Surely not! This contribution is by a well-known Jersey Advocate who prefers no public recognition but whose permission to adapt a much longer article is gratefully acknowledged.
Where do we live? In the United Kingdom, surely. It must be so, as it says so on the Internet when you make your travel arrangements.
At the ‘your details’ stage of an online booking, you enter your Jersey post code and proceed to the ‘choose a country’ drop-down menu. But Jersey is nowhere to be found. Jamaica, Jordan and Japan are all present and correct, but not Jersey. This being a compulsory field the traveller has no option but to enter United Kingdom – and once again the common misapprehension that Jersey is part of the UK – and not a proudly independent Crown Dependency whose autonomy was confirmed centuries before the United Kingdom was even thought of – is given oxygen and being so widely used, it will be believed.
Looking back, making Jersey postcodes look just like UK ones was a mistake. Deep in a mainframe somewhere must be a chip that sees JE and decides the next line can only be United Kingdom. The States should have used its authority to have that put right years ago.
But does it really matter, you may ask. It matters on at leas nine grounds, as it is a betrayal of our history; Jersey did not for centuries protect its autonomy just to see it eroded by sheer indifference.
Furthermore, he argues it is political nonsense. Who is our MP in the UK Parliament? There isn’t one of course. Added to that it is a political risk; some in Westminster would happily treat the States of Jersey as just another devolved assembly. By neglecting the symbols of our status, we nourish the lie that Westminster gave us something it could one day decide to take back.
The big danger, however, is that it could stifle our digital economy. Our autonomy allows us to change rules and embrace technological developments much faster than the UK, but you wouldn’t know it from the way we allow ourselves to be described. It is bad brand management and also bad for our culture of government in that it only encourages our civil servants’ fondness for importing solutions from the UK even though small jurisdiction specific solutions would be a far better fit.
The solution must come from us as companies such as Apple are simply too enormous and too heedless of a market of just 100,000 customers to devise a more considered solution. Google, however, is less indiscriminate. It long ago set up Google.je to which local users now default should they visit Google.com.
It is not too long before the next round of elections and the new States should gear itself to act and the first task would be to put their own house in order and clear up the anomalies listed above. Having achieved this easy target, the States will then have the moral authority politely to invite big businesses – and especially the transport companies – to correct their mistakes. We licence their activities here; describing us correctly can be added to their licence conditions.
Further afield those businesses that are using software with as a default the term “Jersey, United Kingdom” or a drop-down country list that ignores us can receive a friendly message from Jersey with advice on how to make the change and perhaps a modest reward for so doing.
Finally, the States must now try to bring .je under local control. We register cars, companies, boats, secured loans, charities, business names, aircraft, land … you name it, locally. Why after 20 years is Jersey’s .je domain still run from Alderney? The States should help local businesses and make .je as cheap and easy to use as .co.uk.
These may seem small matters but, be that as it may, the impact on the economy and the effects are large. Of course, States Members will argue more pressing demands of action exist, but this is something our government can put right – and should.
Jersey from the air. No sign of any UK connection