Political Parties and the Connetables

TPP believe that it is the right time for Jersey to embrace party politics. The current system of electing 49 independent States Members on 49 individual manifestos means that its extremely difficult for any elected Member to make good on promises made during an election. We believe this is an issue the public are becoming increasingly frustrated about and the cause of much of the voter apathy that expresses itself with low turnouts in local elections.

TPP believe that the public want their elected representatives to be accountable and we believe the party structure is the only way to ensure that elected Members deliver on their policy statements. We believe it necessary for the future functionality of the island’s government that political parties become part of the fabric of any future Council of Ministers where, collectively, elected party representatives can work collaboratively for the benefit of islanders.

It is likely that small, loosely formed, groups of current politicians (or prospective candidates) may form themselves into political groups in the run up to the June 2022 election. As much as this may be attractive to some, how can such groups be trusted to deliver on policy when they have not signed up to a properly formulated constitution that binds their members to their collective aims?

It is vital that the public can trust the candidates they vote for to deliver on promises, and TPP believes that a joint manifesto will offer the public the assurance they desire when they vote. This will raise the integrity of States Members moving forward.

The States of Jersey (SoJ) will, after the next election and as a result of the recently implemented changes, comprise 49 elected members (12 Connetables and 37 Deputies), the latter elected in 9 newly identified constituencies.TPP acknowledge and recognise that the Constables will remain a key constituent of the SoJ, comprising almost 25% of the SoJ membership, and will provide the necessary protection to the Parish and Honorary system which TPP will continue to support and protect.

A party constitution provides accountability through a published manifesto. A Constitution also provides a ‘ whip system’ that all political parties are reliant on to ensure members follow party policy. In order for manifesto policies to succeed they must be translated into government policy, firstly through the Strategic Plan (the Island’s political vision) that every government must deliver. It must then be delivered and implemented through a Government Plan.

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Our Policy

We see no reason why Connetables cannot be part of our vision and help deliver a joint manifesto in next year’s general election without the fear that they will in some way leave their parishes open to political manoeuvring or control from any political party of which they are a member.

Unlike other Members of the SoJ (at present Senators and Deputies, and from June 2022, just Deputies), Connetables owe their parishioners a dual duty, as evidenced by their oath.

These are :-

a) a duty to their parishioners, and
b) a duty to the public of the island by attending meetings of the SoJ.

There may be occasions that these two duties may not align, and we want to put the minds of Connetables at ease that fulfilling each of these duties is achievable within both the parish structure and the party political system.

With Connetables making up just under 25% of the SoJ, TPP believe it is fundamentally wrong that Connetables could not, or should not, be considered as part of a wider party political structure in Jersey. In essence, why should Connetables, as States Members, not have the political freedom to vote on islandwide issues in the same way that the other 37 Members do?

If the island really wants to enjoy a system where all elected members are truly accountable then the Connetables should feel able to participate in party politics. TPP think that, like any other elected representative, Connetables should be accountable for the actions and decisions of the SoJ when taken as a whole.

Like other elected party representatives, a TPP Connetable would also be accountable to party members thus ensuring all States Members are treated and judged equally.

TPP accept that there are parts of the role of Connetable, when acting as “Father” or “Mother” of their parish, that should not be under the influence or control of the party structure or whip. It is for TPP to communicate this clearly to remove any perceived fears.

Developing with the Connetables

This paper has been produced because TPP wish to explore and develop protocols whereby a Connetable can be a member of a political party, such as TPP, without compromising the duty owed by Constables to their parishioners.

Political parties (whether in Jersey or elsewhere) typically develop policy for two key reasons.They:-

a) in the context of an election, present ideas to the electorate, and in doing so contrast themselves against the policy proposals of other political parties/alliances etc.

b) enable the governing party to put forward a clear legislative and political agenda and, in publishing its policy through a manifesto, can then be held accountable by the electorate.

TPP want any Constable to feel able to participate in party politics and be more widely accountable for island wide policies. To enable this to occur TPP feel it important to set out clear protocols to protect the Connetables in their dual role and are as follows :-

1) Any TPP member putting themselves forward for election to the office of Connetable will have all the benefits of TPP candidature as set out in the Constitution (annexed). In addition, such person may request to that any parish specific aspirations they may have shall be set out in an appendix to the manifesto of TPP to be distributable within the relevant parish,

2) TPP agree that in the event there is any clear conflict between the Constable’s Oath of Office (annexed) and the Constitution (annexed) the oath of office shall prevail.

3) TPP undertake to support only one member for election to the office of Constable in any one parish.

4) In relation to the whip system operated by TPP (see Constitution parts 3B and 3C) the whip shall be relaxed and not enforced in relation to any SoJ proposition that directly conflicts with the Connetable’s oath (or after consultation with the Party Whip, the Connetable’s assessment of the best interests of their Parish).

5) Furthermore, to the extent that any SoJ proposition has the backing of the Comite des Connetables, or Supervisory Committee of Connetables in respect of rating, or any other relevant parish committee, the relevant TPP Constable shall consult with the Party Whip the relaxation of the whip under section 2.1.5, of the Constitution and, in the absence of agreement, shall vote as the TPP Connetable sees fit.

TPP acknowledge and respect the unique position that the Constable’s play in island life and within their communities and it is not the intention of TPP to compromise their standing in their parishes or the island more generally.

To be clear TPP has no wish to be involved in parish matters such as rates, driving, dog or gun licences,the administration of parish roads or parish churches, the Honorary Police or any matter that the parishes and Connetables. Any alliance to TPP will be based on these clear protocols.

It is the hope of TPP that a constructive discussion can occur to explore how Connetables (or prospective Consnetables) can join TPP and support its objectives and values without any fear of eroding the respect and responsibilities that each respective Connetable holds within their parish.