It would have been nice if we’d been told about election observer
Saturday 8th December 2012, 10:00AM GMT.
SARK’S general election next week is to be formally observed to ensure that it complies with international best practice.
To this stubborn Channel Islander, who is becoming increasingly disturbed by the number of people being parachuted into Sark, this is another way of saying that Lord McNally at the Ministry of Justice is anticipating flak from certain quarters and this is his way of deflecting it.
In a press release issued on Wednesday morning to the Channel Islands media but, significantly, not directly to the people of Sark, it was announced that Sir Norman Browse, former president of Alderney, will be the official observer.
It is perhaps ironic that less than 48 hours earlier more than 100 Sark residents heard from another parachutist – Cathryn Hannah from the Ministry of Justice – that one of the issues emerging from an island-wide survey was a call for ‘better communication and openness when (the government is) dealing with the population’.
Surely that meeting itself was a heaven-sent opportunity to tell a significant number of Sark residents that the island’s ability to run free and fair public elections – something it has done successfully for close to a century – was being subjected to external scrutiny. Equally, this should have been followed immediately by a letter to everyone on the electoral roll.
In a community this small and close-knit, telling the media before those directly affected by such a move is discourteous, to say the least.
I have voted at every opportunity I have been given since 1962, including several here in Sark. While here, I have never seen, heard of or been given the slightest reason to believe that Sark’s public elections are anything but properly run. Indeed, so open is the count that the public is able to keep a running total of votes cast for particular candidates because those votes are called out from every ballot paper.
Four years ago, the whole election was observed independently by the world’s media. Their accounts of the first fully democratic election and its aftermath centred on the island’s biggest employer throwing toys out of the pram rather than any single mention of election impropriety.
Lord McNally appears to ignore that inconvenient truth and instead bows to anticipated criticism. I can only hope that it is his taxes which are paying for Sir Norman’s visit to Sark rather than mine.
All that said, I remain hopeful – despite online criticism, some from people who can’t or don’t read – that the election will be determined on issues rather than personalities and that as great a percentage of the electorate as possible turn out to vote. All 22 candidates deserve nothing less, as well as our thanks.
SARK Chamber of Commerce president Bob Parsons has appealed for funds to continue the tradition of Christmas lights in The Avenue. This year’s display will be switched on by Miss Sark Princess Yasmin Williams at 5.30 on Wednesday evening – directly after Sark’s School’s nativity at the Methodist Chapel – but cash is urgently required to ensure that there will be a display next year.
Sark Electricity staff have been busy putting up the lights this week and no doubt their efforts will be rewarded with a display well up to the usual standard.
LAST week saw an unusual arrival at Creux Harbour when fisherman Jon Shuker and crew member Steve Taylor brought ashore a porbeagle shark which had become caught in their nets just off Grande Greve on Sark’s west coast.
Unfortunately, although it was alive when netted, the shark died before they could release it back into the sea but I am told that its flesh made a tasty and welcome addition to a number of Sark plates.
As I write, my Cable & Wireless landline is out of action and has been for hours. They have said it may take three to five days to fix. There was a time when we used to have a resident engineer. Happy days.
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