Monday, 14 August 2017

Who owns the World?

Noam Chomsky is a very good mind.  Worth watching his  presentation. He starts with Adam Smith!

"It takes genius not to see it"

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

When policies collide.

Today is Earth overshoot day.  It is the day in the year when humanity collectively has used up our annual available eco services.  That isn't just direct consumption it is also the ability of the planet to deal with our pollution.  It was at 1 in the early 1970's ie back then the planet was just able to handle our impact - there was no overshoot.  Since then the day has got  inevitably earlier.  Another way to look at it is we are collective consuming about 1.7 planet's worth of eco services every year.  Imagine spending 1.7 times your income each year.  You would be in big trouble pretty quickly unless you have a big pile of  wealth behind you.  Even then that pile would diminish rapidly.  And that is exactly what we see in the world - diminishing fish stocks, less pristine forest, fewer animals  both species in many cases numbers. 

The impact varies round the world, country by country.
Of course it is crude, but no less so than using GDP to determine whether society is progressing or not. Looking at that country list I would expect Jersey's position would be around the 3.3 planet level. It would be useful to know as an indicator of how we are doing , are we going in the right direction , can we get to a satisfactory, sustainable position before disaster strikes? 

It happens that we are in Jersey taking the first steps in developing indicator metrics  like the footprint above.  That's the ongoing Future Jersey exercise.   Imagine 2035 purported to do something similar a decade ago.  That fiasco tried to engineer support for one of a pre selection of growth policy ambitions and completely and  ignored future  impacts like climate change.  This  current project has some  hope of working.  The wide ranging  questionnaire and topics at the outset of course means we have at the raw data level a set of incoherent ambitions.  Resolving those tensions and conflicts is where the real work  happens. 

It was a great pity that the IJCI report was delayed and therefore couldn't really feed  into this Future Jersey  activity more fully.  It certainly touches on some relevant  points .  One  area the survey suggested was very good in Jersey was being or feeling safe.  Yet the evidence given to the Care Inquiry and one of its key conclusions arising is  that children in the care system in Jersey continue to be put at risk.

Comments were also made by the ICJI report on decision making, politics and structures in Jersey. Eg form the executive summary " (x) Failure to tackle a silo mentality among public-sector agencies. States departments and institutions have been characterised by territorialism and protectiveness rather than openness to pooling resources and learning. As a result, there has been a lack of a comprehensive strategy to secure the bests interests of children in the island."  Such behaviour and mentality is very unlikely to  work when tackling holistic concerns and policies. 

I think the work of Future Jersey gives a chance to begin unpicking that silo mentality and get to a position of better decision making and cooperative working across States departments.  Intriguingly this opportunity arises from what many would probably see as the biggest weakness of the whole Future Jersey  project - it doesn't change anything!  And that criticism is largely true.

What we should have when all fifty plus of the indicators in the report are developed is a set of metrics to serve as a decision support tool.  Every strategy and report could then be assessed against the metrics to see its impact and ensure aspects outside of the immediate expected consequences are considered.  In theory we then get better decisions.

Quite what mechanics will be deployed to achieve hasn't been described.  We already have a requirement in States propositions to complete a statement of manpower and financial implications. Having a statement of all fifty indicators might be to cumbersome, but it would put the factors up front in proposals.  An alternative would be to have scrutiny review against the criteria.  There are a few concerns here as scrutiny panels are segregated by area of interest and wouldn't necessarily have knowledge across all the factors.  Also scrutiny do not call in all  propositions for scrutiny, and occasionally policies don't even get to scrutiny or even the the States assembly (eg the current Rural economy strategy).  As a third option we could have someone independent - equivalent of the Comptroller and Auditor general using the metrics to review  , but that would certainly be retrospective, missing the main benefit of informing debate in the chamber.

However it comes into being we desperately need a mechanism for reviewing policies and actions in the round. These decisions are hard, sometimes very hard.  I think about the impacts of my actions a lot , but I still find it hard to get to an acceptable sustainable position in my own life.   I've sometimes been called a zealot or idealist trying to align what I believe is necessary with how I do things. But even  with my 'extreme' decisions, even  my footprint doesn't quite get to the necessary 1 planet level.

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You can get a footprint for yourself at!/

The Future Jersey report is at FUTURE JERSEY

Friday, 28 July 2017

One step backwards

On the day we start recruitment for a Childrens Commissioner we have this. Respite centre to stop allowing teens

A respite centre that provides care for young teenagers with learning disabilities is changing to be an adult only unit because there is not enough demand for the service.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Divide and conquer?

Rather an interesting comment from  Alexis Jay of the UK child sex abuse inquiry.  Powerful want us to fail     

I haven't seen anything to clarify who are the powerful who want to derail the inquiry.  There are some obvious candidates.    Well connected politicans?  Mandarins at the Civil Service? The Church? The judiciary? The Monarchy?

Of course we had some 'senior politicians'  here who wanted to see our recently reported inquiry fail even to happen.   One cannot help but wonder if the carefully incised terms of reference of our inquiry weren't done to protect the same interests and prevent the really problematic questions being asked.

All of those on the list above have either influence or responsibility for important parts of Jersey governance.   Form the Appeal Court to the Privy Council to the apppointment of Crown Officers they all have influence here.  

If any of them is a vested interest wanting to see the UK inquiry implode, and given the role each has in Jersey's governance, one has to consider why our inquiry wasn't  more closely connected to the CSA in the UK.  And isn't it revealing that they have asked for the report to be forwarded to them.  Why would they need that if there were no connexion?  It seems a good bet that there are unresolved trans-jurisdictional issues here. 

One obvious reason to have kept the inquiries separate of course is the age old tactic of divide and conquer. 


Friday, 7 July 2017

Utterly perplexed

I heard the Chief Minister's summing up speech in the States of the debate on the committee of inquiry report and I have to say I am totally perplexed.

After decades of abuse of children in care as evidenced in the report the  proposal is to have a  a new Children's Commissioner, set up yet more panels and boards of States members and produce a new strategy document.  That's it.  More talking shops, more bits of paper, one person - a  Children's Commissioner - to change everything!

According to some this is the most damning report from an inquiry they have seen.  With the exception of the Connetable of St John who argued against one item, no one contested the Chief Minister's prescription of signing up to all the recommendations.  Yet many of those same recommendations are exactly the opposite of the States policy and the programme of the Council of Ministers since ministerial government started.  Overnight they collectively volte face and start being the best to implement policies that last month they collectively opposed?

We now have ministers in the CoM who opposed the very set up of the committee of enquiry, ministers who opposed the creation of a Children's Minister in 2009. We have ministers who have derailed or opposed every significant move to reform the States who are now it seems going to support the exhortation in the report to adopt Clothier and Carswell.  Ministers who have spent a decade or more in the Assembly gleefully pushing every opportunity to adopt laws facilitating the finance industry are overnight going to now prioritise social justice measures as the report indicates. 

To quote Jim Royle ,  My Arse!

Where else in the world would you receive such a damning report and wake up the day after a debate on it to find exactly the same ministers and assistant ministers in office. No one accountable, no one taking responsibility in any way that matters.

The Chief Minister quoted Deputy Bree in saying something like nothing can be the same again.  To me it looks like if you are in the magic circle everything is still exactly the same.

Plus ça change.....

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Senator Gorst's first challenge.

The Chief Minister did a decently statesman like job in his response to the publication of the care inquiry report.  He apologised to survivors and victims  up front and accepted all the recommendations. Chief minister shocked saddened sorry

In reality he could do little else.  The findings of the inquiry were critical of pretty much every aspect they looked into.  There were no straws to clutch at.  Even the fig leaf of the Williamson report that has been used before to claim progress is being made was  holed.

But that isn't the challenge I had in mind.  His immediate problem is what to do about deputy Andrew Lewis.  He is currently chair of the  Public Accounts committee and a member of the Chairman's committee The purpose and role of the commitee can be seen at Public Accounts  It is not trivial body having reported on such things  as e-gov, the innovation fund, financial management and internal audit. 

From the care inqury: "We find that Andrew Lewis lied to the States Assembly about the Metropolitan Police Service report, stating that he had sight of it when he had not. We can readily see why these acts have given rise to public suspicion that all or some of those involved were acting improperly and that they were motivated by a wish to discredit or close down investigations into child abuse.”

It simply isn't possible for him to continue as chair of the Public Accounts committee.  A vote of no confidence could be brought to remove him, but I don't think that can happen before the in committee debate on the care inquiry report.  And it  surely isn't appropriate for him to participate in that given the statement made by the inquiry.  Actually it goes further .

The phrase "these acts have given rise to public suspicion that all or some of those involved were acting improperly"  is referring to States members and very senior cvil servants .  Prima facie evidence that  his actions have brought the  Assembly and the States into disrepute.   That is a suspension issue.  

If the Chief Minister's words in response to the publication of the care inquiry report are to mean anything I can see no other option.  If he does not act on that finding  then he  undermines the report and the inquiry.  No confidence in Deputy Lewis as chair of the Public Accounts committee does not address the issues relating to the care inquiry and where he lied - to the Assembly and effectively to the public of the Island. If we had a recall mechanism I think this is exactly the sort of scenario it would be applicable. But we dont so it has to be immediate suspension.  

Monday, 3 July 2017


A quick scan of the care inquiry report released today.  Of course it will take time to analyse the detail, unpick the cautious language in places and spot the omissions.  One or two online comments describe it as the most damning report they have seen.  I wouldn't go that far, least not until I've read it thoroughly.  But for today, it does one important job. In the fight between on the one hand victims, survivors and campaigners and on the other the  powerful, the conflicted, the deceiving,  and those who tried to avoid having an inquiry at all , it is the former who are clearly vindicated.

So here are a few pertinent clips that stood out to me. 

On Willamson


On Skinner and Jouault

On  political structure. Clothier and Carswell

On past failures

A couple of bits from others.

Lewis Lied Bailhache political error   Andrew Lewis lied and the former Bailiff's Liberation Day speech was 'a grave political error'