Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year Message to Senator Stuart Syvret

Happy New Year Stuart

I have been following your blog closely and have posted occasional comments since the middle of last year.

I discovered your blog in a roundabout way. Although I never knew him, I came to know a little about the late Dereck Carter - former Tourism Minister on Jersey - through contacts in France, and was impressed by what I heard about his reforming and principled approach to politics. Then I discovered the tribute to Dereck on `Is This Jersey?', written by Greg Matthews, in which he described Dereck as having "more principle in his little finger than the whole gang of talentless amateurs and lowlife gangsters who ran the States when he was active and still run the States now".

This further intrigued me, and as the Haut de la Garenne investigation became an ever higher profile story in the national media, I began to wonder whether in some way there might be a connection between an apparent history of child abuse on the island stretching back decades and a tradition of government by a largely unaccountable and possibly corrupt establishment clique. Having made that tentative connection, it was not long before I found the blog of Senator Stuart Syvret!

Not only was I astonished by the forthrightness of what I read, and by your honesty, persistence, compassion, courage and high principles, I also soon realised there were other powerful voices such as Voiceforchildren, Linda Corby and Simon Bellwood, using blogs as a means of political expression in Jersey. I have searched for a similar online community in my native Scotland, and despite it being a time of great constitutional and financial uncertainty here, have found nothing similar. So I concluded that there must be something special - indeed unique - about the situation in Jersey, and over the months you have obliged by demonstrating in forensic detail just what this is.

As an outsider, some would say I have no business even taking a distant interest in the private tribulations of a small rich island. Here is my justification: you are absolutely right to say that highly paid public servants with a responsibility for child protection must discharge their duties, but in normal modern democracies this duty of care is the explicit responsibility of EVERY adult. As global citizens this translates to a responsibility to notice abuses of power wherever they may occur and to do whatever we can to support the cause of justice.

Of course this is not always easy, as this beautiful song by Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs eloquently illustrates; and it is the people of Jersey who will be called upon to make the hard decisions, not the armchair altruists like me!

Anyway all the best for 2009, starting with your date with Jack Straw, and know that support for your tireless efforts and for the cause of the Jersey victims extends to many places well beyond your island's shores.


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