The Isle of Man needs an opposition – and it isn’t me

September 1st, 2010

Gate - Marine Drive, Isle of Man.

Photo by Andy Radcliffe / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Isle of Man Today web site carries the following back handed compliment today, the following being an edited (shortened) version of the story:

We have also written a story about a letter from a group who thinks the Isle of Man should ditch zero-10 company tax.

The group of 12 people – including a high profile charity worker – says that we’d be better off in the long run and have a better reputation if we re-introduced company taxes.

You might remember that a few weeks ago (August 10, to be precise) we ran a story based on a survey of corporate service providers and other finance sector interests. They predicted doom and gloom – ultimately lots of job losses and a big cut in tax take – if the Island lost zero-10.

We’re delighted we’ve got a response today.

Unfortunately, the group of 12 people who’ve written to us aren’t establishing themselves as a formal pressure group. That’s a shame because they could have help to fill an argument vacuum on this topic and widen the debate. We sometimes find it hard to find someone to put counter-arguments in political stories because there are few pressure groups and little in the way of formal party politics – which thrive on confrontation – in the Isle of Man.

But at least there’s someone here in the Isle of Man – and not just Richard Murphy, the UK blogger – making the argument.

Well, I’m delighted too. I don’t want to be the one-man political opposition in the Isle of Man and never set out to be so.

But I also note how very hard it is for there to be effective political opposition in places like the Isle of Man and the other Crown Dependencies. Any pretence that there is freedom of speech in such places is just that – a pretence. These islands are effectively occupied  by the financial services industry, and they use their power – the very real power to make or break people’s chance to make a living – to ensure that opposition to their activities is silenced – or belittled to the fringes.

This is not an accident. This is the ultimate expression of the neo-liberal contempt for government – that overlaps with that of anarcho-capitalism, as I noted here. That same contempt for government and the rule of law that it upholds is indeed inherent in the whole definition of secrecy jurisdictions: Secrecy jurisdictions are places that intentionally create regulation for the primary benefit and use of those not resident in their geographical domain that is designed to undermine the legislation or regulation of another jurisdiction. They do, in addition, create a deliberate, legally-backed veil of secrecy that ensures that those from outside the jurisdiction making use of its regulation cannot be identified to be doing so.

The Isle of Man Today web site and the weekly Isle of Man Examiner newspaper can welcome twelve brave individuals standing up against their government – as I do too – but the reality is that if that paper really believes in freedom of speech, politics and proper government it would challenge the whole structure of secrecy on which the Isle of Man’s business model is predicated. But it doesn’t. As such it is complicit with the occupying force within the island that holds it in fear and to ransom.

That’s why a few of us – not just me by a long way – from outside the Isle of Man and other secrecy jurisdictions have had to challenge what happens in these dark corners of corruption that set out to undermine democracy, society (as we know it), accountability and the rule of law, and which are—in consequence—the very enemy of society itself. We’ll know we’re winning when there is real democracy in these places. Maybe the twelve who have written are a start – and I wish them well without knowing who they are – but we have a long way to go. Until we get there, they can rely on much external support – and not just from me.

Written by Richard Murphy

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