With elections coming up in October, Gallery couldn’t help wondering, what makes someone stand for the role of senator? One of the candidates, Lyndon Farnham spoke to us about his reasons for returning to politics, his policies and why more people should vote this year.
On his reasons for standing
“When I stepped down as a Deputy in 2005 I said I’d take a few years out of politics to focus on my business and family commitments and come back and seek re-election on an island wide mandate which is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m fulfilling an ambition. I also think we deserve better than we’re getting. To be honest the calibre of States Member isn’t what it should be and the States is a shambles at present.”
On the reduction of Senators
“The States took a decision to change the constitution of the States Assembly by reducing the number of Senators without consultation, or with the permission of the people of Jersey. This means that every islander will have two less votes at the elections in October. Instead of being able to vote for six senators, you’ll only be able to vote for four. It’s practically unheard of in any modern democracy for changes to a Parliament or legislative assembly to be made in such a way, and in my view it’s simply wrong and is an insult to the electorate.”
“I love St Helier, I was born and grew up in town. St Helier has great potential to be something modern and special. If we plan our town carefully and efficiently we could make better use of space whilst creating areas of community and important open spaces.”
“We are living in a dream if we think we can freeze our population. The human race is growing and generally speaking there are more births than deaths. We need to keep our population growing and mobile because without it, we won’t be able to grow and develop as an island and as a community – but we must manage our population growth carefully and pay particular attention to immigration which must be tightly controlled”
On the States
“The States of Jersey are letting us all down. Petty squabbling and failure to find solutions to many important issues are costing us dearly and have created a great divide in our States Assembly. I am standing for Senator because it is absolutely clear that the only way we can change the poor policies and decisions of the States is to replace the people who are making them. They are wasting time arguing and juxtapositioning and the island is worse off for it. If we could get rid of the time wasting and get some focus on good healthy debate on the really important issues, I think people might just start becoming engaged in the political process.”
On the job market
“Right now it’s a lot harder for young people to go into work which concerns me especially as we’ve got some great people coming out of the best universities in the UK. We have good but limited career prospects to offer them here in Jersey. The finance industry is great, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. We’ve got to look at encouraging and creating new opportunities and new industries. If we don’t grow and expand our economy then we do so at our own peril.”
“There are two sure things in life, death and taxes. We accept that but what I believe most people don’t accept, is why we should be paying for the mistakes of others. Islanders are a hardy bunch of people and we’re not afraid to put our hands in our pockets to pay taxes, but let’s get the island into a sound, solid manageable unit and then set the taxes accordingly – not the other way around.”
On being a senator
“The office of Senator offers a huge propensity to do good. I think our States Members lose sight of that. They should treat their office as an opportunity to make a difference, not to be divisive but to be worthy. The best thing for me when I was a States Member was being in a position to help people, to change lives for the better. States Members should also realize that politics is about serving their island and not themselves. As we approach the election, it’s clear that there are those who are only interested in saving their seats.”
My politics are about people. My politics are inclusive. My politics are not about left vs right or socialism vs capitalism; my politics are about hope, health, vigour, vitality and opportunity for all. We can all have different political views but I don’t see that as a barrier to working together for the benefit of the island.
“Jersey is my favourite place on earth, it’s very special. I lived, worked and studied in London for four years and that made me realise just how beautiful our island is and how lucky we are to live here. We must remember though, we live in a fragile utopia and if we don’t govern ourselves properly and protect our surroundings and our environment, our prosperity is not guaranteed.”
“It feels like our health service has been neglected to the point that we don’t have the health service we deserve and neither do the people working in the health service. We need to make bold decisions, we need to invest and we need to move fast.”
On how the public are feeling
“People are disappointed with the States. They feel let down, not listened to and disenfranchised.”
“We’ve got a strategic reserve fund that stands at around £500-600 million. We had an unexpected surplus of £30 million last year, yet we still put GST up 2%. I would have held GST for another year and that 2% would have stayed in our economy. Another example; Jersey Telecom have just announced record profits and the States drew a dividend of approximately £4 million. That company has got to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds. What are we doing owning a telecoms company and drawing a dividend each year when we’re taxing our people disproportionately? We could probably sell off some of those assets and top up our strategic reserve to £1 billion. That changes the whole financial aspect, and if invested properly, could negate any further tax rises for some time.”
On the economy
“Our local businesses have had a tough enough time recently with the knock on effect of the world economic crisis although Jersey has weathered the storm better than most, and that’s why it’s important to ensure our economy is properly understood, properly managed and properly resourced.”
Lyndon Farnham: a snapshot
Education: St George’s Prep, Les Quennevais, Hautlieu
When I was 7 I wanted to be: A shopkeeper
First job? Retail Trainee at Harrods
Current job description: Director of a group of companies that range from hotel & leisure to wholesale, retail and property
Most likely to be seen: At the Royal Yacht (well, it’s part of the Group)
Motto? ‘Treat others as you’d expect to be treated yourself’. You can have education coming out of your ears, but if you have good manners and common sense you’ll get on in life, and ‘Fortune favours the brave’.
Favourite quote? ‘Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”
Relaxes by: Running, cycling, swimming, running marathons and competing in triathlons. Physically I enjoy pushing myself to the limit.
Last book read: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns-Goodwin. It’s the incredible true story of Abraham Lincoln. I generally read political books and historical novels (The Flashman papers are brilliant) – I’m just starting Counselor by Ted Sorensen, JFK’s brilliant advisor and speechwriter.
Favourite place in Jersey? On the beach at St Ouen’s at high tide in 20-something degrees sunshine …
Not many people know that I… love music and play drums with a band – I’m even on YouTube.
Prized possession? My collection of Tintin books and memorabilia.
Drives: A five-year old Audi A6
In another life I would have been – a politician. I’m really a political animal, I think wherever I’d end up, I would drift towards politics