With 11.5 million documents to read through, we’ve not heard the last of the revelations from the Panama Papers. David Cameron is on the defensive, though Jeremy Corbyn’s attacks are blunted by the fact that his party was once led by one half of the Blair couple, now rumoured to be worth a cool £60 million. If Labour’s a party with the interests of the common man at heart, it certainly hasn’t acted like one.
Equally revealing is the information that Cameron blocked EU plans for greater transparency over trusts. It brings into sharp relief what’s at stake in the EU referendum because the issue presented as pro- or anti-Brussels can in fact be reversed and presented as pro- or anti-London. Brexit won’t deliver regionalism but it could very easily produce a London regime on steroids. Johnson as Prime Minister, ousting the fatally discredited thinking of the Cameron / Osborne axis, but even more in thrall to City backers. Massive deregulation paving the way for active promotion of the UK as the place for the globally corrupt to do business. London helping itself to still more of the national wealth while denying other parts of the UK still more of the powers needed to turn themselves around. Openly, the fight for Brexit is being fought in the name of democracy, and on that score sound points can be made, but, behind the scenes, kleptocracy would be the real winner.
A clear pointer to the direction of travel appeared this week when Dominic Grieve highlighted that tax-dodging is an industry that provides a great many much-needed jobs. In places like the British Virgin Islands that matter so much to all of us, if we can just remember where they are. It does indeed provide jobs, socially useless ones, just as it destroys socially useful jobs by denying the public purse the funds with which to sustain them. Such is the mentally sick, insecure society that Thatcherism has spawned, ferreting around for whatever bits of work are on offer from a parasite class to whom caps must forever be doffed. Dismantling the tax havens is technically a very easy thing to do; it’s just politically impossible to pass the necessary legislation because of a longstanding Wesm’ster consensus against it.
George Osborne’s plan to nationalise all local authority schools, and then privatise them – a bit like the Dissolution of the Monasteries – is another pointer to the direction of travel. Academies don’t have to teach the national curriculum, so it will presumably disappear, along with parent governors and any other vestige of democracy that might give children the wrong idea about how our society can be run. Why would you need a national curriculum, written down and open to challenge, when it can simply be ‘understood’ by the chief executives of the big McSchool academy chains? Understood, that is, to mean teaching that a fraudster is just a better entrepreneur than the competition, that tax-dodging is wealth creation and that the only thing the law-abiding individual need ever fear is the over-mighty State? Dis-education and mis-education are the new battleground because what you don’t know can’t hurt you, can it?
Englishness is many things but one of the most cherished is a love of secrecy, or privacy as it’s usually termed, a pathological distrust of the other that underpins the rejection of any potential for collective action. It’s why we prefer houses, even in city centres, to the flats that those on the mainland regard as a far more rational use of land. Across most of Scandinavia, tax returns are public documents: folk don’t have hang-ups about what they earn or the tax they pay on it. Perhaps they believe they really have earned it: so many of our top ‘earners’ know deep down that their salaries are out of all proportion to their real social value. English society, obsessed with covering up the truth in order to protect a ruling class who aren’t worth their privileges, is a society at war with itself. The rulers keep winning by setting each serf against all the rest and presenting themselves as the goodguys. It’s been like that for 950 years.
The system was imposed from outside, from Normandy. Can it be overthrown from within, or will it take some major help from Brussels to achieve our liberation? The history of those 950 years furnishes one very clear answer.