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Senator Frank Walker in the States Chamber

Lobby your States Members

by Darius Pearce
Darius Pearce explains how to best lobby your States Member in his Speakers Corner article.


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 jersey@bbc.co.uk.

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!

Below are links to the websites Darius mentions in his article:
States Assembly >
Progress Jersey >
Draft Sexual Offences Law >
Criminal Justice Policy >
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites
last updated: 25/01/06
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Tigger
Sunday Trading Law Do you really need to buy flowers on a Sunday? If it really is a need then surely you can drive to where they were grown and buy them there. You do not need to go top a boring shop to buy them. I think that jersey's strange laws help to make it the wonderful place that we love. This is a law that does not hurt anyone and there is no need to rescind it. Please keep this law.

Booyaka
This place is going the same way as the UK. It's getting over populated with Polish and other Imigrants,we need to act fast and put in place a decent immigration policy to stop the population of this Island increasing, which is putting a huge strain on Public resources I.E. Schools, Hospitals and housing. Soon this place will get a second influx of Bulgarians in 2007, great. If you think that the Polls are a peaceful bunch of people, well wait until the Bulgarian's arrive.With there backwards attitudes towards women blended with their own unique Mafia /Criminal underworld style. What a joy Jersey will be then with Underground Sex trafficking and Prostitution being run in Jersey. As soon as this comes true, Iím off to Australia where at least they check who is attempting to live in their country rather than just letting people in unchecked and then trying to deal with them once they are in and causing a problem. NO MORE IMIGRANTS OR THE ISLAND WILL SINK INTO THE SEA.

Luke Small, Executive Director - JYRT
I found it funny that Mr Pearce announces the "defeat" of the Sexual Offences Jersey Law which has recently been adopted by the States of Jersey!

Montfort Tadier
I want to play devil's advocate here for a moment, and make the presumtion that in fact the current disparity in ages of consent is NOT discriminatory. For example, let us take the examples of smoking and drinking. You are allowed to smoke at the age of 16, but not allowed to drink until you are 18. Now we do not say that drinkers are being discriminated against because smokers are allowed to smoke at 16, whilst the drinker has to wait till 18, but we do when it comes to anal intercourse. Now, you might say that this discriminates against homosexuals, but that is not quite true; As a hetrosexual, I too am being prevented from having anal sex with other men until I am 18. By the same token, a gay man is perfectly free to have (consentual) sex with a woman from 16. As for the bisexual, he is free to have vaginal sex up until his 18th birthday, when he will be able to start giving it in the other. The same applies for the smoker and would-be-drinker. Now, I accept that this is not, in itself a flawless defence of the disparity, but I am saying that if you are worried about the rights of the homosexual, you should also be worried about the rights of the 16 year old drinker.

kevin o'leary
Actually ALL EU countries have equal ages of consentual sex. In Portugal it is 16 for ALL.

Nicolas Jouault
Under article 40 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political rights. It was reported on the 15th July 1997: 4. The States of Jersey have endorsed the principle that all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex, whether against women or men, should be removed. so why are they discriminating against Homosexuals?

Lill S
Really interesting and informative article Darius. Thanks.

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