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Blog: The dog's breakfast becomes a dead cat

Discussions broke out when things became too confusing...

Have you heard of the dead cat strategy?

If people are talking about something causing you trouble, throw a dead cat on the table and they'll be talking about that instead.

It happened today in the States of Jersey where an attempt to reform the make-up of the chamber experienced its own dead cat.

There was a proposition to reduce the number of Deputies to 28, and to create six super constituencies so there was a fairer spread of politicians across the island. At the moment, it varies wildly.

But, as ever in Jersey politics, there are multiple and competing vested interests at play. At the moment some districts are uncontested. It allows the sense of an old boys and girls club to flourish. Creating super constituencies would end that.

Six new super constituencies could have been created today

Across two days there were passionate speeches on both sides of the argument. Those who say any change which makes representation more democratic should be welcomed, even if it's not perfect, while others argued the traditional parish structure was at risk and the plans were messy.

At the start of this morning there was a very real chance the reforms could have been voted through, but then a dead cat appeared in the guise of a sudden outbreak of confusion.

Usually intelligent and informed politicians one-by-one stood up to tell the Presiding Officer they didn't understand the small print. They then voted down some small print to change the number of Deputies from 29 to 28 in the law, which meant the next line of small print that only allowed for 28 Deputies would have rendered the whole legislation redundant. Following this? Thought not.

Nothing will be changing...

Confusion is an effective dead cat.

Once the politician who brought forward the plan had caught up, he realised the whole package was dead in the water, so he announced he wanted to withdraw it.

Cue an hour of speeches, ranging from "sabotage" to "I'm in favour of reform, but not this reform". The upshot, by 30 votes to 10, electoral reform goes in the bin.

It's the latest in a series of messes to be played out either in government or in parliament.

And with less than a year to go until the General Election, the chances of Jersey's wildly disparate voting system being fixed in time, are about as slim as the likelihood of a dead cat coming back to life.