Saturday, February 28, 2015


The land of the dairy cow, Guernsey is an archipelago of the many Channel Islands (administratively Guernsey is in fact Guernsey itself, plus Sark, Alderney, Brecqhou, Herm, Jethou and Lihou) that really ought to belong to France as they are fractionally nearer France than they are to England, only France prefers its islands to be much further away, and to have coral reefs and sea-turtles, whereas Guernsey really does only have dairy cows (though you can make excellent Camembert from cow’s milk). 

There are some wonderful quaintnesses about Guernsey, even before we include the people and the scenery. For example, it is not a United Kingdom dependency, but quite specifically a British Crown dependency, which means that the Queen owns it as part of her personal estate, which also means that it is not part of the EU, which is ridiculous given its geographical location, which is dealt with by its being “regarded as if" in the EU for the purposes of free trade, which makes a complete nonsense of everything. 

It is known in French as a Bailliage, which translates into English as a bailiwick, a bailiff, or in this case a Lieutenant Governor, appointed by the monarch to exercise the office of a sheriff, much as happened in Nottingham in Robin Hood’s time. This wick includes the adjacent isles of Alderney and Sark, though both have their own Parliaments, despite the small number of inhabitants – Sark has only six hundred, Alderney almost two thousand. Presumably, if we discount those too young to vote, a gathering of Parliament could actually be a parish meeting of the entire island, and democracy à la kibbutz function fully; sadly, it doesn’t work that way in practice. Guernsey’s Parliament has forty-five elected members, plus two from Alderney but none from Sark (do they refuse?), as well as two representatives of Her Majesty, who never attend and could not vote anyway if they did, which makes an even greater mockery of the whole situation. While the LG represents the Queen, who is the figurehead chief, the Parliament is led by a Seigneur, a residue of Norman law, though I cannot ascertain whether he still retains the “droit de seigneur”, which is the right to sleep with any female that he pleases, regardless of her age or marital status. 

One last quaintness that I particularly like: the French, who claim the islands, nonetheless have a consulate on Guernsey; it is at Hauteville House, which was Victor Hugo’s home for fourteen years. Why do I like this? Because Guernsey was a place of exile for Hugo, after being declared an enemy of the state for his liberal views by Emperor Napoleon III.

Other than tourists, most of whom are not really tourists at all, as you will work out for yourself shortly, Guernsey has no basis for an economy whatsoever, save those few dairy cows. Guernsey functions to the British economy exactly as Guam does to the American military and as Sin City used to do for White South Africans: it is a part of the UK, but it is outside the UK’s borders, and so it can have its own tax system, which happens to be very favourable to any who wish to subsidise the islanders. Guernsey is therefore a haven, I mean a very convenient headquarters, for any number of financial and other institutions. It may not last however; moves are afoot to make Guernsey change its laws, and force the buggers to declare their assets and pay their taxes, just like the rest of the world.

Marks For: 2

Marks Against: 5

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