Thursday, 14 October 2010

OZOs International status recognised at last and cultured too!

Yes – little Pip is at it again, this time he has been in the USA showing-off his international dimension.

We interviewed him following his trip to India and we have previously commented upon his ambition to be Jersey’s very own globe-trotting Foreign Secretary hob-knobbing with the international glitterati.

Of course, in the Frank Walker - Pip Bailhache tradition, young Senator Ozouf is very keen to boost Jersey’s International profile and he wants to sit at the top table with the rich and powerful at Davos and other trendy places (see our voiceforprotest posting from November 2009). HERE

Well, we all have a dream! – though, whatever happened to the two new banks that were due to open in Jersey following the India and Chinese promotions, is anybody’s guess. Recent figures seem to indicate that two banks have actually gone missing from the famous and exclusive Jersey list…although that’s another matter.

But what a pity that none of this international awareness and profile raising is evident in Jersey.

Here, adherence to international obligations remains a farce and we just cannot afford to sign up for the most basic standards that apply in other places. Except, of course, for those agreements that suit the Finance centre agenda.

We have previously reported on some very basic UN agreements that have been ratified for Jersey – but are still ignored by Ozo and his chums.

We wonder if he managed to call in at the UNs HQ in New York to check on our record of non-compliance with the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?

Team Voice has previously focussed on this obligation especially since we (Jersey) have to send in a report to the UN every few years to show how well we are doing and we posted on voiceforjersey on 19 May 2010 on this very subject HERE

Then it was the Public Accounts Scrutiny Panel chaired by Senator Ben Shenton (plus Breckon and Perchard) that was considering Jersey’s hopeless Cultural Strategy.

Nobody mentioned our international obligations during the discussions around the table under the Blampied paintings. We noted the irony of it all and Senator Shenton left a single word comment – “noted” – to our criticisms on the vfj blogsite.

Sadly, nothing has changed or improved, because this Monday we attended the latest Scrutiny hearings to consider the same six years-old Scrutiny Strategy.

This time it was Deputy Le Herissier chairing a sadly depleted Education, Home Affairs scrutiny cultural strategy review. Only Deputy Macon was also there for most of the three hours of talking. Deputy Trevor Pitman turned up later but Deputy Tadier gave it a miss.

The Scrutiny process is desperately unchallenging at the best of times since the questions are usually submitted to the witnesses beforehand. Thus, it is usually nothing more than a polite chat among friends and the same witnesses seem to appear with monotonous regularity before different Panels answering the same unchallenging questions. Deputy Le Herissier assured all the witnesses “we are not the public accounts committee” and this is only “like a health check.”

Why don’t they protest we wonder and tell scrutiny to stop wasting their time? Surely these good people have real work to do?

Thus, whenever our scrutiny politicians want to spend a few hours of discovering nothing new it’s easy enough to call in the Arts or Heritage Trust management, or those nice people from the Societe Jersiase or the Opera House to tell how they all get on so well together but could do with more funding.

We at Team Voice seem to remember that some of these same witnesses have been heard recently before Senator Ferguson and one of her Panels discussing CSR implications – but its all becoming a bit of a blur…

By way of a change, the latest polite chats took place across the corridor under the paintings of Jersey artist John Le Capelain. He is of course long since dead so there is no danger that he might be asking for any funds or facilities to further his cultural activities.

Team Voice and the general public are not allowed to speak at the hearings of course – but when the official proceedings cease we do attempt to put forward some well meaning observations – like why does nobody ask about international culture obligations – and why is it the same “culture and arts” groups that are always consulted – why not the Jersey Live organisers or Island motor clubs or even the churches of Jersey…..

Surely, we try to suggest, there is more to culture in the 21st century than this? - but the room soon empties….

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

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