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Comment: Lights, camera, action…..ready for States TV

Comment: Lights, camera, action…..ready for States TV

Monday 26 September 2016

Comment: Lights, camera, action…..ready for States TV

Monday 26 September 2016

The Great British Bake-Off row has nothing on the States of Jersey, as a proper ding-dong, without a saucepan in sight, is about to come to your screens.

The States will be broadcast over the web for the first time ever today as 20th century technology will come to Jersey in the 21st century.

So who will be the stars of the screen, the heartthrobs of Halkett Place, the rogues of the Royal Court? 

First of all viewers may be surprised by the general air of gentility which surrounds the chamber. If you are expecting the infantile Barbary apes who are often on display in the Mother of Parliaments, Westminster, then you will be disappointed. 

Having said that, our Ministers, Senators, Deputies and Constables can squabble with the best of them when needed.

As a general rule though, States members are respectful towards each other, probably at least in part due to the presence of the Bailiff, who sits on the highest chair in the chamber, underlining his overall dominance above that of the crown, whose representative the Lieutenant Governor perches in a slightly lower seat, symbolising his inferiority to the Island’s head. 

So when the cameras start rolling, who will catch the eye? The Chief Minister Ian Gorst for one.  

An 'eeh-bah-gum' Lancashire farmer by breed and birth, the Chief Minister pipped Senator Philip Bailhache to the post in 2011. 

Don’t be misled by Chief Minister’s Gorst’s bank manager appearance and studious expression, he is a farmer’s son who sometimes wields his threshing machine.

Asked a few weeks ago by Deputy Montford Tadier whether he was going to stand again for election, the Chief Minister immediately turned the tables by saying his sole focus was on achieving maximum service delivery to the good folk of Jersey. OK, so it didn’t exactly answer the question in any way, shape or form, but it was exquisite political timing  nonetheless. 

As a man of the soil, he couldn’t have dug a better hole for his adversaries had he tried. 

Recently elected Senator Sarah Ferguson is the Betty Boothroyd of the chamber, all prudent housekeeping and yet formidable at the same time. Baroness Betty, a former Commons Speaker, was full of mumsy like-ability, but with a sharp tongue when required. 

Of course, Jersey doesn’t have any political parties as such, other than Reform Jersey, a distinguishing factor which has often been highlighted as one of its strengths when it comes to impartial and stringent debate.

Reform Jersey - Deputies Tadier, Geoff Southern and Sam Mezec - do bring a certain clash of culture to the austere debating chamber. Deputy Mezec is an impressive public speaker, with an equally impressive mane of sweeping hair, while Deputy Southern has a certain Dennis Skinner about him. He asks awkward questions and is often derided for that, but without the Skinners and Southerns of the world, politics would be a dull old place. 

At the Treasury there is Senator Alan Maclean and as viewers will see, never has a man looked more like a Treasury Minister than Alan Maclean. Tall and as straight-backed as a Sergeant Major, you can’t imagine anything but fiscal prudence from him. He could have been born in City pinstripes, whereas Deputy Judy Martin is as pie and mash as they come, complete wiv ‘er cockney vowels. 

Deputy Martin might speak like the cast of Eastenders, but there’s precious little soap about her. Direct as a nuclear guided missile, she calls a spade a spade and good luck to her for that. 

The Bailiff, William Bailhache, does keep order with the deliberate and easy touch of a English private school headteacher, even though his background was in the law. 

After his swearing-in as Deputy Bailiff seven years ago he said: “My father was a lawyer, my grandfather was a lawyer and my son and daughter are both lawyers. It’s difficult to criticise a family just because they produce a lot of lawyers.”

True enough and it is a sign of the chamber’s strength that we have such disparate backgrounds as famers, lawyers, chaps with long hair, ladies with short hair and even cockneys. 


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Posted by Derek Harvarde on
Great news! The Muppet Show is back, Real entertainment!
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