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"Justice", "stability" or a "clean sheet"? What each CM hopeful is promising

Wednesday 17 January 2024

"Justice", "stability" or a "clean sheet"? What each CM hopeful is promising

Wednesday 17 January 2024


The three politicians hoping to take Jersey's top political job have shared their visions for the island... But who is backing them and what exactly are they promising?

After Chief Minister Kristina Moore was ousted in an historic no-confidence vote yesterday, four Deputies threw their hats into the ring: challenger and ex-Minister Tom Binet, Treasury Minister Ian Gorst, Reform Jersey leader Sam Mézec, and Lyndon Farnham.

But Deputy Binet was unable to get the number of votes required to get him over the line in time for today's 17:00 deadline, leaving just three candidates – each with their own vision.

Express has read Lyndon Farnham, Ian Gorst and Sam Mézec's visions, so you don't have to... From renewable energy to reining in public spending, as well as the Cabinet Office and Comms Unit, to a fresh focus on the Fort and La Folie, here's what each candidate has pledged...

Lyndon Farnham

BACKERS (6): Constables Simon Crowcroft (Assistant Chief Minister), Richard Vibert, Richard Honeycombe, Philip Le Sueur, Kevin Lewis, and Marcus Troy.

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Previous Deputy Chief Minister under John Le Fondré and leader of the ‘Our Hospital’ project, Deputy Farnham says his vision is for an “island that provides a high quality and a more affordable way of life for all residents”.

While he does not provide specific policy suggestions, Deputy Farnham highlights a number of key areas of focus:

Government: He describes the public service as “too cumbersome”, and trying to do “too much” but achieving “little”, adding: “We must slim down.”

Health: Jersey residents should have “access to the best possible facilities and services”.

Renewable energy: Deputy Farnham shies away from specific comment on a potential wind farm, but says Jersey should “strive to be a leader in renewable energy, waste management, and conservation efforts.”

Housing: Deputy Farnham pledges to prioritise affordability, stating that it is critical that “individuals and families of all income levels have access to safe, decent and affordable homes”.

Economy: Deputy Farnham specifically singles out “sustainable industries that respect and protect our environment” as an area of focus.

Heritage: Again, referencing “sustainability and environmental stewardship”, Deputy Farnham commits to protecting and maintaining the island’s historic sites, while also “embracing modern developments”.

Working together Deputy Farnham acknowledged that work between Ministers and backbench scrutineers needed to be better, and emphasised that he was keen on collaboration – something he said, "as a Jerseyman" and longstanding politician, was "an inherent part of my DNA". "To repeat a phrase said a number of times in past assemblies, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness," he concluded.

You can find his vision here.

Ian Gorst

BACKERS (14): Deputies Kristina Moore (Chief Minister), Kirsten Morel (Deputy Chief Minister), Helen Miles (Home Affairs Minister), Malcolm Ferey (Assistant Minister), Lucy Stephenson (Assistant Minister), Steve Ahier (Acting Infrastructure Minister), Louise Doublet (Assistant Minister), Inna Gardiner (Education Minister), David Warr (Housing Minister), Elaine Millar (Social Security Minister), Steve Luce, Max Andrews, and Constables David Johnson and Deirdre Mezbourian.

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Current Treasury Minister and a former Chief Minister who himself survived a vote of no confidence in 2017, Deputy Gorst promised "experience and stability" combined with a "laser focus" on action in his vision paper.

He went on to share his key areas of focus and the specific actions he would take to address these:

Hospital: Deputy Gorst was clear that he supported the current project and would like it to move forward, adding: "We cannot delay this project any further".

Assisted dying: Deputy Gorst promised that, under his leadership, a debate on assisted dying "will take place before the next election".

Help with cost of living through more competition: Deputy Gorst spoke of running a Government which would "increase competition across all sectors, ensuring that prices can be as low and competitive as possible" with the help of a renewed Competition Law. He also said 

Tax: He pledged to "keep taxes low" while increasing thresholds "year-on-year" and keeping duty rises to a "minimum". He also spoke of providing "targeted support" through the Social Security system.

Bringing up the minimum wage: Deputy Gorst said that, under his leadership, progress would be made towards the target of getting the minimum wage up to two thirds of median earnings.

Housing: On the question of the "housing crisis", Deputy Gorst said the answer lay in "building more homes and supporting first-time buyers". 

He also promised to "bring forward plans" to redevelop St Saviour's hospital into a village with affordable homes and Keyworker accommodation and "eliminate" red tape that might prevent development.

He also said he would work with the States of Jersey Development Company on "improved and more acceptable" proposals for the Waterfront and South Hill. 

Residents' rights: Deputy Gorst promised to bring in a new landlord licensing scheme and provide "greater protections for landlords and tenants".

Plugging recruitment gaps: Deputy Gorst said the Government would seek to negotiate further agreements to bring more seasonal workers to the island from places like Antigua and Barbuda, while also investing in training to equip islanders for the "jobs of the future".

Health: He said that work would continue to "bring health spending under control", as well as reducing waiting lists and improving permanent staff numbers. Adult and children's mental health services were also singled out as a priority.

Economy: While he pledged to be a "robust" defender of the island's largest industry, particularly in the wake of MONEYVAL and developments in FinTech, he also pledged support for tourism, farming, fishing, arts and heritage. Air and sea connectivity were also branded "key" to the island's growth, with Deputy Gorst stating his desire to "secure our long-term sea passenger and freight links with the UK and France".

Fort Regent: While he noted there is "no funding in place" to redevelop Fort Regent, Deputy Gorst said he would work with colleagues and industry groups on "affordable and deliverable" proposals for the short- and long- term.

Capital projects: A site for a new Fire and Ambulance Service HQ would be decided upon in the next two years, Deputy Gorst said, as well as new primary schools and green space in St Helier. He also pledged to find a "permanent home" for the sea cadets and bring the long-closed and dilapidated former La Folie pub "back into use for the benefit of our community and economy". 

Energy: Like Deputy Farnham, Deputy Gorst passed no comment on a possible wind farm, but said environmentally friendly behaviour would be encouraged in his government, and that work on investigating "options for our future energy needs" would progress.

Public sector spending: Deputy Gorst pledged to control spending and ensure any budget rises are "affordable" and "aimed at frontline services". Under his watch, the controversial Cabinet Office would be "decentralise[d]". Deputy Gorst said future pay rises for staff should be "equitable, affordable and proportionate".

Preparing for economic shock: He also confirmed that he does not support any further debt and said, where possible, reserves should be topped up so they are "readily available in the event of an economic shock" like the 2008 crash.

External relations: He said he would continue building relationships with the UK, EU and further afield, and also said he would work to ensure all the Channel Islands "speak with one unified voice in the world". 

Working together: To help States Members work together better and overturn the "downbeat" atmosphere in the States Assembly, he pledged to meet the Constables, Scrutiny and other key area leads regularly, as well as creating a 'Chief Minister's Consultative Panel' where matters of "national importance that cut across any political spectrums" can be discussed.

Find his full vision here.

Sam Mézec

BACKERS: Deputies Lynsday Feltham, Catherine Curtis, Geoff Southern, Ralucs Kovacs, Carina Alves, Tom Coles, Rob Ward, Beatriz Porée, Montfort Tadier – all Reform Jersey politicians.

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Reform Jersey Leader Deputy Mézec said his Government would "make up for lost time and get our island back on track".

He said his vision for Jersey law in the 'Statement of Values' in Reform Jersey's constitution:

"We believe that it is the duty of the state, in partnership with its citizens, to help create a society that works for all, including the poorest and most disadvantaged. We believe in speaking up for the vulnerable, encouraging those with aspiration, and ensuring all can live in a society built on social and economic justice. We wish the Island to prosper in a manner that will improve the wellbeing of all current and future citizens.”

He said he would not "reinvent the wheel" and keep to the Government's agreed strategic priorities, with some key tweaks aligning with the party's 'New Deal' manifesto document:

Housing crisis: Deputy Mézec said he would officially declare a housing crisis on day one of being in Government, immediately setting up en "emergency Taskforce" with a "drastically fast-tracked timeline" for introducing legislative protections for renters.

A "just transition" to net-zero: While recognising that working to combat climate change is "morally the right thing to do" and presents Jersey with a "huge opportunity" to exploit new economic opportunities, Deputy Mézec said that it was crucial that proposals for change were "commonsense" and "make working people's lives better, rather than the badly targeted use of taxpayers' money to subsidise the affluent" that had come before. 

Cut down the Cabinet Office: Deputy Mézec said that the controversial Cabinet Office had "not been constructed properly" and needed to be "fixed", adding: "The expansion of some offices in government to increase their influence at the expense of our democratic procedures must be reversed."

...and the PR? Emphasising a need to "reconnect the government with the public", Deputy Mézec said the government's Communications Unit had "achieved the opposite". "Ministers will be encouraged to spend time in their departments to get to know their frontline staff and the issues faced on the ground, rather than spend the majority of their time in Broad Street," Deputy Mézec said.

Find his vision statement here.

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