Democracy is fine, until you lose - Macleans.ca
 

Democracy is fine, until you lose

SARK: When their candidates lost, the Barclays laid off 140 workers


 

Democracy is fine, until you lose

Last week’s election on the English Channel island of Sark should have been a time of celebration for Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay. Since the billionaire brothers moved onto the nearby islet of Brecqhou in 1993 and began pumping millions into the local economy, they have pushed Sark toward democracy through a series of legal challenges against its feudal powers—the hereditary seigneur who leases the island from the Crown for $3.50 a year, and the legislature, until now controlled by the holders of 40 tenements originally parcelled out during the reign of Elizabeth I.

However, the Barclays’ success in democratizing Sark wasn’t rewarded at the ballot box. Only two of their favoured candidates won places in the 28-seat legislature, known as the Chief Pleas. Among the losers was estate manager Kevin Delaney, who warned: “There’s a very real price that’s going to be paid for this.” The next day, the Barclays shut down their businesses on the island, including four hotels and a pub, and laid off 140 workers, one-quarter of Sark’s population.

The Barclays had wanted their preferred candidates to push through a modernization plan that included introducing electric vehicles and even a helipad on the quiet, rural, 545-hectare island that currently has no cars, paved roads or street lights. Instead, the electoral results are being interpreted as a rejection of the brothers’ high-handed methods, which included labelling their now-victorious traditionalist opponents as “dangerous to Sark’s future.” Though Barclay lawyer Gordon Dawes expects the businesses will eventually reopen, new investments, currently around $10 million a year, won’t be flowing into “a place where there is such an anti feeling against them.” Seigneur Michael Beaumont, still the head of the Chief Pleas, doesn’t sound worried: “We’ve managed for 400 years. Life goes on.”


 

Democracy is fine, until you lose

  1. When I saw the headline “Democracy is fine, until you lose,” I mistakenly thought the story was about Dion, and the whole “although I just led the Liberals to the worst showing in Canadian history, and yet I still think I deserve to be PM” thing…

  2. Interesting Diver, I assumed it was about Harper and the Tories’ sudden realization about how parliamentary democracy works.

    “What? We can be defeated? Sound the alarm! Get the “journalist” Stephen Taylor to run some rallies! Does anyone remember the words to the anthem?”

  3. Diver says it best which is precisely why the concept is doomed and being shovelled under the pile of manure where it belongs as the real purpose of the coalition was to allow the LPC to annoint Iggy rather than actually have their members vote for him as leader and as dollars will get you timbits this will come back to haunt the poor guy. I miss Dion already as he was the best damn friend us Conservatives ever had oh well such is life and only 12 more seats to go.

  4. The oft trouble with democracy is thought to be that people with opposing views don’t support you. The real problem is that people with supporting views often don’t vote for you either.

  5. I lived on Sark, briefly, a long time ago now but I can still sympathize with the locals resisting outsiders with plans for modernization that would only spoil the islands. Good for them!