Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve - Presents From Santa

So, wonders Clameur de Haro? as Christmas Eve advances, what goodies will some of our allegedly prominent citizens and putative lords and masters find in their festive stockings when they wake up tomorrow morning?
Trying to fathom what they may themselves have asked for in their letters to Father Christmas would probably be fairly futile, so CdeH? will just take a quick stab at what presents Santa, being a wise old cove, might usefully decide to leave one or two of them to find when they excitedly tear off the wrappings………………
Terry Le Sueur – destined, one fears, to be disappointed at not receiving a course of public speaking lessons, but hopefully to find, as consolation, an interactive CD called “Effective Communication”.
Philip Ozouf – for the man who claimed firstly, that adding GST individually to each item rather than overall at the till would not be inflationary, and secondly, that the inflationary effect – and yes, Ozo, we all spotted the contradiction - would only be temporary because it would drop out of the calculation after a year (which is a bit like saying that after 9 months pregnancy you’re back to where you were before because you’re no longer pregnant), there really can be only two presents: “Economics For Dummies”, and a modicum of modesty to carry into 2009.
Stuart Syvret – CdeH? first thought that a bile-stained, cracked and warped mirror might be appropriate, so that the People’s Tribune could see himself as others see him, but probably even more appropriate, not to mention instructive, would be a copy of “Murphy on Evidence” and a large slice of humble pie - plus of course a new pile of slinging mud.
Graham Power – a copy of “The Invisible Man”, and a one-way airline ticket - to anywhere.
Jim Perchard – for the new Minister of Health and Social Services, enough nous to assess whether the reported £60m “New Directions” policy on the restructuring of health and social services is just that, or in fact a smokescreen for a further extension of state interference into the private sphere, and a covert justification for retaining or expanding the H & SS bureaucracy
The Editor of the Jersey Evening [sic] Post – the inspiration and courage to launch a fully online edition, with archive search.
Any Parish Administration – any idea for a more meaningful role in the community than the present one of largely minor relevance in practical terms to the majority of islanders’ daily lives.
The Data Protection Registrar – as the only official whose powers CdeH? would not curtail, all the facilities and funding needed to prevent the insidious onward march of the database state, and the continuing independence to speak out when required
The Barclay Brothers – a compulsory purchase order for Colditz-en-Brecqhou, without compensation, validly enacted by Sark’s Chief Pleas and signed by every member.
Clameur de Haro? wishes a very happy and peaceful Christmas to his fellow-bloggers, but above all to the men and women of our Armed Forces serving overseas, continuing to safeguard our freedoms and serve their country, despite being traduced daily by a media and political class not fit to lick their boots or clean their latrines.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Southern (Dis)Comfort

Clameur de Haro? found it highly amusing to see in today’s Jersey Evening [sic] Post an entire vineyard’s worth of sour grapes on public display from a Geoffrey Southern evidently piqued that a majority of States’ Members failed on no fewer that three occasions over the past few days to recognise his indisputable entitlement and suitability (well, in his eyes, anyway) for either a ministerial post or panel chairmanship.
His dreary allegations of “shameless politicking by ministers”, and his hyperbole about “complete and utter disrepute”, apart from their utter predictability, are risible. Mr Southern should, as our transatlantic allies say, just do the math.
CdeH? notes that, on each poll, the votes cast against him added up to 2 or 3 times the number of ministers which had actually been appointed at that stage: so clearly others, apart from ministers or ministerial hopefuls, shared on each occasion the latters’ (presumed) distaste at the prospect of a Southern ascendancy.
Ignoring the twisted logic which claims that fewer votes somehow equates to an opinion that he would do a better job, Mr Southern’s suggestion that the appointed chairmen of the Economic Affairs and Corporate Services Scrutiny Panels would provide less robust questioning than he would is patently absurd.
Mere tendency towards left-wing, so-called “progressive” politics does not automatically confer the required degree of knowledge and incisiveness, Mr Southern: Clameur de Haro? has far more confidence in the likelihood of Higgins and Ferguson holding Terry the Taxer and the very doubtful Ozo the Bozo properly to account.
And his forecast of the impending advent of party politics as a result of his thrice being rejected is nothing short of hilarious. What precisely are those three letters upon which Mr Southern hangs his electoral hat?
Back to The Guardian and Mad Polly Toynbee for inspiration, Geoff…………..
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Warr on Want

Mr David Warr, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Group, appears to suggest, in his Letter to the Editor in tonight’s Jersey Evening [sic] Post, that consumers who express a preference for a wider choice of shopping outlets don’t really want a greater choice of shops at all, but only rather more “fairness” in retailers’ pricing policies.
His logic and phraseology are tortuous, but he makes a disingenuous attempt, by alluding to the range of goods on display at one particular supermarket, to deliberately conflate availability of products with choice of supplier (they are very much not the same thing, Mr Warr), before going on to imply that the desire for a wider choice of suppliers is not genuine, but somehow a proxy for the wish merely that existing retailers demonstrate more “fairness”.
Clameur de Haro? suspects that this is very wide of the mark indeed, and that a wider choice of suppliers, with the benefits of more competition in both prices and service which that implies, is precisely what the vast majority of consumers want: and something moreover which they would enthusiastically vote for, with their feet and their wallets. Mr Warr should not however be blamed too much - his Chamber of Commerce role is, after all, to represent the views, and advance the interests, of traders for many of whom greater competition is anathema.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wendy Kinnard – Good Riddance (Part 2)

So farewell then, Wendy Kinnard – who as of last week no longer blights Jersey with her political subterfuge and spectacular ministerial unfitness.
Hard as it is to beat the record of sheer incompetence which Trendy Wendy displayed in her political stewardship of La Moye Prison, Clameur de Haro? reckons that the ineptitude she displayed in political oversight of the Police during her tenure of office, firstly as Vice-President and then President of the old Home Affairs Committee, and subsequently as Minister of Home Affairs, comes pretty close.
Kinnard was closely involved in the disastrous recruitment of Graham Power as Chief of Police in 2000. Despite having no particular qualifications or expertise in any kind of candidate evaluation, interview, or selection, politicians always consider themselves to be somehow blessed with these skills, and the States’ records of the time reveal that Trendy Wendy, a politician not noticeably troubled by any detectable excess of modesty or doubt about her own intellect and abilities, and who would have considered herself eminently suited to participation in the selection process, was a member of the interviewing and appointment panel: it’s surely inconceivable that, as Vice-President of the Home Affairs Committee, she did not play a pivotal role in the appointment.
As CdeH? posted on 6 December, Mr Power, distinguished since his arrival in Jersey by nothing so much as a constant near-invisibility, had up to that time enjoyed a previous career most remarkable for, firstly, his attempt to sue the political authority of the Scottish Northern Constabulary for racial discrimination - on the grounds that he was English – when it (wisely in the opinion of CdeH?) passed him over for the role of Chief Officer, and, secondly, the quite extraordinary regard in which he was held by the rank-and-file rozzers in his previous post – so much so that they allegedly arranged his funeral for him - complete with vacant coffin.
It’s surely equally inconceivable that Kinnard did not play a similarly crucial role in the appointment of Lenny Harper to the post of Deputy Chief of Police in 2003, although by that time somebody, somewhere, no doubt aware of the way the wind might be blowing, had the foresight to involve Sir Ronnie Flanagan in the “rigorous assessment” of Harper’s fitness for the post following his recruitment as Chief Superintendent and Head of Operations the previous year. Whether that was indeed foresight, or alternatively precautionary political CYA tactics, is for the reader to judge in the light of subsequent events. CdeH? has certainly made his own judgement.
A reasonable subject for speculation though, is the extent to which Kinnard would have found Harper’s views on the nature of policing in a modern society most agreeable to her essentially leftist and so-called “progressive” politics: Harper, it will be recalled, had obtained an upper-second in Government and Politics, and gone on to secure a masters’ degree in Criminal Justice Studies.
Given the then cultural slant of degrees of that type, and their popularity among the new wave of senior police cadres committed more to the selectively managerialist and social-engineering philosophy of policing rather than to the crime-prevention / impartial law-enforcement one, it’s a very tenable proposition that his qualifications would have imbued Harper with many of the precepts of the political-correctness view of society and its approach to policing it: and that this would have chimed effectively with Kinnard’s own innate (but carefully concealed for public consumption) left-liberal radicalism.
Power, incidentally, sported his own MA in Politics, Philosophy & Economics obtained from Queens, Oxford, in 1979, which might well also have appealed to Trendy Wendy’s political worldview (you might have thought, might you not, that an aspiring senior copper would have wanted to acquire a graduate qualification in law or jurisprudence? - clearly a PPE was considered likely to be more in tune with the future zeitgeist).
The scene was therefore set for what was to follow.
Many, including CdeH?, remember the disturbing conduct of the police reinforcements imported from the UK around the time of the England-Portugal clash during the 2006 World Cup. After dramatically talking up a potential crisis (an early precursor, had we but realized it, of the Jersey Police management’s taste for the sensationalist press release), thereby increasing the likelihood of some kind of mayhem, the Police manifestly over-reacted, both to the implied threat of disorder (never likely to involve more than a couple of drunken yobs attempting ineffectively to indulge in handbags at ten paces), and to the little disturbance that did in fact occur.
Meanwhile, however, elderly ladies of impeccable behaviour and manners, seeking to do nothing more mayhem-generating than gain access to the Jersey Arts Centre, were subjected to frightening, intimidating, aggressive and threatening tactics from those UK reinforcements, gallantly arrayed in helmets, batons and riot shields (and why not?.......CdeH? recognizes that elderly ladies denied legitimate access to an arts centre were far more dangerous to public order than potential football hooligans, weren’t they?)
This was inescapably Kinnard’s responsibility. Of course, in no way should the head of any political authority charged with oversight of policing engage in political interference in the conduct of police operations: but to either passively allow or actively condone the introduction into Jersey of policing of methods of this kind was a failure of policy and oversight for which Kinnard must bear full blame.
The increasingly aggressive behaviour of the uniformed constabulary towards the public in general, and law-abiding motorists in particular, in the past few years is an unwelcome continuation of this trend. Clameur de Haro?, along with most of his acquaintance, believes this has much more to do with artificially massaging the Force’s published crime detection rate than it has to do with preventing general or car crime.
On more than one occasion, CdeH? has been stopped during the evening (when, it should be said, totally libation-free, stone-cold sober, in a car with all lights functioning perfectly, and nary a suspicion of anything remotely interpretable as even marginally erratic driving) and subjected to by turns surly and aggressive questioning. [“Looked as though your seat belt wasn’t on” was the most recent explanation proffered.] Remarkably however, when the plods are confronted with a reasonably articulate motorist who demands their names and numbers so that he can make a formal complaint about unjustified harassment, they back off.
This escalation of an intimidating style of general policing also happened on Trendy Wendy’s watch, politically. The supposition has to be that she tacitly approved, or, more likely, that she had so little idea of what political oversight of policing should involve that it didn’t occur to her to question what the constabulary’s general approach to the community it nominally serves should be, nor to require an explanation for what it manifestly is.
Finally, we come to the Haut de la Garenne imbroglio. If ever there was a case crying out above all for a calm, measured, unemotional, evidence-centric and supposition-free discharge of its responsibilities by the Jersey Police, this was surely it. Yet Harper, by this time either totally captured by, and an unwitting tool of, the agenda of the Kinnard-Syvret axis and their fellow-travellers, or signed up to that agenda of his own volition, was allowed over a long period of time to grandstand repeatedly with ill-informed speculation and value judgements to a media long on sensation-seeking but short on objectivity. A more egregious failure to exercise due political oversight of a police force is virtually impossible to imagine – the fault is that of Power’s at operational level, and at political level, that of Kinnard alone.
It seems unbelievable in retrospect that Kinnard should have been allowed anywhere near the April 2008 selection process for Warcup’s appointment to (mercifully) replace Harper, but that is what happened. Fortunately on this occasion, the beneficial influences of Messrs Liston, Ogley and Crich prevailed, or we might have had a Kinnard-driven extension of Harper’s contract.
What a disreputable litany of disaster this deplorable woman foisted on to the Island. It is immeasurably better for her departure.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tax Avoidance, International Financial Centres, and Jersey – Part I: Neither Illegitimate Nor Immoral

Judging from several posts over the end of November / beginning of December, Clameur de Haro?’s fellow-blogger Jersey 24/7 seems to be somewhat confused both about modern banking and financial services themselves, and their contribution to what he or she clearly believes is the latent immorality of Jersey’s role as an international financial centre, namely helping – or presumably, in his view, influencing - overseas taxpayers to reduce their liability to taxation in their own jurisdictions.
Jersey 24/7, however, isn’t alone in this misconception – several recent election candidates from the leftist and green extremities of the political spectrum postulated much the same thing, adding in for good measure the alleged iniquities of depriving high-tax “home” economies and populations of taxation revenue (though, curiously, they failed to go on to advise electors to avoid a low-price Co-Op in favour of a high-price Checkers so as not to deprive the latter’s ultimate shareholders of profit). So CdeH? is grateful for the opportunity to counter their false arguments.
Clameur de Haro?’s basic philosophy on this starts from the premise that tax levied on the private citizen, whether an individual or a corporation, by the state, on pain of criminal sanction, is nothing less than the state’s self-legitimated appropriation for itself of that private citizen’s legally-acquired wealth, whether in the form of income, capital gain, inheritance, or whatever. [Note the phrase “legally-acquired” - and be in no doubt, incidentally, that CdeH? has no objection whatsoever to the confiscation, by the judicial arm of the state, of wealth acquired directly as the proceeds of crime]
CdeH? entirely accepts that some such appropriation is necessary, and does not, for example, espouse the extreme libertarian position of believing that the state has no role in society. CdeH? readily acknowledges that there are economic goods and public services needed by some or all of the population which only the state can or will fund (though there are many instances where such goods or services, while necessarily funded by the state, are not necessarily provided better or more cheaply by agencies of the state): and that taxation is both an acceptable and practical way of raising the revenue needed.
However, because the state appropriates for itself, in the form of taxation, part of the private citizen’s legally-acquired wealth, CdeH? believes that the state then has an overwhelming, corresponding moral duty (1) to spend the resulting revenue prudently and not recklessly or wastefully, and (2) to extract from the private citizen no more than the absolute minimum of his legally-acquired wealth than is necessary for the state to fund or undertake those functions that it, and only it, can or will do.
But states everywhere either ignore or abuse (or in most cases both ignore AND abuse) this moral obligation [and Jersey is no different]. They waste, or otherwise deploy recklessly or imprudently, the taxation revenue they extract from the private citizen: or they employ it in undertaking activities which the state need not, or should not, undertake because the private, non-state sector of the economy would willingly undertake them itself (often better and cheaper). Most states are guilty on both counts [and again Jersey is no different].
In these circumstances, not the slightest degree of opprobrium or immorality can attach to the private citizen, whether an individual or a corporation, who so arranges his financial affairs as to legally minimise or avoid the appropriation of his wealth by the state. [Note the words “legally” and “avoid” – and the latter’s important distinction from the word “evade” – and again be in no doubt that CdeH? has no truck with the illegal evasion of obligations in contravention of the law of the land]
And by extension therefore, not the slightest degree of illegitimacy or immorality can be inferred to an economy or polity which chooses to provide services to meet a clear, substantial, and unsatisfied demand from the makers of such legal arrangements. So Jersey can and should continue to uphold and develop its prime industry with a clear conscience.
Clameur de Haro? has no doubt that the real immorality here lies with those high-taxing, excessive and wasteful-spending governments - notably the UK under the present administration and most EU countries under any administration - who impose systems and levels of taxation which extract unjustified proportions of their citizens’ wealth, thereby driving them to seek external alternatives.
Jersey need entertain no qualms whatsoever about benefitting its own population by supplying those citizens with an alternative to mere acquiescence in their governments’ rapaciousness.
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You Should Have Stood Up and Been Counted, Mr Forskitt

Clameur de Haro? sees a both amusing and ironic linkage between the Jersey Evening [sic] Post’s editorial of Wednesday 10 December and Mark Forskitt’s blogpost of Friday 12 December.
In its 10 December leader, the JEP, clearly finding the prospect of Deputy James Reed’s appointment as Education Minister not to its liking (“…simply not credible….”), sought to suggest that he lacked the requisite levels of both experience and public support, largely on the grounds that he had not had to face the electorate in his own parish - as if Mr Reed was in some way either personally blameworthy, or a less than legitimate representative, because no-one decided to challenge him.
CdeH? will remember that leader, and take pleasure in re-airing it the next time the JEP lauds the unopposed re-election of a Constable by a small and unrepresentative coterie of parish officials as somehow a vindication of the inherent stability of that entirely mythical concept, “the Jersey way of life”. But that is by the way.
Meanwhile, Mr Forskitt, a resident in fact of Mr Reed’s constituency, draws comparisons between the recent elections in Sark (whose electors have CdeH?’s wholehearted approval for their two-fingered Agincourt Salute to the ogres of Colditz-en-Brecqhou) and Jersey’s recent “pitiful” elections: he says “….I believe it (democracy) is coming to Jersey too…”, and he wearily evokes the plight of “…we plebs, when faced with an election, ….”.
Clameur de Haro?, however, recalls that Mr Forskitt, despite his evident desire to get into the States, admitted quite openly on the Planet Jersey forum, in the run-up to the elections, that he would not risk standing in his home parish of St Ouen in opposition to Mr Reed, judging – correctly - that he would have no chance (sensible people, these electors of St Ouen): but speculated that he might instead try a spot of unashamed carpet-bagging and possibly have a crack at St Brelade No 1, where he thought there might be a bit more receptiveness to his greenery.
But in the end he did not do that either. Presumably when faced with the prospect of an election of his own, timidity and risk-aversion triumphed over the opportunity to bring democracy to the unfortunate, democracy-deprived citizenry of St Ouen and St Brelade………
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Power has previous when it comes to suing

Clameur de Haro? was mortified, on returning to the Rock after journeying briefly to sunnier climes in pursuance of business, to find that he had missed all the fun of the deplorable Graham Power’s attempts - much after the fashion of that also signally unlamented and very PC PC, Sir Ian Blair - to cling on, limpet-like, to office, despite his clear unfitness for it manifested by his inadequate management of the HdlG enquiries.
How ironic that in an earlier part of his career, it was Mr Power who exposed the shortcomings of the Grampian Police in their investigation into the murder of a 9 year old boy by a paedophile, leading to the resignation of that Force’s Chief Constable.
CdeH? cannot recall a time since Mr Power’s appointment when he has been so publicly active, having been distinguished since his arrival in Jersey by nothing so much as a constant near-invisibility and a silence of almost monastic proportions.
But we should not be too concerned that this apparent sudden enthusiasm for action represents a departure from the norm: for, as CdeH? and others note, Mr Power does, as the rozzers say, have previous form when it comes to threatening legal action against existing or would-be employers.
Before his appointment to Jersey, Mr Power had up to that time enjoyed a previous career most noteworthy for his attempt to sue the Northern Constabulary Police Board, the political authority of the Scottish Northern Constabulary, for racial discrimination - on the grounds that he was English – when it (wisely in the opinion of CdeH?) passed him over for the role of Chief Officer. Prepared to take the NCPB to an industrial tribunal, with the backing of the Commission for Racial Equality, he eventually negotiated an out-of-court settlement.
Clameur de Haro? suspects that the threat to sue here is merely the opening gambit of an attempt to secure yet another out-of-court settlement with a lucrative payoff – but wishes it success, despite the notion of compensating this man out of public funds for deserved loss of office sticking in the craw, because if it enables the island to draw a line under, and move forward from, the disastrous Power-Harper regime, it would be cheap at virtually any price.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

First Post-Election Thoughts - Postscript

Clameur de Haro? notices that, according to the Jersey Evening [sic] Post, Mrs Angela Jeune, the newly-elected (but er...........not by very many people) Deputy for St Brelade No. 1, declared herself mystified by the low electoral turnout - 23.6% or 27.5% depending on which measure is used -and announced that she was going to make it her business to find out why.
All that she needs to do is to ask anyone who went to the St Brelade No. 1 hustings: CdeH? has posted below on how the audience was profoundly unimpressed with any of the candidates, to the extent that many people audibly expressed their intention of not voting, precisely because of that.
Clameur de Haro? was sorry to see the demise of Pat Ryan, after an honourable decision to stand in his home parish, despite what was always going to be an uphill struggle against possibly the most parish-clique ridden constituency in the Island, but truly appalled that the St Mary electorate should have fallen for the false environmental blandishments of Daniel Wimberley, long suspected by CdeH? as being a lifelong advocate of socialist prescriptions.
Expect regular postings in the future to demolish the Wimberley "catastrophic global warming" mantra and all the illiberal measures that flow in its wake.
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

First Post-Election Thoughts

Clameur de Haro? was exceptionally disappointed at the general thrust of last night’s results, and suspects that the silent majority who rail at the ineptitude of the current Establishment, but positively despair at the direction espoused by the left and the greens, will feel the same.
Amid the euphoria of the JDA and their fellow-travellers (and CdeH? uses the expression advisedly) the implications of the composition of the new States Assembly for the island’s future economic prospects are decidedly unfavourable.
There must now be a strong likelihood of a raft of superficially crowd-pleasing, uncosted exemptions to GST, coupled with the equally costly additional bureaucracy necessary to administer them: yet CdeH? recalls few if any of the tax-and-spend socialists have offered any cogent suggestions as to how the resulting shortfall should be met.
In the current financial markets, populist sentiment may well favour a “let’s hit the banks, they can afford it” approach to filling the revenue gap. Would-be imposers of greater burdens of tax on the industry which comprises 70%+ of the economy, provides significant numbers of its jobs, and contributes most of its Jersey’s prosperity should remember however that financial services are internationally mobile, and that other jurisdictions are willing and able to accommodate ours should the industry be taxed into a disadvantageous position.
Clameur de Haro? never under-estimates the capacity of socialism to leave an economy seriously worse than it found it. Let’s hope that those now congratulating themsleves don’t in the future have to explain themselves to a population wondering how it is that benefits have had to be cut, jobs have disappeared, and living standards have dropped alarmingly.
And finally, a footnote. If there had to be some degree of electoral success for Time4Change, what a pity that Nick Le Cornu - an intelligent and articulate exponent of civilised but robust debate, however much one might disagree with him – didn’t make it in St Helier while his egregious associate Montfort Tadier did in St Brelade. A travesty indeed.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wendy Kinnard – Good Riddance (Part 1)

Clameur de Haro? is rejoicing that one of the more surreptitiously malign influences on Jersey politics in the last few years will soon no longer be a States’ Member.
Having shared some – but not very much – of the initial mystification at Ms Kinnard’s ministerial resignation, in almost indecent haste, on an apparently obscure and arcane technicality of legal procedure, barely days before the date of her own self-imposed departure, and having concurred totally with the widespread assumption that her position was, quite simply, completely untenable after the latest HdlG developments, CdeH? is delighted to witness her political demise.
For concealed behind the carefully cultivated façade, behind the image of caring representative of the vulnerable and champion of the disadvantaged, lies, at best, a serial incompetent in ministerial or quasi-ministerial office, and at worst, suspects CdeH?, an intensely radical cultural left-liberal who covertly espouses some of the worst tenets of politically correct activism.
Over the next blogpost or two, we’ll examine Trendy Wendy’s record in a couple of areas, focussing on her principal official role as Home Affairs Minister. Kinnard was Vice-President of the former Home Affairs Committee from 1999, and President from 2002, before becoming Minister of Home Affairs from December 2005. She’s therefore been continually involved at senior political level for 9 years.
We’ll go on to look at her ministerial performance in political oversight of the Jersey Police, before finally deconstructing the real reasons for her precipitate resignation, but we’ll start with her responsibility for La Moye Prison.
The 2001 UK HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) inspection of La Moye Prison, the first comprehensive such inspection undertaken in many years, was pretty damning (remember, this was on Trendy Wendy’s watch as Vice-President of the old Home Affairs Committee), and its connection or otherwise with the retirement of Keith Wheeler as Governor in December 2001, after a distinguished 23 years’ service, cries out for further study. Was he, wonders CdeH?, made the scapegoat?
In 2003, by which time Kinnard was President of the old HAC, more problems arose over prisoners breaching, apparently with a cavalier degree of insouciance, the terms of temporary release licences, creating such a degree of public disquiet as to cause her to make a Statement in the States on 7th October 2003. During that statement she referred to the 2001 Home Office Inspection, and claimed that no fewer 114 of its 147 recommendations had been implemented.
That however was clearly not the view of HMIP’s June 2005 Inspection, which in its Introduction stated “Few of the recommendations in our previous report in 2001 had been actioned four years later” , and went on to catalogue a litany of failings and deficiencies, many persisting from the inspection report of four years earlier. It transpired that the then Governor, Steven Guy Gibbens, who had in August 2004 replaced Wheeler’s successor, had been expressing concern at overcrowding and a general lack of adequate rehabilitative facilities since his arrival.
Then, in March 2006, a HMIP follow-up report averred that few of the recommendations of even the 2005 Inspection had been implemented. Yet CdeH? seems to remember Kinnard having the brass neck, without so much as a hint of embarrassment, contrition or acceptance of justified criticism, to sit alongside no less a professional than Chief Inspector of Prisons Ann Owers and say, in the best traditions of New Labour inclusive, evasive management-speak, how much she appreciated having these matters brought to her attention, how much she looked forward to working with HMIP in resolving them, and how much she would make HMP La Moye her priority “at the top of the States agenda”.
Er………just what were you supposed to have been doing for the previous 7 years, Ms Kinnard?
How redolent of the arrogance of the professional political operator, determined to cling to office no matter what, a particularly repellent example of the primarily self-serving political elite about which Peter Oborne writes so eloquently in “The Triumph of the Political Class”.
Steven Guy Gibbens resigned as Governor in August 2007, subsequently leaving in December 2007, only 3½ years into a 5 year contact: he mentioned as key to his decision the bureaucracy and resistance he had encountered in his efforts to try to carry out much needed improvements. Kinnard’s reaction however was to appear, firstly, to blame the States for not providing funding for improvements (although she had obviously not regarded such non-provision as a resigning matter), but secondly, to criticise Guy Gibbens and suggest that he “did not understand the Jersey way of doing things”………such as her doing nothing over the course of 8 years and 2 critical HMIP inspection reports, presumably.
That these two positions were and are mutually irreconcilable appears not to have occurred to Kinnard, or many other public officials: few however of CdeH?'s acquaintance missed the inherent contradiction.
Finally, in June 2008, we had the “indefinite detention without charge” foul-up, when Trendy Wendy arbitrarily took it upon herself to amend the previous 36 hours limitation on pre-charge detention, by authorizing the indefinite detention of suspects without charge, thereby not only making herself the envy of Gordon “42 Days” Brown, his sidekick Jacqui “The Lackey” Smith, and every authoritarian dictator ever inconvenienced by so irritating a hindrance as due process and the rule of law, but garnering the island much beneficial (or perhaps not……. ) publicity as a result.
She claimed to be doing so under delegated powers enjoyed by her as Minister under the terms of Jersey’s Police Procedures and Criminal Evidence Law. The only problem being that Kinnard unfortunately ignored that Law’s requirement to publish a draft of any changes and consult with interested parties, before such changes are actually made – she did neither, requiring a humiliating U-turn and climb-down.
It’s almost (but not quite) impossible to recall, in recent local political history, a poorer incumbent in a key ministerial or equivalent post than Kinnard and her track record of woeful under-performance. In the private sector, she would rightly have been discarded years ago – in the unlikely event, that is, that she would ever have been allowed near a position of responsibility in the first place.
Clameur de Haro? sincerely apologises to all readers for the inordinate length of this post – but feels it has been necessary to lay out, in all its awful detail, the repeated ministerial incompetence of one to whom CdeH? would never have entrusted even the running of his proverbial whelk stall.
Good riddance indeed.
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

GST Exemptions: Easy, Principled Adjustment - or Expensive, Bureaucratic Nightmare?

Clameur de Haro? has been looking in a little more detail today at Deputies’ Election candidates’ positions (well, their stated positions, anyway) on the thorny subject of GST exemptions.
Inexplicably, a sizeable number don’t actually mention the subject at all, which in view of its prominence, strikes CdeH? as extremely odd, to say the least.
Of those that do, and with the honourable exceptions of Ian Gorst in St Clement, Rod Bryans in St Helier, and John Le Fondre in St Lawrence, candidates universally declare their objection to its general application, and call for exemptions on, variously, food, heating supplies, and children’s clothing, or more usually a combination of all three.
But not a single one of them offers either the slightest estimate of the revenue shortfall which would result, or any proposal for meeting that shortfall, whether by reduced States’ spending or compensatory increases in tax elsewhere. This omission is fiscal irresponsibility of a high order.
Over at Tony’s Musings, Tony has (as usual) a thoughtful critique of Sean Power’s position (basically - it’s here, so let’s leave it settle for a while), and suggests that to exempt foodstuffs, heating and lighting, and children’s clothes really can’t be difficult or bureaucracy-creating to any significant degree.
Clameur de Haro? disagrees with Tony on this, though –
On foodstuffs, should we exempt, say, caviar, yet apply GST on toothpaste? That hardly seems to be in the spirit of what’s proposed.
On heating and lighting, say, should we really make no distinction between heating for the pensioner’s apartment, and heating for the multi-millionaire’s swimming pool? Or between lighting for the pensioner’s apartment kitchen and lighting for the multi-millionaire’s driveway? Both cases involve use of the same materials from the same supply sources. But that doesn’t seem equitable.
On children’s clothing, should we exempt, say, the expensive designer tops the relatively affluent might buy for diminutive but highly fashion-conscious 13-year old daughters, yet levy GST on the suit the man of modest means struggles to buy for his tall, well-built 16-year old son, newly left school and going for his first job interview? That hardly seems fair.
CdeH? is afraid that these kinds of dilemmas over definition and rating would occur all the time, and that additional, costly, bureaucracy and administration will be the inevitable result – producing a double-whammy, in fact, because the extra costs of it would have to be layered on to a smaller tax base. Which neatly completes the circle, because none of the exemption-favouring candidates either knows, or will tell us if they do know, how they would address the consequences.
For this reason, Clameur de Haro? will be sticking with one of the realists who, rightly, eschew facile, ill thought out promises, and have the courage to tell it like it is. But at the same time imploring them to grasp, in return, the nettle of arresting the inexorable growth of public spending by an administration to whom stringent fiscal discipline seems a wholly alien concept.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nick Palmer's Radically Different Economic System

Clameur de Haro? notices that, over on his Elect Nick Palmer 2008 blog, Mr Palmer regales us with his evident pride at having signed a Friends of the Earth petition “Call Time on Global Greed”.
Excoriating those who created “a crisis caused by a greedy, reckless and under-regulated economic system”, “biased against the poor and the environment”, the Petition calls for “a radically different economic system”: one that “reduces inequality, creates jobs, protects vulnerable citizens, preserves the environment, and works to eradicate poverty”.
How very noble and apparently altruistic. CdeH? however is reminded of a few realities.
First, Friends of the Earth, despite the misleading title, isn’t an environmental organisation. It was once – but no longer. Like Greenpeace, it was long ago taken over by the economic and political collectivist left, who perceived that, while socialism would never be permanently accepted as the prevailing economic system per se, if it could be cleverly cloaked in an environmental camouflage, then, to a deliberately under-educated populace, it just might be.
Secondly, the present financial crisis has, in actual fact, several origins, and many, many different culprits, ranging from fiscally irresponsible governments who directed central banks to hose unlimited credit at economies for no other reason than to cynically maintain an illusion of prosperity for political advantage, to financially illiterate consumers who foolishly lapped up every offer of credit lobbed their way, with no thought of ability to repay. The very thing that the present system has not been is under-regulated: over-regulation, but inefficiently conducted and misleadingly targeted, has played its significant part.
Thirdly, despite inequalities in degrees of betterment, no other system has ever delivered greater overall advancement, for the majority of the time, to the majority of humankind, than has capitalism. FoE’s “greed” is, of course, the leftist translation of the natural aspiration towards improving one’s lot possessed by all mankind. In the leftist lexicon, the desire for something as fundamental as a better education for one’s self and one’s children becomes “greed”.
Finally, Clameur de Haro? recalls that the FoE’s appealingly-labelled “radically different economic system”, the one which purports to “reduce inequality, create jobs, protect vulnerable citizens, preserve the environment, and work to eradicate poverty”, but which actually does the opposite, isn’t new (although it certainly is radically – and in more than one sense of the word – different). It’s been tried. It’s called communism, or its watered-down variant, authoritarian socialism.
And it doesn’t work.
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Candidate Evaluation – St Brelade No. 1

Despite being an interloper from the wrong side of the tracks, Clameur de Haro? managed to sneak undetected into the St Brelade No 1 hustings at St Aubin last Monday night to view and listen to the candidates on offer – and emerged profoundly depressed.

CdeH? knows full well that for one or two comparative deadbeats to join one or two more or less palatable hopefuls on a Parish Hall stage is by no means unusual. This however was dire: not one of the three candidates displayed any discernable qualifications whatsoever for membership of the legislature of a small, but deceptively complex economy.

Now this is bad enough – but what was interesting to CdeH?, though, was the palpable, almost tangible, anger among swathes of the audience that, on a range of issues, either one or two, or in some cases, all, of the three candidates had self-evidently not done their putative electorate the courtesy of conducting any significant prior research into subjects which could reasonably have been expected to arise.

The level of sheer economic illiteracy on display was quite breathtaking. From Mark Sutton the audience heard calls for tourism to be subsidised: from Alan Beadle, calls for airlines to be subsidised: and from Angela Jeune, calls for agriculture to be subsidised. But from not one of them was there even the hint of any recognition that subsidies actually have to be taxpayer-funded, much less any suggestion of how, and from where. And of course all were predictably in favour of selective, populist, GST exemptions, without evincing any obvious appreciation of the problems of definition, the costs of the resultant administrative bureaucracy, or the sources from which the consequent revenue shortfall could be made up.

Now Clameur de Haro? is no defender of the supremely botched introduction of what should have been a comparatively simple, low-level consumption-based tax, coupled with a meaningful, commensurate reduction in States’ spending to mitigate its impact: and, like many of the silent majority, views with trepidation the prospect of the unjustifiably hubristic Philip Ozouf becoming Treasury Minister. Yet each of Jeune, Sutton and Beadle appeared to have nothing to offer (whether on GST or on anything else), apart from generalised platitudes and very non-specific protestations of caring and earnestness. In 2008, that really isn’t enough.

CdeH? mingled among the departing audience to gauge reaction – the overwhelmingly prevalent response was “I really couldn’t bring myself to vote for any of these three non-entities – I’ll either spoil my paper or won’t bother”.

Sympathise with the electors of St Brelade No 1 for the woefully inadequate representation they are going to get for the next three years.........

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blogging and the Mainstream Media

Clameur de Haro? wonders whether Mr Alan Le Breton, sometime columnist of the Jersey Evening [sic] Post, rather disapproves of bloggers. In his column of 12 November, he says -
Now we have Blogosphere, a cyber-atmosphere of chat and information. The blog gives just as much broadcast expression to the astute as to the idiot, where opinions rather than judgments rule. There are apparently 112 million blogs out there, judicious or shrill: the choice is yours.
This Blogosphere is capable of being tapped into as much by enthusiastic babblers as governments, pressure groups and international companies. They have exploited the opportunity to flog their ideas or products by posting pseudo praise blogs; they have even got people known as ‘shadow bloggers’ to write the testimonials – the ghost writers of cyber-space.
This blogger’s paradise allows cowards to hide behind the keyboard, to exchange lurid accounts of anti-social exploits or behaviour, dismiss employees, break off relationships, abuse anyone from neighbours to media celebrities and, more worryingly, to lure the young and vulnerable into chat rooms and worse.
Leaving aside the columnist’s penchant for the melodramatic turn of phrase - “the ghost writers of cyber-space” (oh dear, oh dear….) CdeH? thinks that Mr Le Breton may in fact be more than a little miffed that an alternative avenue has opened up for the exercise of free speech, the dissemination of ideas, and the airing of argument and debate, and one which moreover doesn’t rely on the goodwill or sub-editing vagaries of the MSM for its publication. One where readers can in fact have access to varying opinions, presented to them not just via the MSM columnist’s worldview and the sub-editor’s pen, and where the MSM no longer has a monopoly on distribution.
Perhaps if Mr Le Breton’s employers didn’t inhibit the development of complex arguments by restricting letters to 400 words or so, and published both more, and more promptly (for example, Mr Robert Kisch’s measured response to Helier Clement’s 3 November cheap-shot, populist, throwaway line about “obscene” oil company profits wasn’t published until 14 November), the Jersey Evening [sic] Post might be more of a debating forum.
How potentially worrying for Mr Le Breton and his fellow hacks, though, that the blogosphere should give broadcast expression to opinions rather than judgments, and allow such heinous crimes as even the abuse of media celebrities? The abuse of media celebrities? Whoever can he have in mind? Whatever next?
This anxiety of course isn’t that far away from Hazel Blears’ recent agonizing about the growth of political blogging in the UK, to the extent of her fears that the point has been reached -
”…..where commentators are viewed by some as every bit as important as elected politicians, with views as valid as Cabinet Ministers'…..”
and that -
“…….political blogs are written by people with a disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy”.
Er…….Hazel and Alan - why should the views of CdeH? and fellow-bloggers, disparate though they may be, not be every bit as valid as the views of the governmentariat? Or the established commentariat, for that matter? Because CdeH?, and I hope fellow-bloggers, of whatever political stripe, are going to go on pinpointing hypocrisy, inefficiency, profligacy, and wrong-doing wherever they - rightly or wrongly - perceive it. Inconvenient it may be (one does hope so), but undemocratic it ain’t.
Finally, isn’t it just a tiny bit rich for Mr Le Breton to rail that the “..blogger’s paradise allows cowards to hide behind the keyboard…” ? Presumably he overlooks the fact that lurking incognito behind a keyboard adjacent to his, and offering provocative opinions on many issues of current controversy, is one Helier Clement, not to mention fellow nom-de-plume Meridian?
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Centralised Driving Licence Records - Manifestation of the Database State?

Ever watchful for instances of our government’s persistent desire to expand the information about us it holds on official databases, Clameur de Haro? spied in last Friday’s JEP (7th November) a plea from Peter Hanning, the Connétable of St Saviour, for “almost 40,000” islanders, and more especially his own 5,400 parishioners, to submit their driving licence renewal applications early, because of the potential long delays involved in having them processed and returned.
Because there’s an important issue of data privacy and security to consider here, CdeH? will ignore just this once the none-too-subtle demand for £40 up front, as much as 4 months before it’s actually due, thereby enabling the parishes to pocket a tidy sum in interest on ratepayers’ money. (CdeH? trusts that Icelandic banks, credit derivatives, and sundry other exotic - or should that perhaps be toxic? - financial instruments are currently off limits for Parish Treasurers and Procureurs du Bien Public, but you never know…………)
What CdeH? finds much more disturbing are the implications of the post-application process. Look for a moment at Mr Hanning’s own words, and pay particular attention to the highlighted section –
“After you have handed in your application form to the Parish Hall, the details are checked and entered onto an Islandwide database before your photograph and form are scanned into the system. The licences are printed out and laminated in batches at the Town Hall in St Helier before being posted directly to your home address”.
Presumably, this Island-wide database is the one that already exists for driving licence holders’ details, and has done ever since the parishes ceased to be their own licensing authorities, and became merely the issuing authorities (a sop to the parishes if ever there was one, and administratively a very unsatisfactory half-way house which pleases few, and inconveniences the vast majority).
Nevertheless, CdeH? is instinctively suspicious, and would like answers to the following questions –

Is any additional information, over and above that required purely for driving licence purposes, secretly encrypted on to the credit card style licence?

Precisely who has access to the data, and for what purposes? Is access routinely available to all public bodies and officials, or only on a strict need-to-know basis, coupled with justification and authorization?

How tightly are access, viewing rights, and amendment rights controlled? Could, for example, a parish official in St Ouen snoop on the St Clement licence details of a prospective son-in-law, or fabricate an endorsement on to a business rival’s licence?

If law enforcement agencies have access rights in lawful course of their duties (not unreasonable, within limits), what safeguards are in place to prevent and detect improper use, of the kind not exactly unknown in the recent past?

What integration is there with other States’ databases, like Social Security and Income Tax? Could officials of Social Security, say, search for a cross-matching of names and addresses to check whether a recipient of serious incapacity benefit doesn’t also have a no-incapacity driving licence? Preventing benefit fraud by reasonable means is legitimate, but this kind of linkage allows covert spying on the population to a wholly unacceptable degree.

Licensees’ details include a raft of personal data, photographs, forms, and even signatures. With the existence of the database being public knowledge, and with even CdeH? being able to work out that it would yield a treasure trove of sensitive personal information for criminals, what barriers and firewalls are there to prevent data abstraction for nefarious purposes?

In which public body does political accountability for the centralised database reside? Is it the Comité des Connétables? If not, who? On whose desk sits that famous sign “The Buck Stops Here”? Who do we blame, whose head should roll, who should fall on their sword, if a catastrophic data loss or security breach was to occur? In short, just who’s in charge?

What precautions are taken to ensure that the data held about us will not either (1) be lost while being sent on an unencrypted, non-passworded CD-ROM via insecure mail: or (2) copied to a memory stick which then gets left in the pub: or (3) stored on a laptop which gets nicked from the back seat of a car while the owner hops out to pick up the paper on the way home? All three have happened in the UK during the past year.......

Would the States indemnify the database’s entire population from consequential loss occurring as a result of the leakage of sensitive personal data if caused by the States’ or their agents’ reckless or negligent custody? What’s the extent of third party liability cover carried by the States against this? Is it sufficient?

What does the database cost to establish and maintain? Is it cost-effective? Could it be outsourced at lower cost, provided that legitimate access was not impeded and security was not compromised?

And finally - have all the operating parameters and data protection measures been reviewed and signed off by the Data Protection Commissioner?

Now for a couple of other aspects.

Doesn’t the basic concept of an Island-wide driving licences database run counter to the hoary old argument that a system of 12 individual parishes constituting 12 separate issuing authorities is somehow one of the key manifestations of individual parish identity?

And from the purely practical standpoint, if a centralised, all-Island, driving licence database exists, then why on earth does CdeH?, say, on moving house from Trinity to St John, have to go through the archaic and time-consuming rigmarole of surrendering a Trinity licence and applying – probably in person too, for photograph verification - for a new St John version (plus the £40 fee, no doubt)? The widespread assumption among CdeH?’s acquaintances is that it’s to give parish administration at least the fiction of something to do……thereby adding, of course, to the cost of public bureaucracy.

CdeH? did not anticipate the need, quite so soon after launching Clameur de Haro?, to comment at such length on the threats to the privacy and security of islanders’ personal details posed by the unremitting expansion of the database state.

CdeH? is disinclined just to trust Big Brother, much less learn to love him. So satisfactory answers and reassurances please, Big Brother. And now.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

A New Direction of Travel

Welcome to this the opening post from Clameur de Haro?
CdeH? is angry: in fact positively seething with exasperation and frustration at the poor quality of both the political philosophies currently on offer to the people of Jersey – and echoing the cry of Mercutio in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.. “a plague a’ both your houses!”.
CdeH? is most definitely NOT an enthusiastic standard-bearer for Jersey’s current Council of Ministers and the present States’ Establishment, and believes that the wider electorate’s manifest disillusionment with both is amply justified. Yet, like so many of the Island’s silent majority, CdeH? shudders at the prospect of the potential damage should what may be called the Stuart Svvret Tendency and the JDA/Green Coalition gain political ascendancy.
CdeH? is convinced that there really does exist a radical alternative direction for the Island – one between, at the one extreme, the complacently inefficient, overly bureaucratic, excessively mercantilist, and fiscally irresponsible current government: and at the other extreme, the assorted collective of tax-and-spend egalitarian socialists, muddled-thinking talk-gooders, and mendacious eco-authoritarians, masquerading under a disparate variety of labels of the left, but all essentially wanting the same thing - a much more interventionist, enterprise-averse, anti-freedom and aggressively redistributive regime.
CdeH? contends that a significant number of Jersey’s current domestic problems stem from one thing – the sheer size, scale, and therefore cost of government and administration: that Jersey’s public sector is too large for the size of the population, and generally does too much: and that it compounds that error by doing so expensively and inefficiently – much, much more expensively and inefficiently than would private enterprise, because of government’s ability, and natural inclination, to increase the tax burden to cover expenditure, rather than control its activity and therefore its cost, so as to keep expenditure below the tax revenue achievable consistent with a flourishing, dynamic but also equitable society.
So – for CdeH? the direction of travel has to be to reducing the size and impact of the state, curtailing its remit, controlling its cost, and lowering its burden on the economy – by applying free-market and libertarian economic and social policy prescriptions, and eschewing the deceptively and superficially attractive solutions dangled by both persuasions.
From CdeH?'s position, poised in the Royal Square on the steps of the States' Assembly, this will be the approach put forward in the coming days, weeks and months.
Watch this space.
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