11th December 2018
MEANINGFUL MANIFESTOS OR NOT - TOMORROW THE POLLS OPEN IN SARK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FIVE YEARS
Following a campaign by this publication calling for candidates to issue meaningful manifestos, ten of the fifteen Islanders seeking your vote tomorrow have responded and have done so. Five have not. This morning The Sark Newspaper publishes in full each of the ten manifestos. They are published in alphabetical order in line with the official list of nominated candidates that was posted on the Chief Pleas website on 23rd November 2018 by the Speaker of Chief Pleas and Returning Officer of Sark, Arthur Rolfe. Tomorrow will be the first time that the people of Sark have seen a ballot box since December 2013. Numerous attempts at holding General and By Elections have been made, but such is the disillusionment with an electoral system and government dominated by the unelected Reginald Guille and his supporters that an insufficient number of candidates could be found to hold contested elections.
What has changed? The threat of intervention by the UK’s Ministry of Justice if we do not hold contested elections has certainly been a driver in convincing many of the new candidates to put their names forward. The Sark Newspaper has made no secret of the fact that this threat must be negated. Neither the Ministry of Justice, nor anyone else for that matter, has any legal right to intervene in Sark. They know it and, most importantly of all, the people of Sark know it. We are an autonomous self-legislating jurisdiction whose independence and right to self-determination are enshrined in law. Sark’s problems are for the people of Sark to deal with and no one else.
The last thing we need to get involved in is fending off years of Westminster gunboat diplomacy. After a decade of economic decline we need a government which governs for all and dedicates all of its time and resources into rebuilding the economy, securing inward investment, creating jobs and repopulating the Island so that we can pay our own way in the world.
The Sark Newspaper, on behalf of the people of Sark, has a simple message for Lord Keen, the UK Minister for the Crown Dependencies: stay in Westminster and sort out the mess that your own government finds itself in; a mess solely of its own making.
Tomorrow the polls will open for the first time in Sark in over five years. We will be having contested elections with a broad range of candidates who offer a genuine choice of representation. Some have published meaningful manifestos that tackle many of the issues facing the Island head on. Other manifestos are high on rhetoric but short on policy. Five candidates have chosen, for reasons known best to themselves, not to issue a manifesto at all. It is now for the electorate to stand up and make a difference by turning out in numbers and choosing who will fill the nine seats that are up for grabs in Chief Pleas.