Vickie’s Law by Mike Jarvis

Vickie Locker Photo

Both claimant Vickie Storm Locker and her attorney Warren Cassell have reasons to be immensely proud of taking all the way to the courts the issue of civil servants being able to retain their jobs after running for political office.
The ruling, though not in their favour, has pointed out several shortcomings in the present system which need to be looked into.
Congrats also to the Attorney General’s chambers.
Coming as it does on the eve of Nomination Day (November 7th) makes this issue even more timely and critical.
The judge was clearly restricted by the law due to failure of the Legislature Montserrat Montserrat Legislative Assembly to address the shortcomings in the system and how this affects the community of Montserrat.
In my view, some of his comments are a serious indictment of Montserrat and its legislative priorities.
The current preoccupation in the election campaign with claiming credit for British-funded projects that the British are implementing on their own schedule, managed their own way, with their own money is relegating other important matters of national priority onto the back burner.
The obsession with easy wins, easy pickings, and low hanging fruits is itself an indictment of dealing with the easy matters and pushing the complex issue to one side…ostensibly leaving them up to the British.
We need to think big and not shy away from tackling the complex issues.
Massive kudos then to Vickie and Warren for stepping up.
These extracts from Justice Morley’s ruling need to be embedded in the political discourse for the remainder of the election campaign.
27.“Of a total labour force of 2703 per the census of September 2018, there are 726 employed by the Montserrat Public Service, which is 27%, in a voting population of about 3500, meaning 21% of voters are public officers.
Of that 21%, many are public-spirited, well-educated, and care very much about their community, making them an ideal and likely source of candidates to serve in the legislature.
However, folk hesitate to put themselves forward as it means resigning from good jobs with good pensions, without guarantee of getting their job back if unelected.
It might be said political life on Montserrat is the poorer for such hesitation.”

Justice Iain Morley QC

The following paragraphs also extracted from the ruling are equally very critical for local legislators, political aspirants, the political and administrative directorate to ponder.
31.“Running for election is not a sport. There should not be an attitude of ‘have a go’.
Running should only occur if carefully weighed. If coordinated and cautious soundings suggest a realistic prospect of election, then that industry studying the lie of the land may justify taking the plunge to resign, knowing it is a plunge into the unknown.
Also, the drive to do public service in elected office can be measured against the risk of not being reinstated; it can act as a yardstick for the public of a person’s integrity and zeal for the job. If civil service positions were guaranteed after, then this would likely diminish the candidacy, as being too easily pursued, and without consequence.”
32.“Further, there is the danger an anticipation of reinstatement would undermine the effect of any guidance on neutrality, turning the civil service into an ill-disciplined debating club, generating
endless spats in public, irrespective of there being an election.”
33 “Moreover, any campaign must involve argument and attack (though within the law and fair debate). In the heat of election battle some stray over the line.
Any reinstatement to public office must first require an assessment by the PSC, which decides public service appointments, of whether a candidate has so tarnished their neutrality as objectively to be no longer suitable for public office, or so damaged their relations with other candidates that they
cannot work as civil servants with those elected, either because they sense it, or the elected do.”
34.“ So, to avoid casual candidacy, and to preserve the neutrality of the public service, there cannot be any ‘anticipation’ of reinstatement, in the sense of the four categories above. Instead, the decision whether a candidate can rejoin the public service must rest unfettered in the hands of
the PSC.”
And, Justice Morley’s closing remark is noteworthy.
“Finally, the court wishes Vickie Stephenson and all candidates the very best of good luck in the
coming election.
The Hon. Mr. Justice Iain Morley QC
It also happens that a Commonwealth Observer Mission will be in Montserrat to monitor and make recommendations on the November 18th general election.
All candidates should give a commitment to debating its findings in the Legislative Assembly.
Such deliberations should even go back to the report on the 2014 elections where recommendations on the matters, including that which triggered the Vickie Storm Locker case, were addressed.

Miss Locker might have lost her case but she might just have refocused attention on the serious issue of representation which matters most.
I’ll just repeat here what the learned judge stated regarding this and Montserrat’s unique, even peculiar, political reality:
28.“Of a total labour force of 2703 per the census of September 2018, there are 726 employed by the Montserrat Public Service, which is 27%, in a voting population of about 3500, meaning 21% of voters are public officers.
Of that 21%, many are public-spirited, well-educated, and care very much about their community, making them an ideal and likely source of candidates to serve in the legislature.
However, folk hesitate to put themselves forward as it means resigning from good jobs with good pensions, without guarantee of getting their job back if unelected.
It might be said political life on Montserrat is the poorer for such hesitation.”

 

Read the verdict here – https://www.eccourts.org/vickie-stephenson-v-deputy-governor-lyndell-simpson/

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.