Friday, June 26, 2009

Young Conservatives: secrecy jurisdictions are the future

Be scared, be very scared.

If London Mayor Boris Johnson (pictured here for our international readers) represents the zeitgeist haunting the corridors of the student halls of residence in Britain (as is claimed here), and if the Conservative economic policies boil down to emulating the Cayman Islands and Jersey, the British general public faces a dire future.

This is what interviewee Matthew Clarke (an aspiring Young Conservative) has to say about the London Mayor:

"A lot of students now have posters of Boris Johnson on their walls whereas 20 years ago they had posters of Che Guevara. Boris Johnson is the new radical, he is the new cool, trendy person" (around 3 minutes into the clip)

Err, if you say so Matthew, but what's this about secrecy jurisdictions?:

I don’t believe in this zero-sum game where we look at the Cayman Islands and look at Jersey and we should say, well we’re going to cut you off and we’ll having nothing to do with you. What is it about those countries (sic) that makes them appealing places for companies to want to base themselves and how do we get them to base themselves here rather than there? (around 3 mins 30 seconds into the clip)

Little problem with your logic here, young Matthew. Go to the Cayman Islands, take a day trip to Jersey: you'll find that the companies aren't there apart from for tax avoidance and evasion purposes. What you will see are brass plates, the shadow banks, and the tax evading industry. That's what prompted President Obama (who, just for the sake of pedantry genuinely does feature on the student t-shirts and the walls of halls of residence) to say this.

TJN is a non-partisan organisation, and we will keep it that way. But it is notable that the British Conservative Party has kept well clear of international discussions about the role of secrecy jurisdictions in the current crisis, not to mention Britain's appalling role (see footnote) in promoting and protecting the criminal activities that these places facilitate.

Conservative leaders appear to have nothing to say on this subject, but this interview is revealing of thinking amongst the upcoming strands.


In due course we will be writing extensively about Britain's shocking role in promoting the development of secrecy jurisdictions in former British colonies and the British Crown Dependencies. We are in the process of completing a major archive research programme in London on this subject. I think its fair to say that we have damning evidence of how some government departments, including the then Overseas Development Ministry, heavily promoted tax havenry (a lovely term coined by government officials in the 1960s) despite the strong reservations of senior officials in other departments.

The revelation that some Conservatives want to base their economic policies on taking these disgraceful practices even further is frankly unbelievable. Not least because - as the collapse of the Turks and Caicos Islands demonstrates - such policies lead to economic,political and social disaster.
Thanks to Paul Sagar for drawing this to our attention.


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