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INSIDE STORY: Now the party’s over... Election night at coalition HQ

INSIDE STORY: Now the party’s over... Election night at coalition HQ

Thursday 23 June 2022

INSIDE STORY: Now the party’s over... Election night at coalition HQ

Thursday 23 June 2022


Party HQs can be difficult places to be at times.

It starts with the warm greetings and introductions, but it’s soon lots of questions to the journalist about how things have gone around the island and when the results will start coming in.

Also, there’s usually those among the supporters who are doing their own hurriedly scribbled spreadsheets, keen to chat about the latest rumours from around the counts. There were plenty of those on the night.

The Progress Party and Jersey Liberal Democrats were the right fit, or so JLC leader Sir Philip Bailhache told the gathering of 30 or so candidates and supporters at the Savoy Hotel.

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Pictured: All smiles at the start of the night...

Once the election night broadcast from the BBC had been turned down so Sir Philip could be heard, he explained how much they’d all bonded as a team enjoyed the experience. 

Senator Steve Pallett, the Progress Party leader, echoed his words: “It’s been a really positive experience.

"I can’t think of any time there was a point when we thought it wouldn’t work.”

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Pictured: The party leaders discussthe coalition's evening at the Savoy Hotel.

The buzz in the room had reached its height at that point. The radio broadcast was barely audible at times as the candidates and supporters settled into what they were hoping would be their night. 

But as the first Deputy results came in there was a collective hush.

News of the early casualties in St. Helier South caused raised eyebrows and racing pulses.

When the radio broadcast cut out not once, but twice when the St. Clement results were being read out, a rumour started flying around the room that the Jersey Alliance party candidates Sir Mark Boleat and Deputy Lindsay Ash were no longer in the running.

While that was a terrible blow for the Jersey Alliance, the JLC saw two of its candidates become early casualties in two St. Helier districts.

JLC - wallman

Pictured: Unsuccessful St. Helier Central candidate Julie Wallman (JLC) being comforted.

Angela Jeune, who had previously been a Deputy in St. Brelade, was one of them. “I always expected the outcome that we got; however, you have to give people a choice and I believe we did that,” she said. “I believe parties are the way forward.”

After that early setback, there were cheers when Deputy Steve Luce was elected in Grouville and St. Martin. One of the split parish districts, he was unsure how he would do against the established candidates in neighbouring parish.

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Pictured: Sitting States Members Steve Pallett and Steve Luce embrace as Luce is confirmed Deputy of Grouville and St. Martin.

“It was quite noticeable in Grouville when I went down there were a lot of people queuing to vote,” he said. “I knew a few but certainly nowhere near the amount I knew in St. Martin so that was an issue.”

Unless you were a Reform Jersey candidate, this was not a good night for the parties. One by one, Alliance party members failed to make any headway in the poll and when the Chief Minister Senator John le Fondré lost in St. John, St. Lawrence, and Trinity, Progress Party Leader Steve Pallett began to look nervous. 

David Benn was next for the JLC to just miss the cut in St. Mary, St. Ouen and St. Peter but only by 48 votes to Senator Lyndon Farnham. Surprisingly good going really for a newcomer in a very tough district.

“I’m really pleased with what we did; I'm just disappointed we didn’t do that little bit better,” he said.

“On the doorstep we had a lot of issues I would have loved to have taken up, particularly on mental health.”

If the night had started off slowly, it began to drag as we waited to find out if St. Brelade and St. Saviour would turn things around, a last roll of the dice for the coalition, perhaps.

With Sir Mark Boleat’s campaign to be Chief Minister dead in its tracks, the momentum was rapidly swinging in Senator Kristina Moore’s direction, it was not good listening for all those in the room backing Sir Philip for the top job. 

“Oh dear, oh dear,” Deputy Luce was overheard saying as the news from St. Brelade confirmed Senator Pallet’s time in the States was at an end. 

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Pictured: Shock and dismay as Samarès ward campaigner and former Assistant Minister Senator Steve Pallett, and his St. Brelade running mate, Steve Bailey, fail to secure seats.

“I’m clearly disappointed,” said Senator Pallett, as he and Steve Bailey got up to leave. “But I've said to people all through the last week that you’ve got to expect the unexpected and what we’ve seen tonight is that people want new candidates. I have a Plan B, there’s other things I want to do, and I’ll just have to get on and do them. That’s me finished.”

It was a blow that Deputy Luce felt more than most.

He said: “Steve Pallett is a really good politician who has a lot of social conscience and does some really good work. He's been my running mate for 11 years and I’m going to miss him terribly but that’s democracy for you. People get the chance to vote and that’s really important and they’ve taken the decision this evening. I’m devastated.”

The Progress Party suffered another setback when Sophie Walton did not get a seat in St. Saviour, the last large district to be announced. The JLC’s Malcolm Ferey was jubilant coming in second.

After shaking and hugging nearly everyone there, including an ITV camera operator, he explained what it meant to him.

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Pictured: Successful JLC candidate Malcolm Ferey celebrates his runner-up spot in St. Saviour.

“I’ve tasted the bitter weeds of defeat but all that serves to do is make this victory all the sweeter."

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