Government by grudge has no place

AN ESCALATION of the campaign being waged against Sark Estate Management raises a number of troubling issues, not least firearms security, adequacy of policing and personal safety there, particularly if your face does not fit.

AN ESCALATION of the campaign being waged against Sark Estate Management raises a number of troubling issues, not least firearms security, adequacy of policing and personal safety there, particularly if your face does not fit.

But perhaps the biggest concern is the suitability of Sark’s government, Chief Pleas.

At first glance that might seem an unwarranted accusation but the evidence – largely ignored in the current debate on vandalism – is there.

Nearly half of Chief Pleas took part in a protest against the vineyards, although not one of them, nor the responsible committee, had earlier expressed any concerns about what SEM was doing.

Elsewhere, protests generally occur after people feel their views have been ignored.

In Sark, it appears that they have replaced the conventional way of asking a business what its long-term intentions might be.

What makes this more sinister is the enthusiasm with which so many of Sark’s legislators jumped on the bandwagon, the same people who are talking about using the law in the case of the vineyards.

Legislating against what is unclear. Despite what the ringleader claimed, this is not about a loss of agricultural land. SEM is actually cropping the land, albeit with a perennial planting. The only ‘loss’ is of some grazing for horses, one of the least productive uses that the area could be put to, and SEM has done nothing which the island’s Agriculture Committee can say is wrong.

So what next? Rent-a-mob stopping guests using a hotel because it is owned by SEM? Picketing a pub because it has the wrong owner?

And if/when Chief Pleas does legislate over land use, what confidence can anyone have that the law is required and proportionate or that the ends are justified when nearly half its members have already condemned the business that they will seek further to hamstring?

Provocation may be claimed on both sides, but no functioning democratic government can behave in a partisan manner. Decisions must be evidence-based or else have no legitimacy.

Whoever pulls the strings in Sark ought to take stock of how all this plays to a wider audience.

Government by grudge gives the moral high ground to SEM.

Comments for: "Government by grudge has no place"


Do the GP know something we and the police do not? Until the results of the investigation are in, it is presumptive to draw any conclusions - never mind ladling them with quite such undiluted innuendo in this manner.

And use of emotive language by the GP such as "ringleader", "sinister ", "Rent-a-mob" and "pulls the strings" seems particularly unfortunate. You know precisely how this will play out and appear in the next SNL.

And then you have the absurdity to add: "Decisions must be evidence-based or else have no legitimacy."

You said it! I think this opinion piece probably marks a low point in the GP's abuse of its obligations in a delicate and "troubled" situation. What on earth are you lot up to?


I did it!


I'm Spartacus!

I tend to agree with this opinion column.

Sark is feeling threatened by a hostile takeover and this is causing irrational reactions. Nevertheless, untoward behaviour is perpetuating justification for reform.

Sark needs to wise up and defend itself properly. Change is inevitable, best that those who value the island remain cool calm and in control.


@Spartacus 7:10 (!)

I think the point here is that GP seems to have prejudiced the situation. Maybe it knows something us mortals don't, but until we know for sure that wires were cut by "rampant feudalists" - or by conniving folks who are trying to discredit Ms Byrne's campaign, it seems unwise to write the editorial for the next SNL.

Ironically, in the light of Delaney's persistent pejorative references to the establishment and Nazi Germany, maybe someone feels obliged to play along in the way that the resistance fought against Nazi occupation; which rather poignantly juxtaposes the pure irony and hypocrisy of the SNL's brass necked claims to be the victim.

Don't give him your name, Spartacus!


What the hell is this? What happened to objective reporting? It's an opinion piece without a name attached.


Politicians in all countries frequently get embroiled in "issue" demos. The GP was as keen as anyone to haul Sark kicking and screaming into the world of modern "democracy", so don't complain.

You ask for "evidence based decisions" - where is the evidence that it is a good idea to smother Sark with vines, when the crops so far have been "insignificant". Just planting more at this point seems like a case of shouting louder, rather than listening and reacting to what the results are saying.

As the custodian of Sark's unique heritage, CP is entitled to ask for some restraint with wholesale ploughing and change of use of land until it can be shown that this is a sane and sustainable industry. It seems unwise to rely on the opinions of experts in the pay of the SEM.

You Guerns aren't jealous of Sark's low population density and hitherto relatively unstressed way of life, are you?


Not jealous. Most of us love Sark for what it is and want the best for it and its islanders. We're quite sympathetic.

Don't take this article as a representation of what we're individually thinking. It's emotive and shockingly one sided. It actually sounds familiar to the propaganda that gets distributed on your island and most people are smart enough to see it.

Hopefully the people here who take notice can help some way (even if by monitoring the situation - the more eyes the better that witness what is happening) so we have to keep a good relationship so please don't think the worst of us solely because of this article.


The "opinion The Voice of Islanders" Not us Sark islanders! I have never read such a one sided biased piece. Rent a mob, ringleaders, bandwagon etc. Could have come from the pages of The Sark Newsletter.Most outsiders don't have a clue what it is like for our politicians, anything said by them is twisted and misconstrued as the are worn down week after week by the newsletter's diatribe and you people know that perfectly well.I believe that in Guernsey ,you need to have permission to plant a tree on agricultural land and of course, you have Security of Tenure ,which our farmers unfortunately do not. as for it being a few horses affected,a large carriage horse, the iconic symbol of Sark's tourism, needs a lot of feeding plus there have also been grazing lost to cattle and sheep as well. imagine the reaction if that percentage of agricultural land in Guernsey was swallowed up by vines, imagine the reaction if Bourdeaux Mix (copper sulphate) and copious amounts of lime was being used along side your reservoir.

David Barry

While I agree with all the above posters regarding the extra ordinary partiality of this comment piece, can I just say that as an outsider, who having had a holiday on Sark has been following events by way of the internet, that I find the statement that no objection had been expressed to the additional planting of vines prior to the demonstration extraordinary. The press release from the agricultural committee was issued well before the demonstration. If I know this, so must you.

Also I find it bizarre that democratically elected representatives should be criticised for taking part in a demonstration, where I live, in London, it happens all the time. Apart from anything else it merely means they are standing up in public for what they believe in.

the man

actually David the 'press release' was issued less than 48 hours before the demonstration. and it is not from the agricultural committee. it is from an imaginary ' agriculture and environment committee' it is not signed by the agriculture committee, rather by a single member of chief pleas who seems to have altered official headed paper to add a certain gravitas to her crusade. i'm certain that in the states or the uk, a member of government forging official documents for their own end would not be treated lightly!


Bringing attention to the overnight destruction of a major element of a small Island's environment seems like a very rare case where the ends justify almost any means.

The Dixcart land slip suggests that the process does indeed need to be slowed down and more carefully reviewed.


@the man

As mentioned below - the committee press release is here:

I think you might want to withdraw that comment unless someone with money to burn is also paying your legal fees?

ignorance is bliss

Actually The Man the press release was published by the Agricultural Committee and appears on the Government website under Public Notices.

are you blind

Actually ignorance is bliss The Man is correct, the website clearly says "Agriculture and Environment Committee".


It seems the Agriculture Committee has adopted an appropriate additional word in its title. Following observations from Crowe et al about the complex CP committee structures, it seems sensible to start to amalgamate the complementary functions.

It might also make sense to conflate the role of the Development Control Committee, since all three functions would seem to overlap to a considerable extent.