The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire produced by John Christensen (co-founder of the Tax Justice Network) and directed by Michael Oswald, is a documentary film that shows how Britain transformed from a colonial power into a global financial power. That is a nice way of saying from a thieving, murdering bastard to a thieving, man-slaughtering bastard. Yes yes all bastards have a nice side too. Complicated beings them bastards.
John Christensen features in my documentary, You Can’t Evict An Idea about the Occupy London experience while it was camped at St.Paul’s in the City of London. His work with the Tax Justice Network informed much of what Occupy London stood for. His film shows that Britain would not be able to be a thieving, man-slaughtering complicated entity if it were not for its accountant, the City Of London and goes into sufficient detail to achieve the perfect balance of credibility and mass audience comprehension. The Spider’s Web leaves no room for doubt that the regulations that embolden tax haven contracts are clearly grounded in the principle of unaccountable power through money ownership.
A song is springing to mind. The perfect City of London anthem
Eva Joly, a French anti-corruption activist, magistrate and MEP for the Europe Écologie political party, features in the Spider’s Web. Eva concludes that despite the disclosure of the Panama papers not one arrest can be made. This is because the regulations around such transactions have been designed for no other purpose than to protect such transactions. As the anthem says “I don’t care what you do to them, just be good to me”
The Spider’s Web explains how these regulations came to be, when and why. Many people reading this blog would know about tax havens. The Spider’s Web informs us further and keeps us updated. It confirms that if tax havens were no longer, the inequality within and between countries would be drastically reduced. This film is utterly convincing that financial service companies based in the City of London, facilitate large-scale theft from the public purse of many developing countries by the countries’ own officials.
At the end of the film, the action points are stated in text form on a final slide.
Putting an end to tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions is not impossible,
here are five easy steps to put and end to them.
1. Stop local councils from issuing public contracts to companies operating out of
2. Create public registries of beneficial owners of companies, trusts and
3. Introduce full transparency of deals and secret tax agreements between
companies and governments.
4. Introduce public country by country reporting by multi-national companies.
5. Introduce automatic information exchange between all countries.
It is unlikely that the average grassroots organiser, or the unaffiliated individual can engage with any of the above suggested outtakes apart from possibly Point #1. To this end the film is presumably aimed at high end campaigners, activist corporate lawyers and government, leaving the rest of us possibly feeling exasperated that such unethical practices can go unscathed. However, lets look at this from a cup 1/5th full perspective.
Anyone living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) interested in forming a working group to stop our local council from issuing public contracts to companies operating out of tax havens... contact me. Lets have a meeting and see what comes of it. Let’s endeavour to make RBKC a tax haven free zone!. After all we did the impossible in this borough less than 6 months ago and got a Labour MP in. There is a first time for everything.