3 SARK’S AUTONOMY REMAINS A PRICELESS ASSET IN A TROUBLED AND OFTEN DANGEROUS WORLD On 12th December 2018 the people of Sark saw off the latest attempt by the UK government to intervene in their affairs. For the first time in five years they held a contested general election and by doing so avoided the potential for a long, drawn out dispute with the UK government; a time and resource-consuming dispute which nev- ertheless would have had only one outcome, that of reasserting the Island’s autonomy, independ- ence and absolute right to self-determination. Internally, Sark had got itself into a mess. A decade of rule by Sark’s ‘chief enforcer’ Re- ginald Guille and his supporters had resulted in unprecedented depopulation, a collapse in land and property values and an economy in terminal decline. These were and remain Sark’s prob- lems, but they are for the people of Sark to fix, no one else. This did not stop Lord Keen, the opportunist UK Minister with responsibility for the Crown De- pendencies, trying to capitalise on the Island’s problems. In his now infamous letter to Chief Pleas of 22nd October 2018, a copy of which was leaked to The Sark Newspaper and subsequently published in full in the public interest, Keen tried to exploit the divisions in Sark. He issued thinly veiled threats that his government would inter- vene in Sark if we did not do as we were told: “ No democratic government can hope to maintain itself indefinitely without periodically answering to its electorate through elections that offer a genuine choice of representation. It has been six years since a properly contested election in Sark. In light of the many significant challenges facing the Island, it is now a matter of urgency that your forthcoming elections deliver a strong mandate to government going forward .” Lord Keen and his political masters cannot be reminded often enough about the constitutional status of Sark.: We are part of the UK, but not answerable to Westminster. We are not bound by their laws and regulations. We have no political repre- sentation in the UK gov- ernment nor do we seek any. Not one member of the UK's government has faced the electorate in Sark. There is not one member of the UK gov- ernment who has received a single vote from the people of Sark. Not one member of the UK’s government holds a mandate from the people of Sark to govern or make laws and regulations on their behalf. We are part of the Baili- wick of Guernsey, but not answerable to the States of Guernsey. We are not bound by their laws and regulations. We have no political rep- resentation in the States of Guernsey, nor do we seek any. Not one member of Guernsey’s govern- ment has faced the electorate in Sark. There is not one member of Guernsey’s government who has received a single vote from the people of Sark. Not one member of Guernsey’s govern- ment holds a mandate from the people of Sark to govern or make laws and regulations on their be- half. We are on the edge of Europe but not answera- ble to Brussels. We are not bound by their laws and regulations. We have no political repre- sentation in the Europe- an Parliament nor do we seek any. Not one mem- ber of the European Parliament has faced the electorate in Sark. There is not one member of the European Parliament who has received a sin- gle vote from the people of Sark. Not one mem- ber of the European Parliament holds a mandate from the people of Sark to govern or make laws and regulations on their behalf. The people of Sark’s independence and right to self-determination is enshrined in the Crown lease held by our Seigneur, Major Christopher Beaumont. The Crown may reserve the right to intervene in the event of a serious breach of the lease, such as a breakdown in law and order or civil unrest, but this has never happened in Sark and is never likely to happen. Internal disputes over the direction of travel for the Island in re- spect of the economy, the environment, social care, education and any other number of policies are for the people of Sark to decide upon, no one else. Least of all Lord Keen or his political mas- ters.