Posts tagged - city of london

A film on why Corbyn’s Labour isn’t radical enough, Nov. 14

SpidersWebHeaderToo scary radical, they say about Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. Well, not really. Just ask the Worshipful Whatnots in the Corporation of the City of London.

Britain once hotly debated whether or not to cast the 1,000 year old medieval relic of the Corporation into the dustbin. By the time of municipal reform fervor at the height of Victorian empire (mid 1800’s), the City had long been seen by the radical left as “the home of the devilry of modern finance”, a century before it became the tax haven black hole of Earth. Rising British socialism went to the mat to destroy the Corporation, losing a public PR battle in the 1880’s won largely by the pomp & circumstance of the Lord Mayor’s Show parade. By 1890, the City killed parliamentary legislation aimed at it for good, convincing Britain, with a parade, that empire was a shared glory, rich to poor.

The City’s survival fight was thus over by the founding of the Labour Party in 1900. Nonetheless, Labour Party general election manifestos regularly proposed the abolition of the City of London as a political entity, disappearing by World War II. New Labour by 2000 made the Corporation of the City of London a crown jewel of neoliberal fake democracy, as financial crises boiled in its spider’s web of tax havens, regularly exploding. The role of City of London tax havens is central to the 2008 crisis, as it will be in the next.

Worshipful Whatnots

Worshipful Whatnots

Corbyn has pointedly not proposed the abolition of the Corporation in his first manifesto as Labour leader in 2017. Not because Corbyn is unaware; the Corbyn wing of Labour has long known the history of Labour and the City. Corbyn’s current shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, is one of those quoted in Nicholas Shaxson’s landmark 2011 book on tax havens, Treasure Islands. Shaxson’s book inspired Michael Oswald’s new film, The Spider’s Web.

Oswald’s quick 78 minute romp through Britain’s second empire is an excellent introduction to the casual observer, and may even be the first such film to dig this deep into the City’s tax haven archipelago. Eye candy helps with such a complicated topic, and Oswald provides plenty to help the radical medicine go down. Beautifully shot exotic island landscapes soothe as worshipful whatnots in British frippery parade to a haunting soundtrack letting you know nothing is as it seems when a thousand year old medieval ghost governs world finance.

Corbyn appears to be, bite my tongue…compromising? By clearly refusing to promise the end of the Corporation of the City of London, Corbyn may be reaching out to the New Labour refuseniks. Or, he may be sending a warning. Will the next Labour manifesto, the one that makes Corbyn prime minister, advocate abolition of the Corporation? Oswald’s film will help build awareness of the issue at the grassroots, so the next time Corbyn has to make this decision, the movement chanting his name in soccer chants will know quite well which direction Corbyn, Labour, and Britain should go.

In that effort, I’m holding a free screening of The Spider’s Web, Tuesday night, November 14, at the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus (CCPC) office in Lakewood, 11910 Detroit. RSVP on FB here. For more, here’s my 2015 paper on the City for the CSU MAGI program. Hope to see you at the CCPC office. I’ll be making Pimms.

No Comments

Brexit does nothing to The City of London, let alone its finance “jobs”

The Sun Never Sets Here

The Sun Never Sets Here

Does every media editor on earth have an offshore tax haven account they’d rather not talk about in Geurnsey? Isle of Man? Grand Cayman? Or are they terrified of looking like one of those Bildeberg Illuminati conspiracy nuts if they say “boo”? That’s really the only explanation I can conceive for the total silence on the gaping black hole in the middle of Brexit, and the entire world economy, the Corporation of the City of London.

Average folks think of Swiss bank accounts as the big culprit of tax haven globalization. Ha. If you want to know where the lion’s share of the middle class’s money went for the past 40-75 years, every ill gotten penny, every fraudulent scheme sucking the wealth of nations into a collapsing star, it’s Death Star is the offshore accounts all over the world whose legal jurisdiction rests in the Corporation of the City of London. The last remaining spider web of the British Empire’s global sovereignty, the City (pointedly, not the British Parliament), through the Empire’s historical vastness, presides over tens of trillions of untaxed dollars, perhaps equalling the size of the entire world economy. The Panama Papers, voluminous as they may be, are barely a pin prick into the labyrinth. Brexit does nothing to that jurisdiction, or those trillions, left safely frolicking in the City-based offshore like ticking time bombs of global financial risk.

Brexit doesn’t touch The City, because no international agreement has ever touched The City, whether you call it The Square Mile, or the British Wall Street, or more appropriately, the Corporation. A medieval jurisdiction whose unknown origin predates William the Conqueror, The City is “governed” by an impenetrable Escher drawing of Worshipful Whatnots whose titles date back centuries. New Labour’s drooling neoliberalism merely made The City more impenetrable, Tony Blair gifting the City ever more global corporate power and independence from the slightest touch of London local government.

The hand wringing commentary on the City post-Brexit about all the financial jobs supposedly leaving London in favor of mainland Europe is profoundly false, and blind to history. Before Britain even joined the EU, the City blatantly ignored the post-war Bretton Woods framework for international capital to create the eurodollar market in the mid 1950’s – non-US banks accepting deposits in dollars. In international scholarship, Eurodollars are the consensus big bang moment of the post-war City-based offshore. London property values post-Brexit will remain inflated due to the obscene amounts of London real estate registered in the City based offshore. In fact, thanks to the severing of the EU relationship, post-Brexit there is actually an incentive for Europeans to come to London, not the other way round. At a minimum, Brexit will likely lead to more offshore ownership in London, not less.

Brexit did nothing to address this decades long boiling global financial risk in the beating heart of London. To the City, the EU is very much a Johnny Come Lately to the neoliberal free market party, and Brexit leaves the swirling offshore toilet very much intact. British voters thought the EU was causing the giant sucking sound of their futures disappearing. Their media didn’t help, and still won’t.

No Comments