On June 22 the people of Jersey will elect members of the States Assembly. For the first time in many years, party politics will play a significant part in the campaign. This will mean that voters will know who their representatives will vote for as Chief Minister and what policies they will be supporting.
Over the next two months, the Alliance will publish a series of policy papers that will form the basis of our election manifesto. But policies must be consistent with each other and in line with an overall vision for the Island. It is therefore appropriate that the first policy paper sets out a vision for Jersey.
What is proposed in this paper is neither new nor radical. Rather it reflects the proud history of Jersey, what the people of Jersey have said in various surveys, significant desk research and consultation with people and organisations.
VISION FOR THE ISLAND
- A vibrant, inclusive, self-confident community.
- An Island that has always punched well above its weight and will continue to do so.
- A high-quality education system that equips islanders to succeed in the rapidly changing world of work.
- An economy that continually adapts, now with an increasing focus on technology,
- ensuring continued prosperity for the people of Jersey.
- A first-class healthcare system that covers everything from prevention to long term care.
- A society that strives to reduce inequality and help ensure equality of opportunity.
Protecting and promoting the Island’s status and structure
- A self-governing nation, maintaining its allegiance to the British Crown and with strong links to Brittany and Normandy.
- Maintaining the role of parishes and status of the Connétables.
- Maintaining the role of Bailiff as President of the States Assembly.
Strengthening the Jersey identity
- Protecting and enhancing the natural environment.
- A dedicated website with content and links on all aspects of Jersey.
- Teachers to be provided with resources to help embrace local issues in their teaching.
- Commissioning a significant number of “Jersey flavoured” books for young children.
- A programme to help Jersey people living in other countries keep in touch with the Island.
- Transforming the airport and the harbour so that they properly represent all of Jersey instead of portraying the Island as dominated by the finance industry
Jersey maybe a small island, but there is nothing small about what it has achieved in the past, what it is now and what it will be in the future. It is truly a “big small Island”.
A proud history
Jersey has always punched well above its weight, being world leading in a number of respects and having an impact way beyond its shores. Just a few key points –
- Jersey was prominent in Neolithic times and today has one of the world’s most significant archaeological sites from that era.
- As early as the 12th century Jersey fishermen were exporting large quantities of conger eel and mackerel to France.
- For over 600 years Jersey had a strategic location while Britain and France were either at war or in a state of tension and has preserved historic military castles and forts.
- Jersey played a prominent role in the English Civil War, giving shelter to be future King Charles II and being among the first places to proclaim him King
- The state of New Jersey in the USA is named after Jersey, having been gifted to the then Bailiff of the Island in return for Jersey’s support for the King in the Civil War.
- Boats from Jersey were prominent in the North Atlantic cod fishing industry, and Jersey companies established some of the earliest settlements in Newfoundland and Quebec.
- The Jersey cow is world famous.
- Jersey has been prominent in agricultural science, particularly through the Jersey Royal new potato which is highly prized in the British market.
- Jersey is one of the most beautiful places in the world with outstanding natural geographical features and a particularly prominent seascape.
- Jersey has developed a highly successful financial services industry operating to the highest international standards and demonstrably benefiting the British economy.
- Jersey has played a leading role in conservation, providing the home for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
- Jersey sports teams compete internationally and perform outstandingly for a population of just over 100,000.
VISION FOR THE ISLAND
Our vision for Jersey’s future builds on the Island’s history as being world class and punching well above its weight. Above all we see Jersey as –
“A vibrant, inclusive, self-confident community.”
That Jersey is a community is indisputable. People in Jersey feel part of Jersey, they are proud of the Island and play their part in Island life. And while many Jersey people live outside the Island, for a significant number Jersey is always home. The Jersey Beans Living Overseas Facebook group has 3,700 members.
There is a high degree of civic engagement in Jersey. The Island has more than 500 voluntary and community organisations and 11,000 islanders volunteer their time. The parish system has traditionally been an honorary one, each parish holding regular assemblies open to all parishioners and having a small number of honorary police, headed by the Connétable.
Jersey has a rich mix of people from a variety of countries and backgrounds, but all have been welcome if they have something to bring. So in the past –
- The Huguenot refugees brought entrepreneurial skills and are credited with stimulating the knitting industry, which was the mainstay of the Island’s economy for many years.
- Some of the Island’s historic fortifications were built by Irish and Scottish labourers.
- The new potato industry flourished with the help of workers from Normandy and Brittany.
- British army personnel were partly responsible for building the road network.
- Wealthy immigrants have contributed much to the Island through tax revenue and support for local charities and businesses. Italian, Madeiran, Polish and Romanian workers have been vital to the hospitality industry in particular.
- The financial services industry brings together some of the brightest Jersey people and complementary skills from Britain and other jurisdictions.
Half of the people living in Jersey were not born in the Island and most of those who were, have ancestors from France, Madeira or the British Isles.
That Jersey is vibrant and inclusive community is a huge asset to the Island, which must be celebrated and encouraged.
Similarly, the natural and built environment is an essential part of Jersey. Few places in the world of the size of Jersey can match the Island’s natural environment, encompassing sandy bays, dramatic cliffs, deep river valleys, extensive commons and open spaces and above all the outstanding and varied seascape.
Similarly, the Island’s castles and forts and the extensive use of local granite in farms, houses, public buildings and even walls are distinctive. The natural and built environment need more than protecting, they need enhancing.
Jersey can boast a succession of highly successful industries including at various times knitting, cider, cod fishing, ship building, farming, tourism, conservation and financial services.
Increasingly, Jersey is a host to global technology businesses. The legal framework, access to Government and lifestyle are attractive to global entrepreneurs, increasingly able to work from anywhere in the world. The economy has continually adapted, but this does not happen without positive action by the Jersey community.
The Island cannot be complacent in the face of significant changes in the global economy, in particular as a result of developments in technology. The excellent report of the independent members of Jersey’s Economic Council highlighted the importance of education and skills. It listed the ten key skills that the Island will need in the future –
- Digital (literacy/ tech)
- Creativity and Innovation
- Agility and Flexibility
- Data (science/ analysis/ literacy/ security/ sharing)
- Change skills
- Leadership and Management
- Collaborative Skills (emotional intelligence/ partnership)
- Communication (internal/ external)
- Problem solving
Jersey owes it to the future generations to continue the success of the past. The education system needs to prepare young people for the world of work and lifelong learning should become the norm.
The consequences of Covid, in respect of both physical and mental health, have properly highlighted the need for comprehensive provisions for healthcare. In Jersey there is the additional factor of the need to replace the current hospital which is no longer fit for purpose.
Since the advent of Covid, health services have been severely stretched simply to contain the effects of the pandemic. In the future attention must focus of quality and efficiency of delivery of all health services – public health measures that prevent ill-health, primary health care, mental health provision, long term care provision and hospital services.
The people of Jersey are entitled to first class provision of health services, delivered efficiently.
A vibrant inclusive community requires a series of policies to reduce inequality and help ensure equality of opportunity. Income support, social security, taxation, housing, health and education policies must be tailored accordingly.
Protection and promotion of the Island’s status and structure
While Jersey is clearly British it also values its strong links over many centuries with Normandy and Brittany. Jersey was part of the Duchy of Normandy and even today its legal system and many of its traditions are Norman in origin. Numerous Jersey families are descended from workers who came from Normandy and Brittany to work in the agricultural industry. While
Covid has obviously disrupted travel between Jersey and France, in normal times there is extensive two-way traffic, many Jersey people making the short trip for long or short holidays and some having homes in France. Equally, French visitors and from time-to-time farmers’ markets are very welcome in the Island.
The current fishing dispute is a direct result of Brexit, the Island having had a harmonious relationship with France for many years. The dispute will be settled and must not harm the historic and excellent relationships.
Jersey can claim to have one of the longest established administrative and constitutional arrangements in the world. The current 12 parishes date back nearly 1,000 years and indeed there should be an opportunity later this century to celebrate that milestone.
People identify with the parishes, the parish hall being the center of community events. The parishes also the form the basis of sports teams, and primary schools are parish based. The voluntary system and the role of Connétables, including sitting as States Assembly members, is an inherent part of the Jersey character and should be preserved.
The new electoral system is based on the parishes, although many will regret the multi-parish constituencies. This makes the role of Connétables even more important as they have the primary role of representing the interests of their parishes in the Assembly.
If one was writing a constitution for a new nation state one would not have a single person acting as the chief judge and speaker of the parliament, but Jersey has that and, like the role of parishes, it is longstanding, an integral part of the Island and should not be changed.
Strengthening the Island Identity
- Why are arrivals at the airport treated to a barrage of advertisements for the Island’s highly successful financial services industry rather than iconic pictures and emblems of Jersey?
- Why does Jersey not have a distinctive series of heritage plaques rather than a present mishmash of plaques from different organisations, often not clearly visible?
- Why are no courses on Jersey studies available to those wishing to know more about the Island?
- Why is there no official website providing information on all aspects of Jersey?
- Why does Jersey not feature more in the teaching of the curriculum?
- Why are there virtually no books for children on Jersey?
- Why is more not done to engage Jersey people living overseas?
The Island Identity Policy Development Board was established in October 2019. Its aim was to examine how Jersey’s distinctive qualities can be enhanced, celebrated, and utilised for the benefit of the Island and its inhabitants.
The report of the Board and a summary report were published in February 2021 and a consultation was launched, closing in October 2021. These reports should be drawn on to introduce a number of measures, at minimal cost, which will significantly strengthen the Jersey identity.
A DEDICATED WEBSITE FOR MATERIAL ON JERSEY
The Government website is purely transactional, unattractive in design and has very little about Jersey. A new website should be created with content and links on all aspects of Jersey –history, government, parishes, geography, heritage, culture, population etc.
STRENGTHENING JERSEY-SPECIFIC TEACHING OF THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM
COMMISsIONING A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF “JERSEY-FLAVOURED” BOOKS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Instituting a “Jersey Studies” course, aimed particularly at newcomers to the Island
It is a common complaint that newcomers to the Island, particularly in business and the civil service, do not understand Jersey. But there is little support for those who do want to understand the Island.
The proposed website would do much to improve the situation. A specific course on Jersey Studies should be freely available.
Promotion of more research and publications on all aspects of Jersey
There is scope significantly to increase the volume of academic research on Jersey-related Issues. Jersey students undertaking research as part of master’s or doctor’s degree programmes could be encouraged to undertake research on Jersey-related issues.
Establishing a programme for Jersey people living overseas
There are thousands of “Jersey people” living in other countries who are keen to keep in touch with the Island and some of whom can be unofficial ambassadors for Jersey. A programme should be established, based on the website, using social media and harnessing the growing interest in family history.
Transforming the airport and the harbour so that they properly represent all of Jersey
At the Airport the “customer journey” from the arrival gate to the taxi rank, car park or bus stop is dominated by advertisements by law firms and financial service businesses. The arrivals hall is barren with nothing to interest passengers other than financial service advertisements.
The Airport should be transformed with more display material about Jersey and enlivening the baggage hall with videos and displays from Jersey Heritage.
Design of a distinct Jersey emblem for use in particular by sports teams
Sports teams, particularly those that are seen to represent the Island, can play a vital role in promoting the Jersey Identity through the way that they host visiting teams, what they say about Jersey when they are travelling and in their uniforms.
The Island already does fairly well in this respect in particular through the cricket and rugby teams. A standard emblem should be designed for use by sports teams and others.
Installation of a new series of heritage plaques
Jersey already has a series of heritage plaques, but these seem not very visible, unlike for example the blue plaques used in England. Some parishes also have their own plaques, which can confuse.
Jersey Heritage should be asked to initiate a programme of designing and installing a new series of more visible plaques, engaging in a wide public consultation on who or what should be represented by the plaques.
Agreeing a national anthem
A nation must have an agreed national anthem. Jersey does not. Island Home, Beautiful Jersey and Ma Normandie are all used. This issue should be settled though a properly structured public consultation.