Back in September 2005 election fever was sweeping the island like a barely noticeable gust struggling to visibly disturb a limp flag.
I have always voted but I can not claim to be the world’s greatest political participant. My vote historically, was on the basis on who had a ‘good Jersey name’. My votes read ‘Le Main, Le Sueur, Le Claire’. Notice the common factor?
But for the first time the idea that my vote would directly affect the amount of money in my pocket found its way into my consciousness and I achieved a moment of clarity, this time I would take a genuine interest and make a considered vote for the very first time.
As it happened my participation extended a little further in the end, but by November 24th, the election results were in, I wasn’t. No amount of comparison with previous results, that I achieved higher first time votes than either Stuart Syvret or Geoff Southern in the same district, completely prevents disappointment. My generation, typically, had failed to voice their opinion and nothing had changed.
Now I could have just let that be that, but the threat to my finances remained. Could I as an ordinary Jersey resident still do something to affect my future? Could I stop the Government digging the black hole faster than they could fill it with tax increases? These days the States make vast amounts of information available to the public but what are we to do with it?
The answer is to take an interest and let them know what you think. Agree or disagree then why not tell them. Our States members are all too keen to hear your opinions, they want your votes!
E-mail addresses for 52 of the 53 States members are on the States Assembly website alongside the forthcoming business of the States.
There are opportunities such as the BBC Radio weekday phone-ins and Sunday Talkback to air your opinion. Use these to test the waters. There are many online resources for the politically active. Progress Jersey offers the potential to test public opinion and support for your lobbying efforts but also resources to record your lobbying activities.
If your opinion is aired and there is no reasonable argument against you, then your next step is to let the States members know.
Either select politicians who are likely to share your views, who have responsibility for a particular area or mass mail the 52 members. It does work.
I have lobbied against the Criminal Justice Policy to Senators Ozouf and Le Sueur and the result is that they have set comments against the proposition (P201/2005/Com. - Criminal Justice Policy (P.201-2005) comments) along the same lines.
I lobbied against the P196/2005/ - Draft Sexual Offences (Jersey) Law 200- (Notification of scrutiny panel's decision) and heard my comments repeated in the States debate that led to its delay and perhaps eventual defeat.
But there are some key points to remember when composing your e-mails.
States members are never incorrect, their decisions may be ‘courageous’. You are often asking members to oppose the government and so you must allow them to do so graciously in a ‘statesman-like’ manner. What would you say if you were standing in the States Chambers to persuade the house that they should support your view?
Arguments should always be in support of a social group or idea rather than against. The debate about the gay age of consent being a good example, I argued for the protection of teenagers and appear to have had more effect than those who took an anti-gay line.
Before I finish, I would like to extend my thanks to Jerry Dorey who over the course of the smoker’s union discussions at the various hustings provided an invaluable insight into the inner workings of Government.
Your silence will be seen as agreement. If you want change then you need to make the effort. Oh and next time vote!
Over to you
If you do want to get involved and try your hand as a freelance journalist (with the emphasis on the free!) then send an email with your idea for an article to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After all, this is your BBC Jersey site so you should be able to see what you want on it; so go on, get up and get on your soapbox!