Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Clearly Jersey does not have a functioning democracy and this was shown at the recent by election for Senator. About 15,000 people voted; of these about ten thousand voted for the Establishment, and “elected” Le Gresley, whilst five thousand voted for the “progressives”. The level of abstention says it all; 75% of the electorate did not vote. That is not a functioning democracy and those elected under such a system cannot really claim very much legitimacy. That 40,000 did not vote is a sad indictment of the system.
Did they all not vote because they are basically content with their lot and with the existing political set up? I would argue that there is a great deal of cynicism about government and although there is a desire for something better, they do not know how it can be achieved. Many have given up waiting for change; others have simply been ground down by a political machine that resists reform and modernization.
The essential reason is that capital, in the form of the finance industry, has captured the island economically and politically. But, you say Banks don’t have votes. However Banks don’t need votes when they own politicians. Jersey, you see is a Bank; and Banks are not democratic institutions. Capital has no need for any other form of government than that which already exists. It functions quite adequately; prioritising the interests of finance at all times. Thus new innovative legislation favouring finance comes through without dissent – protected cell companies; egaming etc. The latter was sold with the official propaganda that in its wake would follow higher speed internet connections for average joe. Meanwhile social legislation struggles. Indeed legislation on discrimination has just been axed as part of the initial 2% cuts. Is much dissent heard about that “cut” amongst the clamour for saving life guards at Havre des Pas and school milk?
Senator Le Gresley was “elected” precisely to prevent candidates who support reform and democratisation from being elected. Ineffective and ultimately loyal, he will pose no challenge to the status quo.
There is hope however. The current proposed cuts are provoking a degree of resistance. The Teachers have led the way, albeit in a tentative fashion. Workers are beginning to recognise their interest as workers and the need to protect their jobs. There is a dawning that the government runs the island exclusively in the interests of wealthy non residents who happen to hide their money in institutions that operate out of the island and whose only loyalty is to those clients and their money.
As the programme of austerity begins to bite there will be a period of fear and uncertainty; then resistance will begin. The government is unaccustomed to direct class warfare. To date it has been possible to buy social harmony with economic prosperity. Now there is an assault on public services with plans for cuts, motivated in part from a genuine deficit, but more so from ideology. The government serves the interests of the wealthy and will not raise taxes on its natural supports. It is obliged by virtue of its commitment to running a low tax regime, to keeping corporation taxes low. So low that the state is unable to raise the money it needs to provide essential public services for the ordinary citizen. The government is prepared to sacrifice the interest of working people to keep the finance industry in a low tax environment.