of the States Assembly, and adds value to the public by ensuring good decision making.

Speaking on Sunday's event, Deputy Tadier says that he was initially skeptical about the event: "I am not opposed to development, per se - although I do think there may be better social and cultural uses for the site. What I have always believed, is that we should not be rail-roaded into a development whose funding - whatever the Treasury Minister says - IS  ultimately underwritten by the public. We should have waited for scrutiny to report back and SoJDC should have also waited for this. What has happened is the exact opposite.'

'On Sunday, we have a choice: we can stay at home an let the principles of democracy, accountability and honesty be further eroded, or we can stand up together and say that we believe our government has lost its way and that it needs to do better.
For my part, I know where I will be on Sunday afternoon.'

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Future St Helier

Yesterday I was on of the 'chosen few' to attend a workshop style meeting at the Town Hall on the Future of St Helier. It might seem odd that someone who lives and works in St Ouen should be invited, but it was as a representative of a stakeholder group, as were the other attendees.

The last such States event I attended was Imagine Jersey 2035 . Compared to that event this was rather less prescribed and much more open ended questions were posed. Were were divided into table of six or so for each questions, and each on different tables for three three topics. These topics were: Travel and transport; Urban living and the environment; Identity and community. 

I arrived in not too good humour . I have spent an hour in the early morning looking for my cheque book (and failed) so I could run an errand while on one my rare town visits. I also had to ensure I had checked the plant covers, done the watering and updated my online paper before catching the bus. When I arrived there was no name badge for me. I knew this was not going to be an easy day.

We had an introduction from Constable Crowcroft, Environment Minister Luce laid out some criteria, notable when talking of the future we should be mindful of the 20-30years ahead as well as the vision for 2-3 years hence. David Olgivie, the independent facilitator then did some ice-break exercise and elicited a list from the participants of criteria for interaction like listening and courtesy etc.

And then the wall for pro-car sentiment hit us. The topics we each accompanied by the three same questions: What would mater to you and why; what could we change to met what's important to you, If we could only change 2 things, what would they be? That makes sense if you tackle each in turn, which is what I expected the moderator on our table to do. But it wasn't done like that on the first, and really only tried on the last table I was on. A trio of people dominated the input at our table , having come it seemed with their own agenda and list of points to make on traffic and parking , particularly on what could be done. We were told that everyone drives, and residents of St Helier each should have a right to a parking space, like everyone else does. I contradicted those points they were factually incorrect where I could , but there was no means or space to actually make constructive input. When the moderator with just a minute or so left asked each of use what pints we though were the 2, I refused pointing out that my chance to state what was important had not even been made on what matters. Choosing a conclusion form that position is stupidity. This was not well received , but that is the only sensible comment when things had be so poorly moderated the rubric had not been followed.

There was a summing up from all the tables inputting their two main points and so on. From what I could tell from a couple of discussion in the break, carbon emissions, air quality, population fitness, technology changes and home working had barely been raised anywhere. There was a general agreement that a much better bus service is needed. 

The second session was more constructive. Again the input was very firmly focussed on the tangible and the built environment. At least there was an opportunity to comment on the importance health wise of open spaces, the possible sea level rises impact and sea defences, and air quality was mentioned by someone else on our table. It got interesting when SOS and SOJDC started on the finance quarter. They seem not even to be able to agree on whether the revised plans mean the road is to be sunk or not. I had the impression it was not to be sunk, thankfully. With the exception of the future of the finance centre buildings, I once again had no sense of the long term thinking and how the world will be different then and how that might influence decisions we can or should make today. In the summing up thankfully the desire for more trees did well!

The final session was on safety, identify, community. We had some agreement that it had identity and community, but that it was more people than places. There was a lot of talk about night time economy being distinct and different from day time economy. There was also some comment on the need for St Helier as the capital to have more autonomy, especially given it is proportionately under representation in the States.

At the summing up there were a few comments from the floor. Notably they included the lack of youth at the event and the need to have them included in thinking of the future (I agree wholeheartedly), and the need to engage with social media. Deputy Luce made concluding remarks, two of which stood out. 90% of us agree on 90% of what was said , and that the next Island Plan will cover the period 2012-2030. While I don't particularly disagree with much of what was said and points raised , I think the minister is in danger of misunderstanding the significance of what was discussed. It was for the most part short term, it lacked significant consideration of how the world will be by that 2021 plan let alone in 30 years time (2045!). 

The rapid and still escalating impact and power of computing, the rise of world population and the resource demands to go with that, the change we might expect in working patterns (the extinction of professional middle class knowledge jobs!), sea level rises, food insecurity, energy production, basic material shortages, whole new industrial sectors arising, and other technologies becoming obsolete. It is hard to do , and almost impossible project those things correctly. However is it certain that assuming things will continue more or less as they are now is sure to be way off the reality.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Why would anyone do that?

If you havent heard it I recommend the World At One programme broadcast 5/5/2015 which covers child sexual abuse allegations from 40 years ago and the involvement of politicians.  It also explains why the broadcast media refuse to cover these stories, as their internal rules require two witnesses.   It is on iPlayer at World at One starting at 27.5 minutes in.

Rather more significantly to my mind however is that the parties were photographed and filmed. Even the presenter queries  the claim of being photographed and filmed, and why the abusers would allow it given the potential consequences for them.  The victim showed the evidence of photos he had found with him in it. The former head of the metropolitan police paedophile unit confimed that it probably was the victim in the photo.

Why would important public people like politicians allow themselves to be recorded in illegal and career destroying acts?  It makes no sense unless they believed they were invulnerable.  If they really believed they could and would be protected and the evidence would never be made public.  That is the chilling aspect from a public safety and order perspective.  People in very senior positions must have been active in covering up and suppressing evidence of what was happening.  As the victim in the piece says he was given the strongest of warnings what would happen to him if he went public or informed.  Again something that would require at the very least collusion from senior people.  

Once that sort of evidence exists, whoever has control of it also has  leverage.  The threat of it being released or leaked would be enough to ensure compliance in lesser criminal or illegal acts.  The evidence and knowledge of what someone has done then becomes a currency in itself, something that can be traded for influence and  protection in other matters.

The World at One series continues today.  But be warned; what is described happening in the UK it not unique and the evidence is the modus operandi of these evil people in using knowledge, recordings and evidence for power is similar everywhere it occurs.  

Monday, 27 April 2015

An outrageous proposal re the UK election.

Without a vote and only indirectly affected by the outcome , the UK election hasn't grabbed my attention.  I might have missed it but I am not aware any party has any significant proposals re paedophiles and child abusers in politics and public office.  I suppose that's only to be expected from the bigger parties given they all have rather  tarnished history in this area.  But when even the Green Party  is accused of playing down the role of climate change, you just know none of them is talking to my interests or priorities.  So I have a suggestion for the next 10 day or so to voting day.  

There are around 4 million people in the region of Nepal whose homes, livelihoods and useful infrastructure have just been smashed up.  This one of the world's poorest countries. If those people do not get water, food  and shelter before the date of the UK election  then many will die.  There is an opportunity here for one or other of the party leaders to do something. To make a difference and convince us they have the common humanity,  courage of leadership and ordinary decency that will engage the public. To do something that might just restore the ordinary people's faith in  politicians in the UK.  My simple and utterly outrageous proposal is this.  STOP IT.

Tell your supporters and canvassers, party activists and office staff and anyone who will listen to stop with the silly little he said she said,  will they won't they  bickering, and turn your efforts and party machinery to raising money and material to help those 4 million in the next 10 days.  It is critical to them, its only an election for you.  

So Cameron, Milliband, Clegg, Bennett, Sturgeon and the rest, are you leaders and representatives of  people or just operators out to get your hand on the levers of power?  Are you the sort of compassionate self sacrificing  person who Britain might respect and admire as a leader, or are you and your parties electoral interests for the next 5 years the most important thing right now.  Are you happy to see up to 4 million die while you scrabble for  a bit of power?  I wouldn't be.  I rather like to think million of electors wouldn't either.  Did you enter politics to make a difference? Here's your chance to do just that.

Friday, 24 April 2015

The same old story

I am old enough to remember the Guinness affair.  I recall having quite a falling out with a work colleague when I derided the reduction of Ernest Saunders' sentence because he claimed he had pre-senile dementia.  The evidence was far from conclusive about that diagnosis - a precursor of Alzheimers - and sure enough he subsequently made a full recovery from the incurable condition.   See  It was not the last time I was to read about someone accused of serious offences falling desperately and seemingly incurably ill, only to make a later miraculous recovery. Check out Allan Maguire. 

You will not be surprised then that I am deeply skeptical about the fortuitous timing of Greville Janner's dementia.  He was attending and claiming expenses at the House of Lords and had just the week before signed a letter to the effect he wanted to continue in their Lordship's House.

The really scandalous part though is the way the  decision  was made not to prosecute a well founded case  as 'not in the  public interest', and against advice. There had been at least two previous opportunities that had been passed up or botched.  That phrase 'not in the public interest'  will be familiar to those who followed local  child abuse  news.  It was that  clause that enabled our then Attorney General to drop a number of cases.

It is a wonderfully convenient  term for those in power.  It can only of course be deployed by those in power as, in general, only they can know what the public interest impacts of a prosecution might be.  What is difficult for me is there seems to be no testable definition of criteraion for what constitutes public interest.  A legal dictionary  gives

Public Interest

Anything affecting the rights, health, or finances of the public at large.
Public interest is a common concern among citizens in the management and affairs of local, state, and national government. It does not mean mere curiosity but is a broad term that refers to the body politic and the public weal. A public utility is regulated in the public interest because private individuals rely on such a company for vital services.

There was another instance  this week in the USA that raised several doubts in my mind.  David Petraeus former General commanding forces in Iraq and Afghanistan shared highly sensitive intelligence information with his mistress and biographer.   He had initially denied that accusation.  He was sentenced this week to two years probation and a $100,000 fine.  Effectively a slap on the wrist.  Contrast that with the treatment of Chelsea Manning, whose was sentenced to 35 year's imprisonment.  

It is the same old story at almost every turn - those in positions of power and with  powerful connections  are treated far more leniently than the ordinary citizen.  It is the wrong way round.  Those who are well paid and regarded because of their 'position of responsibility' should be expected to be an example and to hold even higher ethical and moral stance than the ordinary public.  The law should if anything be more stringent with those that breach that trust with the public.  The exact opposite of what all too often appears to be the case.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Unravelling the 'Gorstian' knot

Legend has it that  Alexander the Great attempted to untie the Gordian  knot. When he could not find the end to the knot, he sliced it with his sword.  He solved a seemingly impossible puzzle using unconventional means.  I wonder if the curious mechanics involved in the recent States debate on the successful proposition to increase funding to the Committee of Inquiry might have created a modern parallel.

Like all good mysteries, this play has several sub plots.  It was notable that the six who voted against were ministers or assistant ministers. Add the External Relations Minister's abstention and a couple of ministerial absences and it was clear the Council of Minister must have been collectively against.  We have the tricky position of the Chief Minister in bringing a proposition that, had collective responsibility  been  applied, he would have likely had to vote against his own proposition!   

We also have the curious position of Senator Bailhache who spoke in the debate and then abstained on the vote as being conflicted.  What one wonders does he think is the point of debate if not to influence it? If it is to influence it then surely  if you are conflicted enough to abstain you are conflicted enough to not try influencing the outcome?   There is also the strange item reported on BBC Jersey  saying he said that there was nothing new arising in the Inquiry.  How could the Senator know that unless he was privy to the internal workings of the Committee or already knew the outcome?  

There is a further question that arises from the vote.  When a majority of Ministers present vote together and against the overwhelming majority of the Assembly, one has to wonder about accountability and responsibility.  Imagine had collective responsibility been invoked we should have had the whole Council of Ministers outvoted more than two to one.  In any functioning democracy that sort of defeat would lead to Government resignation or a vote of no confidence. 

But of course that didn't happen. The assembly voted with CM Gorst, so all's well that ends well.  It shoudn't be surprising - he was elected by the Assembly to that post. But so too were all the other ministers, even if they were proposed by the CM.  So to whom are they answerable?  If the Assembly does not act when there is such a disconnect between them and the contres  then ministers are all but unaccountable , except perhaps to the CM when collective responsibility is invoked. That is not good government.  

I see this as the inevitable  consequence of  having a piecemeal patched together set of expediences and compromises rather than a designed coherently underpinned system.  I dont hold out much hope of change.  The Assembly is collectively too supine and those who hold office quite  comfortable with the current arrangements.  Things will rumble on as they are until an Alexander turns up and cuts through the convoluted and unsolvable knot into which the Assembly has twisted itself.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Press release

This arrived too late for me to be able to act on.  It may be of interest to others, so here is a copy of the the press release I received.


Islanders are invited to congregate to in the Royal Square this Sunday morning at 11am to mark the 7th Anniversary of the Time4Change rally which was held on 8th March 2008 to remember the victims and survivors of Jersey child abuse, past and present.
‘Much has happened since that date, and with the help of campaigners, bloggers and former States Members, we were able to secure a Committee of Inquiry to look independently into these serious matters; to shine a light into one of the darkest chapters in Jersey’s recent history, and to seek to bring redress, justice and healing.’ Said Deputy Tadier, a long-time campaigner for Justice for abuse survivors.
‘I am very concerned at recent developments to sabotage the Committee of Inquiry, made by some elements that have never wanted the Inquiry to happen – individuals who themselves have questions to answer under the Committee’s Terms of Reference.
‘The Committee is just about to look at some of its key terms of reference, including [No 13. to] Establish the process by which files were submitted by the States of Jersey Police to the prosecuting authorities for consideration, and establish – 

Whether those responsible for deciding on which cases to prosecute took a professional approach; 

Whether the process was free from political or other interference at any level. ‘

‘It is quite understandable that some people may not want this to happen and will try anything to obstruct the Committee from being able to do its job.’
‘For my part, I will resolutely oppose any suggestion that the Committee not be allowed to do its job.
‘The meeting brief memorial this Sunday, will allow the focus to be put back where it belongs. On the victims and survivors of abuse.’
Anyone wishing to attend is invite to bring a daffodil as a sign of respect. And to observe a minute silence.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Has Singapore blinked first?

Today Singapore has increased its top rate of income tax from 20 to 22 percent for highest earners. 1  It is the first increase in the top rate in many decades.  Importantly Singapore is often seen as the far east competitor to Jersey for  finance business, and it has been  suggested we have lost some  business to them in recent years.  Like us Singapore is an island state, though it has long since given up on farming  and greenery and opted for high rise high density living.  Many fear it is the model for our future if some have their way.

The move can hardly be surprising - they are subject to similar global influences on their government finances as we are. In being the first to raise the top rate they have undermined the  'we must compete' argument touted in the other offshore centres whom also have currently a 20 percent top rate.  Given the parlous position of  the States of Jersey finances the temptation must be significant. 

The real question though is who  between the Crown dependencies will blink first on the issue of 0/10 .  That's the basis of the really big loss of income to our government in recent years.  The current situation cannot persist


Friday, 13 February 2015

Divestment action day

February 13-14th is global divestment day. Here's the letter I sent to the  JEP calling for a small step by the States of Jersey in support of that aim.

Thursday, 12 February 2015


I have tried a number of times to compose a response to the Council of Ministers' proposed priorities 2015-18 document. It has been challenging not least because the document makes absolutely no sense to me. Which is a great pity as I broadly agree at least two of the four priorities ought to be objectives for the life of this elected States.  So instead of a structured posting I'm going to post some observations and see if someone elese can make a coherent formulation of either the Ministers' priorities or my notes.

I'll start at the beginning – the contents page. Now you know things are bad when even the contents page causes a problem. We have three sections presented - setting the scene, then developing the priorities, followed by creating a sustainable future. The first two seem sensible, but the third does not flow or follow. The largest part of the section has nothing to say about the future, it spends much of its wording giving justification for the selection of the four priorities. But crucially a sustainable future is NOT one of those priorities. Why would you have a major heading of a section with a title that is most definitely not what the document is not about? Either it is grossly incompetent or there is a will to deceive the casual reader of the real nature of the contents.

It is very confusing to have page numbers the header of part of the document, but not all of it. It makes referencing difficult as the on screen display does not match the layout version.

On to the Introduction. Nothing much there about the content, but why include a whole blank page with just the word Introduction on it? A complete waste for anyone who had decided to print the document.  

Setting the scene. Now things get 'interesting' . The report starts with a quote from the OECD wellbeing report. What is said is true, but it is simultaneously a half truth. The cherry picked bits are all the positives.

Notice the areas where we scored particularly badly both relatively and absolutely - civic engagement and environmental quality - do not figure in the Council of Minsiters' priorities.

At the foot of the page we have a statement “Over the next 20 years the number of people over-65 will double and there will be nearly three times as many people over-85. Fewer people working, fewer people paying tax, more demands on our health and pension systems. This is unsustainable.” The first sentence is probably true, but I note there are reasons to think life expectancy here is declining see 1 .The second sentence is almost certainly false. People do not stop being tax payers at 65 or 85 years old. Since the introduction of GST it is almost certain that everyone resident in the Island pays some tax - one of the great 'benefits' claimed by the proponents when it was introduced.

The details on page 8 are inconsistent. On the third paragraph it reads To enable us to meet this financial challenge, we need to drive productivity-led economic growth". By the 7th paragraph this imperative had transformed into "Economic growth and public sector productivity are our preferred options to meet the financial challenges we face”. We do not need to do something if it is a specific form of an option. There seems to be some very woolly thinking, or is it simply mantra regurgitation occurring here?

Health and wellbeing is covered on page 9 (or is it 8?), and there are some laudable aims here. But again we have a sentence that causes great concern. At the end of paragraph 4 we read "Declining health leads to social exclusion, loss of earnings, and adverse consequences in the wider economy." But in the section quoted here two paragraphs above we were led to think that it was the ageing population that was creating a health demand problem. Retired people do not in general lose earnings being ill because in general they are not working and so not earning in the first place. Again there seems to be some fundamental inconsistency in the minds of the ministers here.

Page 12 is the education section. Saying I have misgivings about the thrust of this section would be an understatement. More than once this section suggests that the purpose of education is to mould children and youths into supporting the economy. It is quite disgraceful to write "The fact that some of our children are not fulfilling their true potential is a waste of Jersey’s
most precious resource – our people - and an economic inefficiency we can ill afford” This notion that people exist and are valued only by the extent they make an economic contribution is outrageous. I don't believe I have seen such an unspeakably illiberal suggestion since a former Home Affairs Minister said he wanted more political control of the police force.

There is a practical problem with the proposal "Jersey’s education system is aligned to, and supports, the Island’s economic needs” It takes a decade or more to educate and train someone . We have little idea what will be the economic need in ten years time. Several members of the Council of Ministers were in the States a decade ago . How many of them then were arguing bringing propositions etc for IT education to train a generation for today's digital economy?

A remark must be made about the quote in this section: "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world". I think this is quite inappropriate to use here. Madiba first gave that quote on his visit to Boston in 1990 , just months after his release from prison. He was not talking about education his people for taking jobs in the white controlled economy of the day – he had supported campaign for divestment from South Africa! He was talking about the sort of change of world that the OECD has us scored as 0 in the the wellbeing report cited above.

Economic growth is the final priority, addressed on page 13. I cannot recall a time when the States of Jersey didn't have economic growth as a priority. It seems we just cannot get enough of it. This time round we have a new twist. This is not ordinary economic growth this is Council of Ministers' sustainable productivity-led economic growth.

In theory one can achieve a long running period of economic growth from efficiency improvements without any increase in material consumption or pollution or population growth. It is extraordinarily hard however as countless governments around the world have discovered when they have tried it. There is a rapidly diminishing return on the effort involved. It would require a society of less work and increasing low energy, low consumption leisure activity. That goes against several generations of belief that increased material and financial acquisition is the way to a better future. And therein lies the problem.

If the policy succeeds we have more people on average with more disposable income, and more tax revenue for the States presumably, but equally the potential to consume even more than now. That's not a good outcome in the face of resource limits, climate change and the ecology of the Island. But what if educated, well trained people are not motivated to have more money. Also there is nothing to suggest we would tackle the increasing inequality in income and wealth that would be expected produce. Then the policy fails as more and more comfortably off people effectively downshift work and lives at ever earlier ages.

Even if that were the intention it is quite unclear if it might be manageable. The current global economic conditions are quite unlike any in the lifetime of any of our currently elected politicians out side perhaps of Japan. Half decade lows in prices of gold, oil, iron ore, copper, corn and interest rates point clearly to a deflationary environment. Growth of any sort under such circumstances is a rare thing. The goldilocks economics proposed by the Council of Ministers works the other way round – the productivity gains eg from new technology, produces price deflation (and increased consumption). We have it the other way round – a sequence more likely to lead to recession. The more likely outcome is lower costs, lower wages and an even lower tax revenue for the States. What is suggested is a step closer to what is needed than any previous growth ambitions of the States. It is still some way however from the steady state economy2 that I would advocate.

Of course I have again to comment on the quote. “Someone's sitting in the shade of a tree today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”. Warren Buffet . You might think that in an Island so dependent on the finance industry they would have got right the spelling of the name of probably the world's most famous living investor -Warren Buffett. If you cannot get such an easily checked detail right .........

Of course Mr Buffett was referring to investing for the long term (smart man - he's right too on that aspect). However there is also a deep fallacy in that quote. It is not the case that all trees are planted by someone. Who do you think planted the Amazon, or the taiga, or the great rainforests of Africa? Trees for the most part are self seeded, they are the bounty of nature. When you start thinking that a tree can only be because someone planted it, you are in danger of thinking all that is of value is that which humans create. It also underlines a critical point so often overlooked in economics. It is nature who provides 'free services' like trees and pollinators and rain without which we would have no economy. We cannot have a sustainable economy, let alone growth, unless we have a sustainable underpinning foundation – the ecosystem services. As our species consumes and pollutes increasingly beyond the capacity of the planet 3 , as it has done since the 1970's, we get further and further from that possibility.