Sark Attacked on all Sides

What was it about the island of Sark that first attracted me? Was it the wonderful unspoilt scenery, the total absence of bossy signs telling us how dangerous it was to climb down cliffs to the sea, the gorgeous wild flowers, the tastiest lobsters in Western Europe? Or was it the feudal constitution?

You will be disappointed to discover that, despite all I have said about the wonders of Sark being true, it was the feudal constitution which really got me. Fewer than 500 people lived on an island which was still governed exactly as the first Elizabeth decreed it should be governed. And no one complained. Everyone was entirely happy. No one yearned for democracy or “human rights”.

But then something awful happened. Two grossly rich men, twins, bought an island, Breqhou, which was part of Sark. They resolved to change Sark for ever. They hated its feudal constitution. They used their millions to bring endless legal cases against Sark with the aim of destroying all that the island’s people held dear. They bought most of the island’s hotels so as to close them and thereby ruin the island’s economy, But the island didn’t give up.

Of course, and who can blame them, there were people who gave in to the Barclays, who assumed that such gigantic wealth could never be beaten and who decided to side with its owners. But, amazingly, almost every Sark resident refused to be bribed. The island knuckled down, as it had done during the German occupation. The Barclays would not be allowed to win.

All was quiet for a while, but then a truly preposterous man called Lord Keen QC appeared on the scene. He is sartorially challenged (he wears those awful striped shirts with white fixed collars which were popular in the sixties), but that is not why I object to him. He is a minister in the department of justice who has recently been given the job of looking after crown dependencies. He thinks this makes him enormously important. Recently, he visited the Channel Islands. He seems to have demanded that he, a very junior government minister, should be met at the airport in Guernsey by the Lieutenant Governor, the representative of the Queen. And he went on in just the same way. Sadly, he had many ideas well above his station.

But what really irritated any decent observer of the Channel Islands was his appalling attack on Sark for not having vicious, nasty elections. The electorate of Sark is made up of under 500 people. The Chief Pleas, the parliament of Sark, has 28 members. Sadly, as a result of the efforts of the frightful Barclays, every one of them is now elected. But, hardly surprisingly (except when the Barclays pay people to stand), it is quite often the case that no election is necessary because fewer candidates than there are vacancies offer themselves for election.

The appalling Lord Keen (a man who would die to ensure that political power should only be exercised by elected people – Oh, crikey, he seems to have forgotten he was not elected) has said that it is awful that the people of Sark are happy to be represented by men and women who have been elected unopposed. It is awful to say this, but, surely, Lord Keen is about the stupidest man ever given charge of Her Majesty’s dominions.

Charles

3 thoughts on “Sark Attacked on all Sides

  1. With 28 Conseiilers for an electorate of some 450, Sark is one of the most democratic governments in the world. By comparison, Guernsey has about 1 elected representative for 800 electors and an English MP has an average of 72,400 electors to represent. Lord King should be ashamed at running down such an involved and democratic electorate.

    Liked by 3 people

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