Senator Philip Ozouf, the Jersey Finance Minister, has tellingly revealed the real nature of the political situation in Jersey. In his response on his blog to the interview elected Jersey Deputy Montfort Tadier (the equivalent of an MP) had with a French newspaper Ozouf said:
Deputy Montfort Tadier this week gave an interview to a leading French Newspaper, Le Parisen effectively denouncing Jersey and its Finance Industry.
It is a matter of great regret that Deputy Tadier has chosen to express these views.
Political debate is healthy and in a democracy we are all entitled to have and respect different views. However, Deputy Tadier’s remarks if accurately quoted cross the line of what is appropriate behaviour for a politician elected to serve the people of Jersey.
This article was extremely damaging to Jersey. If the article quotes are true the interview is a relentless assault on Finance in Jersey. His remarks cast a dark shadow over Jersey and Finance Services which is portrayed wrongly in the worst possible light.
What does Ozouf take objection to? Amongst the claims he says Tadier got wrong is the fact that there is any tax evasion on Jersey. Ozouf says:
Tax evasion is illegal in Jersey.
His emphasis! Well, that settles it then. It's illegal so of course it doesn't happen.
And that's about as sophisticated as he gets in his blog, so trite is his analysis, which as I've shown is also, quite simply, factually wrong.
And yet in this diatribe there are several very clear messages. The first two are reflected in this comment:
I call on Deputy Tadier to withdraw his remarks to Le Parisen and apologise to the people he represents.
So firstly, Montfort Tadier must not tell the truth. Clearly that's not allowed in Jersey, whilst misrepresenting the truth about trusts is.
Secondly, only one view is allowed: Jersey is finance and finance is Jersey and anyone who says otherwise is failing the place and must apologise.
In both cases it's clear that a single party state is what Ozouf believes does, and should exist. But that's, perhaps, most tellingly portrayed in this comment in which he refers to this television interview:
Yesterday, I was asked to do an interview with ITV Channel Islands, which I agreed to do a head to head with Deputy Tadier. I was placed in an extremely difficult position of having to attempt to counter Montfort Tadier’s comments without any intervention with from the journalist. I will be taking this up with CTV as I would expect a professional interviewer to have intervened and actually challenged both sides.
There was not a hint of bias in the interview: Channel TV left two politicians to debate an issue. And what is clear is that Ozouf did not like that. In his opinion the press must fawn to and support his view. They didn't; they let him face an opponent without their protection and that is something he is totally unused to, and he's going to complain as a result.
In the totalitarian world of Ozouf and his cronies, supported by the finance industry in Jersey, opposition is not allowed. I applaud Montfort Tadier for having the courage to stand up to this abuse of democracy, of the freedom of speech, of the truth and for naming Jersey for what it is - a place that creates structures designed to undermine the tax system of other states. No wonder Ozouf does not like it - he's been rumbled.