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‘Secret societies are being formed ahead of next election’

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A CLAIM that ‘secret societies’ were waiting to emerge as fully-formed parties or associations ahead of the next election was made during the ongoing debate on proposals for expenditure for the next election.

Deputy Carl Meerveld, right, with Deputy Charles Parkinson. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 26622485)

At this week’s States meeting, Deputy Carl Meerveld, himself a founder of two associations, said that he was aware of secret meetings taking place that would lead to new associations or parties emerging ahead of the election.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache said this seemed to be a reference to a meeting held by Deputy Gavin St Pier and others at an accountants’ office as a gathering of people who shared common values.

He said that if any associations were going to emerge, he hoped they would do so ‘honestly and honourably, rather than behind closed doors’.

Deputies Meerveld and Marc Leadbeater wanted members to have greater choice of what could be spent by parties and their amendment aimed to give members a menu of options.

It proposed that candidates could assign up to half of their permitted electoral expenditure to the party and expenditure by the party itself would not exceed a multiple of a single candidate’s maximum permitted expenditure.

Deputy Meerveld said that once the amendment was approved, members would be able to choose from five times this amount, down to twice the amount – the figure in the original propositions.

He was not asking members to approve massive expenditure but enough to allow an association or party to do the very basics and send out a small manifesto.

The propositions were from the States Assembly & Constitution Committee and its president Neil Inder said that the Assembly had ‘got its knickers in a twist’ and if members ended up approving a candidate’s maximum expenditure of anything less than £6,000 neither a candidate nor a party would be able to afford to market themselves properly on an island-wide basis.

Deputy de Sausmarez said that the propositions as amended already offered members the choice of giving parties a generous spending limit if they chose to and the amendment was unnecessary.

After being put to a recorded vote, the amendment was lost by 23 votes to 12 with two abstentions.

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