Nick Shaxson ■ London spin machine tries to rebut NYT “City betrays US” thesis


Tax wars

Following our widely read analysis on Russia, Ukraine, the City of London, and national security – here’s another must-read article in the New York Times from the same author, Ben Judah, who wrote the original one we cited.

It’s in a similar vein, but he adds, for clarity:

“Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine.”

It is unarguable. And, as we’ve mentioned on many occasions, this is far from the first time.

“Any moralizing remnant of the British Empire is gone; it has turned back to the pirate England of Sir Walter Raleigh. Britain’s ruling class has decayed to the point where its first priority is protecting its cut of Russian money.

. . .

In the 21st century, what matters are banks, not tanks. The Russians also understand this.”

Now then: we’ve been looking around for a riposte or two from the City of London to the Ben Judah article, and we think we’ve found a couple. Here is a decent one in CityA.M., one of the many sophisticated mouthpieces of the City of London, and here’s another in the Telegraph, which is sometimes a City mouthpiece, sometimes not. And John McDermott in the Financial Times has now weighed in, in an article entitled “In Defence of London.” 

All of these articles make good points: read them.What all these pieces have in common is that while there are a number of (often substantial, and apt) quibbles with some of Judah’s particular assertions, none of them even attempt to rebut the central, all-important thesis that Judah (and we, for many years) have been making: that this is a financially-captured city and national government, whose dependence on dirty money sabotages foreign policy efforts with respect to Russia.

The rebuttals are all in a few basic forms:

  • That there’s nothing new about Britain’s weakness; or that everyone else, particularly the Americans, are just as guilty.
  • That the City isn’t bad for Britain, after all.
  • A bunch of detailed quibbles, such as

“If Polish labourers sleep four to a room “in bedsit slums”, it’s because they choose to.”

Or this:

“The townhouses in the capital’s poshest districts are empty.” A laughable exaggeration.

And so on.

But as for the core pillar of the story – that

“Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money”

stands pretty much untouched. As Spears puts it: Ben Judah’s NYT piece is wrong where it doesn’t matter and right where it does.

And so, as Nietsche might have said on Judah’s behalf: Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.

Endnote: the image in this blog was originally created for our Tackle Tax Havens website – and was designed to make the point that – time after time – tax havens such as Switzerland and the City of London (and its offshore satellites) have always profited from hoovering up both waves of (often dirty) money fleeing turmoil and uncertainty elsewhere, and waves of money held by unpatriotic élites fleeing higher taxes to pay for the machinery of war. Read all about that here.

Just saying.

Finally, a little Private Eye video from last year to illustrate just one of the many ways the UK is connected to Ukraine. Read the latest Private Eye story about the UK and Ukraine here.

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