Sark Newspaper 30 November 2018

2 Fifteen Islanders have put their names forward for the nine available seats in the forthcoming elections. On 12th De- cember 2018 the people of Sark will, for the first time in five years, cast votes in what, from a numerical per- spective, appears to have all of the hall- marks of a genuine contested election. It was Thomas Jefferson who famously stated that “the government you elect is the government you deserve”, but the electorate can only make an informed choice of whom they want to represent them if they are presented with de- tailed meaningful manifestos by those seeking their vote. When democracies prepare for general elections a great deal of effort goes into campaigning by the participating can- didates. An integral part of campaign- ing is the production of meaningful manifestos outlining the character and vision of the candidate. What existing government policies does the candidate support? What new initiatives do they intend to bring to government? What experience or qualifications do they have that singles them out as being fit for office? Do they have any potential conflicts of interest? In short, who are they and what do they stand for? Since the hopelessly flawed Reform Law of 2008 fully representative democratic elections have failed to materialise in Sark. One of the major failings in the few pitiful attempts at holding elections has been the refusal of the overwhelm- ing majority of candidates to issue manifestos. Democratic values are entrenched in openness, transparency and accountability. A manifesto is a critical benchmark for measuring the perfor- mance of a candidate should they be elected. It ensures that the successful candidate remains accountable to the electorate throughout his or her term of office, based on the promises out- lined in their manifesto. Of the fifteen candidates that will face the elec- torate on 12th December 2018 four are long-time members of Chief Pleas. For the past four years they have governed Sark, despite not having faced the electorate nor having received a single vote. Edric Baker, Diane Baker, Helen Plummer and William Raymond have been passing legislation and making laws, despite having no man- date from the people to do so. Of the four, only William Raymond has not been in power for the full ten years that followed Sark’s first attempt at democratic election in December 2008. He has however spent more years in Sark’s government than out over this period. Quite how any one of this gang of four are going to explain away they and their fellow unelected would-be politician’s destruction of the Is- land’s economy is anyone’s guess. It is going to take some very creative writing to produce manifestos that can put a positive spin on their achievements over the past decade. All four of the incumbent Chief Pleas members seeking re-election have been willing members of a govern- ment that thrives on division and en- trenchment. The results of a decade of their anti-business and anti-jobs policies are there for all to see. The Island’s population has plummeted by 40%. In December 2008 there were over 650 year- round residents living in Sark, today there are less than 390. Land and property prices have collapsed with houses selling for 30% less than their 2008 market value. Meanwhile property tax has soared by 130% over the past ten years, whilst personal taxes have risen by 67%. Nobody can harbour any doubts as to the past record of Edric Baker, Diane Baker, Helen Plummer and William Raymond’s time in office. It is for them to explain in each of their manifes- tos just how they believe Sark has benefitted from their policies, and, more importantly, what policies they are going to pursue if re-elected. Of the other eleven candidates, none have previous- ly served in a Sark government. The electorate can only make an informed choice on their suita- bility for office if they produce meaningful mani- festos. For Sark to have its first credible contest- ed election the people must receive meaningful manifestos from all fifteen candidates. THE FIFTEEN CANDIDATES MUST TELL THE ELECTORATE WHAT THEY WILL DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE