Whatever way you look at this, this 6 week Alliance led campaign is propaganda at tax payers expense

Feb 7, 2022

 

Over the next 6 weeks, voters will be subjected to a major advertising blitz, on television, radio and on social media, celebrating the Alliance led government’s achievements over the past 4 years. No doubt the media will fact check these in due course.  

When questioned by Murray Norton after playing a 5 minute video to the Jersey Chamber of Commerce the First Minister emphatically denied the video or the campaign was propaganda and or that it was improper to use taxpayers money for the campaign production.

The question I ask myself is notwithstanding the First Minister’s steadfast denial that this is propaganda, is it right in any circumstance for a government to be blatantly telling its tax payers how good it perceives itself to be, using taxpayers money?  The second question I ask is should the Jersey Government be embarking on such propaganda campaigns in the first place?

Ministers have plenty of opportunities to outline and defend policies through the States Assembly and through the media both traditional and social. If ministers whether Alliance or otherwise want to win further approval they should pay for political advertising out of party funds or their own funds.  

Government-funded advertisements should be confined to matters where there is a genuine public-interest case.  For example to convey objective information that the public might not otherwise have, such as COVID-19. Such advertising is a form of the traditional public notice or for campaigns aimed at changing attitudes such as smoking, dangerous driving or domestic violence.

A campaign exhorting the value of Jersey government policies, such as the series we will now be subjected to over the next 6 weeks do not count as either genuinely useful information or uncontroversial public education.

While the First Minister and his Alliance led ministers might argue that boosting confidence is in Jersey’s interest, the emphasis on the government’s positive role indicates that the main purpose is to make the Alliance led government look good and so increase its electoral popularity.  Whatever way you look at this, the 6 week campaign is propaganda.

As stated by the OECD Governments should establish and deliver higher standards of ethicality and integrity. All public officials and civil servants should deal positively with unethical practice when they encounter it.  I am concerned that the ‘we are great campaign’ falls on the wrong side of the line.  It is unethical to use propaganda in this way and it is wrong for taxpayers to pay for this campaign.  

The use of public funds in such circumstances in other countries is not permitted. As to whether it does in Jersey will be a matter for the Police, Law Officers and or the Public Accounts Committee.  If it doesn’t under Jersey Law it certainly should and if no laws or regulations currently exist someone needs to write them.

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