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How do we create a united Jersey?

How do we create a united Jersey?

Thursday 29 October 2020

How do we create a united Jersey?


As the world faces more and more challenges, one islander considers the impact of an increasingly divided Jersey and the need to restore a sense of community...

Jonathan Channing, a local neurodiversity campaigner and tech wizard, reflects on the fundamental values that are common to us all, and how a new style of thinking could help create a community-led society...

"As the 2022 election begins to loom and uncertainty and change are firmly situated on the horizon of our political landscape, one does worry about the impact of an increasingly divided Jersey, a Jersey that continues to leave the issue of a united community on the back burner. Addressing these issues is by no means an easy task and it will require islanders and elected officials alike to embrace a new kind of thinking.

The New Social Covenant, a term penned by The World Economic Forum is based on a simple concept of community participation and shared values, instilling a sense of trust and ensuring mutual responsibility to those shared values.

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Pictured: Addressing the issue of a united community will require islanders and elected officials alike to embrace a new kind of thinking. 

Values are what bind us to a common purpose or common direction and are often the unseen precursor to our ideals and policies even if we ourselves do not consciously consider or acknowledge them. We all have values and we are driven by them in differing ways. Values will ultimately vary and are often rooted in cultures, religions, and philosophies and the World Economic Forum sees the following as common to all:

  • The dignity of the human person, whatever their race, gender, background, or beliefs
  • The importance of a common good that transcends individual interests
  • The need for stewardship – a concern not just for ourselves but for posterity

Some fairly fundamental values which I hope you would agree are largely shared within our community.

So, what can Jersey learn from the New Social Covenant and its new style of thinking?

Well, firstly we have to understand the New Covenant is the proposed next frontier for our society as we grow increasingly values-based.

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Pictured: If we are going to create a community-led society and prosper as one, we must first address divides. 

We are seeing a shift with the business world becoming increasingly aware of their responsibility to their community, the environment, and the sustainability of their function in society. Some suggested points that will likely feature are as follows:

  • Agreement on basic, universal values and ethics
  • Increased opportunities and social mobility
  • Stewardship of the environment and a commitment to preserving natural capital for the benefit of future generations
  • Engaging the next generation in designing new models and practices
  • Adapting new ways to measure progress at both national and company levels
  • The promotion of human well-being, happiness, flourishing, and freedom to live a valued life as key societal goals

What is the disconnect and how may this new style of thinking help bridge it?

If we are going to create a community-led society and prosper as one, we must first address divides, the divide between sub-communities and cultures, the divide of social-economics, in our community through belonging and participation.

So how do we get there and what is the vehicle to our destination? Firstly, we have the conversation, we provoke thought, we deliberate, we walk the most appropriate steps to increase trust and engagement in our community.

New style thinking for our Assembly

Electoral reform in Jersey is a well-debated topic. However, if we are to embrace new types of thinking, our electoral system must be forward-looking. To do this, we must realise that the reality we live in today is very different from the realities of the past. Once upon a time, we rode horses and our news was the word of mouth and newspapers that reality has changed and the way people engage has evolved to be more widely focused through increased access to the island and up-to-the-minute information.

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Pictured: If we are to embrace new types of thinking our electoral system must be forward-looking.

The presence of the Constable in the Assembly simply does not fit in with new styles of thinking, their existence in our Assembly is antiquated but their role in our parishes are paramount. A Constable is the 'Father of the Parish' and should therefore be the glue that binds parishioners to our political process this could be facilitated through citizen assemblies which would help canvas views and increase civic engagement through pro-active inclusion in our political process, which can then be fed back to the elected officials of our Assembly.

An island-wide mandate

With our Constable's new focus and the increased civic engagement from the Citizens’ assemblies within the parish, we are able to start thinking differently about the mandate that is given to our elected Assembly members and that argument is a simple one which can be articulated by asking a few simple questions.

Questions to consider

Is a parish representative able to fully represent the interests of the island while they are reliant on their parishioners for re-election? - This question is at the heart of our title "A United Jersey"

The good of the island vs the good of the Parish? - a parish electoral system is simply not conducive to representing Jersey's interests as a whole, it is polarizing the decision-making process.

Is everyone voting for their parish representative conducive to unity within Jersey? - If we truly want a unified Jersey then we need island-wide thinking and island-wide values!

Values-led Politics

Independent politicians with independent policies and promises offer zero accountability and do not strike an appropriate pledge for the prosperity of all. The mechanism must exist to decrease silo-mentality within our Assembly.

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Pictured: A united Jersey with its collective values on its sleeve is not so easily pushed aside or placated come election time.

Values coupled with increased participation and inclusion in our political process increase the accountability of those who profess to serve our interests. A values pledge for Jersey could provide a solution to this as all candidates will have no choice but to act according to their electorate's values if they wish to seek re-election. A united Jersey with its collective values on its sleeve is not so easily pushed aside or placated come election time.

Civic Engagement

Jersey scored lowest for voter turnout in a 'health check' of 41 countries across the world in the Better Life Index. This new reality can simply not be ignored and must be addressed, It is evident bold and drastic change is needed if we are to embrace new types of thinking and create a united Jersey!

The New Social Covenant seeks to repair trust and restore a sense of mutual responsibility through participation and creation of our shared values. It is my belief that it's time for this new type of thinking to take root in Jersey's community and Assembly!"

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