How to consult the public – and then shaft them

Strong words, but then this episode was one of the things which made me the most angry in all my time in the States.

Politicians making misleading statements in the House, is kind of different. This was the public being invited by their government to a consultation exercise, working at it all day, and then the conclusion they had come to being changed and appearing in the JEP as something quite different – not what they wanted, but what the organisers had wanted. This was the black art of spin at its absolute worst – the betrayal of the public by their own government.

It was sickening. The best I can do to explain it is to quote a speech made on September 23rd, 2009:

“The second example, my last example, is Imagine Jersey 2035 which did such huge damage to the credibility of the Communications Unit and to our government.  What they did there was they presented the message that the public supported the notion that the population had to increase.  Unfortunately I do not have the actual press cutting with me.  If I had I would read it out but the fact is that the 100 people who gathered in the Royal Yacht Hotel down by the Weighbridge had indicated that they agreed that no nil net migration was not correct and that limited net inward migration would be okay. 

(NOTE migration into and out of the island is happening all the time – about 2500 people in each direction every year. NET INWARD MIGRATION is the number coming in LESS the number going out. NIL NET INWARD MIGRATION  is when the numbers coming in and the numbers going out are THE SAME.)

The whole point about that is that nil net inward migration gives you a falling population.  It gives you that crisis of going down to below (a population of) 80,000 with the Chief Executive Officer shroud-waving and saying: “This will give us a deficit of £140 million.”  People faced with that said they were quite happy to have limited net inward migration of plus 150 households and that would have given us a steady population.  (NOTE that was the calculation at that time. It has changed since)  This was relayed to the public as the people who attended want more population.  That is spin.  It was not honest and it did a vast amount of damage.”

Source Hansard Sept. 23rd 2009 3.1.5

There are certain issues, and population is one of them, that the ruling group will do anything to see that they get their way. If that means that the results of a day-long consultation have to be manipulated, then that is what they do.

Their policy is to increase the population steadily.This means that there is always scarcity in the housing market, and that means that prices, whether it be rent or purchase, are always high. Who wins? Property owners. Who loses? Rent-payers and people who wish to buy.

So, which way to vote? If you think the balance in the housing market is wrong, then beware those who talk of “limiting” population, “controlling” population or any such thing. These words are completely meaningless. The only thing to look out for is a candidate who says – yes, I believe the population should stay the same as it is now. For votes on population by existing States members see here


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