Up against the Channel Islanders

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But the events of the last week have been astonishing, to say the least.

Prior to the elections, of course, the island was seen as a throwback to feudal times, and with some justification (although it should be remembered that as well as the hereditary tenants there were also 12 elected deputies in the Chief Pleas), and it can well be understood that the pressure put on the islanders by the Barclay brothers, through the courts, to bring its laws into the 21st century would certainly have been regarded by the islanders themselves (or some of them, at least) as, at the very least, a serious case of outsiders interfering in a system that, to all intents and purposes, had served Sark well enough.

After all, people have been arriving in the island, to live and work, over a number of years, though not in huge numbers, admittedly, but didn’t seem to have felt the need to try and change things.

Despite having an island of their own (and an enormous castle to live in), the millionaire Barclay brothers had invested a great deal of money in various businesses in the island, and as a result, it appears, expected the Sarkees to vote for their choice of candidates.

But, understandably, in my opinion, the Sarkees voted instead, more or less, to maintain the old system by voting in many of those who have been regarded, for years, as the establishment, with all the resultant hoo-ha that followed as the gentlemen from the next-door island immediately closed down the businesses they had financed – and ending up looking, in my opinion, like a couple of spoilt brats who take their toys away when their mates won’t play the game that they want to play – leaving quite a number of people jobless, and some even homeless, I understand.

The events of the last few days must be quite devastating for those who have been affected by the loss of jobs and homes, and a few days before Christmas too.

But it seems clear that the inhabitants of Brecqhou haven’t really quite got the measure of the Channel Islanders.

The fact is that we can be a pretty obstinate lot – well, just imagine if one of our millionaires had turned up to live in our Island, thrown a lot of money around and then announced that he was going to be the Prime Minister because of it.

If it came down to it, would we vote for the rich bloke, just because of his largesse?

So now we know whom we shall be able to blame for the way things turn out over the next three years.

The Council of Ministers is now in place, although the new Prime Minister did not have it all his own way (and I confess to feeling rather sorry for the former Social Security incumbent, Senator Paul Routier, who has suddenly found himself out in the cold).

The reaction, among my old mates at least, is that nothing will change because the blokes who got the top jobs – and it is interesting and rather surprising that in the 21st century not a single woman was elected to the inner circle – all lean towards the right and are unlikely to argue with any of their fellow ministers, which, if true, will mean that every hare-brained (and probably very expensive) scheme dreamed up by the new lot in the Big House will get through on the nod (though some cynics might claim that has been going on for years anyway).

The problem is, he reckons, that some of the new lot are so inexperienced that they won’t argue the toss about anything and will just nod their heads and follow the crowd.

I’m not so sure, though. With Members of the calibre of Roy Le Hérissier and Ben Shenton (why on earth did he suddenly pull out as candidate for Health Minister? Surely the idea is to get in there and learn to work with the other members) in the cheap seats, as it were, as well as the more outspoken and (sometimes – and in some cases, always) bolshie lot who are still in, or made it to, the Big House, there should certainly, I sincerely hope, be some serious opposition from time to time.

And finally . . . It’s that time of year again, when we mark the season of goodwill with the giving and receiving of – largely unwanted – gifts and eat as though it was going out of fashion.

Imbued with festive sentiment, helped along with a finger or so of the Normandy apple juice, I wish those who feature in, and those who read, this column a very Happy Christmas. And, for good measure, I’d like to add that I’m pleased (and relieved) that the Father of the House made an appropriate and measured end-of-year speech.

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