• February 7, 2016


My ‘Outside Left’ column this week focused on the ‘we are not a tax haven’ or ‘we are a tax haven’ argument between Messrs Bell and Beecroft and the (comparatively) ‘new kids on the block’ Turner and Jessop.

Not surprisingly it provoked the usual outbreak of ‘tourette syndrome’ in my regular readers who comment on the column. I am still trying to get my head round why people would read a column every week that has them spitting out their breakfast cereal!

Here it is:

“Bernard Moffatt, Outside Left: Are we a tax haven or not?

Did you know that undertakers and pall bearers have their own patron saint, St Joseph of Arimathea.

I was thinking about this as the battle raged backwards and forwards between the Bell and Beecroft ‘we love the finance industry’ duo on one side and Turner and Jessopp saying ‘we are sort of a tax haven’ in the opposite corner

Actually I got pretty confused because every time I was trying to work out what Cat and Andrew said, Allan would start shouting ‘we are not a tax haven’ and distract me.

Just when I was totally confused, the Bell-Beecroft duo imploded as Allan stuck a metaphorical dagger right between the shoulder blades of Liberal Vannin.

That pact didn’t last long!

Anyway, I thought it would be nice if there was a patron saint of tax havens and I also thought a good candidate would be David Cameron, the British PM.

David Cameron has said that all the Dependencies and British Overseas Territories that used to be tax havens are not tax havens now.

Other countries have tax havens, but not the British.

Allan Bell was so pleased with what David Cameron said he even quoted him as a reference to back up his argument that we are not a tax haven but ‘a low tax jurisdiction’.

You can’t really get better than that.

I mean, who doesn’t believe a British Prime Minister? They always tell the truth.

Mind you, Cameron may have to eat his words yet following the ‘ownership register’ spat between London and Douglas.

Anyway, as the Chief Minister said all this, calling the island a tax haven when it’s not on prime time television is very damaging to our economy. However, I can’t help thinking that a fairly boring meander by a few Welsh villages through TV tax fantasy land would have died the death anyway if Allan hadn’t started shouting!

Without the offshore finance industry we would not have the quality of life we have today said Allan. Except a lot of people are up to their eyes in debt unless they are the ones that I negotiated ‘eye-watering salaries’ and ‘gold-plated pensions’ for when I was a union official.

I suppose I was able to perform this ‘King Midas’ trick because of the finance industry.

However, hang on, there’s another problem now because the pundits, particularly the ons who berate me in comments and other internet forums, say that I was able to do this because we were getting £200 million extra VAT. Now – their ‘reasoned argument’ goes – the VAT has gone and I have gone (from the union) you’re all left to pay these wages and pensions without the £200 million VAT.

So who got and is getting the benefit from the finance industry? Allan said we have had this ‘industry’ for over 50 years so you would think by now we would all be wearing rolexes and driving ‘Rollers’.

I don’t mean the Highway Board type.

Actually, when I started in the union 30 years ago public sector workers were being paid ‘buttons’.

We were 20 years into the offshore finance industry during the ‘suitcases of money’ period and yet the hoi-polloi were not benefiting.

Perhaps that’s why I got stuck into that extra £200 million VAT, saying to my troops: ‘Boys and girls you live in a tax haven I’m going to give you some of the benefits.’

In hindsight, I’m glad I did. I’m pleased I ratcheted up pay, reduced hours and got those great pensions because all that time and apparently for the 30 years since someone was getting ‘the cream’ from all that offshore business and it wasn’t public sector workers.

So to recap, we are ‘not a tax haven’, we are doing well and have had sustained growth for decades, so why all the doom and gloom on Manx Radio from ‘The Daily Bell’ every day?

Even I’ll stop calling the island a tax haven if Allan will lighten up a bit!”

Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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