Low turnout at first hustings for independent candidates
THERE was a low turnout for the first hustings for independent election candidates on Tuesday, and some audience members commented afterwards that island-wide voting lacked the ‘buzz’ of the old system.
About 60 people turned out to watch 10 candidates out of the 119 names on the ballot paper.
Up on stage on the first night were sitting deputies Jennifer Merrett, Charles Parkinson, Barry Brehaut, and Jeremy Smithies.
They were joined by former deputy Jenny Tasker, and newcomers Adrian Dilcock, Chris Blin, Diane Mitchell, Melanie Harvey-Alan, and Catherine Hall.
Ten questions were asked, covering topics such as education, the minimum wage, party politics, anti-discrimination legislation, taxing online shopping, GST, standards of governance, a freedom of information law, and how to achieve the net zero carbon emissions target.
The question that caused the biggest murmur from the crowd came from Karl Moherndl, when he asked for the candidates’ views on how secondary education should be organised in the island.
No one gave outright support to the two-school model, and the majority responded that they were in favour of three 11-16 schools and a separate sixth-form college.
Candidates spent much of the two-hour event in agreement with each other.
For instance, there was consensus that GST would be a bad idea, as would a tax on online shopping, but becoming a leader in sustainability was a good thing.
They were all civil about the new political parties, but thought that they would cease to be binding after the election, and were dismissive of any notion that only the parties could claim the high ground on consensus and co-operative working.
Where candidates differed was in the details and specifics of their answers, with some providing more broad brush answers.
Afterwards, audience member John Maugham said the event was very helpful, but he missed the old days of the parish-based election system.
‘I can remember going to hustings in the Vale and the Castel and they were packed to the rafters, it was absolutely heaving, and island-wide voting has killed all that. I think people are not engaging this time because of the numbers involved, it’s too overwhelming for some.’
Perrin Carey asked a question about governance because he wanted to see better decision-making in the next States.
He said that it was useful to see the candidates in person.
‘I think it allowed me to compare candidates in front of each other, we didn’t see a huge variation of policy, and I think this is what you’ll find across the piste, and that’s because the problem is not policy, the problem is that we can’t make a decision and then follow through with it.’
The event helped Karl Moherndl reach a few decisions on how he would fill out the long ballot paper.
‘You get to see them thinking on their feet, and you get to see how they communicate and how persuasive they are, and how they stick to the question and whether they answer it or not.
Andy Offen said one of the candidates had surprised him, and another had disappointed him, and the quality of questions meant that he could see how candidates performed under pressure.
‘It helped me form an impression of each of the candidates and I wanted to have that before I read their manifestos.
‘I asked a question and I thought that two of the candidates actually answered it.’
n The next independent hustings with different candidates takes place today at the Ozouets campus of the College of Further Education