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Does 'Crown Dependency' really reflect Jersey's status?

Does 'Crown Dependency' really reflect Jersey's status?

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Does 'Crown Dependency' really reflect Jersey's status?

Wednesday 27 March 2024


The description 'Dependency' suggests a high level of control or influence – that one is subservient, perhaps a 'colonial' relationship. In reality, does the term 'Dependency' reflect Jersey's true political and economic status to the United Kingdom?

That's the question being asked by Advocate Carl Parslow – here's what he had to say...

I have been pondering over Sir Philip Bailhache and Gavin St Pier's comments that Jersey and Guernsey (and the Channel Islands as a whole) should be re-negotiating the description the United Kingdom imposes on us, namely Crown 'Dependencies'.

On a day-to-day basis, I doubt many islanders pay the description 'Dependency' any thought whatsoever. Does it really matter what the islands are described as? In the grand scheme of things, one could easily argue that are many far more important things to worry about in the islands: cost of living, housing, climate change, to name but a few. Surely our collective energies should be focused on sorting these issues out and not focus on frivolity?

But, and I think there is an argument for saying it is a big 'but', our identity is important and being described as a "Dependency" is questionable.

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Pictured: Sir Philip Bailhache, Deputy and former Bailiff, has previously raised the issue.

While the British Crown may be the ultimate sovereign authority, the relationship is based on historical and constitutional principles rather than a hierarchical 'Dependency'.

The term 'Dependency' oversimplifies this complex and distinctive arrangement. What we are not, is part of the United Kingdom. We have our own distinct laws; we have our own parliament; we have our own right of self-determination (mostly). We 'had' our own language.

The description 'Dependency' suggests a colonial relationship; we have never been a colony of the United Kingdom. The description 'Dependency' suggests a higher level of control or influence from the United Kingdom than is the case. The description 'Dependency' suggests we are subservient. All in all, the description 'Dependency' does not reflect the island's political and economic status.

It would be an acceptable term if we were 'Dependent' islands like, for example, the Isle of Wight, the Shetlands or the Scilly islands. However, we are not an administrative division of the United Kingdom. We are, or should be, extremely proud of our distinct independent heritage, a proud and successful small island 'nation'.

As an aside, I was in the company of a sprinkling of French and English people recently. The inevitable question arose - what part of England are you from? Which way did you vote in Brexit? I explained that I was not from England, but actually from Jersey in the Channel Islands and didn't get a vote.

None of my newly found friends to the north of the Island of Alderney, nor those to the east of Jersey, could accept that Jersey was self-governing (or that we didn't get a vote). Où est Jersey? Surely you are just like the isle of Wight, part of Hampshire? Vous ne faites pas partie du Royaume-Uni! You are definitely dependant on it, it says it in the title: 'Crown Dependency'. C'est ridicule, vous faites partie de l'Angleterre! Our newly formed entente cordiale had perhaps not started too well. Thankfully our French friends introduced a Trou Normande to the discussion, we all agreed to disagree and moved on with another glass of the Norman nectar.

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Pictured: Islanders didn't get a vote in the Brexit referendum.

Every islander who has braved a visit off the rock will no doubt have a similar story to tell. The story of the 'almost unknown' small island 'nation' of Jersey.
If you actually think about 'us' for one moment.

Jersey, that little rock 9 miles by 5 miles, has always punched well above its weight. The history of Jersey has had extremely proud moments, we have been very successful in our ventures.

As a small island 'nation', we have produced film stars, sports stars, inventors. We have developed a finance industry which is the envy of many a jurisdiction. We have sailed and explored the world. We have endured more than one 'invasion' and survived an occupation. Just consider what many of our foremothers and forefathers were able to achieve here and across the world having first been raised on or adopted this tiny rock as home.

All in all, we should all collectively be proud of 'us'. An island partly French, partly English with a large sprinkling of many other nationalities.

Even in the last few weeks, four islanders completed the gruelling row across the Atlantic. These four islanders broke a world record, an absolutely fantastic achievement. But did you hear the commentator refer to Jersey as 'Jersey, United Kingdom'? I doubt that too many people even gave that comment a second thought (well, someone did because it was later corrected).

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Pictured: The commentator speaking about Jersey's record-breaking Intrepid 232 team referred to Jersey as being in the United Kingdom.

The problem is if we don't defend our identity, people will start to believe and or accept the narrative. It wasn't that long ago a number of English MPs proposed giving the islands an MP in the UK Parliament. One has to question, why? Who will get that honour next, the French?

If we don't want to be further subsumed by the United Kingdom, we have to stand up for ourselves. No, I don't not mean that we hold our own 'Jerexit', or 'Channexit', what I mean is that we have to ensure that this gradual creep toward becoming or being considered an administrative division of the UK, a 'Dependency', is curbed.

What I mean is that the elected members of the States of Jersey must produce policies to ensure that we maintain our small island 'nation' identity and actually does something with these policies. It is all well and good producing reports but words on a piece of paper without action mean nothing. All members of the States of Jersey (and Guernsey) owe all islanders a duty of care to ensure that our status is defended at all times, because no one else is going to do that for us.

Once upon a time islanders were proud living on their rock, people off the rock actually knew what and who Jersey was.

The proposition made by both Sir Philip Bailhache and Gavin St Pier to re-categorise our small island 'nations' that make up the Channel Islands is important. It may seem the musings of the political elite but just think about your own identity, there are laws and regulations that protect that.

Next time you encounter a Jersey government or any other website with a country dropdown list without 'Jersey' on it, or a reference to Jersey being a part of the United Kingdom, call it out to your Deputy, it is what they are elected to do, to protect the 'us'.

Instead of spending all its time defending the 'government' against its own electorate, the Jersey communications department should be provided with a standing instruction to call out and correct references to Jersey being part of the United Kingdom. All of these issues while seeming irrelevant are part of a bigger picture, the erosion of the identity of 'Our dear Channel Islands...'

READ MORE...

Should we be Crown Dependencies... or Crown Territories?

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