Friday, 5 February 2016

Owen Jones and the 'Politics of Hope'

Last week the Guardian columnist, author and activist Owen Jones came to Jersey to give a talk at the Arts Centre on 'the Politics of Hope'.

The event was sold out with many people disappointed to not get tickets, and once Owen got into his stride it became very clear why.

Aside from being incredibly likeable and articulate, the message which Owen was here to spread is one which the people of Jersey have desperately needed to hear for a long time.

Jersey is a wonderful place with a beautiful environment and strong community spirit, yet we have been plagued by bad governments which have seen so much of our potential squandered.

Despite being one of the richest places in the world, we have rampant relative poverty. One third of pensioners live in relative low income, as do 58% of single-parent families. Over the past 5 years the poorest 1/5 of Islanders have seen their standard of living drop 17%. 

Financially, our government situation is a complete mess. We are facing a budget deficit of £145m because of government after government failing to make investments in education and health when they were needed, our social housing stock has been privatised after decades of neglect and, despite promises to the contrary, ordinary families are about to see their tax bill rise by between £1,000 to £2,000 (I'd like to be more specific on that figure, but even the government don't know what they're doing yet).

All of this happens whilst 70% of the electorate do not take part in the democratic process, boycotting elections and repeating the same old line "why bother voting, it won't change anything".

The Politics of Hope is about believing that we can do much better than this and that if you can tap into discontent and concentrate it's power into enthusiasm for a positive programme for change, then anything is possible.

It's about saying that one of the richest places in the world with some of the most sophisticated expertise and talent does not have to accept poverty as an inevitability and that we can and should look out for one another using the government as a positive tool to help create an environment in which anyone is able to achieve their potential, uninhibited by the circumstances of their birth and where we can together pursue our aspirations as a community.

Owen made the point that the current political status quo puts off ordinary people. Most people don't think in terms of left or right, they care about issues and how it affects their lives. Few politicians have been able to articulate their case in a way which genuinely inspires people.

This is how Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in America have been able to inspire so many people who were previously apolitical to get involved, because their authenticity and values count for so much more than what mainstream politics has considered normal for too long,

That is why Reform Jersey does not define itself as left-wing.

After all, what's left-wing about wanting everyone to pay a fair rate of tax? What's left-wing about saying people who do an honest day's work should be paid a fair wage? What's left-wing about saying our democratic process should be open and fair, allowing everyone to have an equal say on the future of their community?

Reform Jersey represents a progressive vision for an Island run on principles of fairness.

The real extremists in Jersey politics are the Council of Ministers.

They are pursuing an economic strategy which has been shown to be a total failure in literally every single example of it being used since the 1920s. That is utter madness. They have cut £10m from the budget which is ring-fenced to protect the most vulnerable people in society. They are threatening to sack hundreds of public sector workers described by their own £650 a day advisor to be the "best value for money" out of all of our workers, whilst creating new £120,000 a year management jobs.

As every month goes past and we receive more news about how the government is trying to shaft the public, whether it's the outrageous theft of People's Park (the clue is in the name for goodness sake!!), the cuts to support for pensioners or the sleaze which is now associated with collective responsibility, we are gaining more members and finding more people who have not been turned off by politics but who have been spurred in to fight even harder.

We may now have the most right-wing government we have ever had, but I firmly believe that it is also the most right-wing government we will ever have, because the next election will see a democratic upsurge against the status quo by those who have never voted before and by those who have been fooled for too long.

There is hope. We can and will change things.

Thank you so much to Owen Jones for his support and his inspirational words last week.


  1. Useless for Jersey though.

    1. Jersey is an offshore finance industry with conservative connected banks, lawyers and trust companies all supported by a conservative Government. Take all that away and Jersey becomes a desert.

    2. Again, quite the opposite.

      The conservative attitude to finance is its greatest threat.

      To survive and prosper, the industry needs to swim with the tide, not against it.

      We have a government in which one of the most senior ministers believes we should not be implementing TIEAs until the very last minute.

      Those of us on the progressive side of politics want to be proactive in adapting our industry to match changing perceptions and needs internationally and leading the way on transparency.

      For a start, if Reform Jersey were in charge we'd be pushing for a public register of beneficial ownership of countries.

      If we were the first to do it, we'd shoot to the top of every popularity list for government's around the world and send out a signal that we are open for business and squeaky clean.

      The current government wants to drag its heels in the sand and leave that glory for another jurisdiction.

  2. 'For a start, if Reform Jersey were in charge we'd be pushing for a public register of beneficial ownership of countries.'

    People want confidentiality so that would lose business immediately.

    1. The only people who want confidentiality are those with something to hide and we don't want those sort of people in Jersey anyway, so good riddance to them if they leave.

      There are plenty of businesses around the world who want transparency and will be attracted to a jurisdiction which is ahead of the game on it.

      Not least of all because it will give them bragging rights that they aren't like those crooks at Google and Amazon.

    2. You are dead right Sam. Nothing to hide nothing to fear taxation
      You are one of our few decent, hardworking States Members who genuinely care about we plebs. It is so wrong that you get so much cowardly abuse on line from this deranged stalker. He only attacks caring people so where it as a badge of honour young man.

      PS He has dropped the graham73 and AllyKing avatars to try and cover his tracks and is now spreading abuse as TP's bounced cheque. What a loser.

    3. I find it difficult to agree with you there, Sam. You claim that Jersey opening itself to transparency would lead to global applause and ...then what...a flourishing financial services sector? Jersey is already now ranked above the UK for transparency for a start, and there is also a distinction to be made between tax evasion, tax aggressive and confidentiality.

      Take the Trust industry for example, what will you do to propel that? For one, clients enjoy the confidential nature of them and then, of course, you have the fact that the owner is the Trustee itself.

      Then for companies - you can obviously publish a register disclosing immediate ownership or even ultimate beneficial ownership but it would be horribly problematic. You see, for immediate ownership most of what you'd reveal would be nominee arrangements or company concealment and such like. Naturally, you might say that we should publish UBOs ( which as I'm sure you are aware, nearly all fiduciary service providers have knowledge of, in the context of their own clients,due to the pervasively stringent CDD they are obliged to carry out)but what happens then. You might reveal the investment strategy of individual investors or the macro economic approach of institutional investors.

      Jersey's financial sector won't succeed due to any notion of increased transparency. It has always succeeded due to it's independence and the ability to differentiate which entails from that. Granted, in the past this has predominantly been orientated around tax and in way still does. But that's not all it's about. Take AIFMD, the ability of Jersey's fund services industry to offer a choice beyond, and inclusive of, the AIFMD (particularly when it comes to passporting) makes it attractive.

      You can say that the Jersey companies or trusts etc being used by corporations to avoid full tax obligations is bad but that is myopic. These corporations hire tax advisors (important to note that many jersey service providers require sight of tax advice before taking on a fund or tax aggressive structure)who will ensure that whatever web is created, it will atand up to tax authorities. Ots cat and mouse, HMRC will close loop holes only to reveal other ones. Jersey will always have a place in this - but it is not through any imprudence or non compliance on our part.

      Ultimately, back to your original point, confidentiality is part of the package. It's often not down to simple tax dodging ( difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance). Switzerland is ranked no.1 globally for financial secrecy - I don't see its industry going down the toilet or changing itself due to a bright new transparent Jersey. Anyway, I'd like to see reform propose ways to aid JFI beyond the notion of righteousness. Why not formulate a way to stimulate the investment advisory/ wealth management sector?

  3. Owen was excellent. Wonder if he has to put up with troll's like Mediator Jon and Petal Maureen. Disgraceful the way the JEP allow imbeciles to post abuse on their website. I know people laugh at these bozos but it is still wrong.

    1. Owen actually did a great video where he met up with one of his trolls.

      It's quite enlightening about the mentality of these people -

  4. Any thoughts about the £90 Million spent on property by wealthy people moving here Sam?

    1. Yes, it's no wonder we have a massively inflated housing market which is the single biggest contributor to poverty.

    2. I thought they can only purchase multi-million pound houses though?

    3. I'll leave that one to speak for itself.

  5. So you're saying that £ 90 Million of spending on property, restaurants, builders, tradesmen, and the associated primary and secondary taxation which this generates, is actually a negative for the island ?

    1. Never said that Jon. I'm not gullible enough to believe that that is what's actually happening.

  6. Anonymous, I recommend this -

    It's free on Kindle, but if you require a paperback version I'm happy to chip in.

    It would be worth it for me not to constantly have my inboxed spammed with your tedious messages any more.

    1. What about my comment, Sam? ( Yesterday, 16:20) I think it's insulting if your suggestion is aimed at me also. I would hope thats not the case. Would much prefer if you engaged with a response.

    2. I'll get round to it but it is quite comprehensive and will require more than a few seconds thought to respond properly.

      The above exchange is aimed at an idiot who anonymously sends tedious and abusive messages to myself and some colleagues nonstop.

  7. Grow up. Crying spam when somebody is trying to ask you valid questions about your understanding of economic policy is a cop out as you well know.

    I'll try and put this into easy to understand words for you, because as one of your employers, I really would appreciate some answers.

    1) Please explain how the spending of wealthy immigrants to the island on property and ancillary services is a net cause of poverty in this island ?

    2) Please explain what you are not gullible to believe about the Locate Jersey report referenced in earlier comments.

  8. 1) because there is such a thing as "inflation". Check the above referenced book to get an idea of what that means.

    2) ask questions like an adult and put your name to them and I might consider it.