Stinking drains on progressive governments

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Independent columnist Johann Hari wrote a good message to new PM Gordon Brown last week. It's well worth reading in full. But for the benefit of those like Senator Frank Walker of Jersey who are in denial on the state of public opinion on tax havens, this was a key message:

To stop the minority of the super-rich who would actually act on their threats to leave Britain, he could lead an international battle to shut down the world's tax havens, which act as stinking drains on progressive governments everywhere.

A British Prime Minister has extraordinary leverage here. Half of all the money stored in tax havens across the world - which totals £11.5 trillion - is either in British overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands, or British Crown Dependencies such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Brown could issue an ultimatum: bring this money into the taxed economy, or cease to have the military and political protection of Britain. This is the greatest possible bargaining chip with other leaders: you give up your tax havens, and we're prepared to close ours.

Yes of course this is Tax justice Network inspired - I researched that number of $11.5 trillion - but the point is this: this is not a fringe issue, it's mainstream.