A dilemma on Sark

Baroness Valentine

I’ve spent the weekend on Sark, a 3 mile long Channel Island lying off the coast of Guernsey. It feels a bit like Cornwall/Britanny with lovely wild flowers and gorse. And a bit olde worlde, with horse drawn carriages and tea rooms serving scones.

The island is politically independent of the UK and ruled by the smallest self-governing (and somewhat feudal) parliament in Europe. Residents elect representatives to the “Chief Pleas”. A notice outside their Parliament read “This notice records that Mr. xxx has been put on the black list AT HIS OWN REQUEST. Licensed premises are reminded that it is illegal to serve alcohol to those on the black list.” There are no cars allowed on the island, and the National Health Service does not reach there, although there is an ambulance pulled by a tractor.

The Barclay brothers, who own about a third of Sark, live on Brecqhou (an adjoining island which may or may not come under Sark’s jurisdiction) in a house-cum-castle and have been trying to reform the governance of Sark, causing local consternation. On the day we were there there was a competition to design scarecrows looking like nursery rhymes. I met the judge of the 29 entries who had just seen the entry for Tweedledum and Tweedledee – looking suspiciously like the Barclay brothers, but very professionally done. She didn’t know whether to rule it out as inappropriate, or give it a prize. I left her hoping to find three better scarecrows so that she didn’t have to face that dilemma.

5 comments for “A dilemma on Sark

  1. Chris K
    27/05/2013 at 6:49 pm

    The way Sark has been treated by ‘Tweedledum and Tweedledee’ is utterly disgraceful.

    It’s the sort of behaviour that The Telegraph would usually be up in arms about.

    But for some reason it isn’t.

    • Baroness Valentine
      Chris K
      28/05/2013 at 3:21 pm

      Yes I certainly met locals who share your point of view and that does suggest at the very least that the brothers could improve their PR, but I also met those who felt that Sark had needed some change and new investment if it was not to decline. There are mixed views about the Barclay brothers\’ vineyards too, but I for one would enjoy a bottle of Sark wine some time in the future if they succeed.

  2. MilesJSD
    29/05/2013 at 8:53 am

    Several dillemmas.
    No oil-well ?
    No strategic-commodities ?
    No “vital ground” ?

    Freedom !!!

  3. maude elwes
    06/06/2013 at 11:16 am

    Sark is a story of modern day feudalism. And the Barclay brothers are only following the mainstream of power throughout a rampant capitalist society.

    They see the indigenous people of Sark as nothing more than plebs. Very similar to our present and past governments on the mainland.

    Which only means one of two things, The

  4. maude elwes
    06/06/2013 at 11:18 am

    Sark is a story of modern day feudalism. And the Barclay brothers are only following the mainstream of power throughout a rampant capitalist society.

    They see the indigenous people of Sark as nothing more than plebs. Very similar to our present and past governments on the mainland toward its electorate.

    Which only means one of two things. The people of Sark accept their fate and doff their caps to the tweedles, or, they get the hell out of it and leave the boys to till their own land.

Comments are closed.