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After the film “The UK Gold” last night my mind went back to a conference of the Student Christian Movement fifty years ago. It was called by the newly appointed General Secretary, Bishop Ambrose Reeves, who had been expelled from apartheid South Africa. The title was “Nationalism, Neutralism and Neocolonialism”. The argument was that the end of the British Empire which was then being achieved year by year would lead, unless we did something, to a more subtle economic domination. It was heady stuff and even I thought it a bit over the top. My father recently retired from the colonial service and my mother an SCM member for the 1930s were both furious as what they saw as mindless left-wing propaganda. Alas, after seeing the film last night and reading the associated documents, I cannot but conclude that SCM conference was prophetic.

The picture we are presented with is a web of tax havens across the world to which all too many individuals and, above all, multi-national corporations can divert their funds in order to avoid tax and keep what they are doing secret. At least half of these jurisdictions are former parts of the British Empire and in some cases still have Governor Generals capable of taking final decisions on behalf of the Crown. Money from dictators or dodgy commercial dealings can if necessary be laundered through trust funds, and the widespread stretch of the British maritime empire from the Caribbean to Singapore, together with the City of London as its hub, can ensure that there can be a ready interchange between the hegemonies of the dollar, the pound, the euro and the yen. Most amazing to me was that all this had been going on under my nose while like Rip Van Winkle I was asleep until wakened by reading extracts from a book by Nicholas Shaxson about tax havens in 2011.

The present situation is grossly unjust, primarily to the ordinary people of poor nations who are taken advantage of – this subterranean web fostering collusion with unjust rulers or a kleptocratic elite – but also to the ordinary businesses and citizens of the UK who have to pay the more tax when others pay less. Furthermore the golden calf of the City of London diverts attention from other regions and sectors of the UK economy. Finally, like so much that is unjust, it is also fundamentally foolish. Hate begets hate. Greed begets greed. Exploitation brings nemesis in its wake. Will the guardians of the dollar and continue to allow London to steal a march on them by such cheating? How will the new Bric economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China react? Certainly with no sympathy unless it is to outdo the experts at their own game?

At the G8 our Prime Minister spoke about the need for action but so far precious little has been done. I only hope he is sincere and his government effective. Otherwise some of the words of Bishop Ambrose Reeves come back to me. Talking about South Africa in the 1960s he said some such words: “It may surprise you that many Africans fighting apartheid prefer dealing with the Afrikaners to the British. The former may be brutal and reactionary but at least they are honest. You know where you are with them. As for the English, they entirely sympathise with you, they make lofty statements on your behalf. But they do precisely nothing!”

(c) John Nightingale 22nd November 2013


We very much hope you can come to the AGM on Tuesday 22nd January. We are privileged to have it in the BBC offices in the Mailbox in Birmingham because Daniel Tetlow will be presenting his recent TV programme about Egypt’s stolen millions – the money amassed by Mubarak and his cronies and where in the world it has gone to. Egyptian debt is a high priority for JDC campaiging in 2013.
The meeting will begin at 7pm. You are welcome if you wish to come earlier, from 6.15pm and bring and share food; drinks will be provided.
We very much hope to see you there.
 John Nightingale

To celebrate International Women’s Day Jubilee Debt Campaign Multifaith project invite you to attend a film night

 St Philip’s Cathedral Colmore Row  Birmingham.   B3 2QB

 Wednesday March 7th at 7pm  – 9.00pm

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” which features Muslim and Christian women working together in Liberia.

Speakers  The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle Dean of Birmingham and Lotifa Begum of Islamic Relief.

The event is free of charge but donations welcome

Jubilee Debt Campaign are seeking a creative activist for global justice!

Could you script a short play to be used by youth groups, schools and street performers wanting to stimulate thinking and discussion of the issues surrounding global wealth imbalance and poverty?

For more information and guidelines contact
Audrey Miller 0121 471 4175 or email jubileedebt@blueyonder.co.uk

Great event on 3rd November. Report to follow and TV programme will be on Sangat TV or Sky 847

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This is the blog of the local group of the UK campaign calling for cancellation of international Debt.

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