Before Wednesday’s election, the island of Sark in the English Channel was the last feudal outpost in the world. Power was held by chief tenants, who were by right members of the Chief Pleas, the legislative body on the island. The head of the government is the Seigneur who holds the whole island as a fief from the Queen. There is a judge known as the Seneschal.
Everything was going happily along until the owners of The Daily Telegraph, Dave and Fred Barclay, bought a number of businesses on the island, including hotels, restaurants, and shops. They became the employers of about one-sixth of the island’s population. Then they insisted on government reform. They didn’t like the feudal system and wanted to install democracy.
So under threat of personally destroying the Sark economy, they forced elections to be held. There would be a 28-member Chief Pleas elected by the island’s residents. They tried to get rid of the Seigneur and Seneschal. They filed a lawsuit in the High Court in London alleging that these offices were in contravention of European human rights legislation, but the judge ruled against them. But at least there would be an elected legislative body for the population of 600.
About one in eight residents of Sark stood in the election. When it was all said and done last night, only five pro-reform Conseillers were elected. In other words, most of the people want to keep things pretty much as they are.
So after causing the end of a happy fiefdom that has existed without any trouble since the Middle Ages, the Barclay brothers are now shutting down their Sark operations in retaliation against the democratic vote. As their lawyer told the BBC:
“Today, via their agents in Sark, they [the Barclay brothers] have authorised and decided to close down their ongoing operations in Sark as a result of an election last night of a majority of the new assembly which is called Chief Pleas who are standing on very much an anti-Barclay platform”.
He added: “It was clear the Barclays were clear on their commitment to the island with support – they got no support at all.
“Sark doesn’t appear to want or appreciate the Barclays’ investment and so it doesn’t have it.”
That’s right. “We are going to take our ball – and your jobs – and go home. We wanted democracy so you could vote the way we told you to vote out of a sense of obligation because of our goodness to you.”
Sir David and Sir Frederick are bastards. Bullies and bastards.