Stranded in Jersey: Crowns, Constables & Cantinas

Thanks to Storm Katie, and a national airline cancelling our flight home, our three-night stay in Jersey was extended to five. It did however, allow one to muse on the island and its shared history, to some degree, with Meyer & Mortimer.

Liberty Square, St Helier

They are worse places to be stranded than Jersey, in the Channel Islands. A certain national airline, of British ancestry, had took the decision to ground aircraft, or divert elsewhere to deal with the effects of Storm Katie (of which this new phenomenon of naming such weather systems makes them any more personable). So yours truly and my pregnant wife – after 6 hours of toing and froing with said airline’s questionable customer service provision – were provided with two more nights at the hotel we had previously stayed at for three. With amends made to my wife, for an earlier disagreement born out of the above situation, along with a promise to let her do the talking in future (apparently I wasn’t helping), we got on with our lot – this time, however, with a sea-view.

Jersey, and the Channel Islands, may be considered to be a constitutional conundrum to some with people asking, myself included, what exactly is Jersey’s relationship to the UK; how did this relationship come about, and who runs the island? The answers, for those not in the know, are somewhat surprising and we’ll also see a fair amount of overlap (on that great Venn Diagram of life) between Meyer and Mortimer and the island. We are a Royal Warrant holder, so along with the Channel Island we share a relationship with the Crown, there’s the military history and the banking connection, with a lot of our customers working in the sector.

Personally, I love the island. I have visited a good few times as my wife is a true Jersey Bean – as she was born there. I am from the Midlands, Nottingham to be precise, so for those with a modicum of geographical knowledge will know the county is well and truly landlocked. Jersey is surrounded by sea and being 9 by 5 miles, means you can never be more than 4.5 miles from the nearest beach, which in my humble opinion are some of the best in the world. Think St Brelades, Plemont, Bonne Nuit and recently discovered gem, Beauport. We have both lived in London for some time so when the time comes to visit our respective homesteads, I certainly feel I get a better deal. Heading north to Nottingham, my wife has likened it to walking into a cinematic mix of Mike Leigh meets Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; when we go to Jersey, it always feels like a holiday.

Beauport Beach, Jersey

So what is Jersey’s relation to the UK?

Jersey is one of three Crown Dependencies, with the others being neighbour Guernsey and the Isle of Man over in The Irish Sea. According to The Ministry of Justice website, Crown Dependencies are defined as ‘not being part of the UK but are self-governing dependencies of the Crown’. The Channel Islands’ special relationship with the UK has been in place since the Norman Conquest with the Channel Islands being once part of The Duchy of Normandy (north-west France). Its Dukes: William I, William II and Henry I became Kings of England, with the first being, of course, being William the Conqueror, and with him came the Channel Islands.

Today, the Queen is the Head of State and governance is acted through the Privy Council, which would have been – pre-Glorious Revolution – a governing cabinet of royal advisors to the King or Queen of the time. Today the Privy Council is a largely ceremonial body broadly containing ex-politicians, lords and clergy. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice is the Privy Counsellor with special responsibility for Island Affairs, currently Lord Faulks QC, and each island has a ‘royal’ representative in a Lieutenant-Governor who, for Jersey, is ex-senior military man, Sir John McColl.

William I, Lord Faulks & Sir John McColl

Jersey relies on the UK for it defence and for representing it largely at international level. However, Jersey did negotiate its own terms directly with the EU in 1972 (Protocol 3 of the UK’s Treaty of Accession to the European Community). This means it is not part of Europe but, for the purposes of trade, is part of the single market (keeping up?). This means that Jersey Beans are not able to vote in the EU Referendum in June but, according to Jersey business magazine Business Life, the result could have a significant impact on the island. Jersey’s External Relationships Minister, Sir Philip Bailhache, speaking to the magazine, said if Britain did vote to leave the risk then is that ‘the UK negotiates an agreement [with the EU] that doesn’t suit the Channel Islands and we may be faced with some stark choices’.

Domestically, politics on the island differs greatly from that on the mainland and, as the above illustrates, is not entirely straightforward. It appears (I say ‘appears’ as I am using various resources to gather this information and numbers vary slightly) there are between 49-51 elected members in the Island’s States Assembly. Of these, there are 8 Senators, who represent the whole island; 17 Deputies, each corresponding to their parish (which are named largely after Christian Saints), with the rest made up of ‘non-voting’ roles, the previously mentioned Lieutenant Governor and a Dean or two.

Jersey State Buildings, St Helier

For those more politically astute, you may have noticed an absence of colour, or political persuasion. Jersey politics is not based on the party system so there are no Labour or Conservative parties on the island, just the elected Constables. However, most will agree on the political conversation on the island would not be out of place at say somewhere like [picking a place at random] Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London. The island does lean somewhat to the right.

Time and space does not allow for more investigation into the military aspects of Jersey and it, alongside Guernsey, being occupied by the Germans; nor do we have time to look into how the Islands have grown into a global financial centre. We can, however, leave you with some interesting facts and suggestions and hope you have enjoyed this really rather brief history of Jersey. Also, do remember Jersey probably has the best beaches in the world. I would urge anyone to get on a ferry, get on a plane and spend a week over there. Even then, you will not see all of them but by doing so you will build on, and be investing heavily in your spiritual off-shore capital.

The Spiritual Capital of Plemont Beach

Currency:

Jersey has its own notes and coins that circulate with the mainland currency. If you think trying to use Scottish currency south-o-the-border is problematic, then think twice about using your Jersey money on the mainland. It doesn’t work so I have a Channel Islands fund of coins and notes ready for the next visit. That, or offload at Jersey Airport buying a last-minute tea towel and/or a giant Toblerone

Speed limit:

The Jersey speed-limit is 40 mph. There are no motorways, but there is one duel carriageway running from St Lawrence (near The Kiosk) along Victoria Avenue (the A2) to where it meets the Esplanade at the hotel, The Grand Jersey. It is surprising then, that Jersey has more than its fair share of high-powered luxury vehicles, which – although looking very cool – must be a tad frustrating given the limits on velocity.
 

Google map illustrating Jersey’s one duel carriageway (1.6 miles)

Passports:

A Jersey passport is a British passport with one major difference in that the ‘holder is not entitled to benefit from European Community Provisions relating to employment or establishment’. This essentially means Jersey-born beans are not able to travel freely or work in Europe as their British counterparts. This is because they not part of the European Union but are part of the single market (protocol 3). However, most Jersey residents, according to a Jersey States report from 2008, are entitled to EU citizenship because of some connection with the EU, for example − through a parent or grandparent who was born, adopted, registered or naturalised in the United Kingdom. So most Jersey beans would be able to achieve EU roaming status which is afforded to British passport holders.

Favourite place to eat:

My personal favourite is El Tico’s Cantina at St Ouen. It’s a true Jersey beach restaurant housed in a grand art-deco building that sits right on the promenade. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food excellent and the views are stunning as seen here. A very friendly place indeed and it always receives a visit when we’re there.

El Tico Beach Cantina at St Ouen’s Bay - click to enlarge

Coffee:

Jersey is developing an artisan coffee scene. I saw a few new places that had popped up when we there over Easter. My favourite, however, is Bean Around The World on Halkett Place, St Helier. It was set up by a Canadian a good few years ago before Starbucks and Costa made their mark. It has a rustic Bohemian feel and a great place to relax in the centre of town.

For more details on Jersey, please visit

the official Jersey tourism site.

M&M