A month ago I received an interesting pamphlet from Caritas Jersey, the international Catholic charity, which posed some big questions for all candidates in the elections. I cannot deal with them all in 3 minutes, but one of the most important is “Can Jersey be a community of opportunity for everyone?”.  My resounding answer to that is yes, it can be, but perhaps it is not always so. Do we, the natives, really think about the needs of the immigrant communities? It is worrying that, with honourable exceptions, they do not really seem to engage in the political process.

I had my hair cut on Saturday and I asked my Jersey/Madeiran hairdresser what percentage of the Portuguese population she thought would vote. About 10% was the answer. If that is right, an important section of the electorate excludes itself. My election banner includes the words “Please vote” in the languages of the largest migrant communities in Jersey – Portuguese, Polish, Romanian and French, but on reflection an opportunity was missed in not having the manifesto, or part of it, translated into those languages.

If we want to continue as a tolerant and inclusive community, at ease with itself, we need to ensure that our legislature is truly representative of all the people, and that everyone has the opportunities that Jersey offers to prosper and succeed. I do not agree with many of the policies of the Reform Jersey party, but it is entitled to credit for showing us a viable step on our democratic journey. Party politics in Jersey does not have to be negative and divisive as it is in many other countries. We could have political parties which work with each other on policies that they share, but give the electorate clarity in fully developed party manifestos where there are differences of opinion. It is difficult to make informed choices based on a cacophony of sound bites on election posters and leaflets, and a few minutes of hustings which only a small fraction of the electorate attends. That may be one of the reasons why the immigrant communities, and many young people too, opt out.

Jersey is a wonderful place, beautiful, vibrant, safe and generally harmonious. It is a land of opportunity. I am standing for election because I believe we need to make it better still for all our people.