Monday, 17 August 2009

Remember, Remember! the 7th November

There is nothing quite like a martyr for raising the revolutionary dreamer’s enthusiasm for the battle – especially if it’s somebody else’s head that rolls.

Jeremiah Brandreth lost his head on the block in Nottinghamshire in 1817 along with Isaac Ludlam and William Turner and about 14 of their protesting comrades were transported to Australia.

Of course they are not known or celebrated in Jersey where even local social reformers and activists are largely unrecorded and forgotten – but they are known as the “The Pentrich Martyrs” around their home towns in England. Little details too are recalled there – like Brandreth’s pregnant wife walking the 10 miles to see him executed and then the 10 miles walk back home again as his widow.

It’s all part of that jolly but usually boring thing called history – or heritage if you are in the tourism business. And the strange thing is that old and seemingly long forgotten “historic” disputes and grievances have a habit of rising from the dead to haunt us.

So it is with the Caribbean where the grievances of ancient colonial exploitation are still unresolved but have been sleeping under cover of a very lightweight duvet of transient wealth and denial for many years.

The Turks and Caicos Islands group is just the first basket case. Others will follow. All around the Caribbean the tax-haven economies are in crisis and tourism bubbles are bursting too with staff lay-offs and unfinished and unrealistic building developments halted or left half-finished. Corruption and government incompetence is commonplace.

Huge financial collapses are reported daily too whilst the little Island governments rush to sign up TIEs in order to achieve “white list” status with the OECD as though it mattered anymore. But who has even heard about the Caymans court decision to freeze $9 billions of assets of the Saad (Saudi) Group or of the UK Serious Crime Squad investigations into BVI funds?

Of course, the Antiguan pirate Stanford has been sunk with losses of $7 billions and that may just be bad news for cricket fans in some parts – but in the Eastern Caribbean the economy for the whole region has been hit by this financial hurricane. Yet the Madoff madness is having an even greater impact as the American law enforcers seek to reclaim the missing monies – like $1.73 billions in a Virgin Islands fund or the $1 billion in a Cayman fund or the $578 millions through Cayman to HSBC in London or the $235 millions through BVI to Santander Banking in Spain.

It’s not just the little old colonies – it’s the old colonial masters that are being hit too because we are all just a computer disc apart these days. There is no need even to ship the human problem from Sierra Leone to Barbados – but the real social havoc and misery follows just the same.
There are visible human problems emerging. In Barbados recent immigrants from Guyana must now be deported since the work has dried up and somebody has to be blamed for rising crime and poverty. And Barbados is looking to China for new tourism business plus a $120 millions bond from bankers “to boost the Island’s international reserves and finance its capital works programme.” And the EU has chipped in $28 millions to modernise its Financial Services Sector.

Other Islands too are rushing to borrow cash to bail them out but Anguilla’s plan was thwarted in London when the British Government refused to relax the rules. So if that little community wants to rebuild its tourism or finance sectors it will have to find another sponsor besides the EU which has so far stumped up $24 millions. Meanwhile little St Lucia hopes for more EU funding to save its fragile banana cropping and also seeks further help from the IMF along with Dominica and the Grenadines.

Bermuda of course received a hefty concealed payment from the USA for taking 4 ex Guantanamo “Chinese” prisoners and they are now working on the tiny Atlantic Island Golf Course as replacements for the 4 Filipinos who suddenly “left at short notice.” But this little defiance of the UK Government rules will hardly protect the Bermudian economy from USA demands for the return of $3.5 billions of Madoff’s buried booty.

The strange thing about Jeremiah Brandreth and his few hundred supporters was that he was a double victim. Not only was he exploited by rotten working conditions and poor pay and industrialisation for profit but he was recruited by a government secret agent called William Oliver whose job it was to incite just such an uprising against Lord Liverpool’s uncaring government.
It was a bit like lancing the boil – to take the pressure off and to reduce the aggravation.

Now of course the British Government is confronted by potential social discontent in little British outposts around the world (besides the immense problems at home) and somebody will have to pick up the tab when those communities fall apart. Globally, as already indicated, other governments and organisations like the IMF and the EU are also likely to be called upon to fund or support failing economies – but the money does not grow on trees as they say. And the British government is not at all keen to be held liable – in spite of Lord Wallace’s assertions that independence is not a UK priority for little territories like the CIs and IOM.

The millions of Africans and others who are the unrecorded heroes of the Caribbean struggle will never be remembered or known by name - but as with Brandreth, the historical legacy is still there waiting to be properly addressed and their grievances and those of their descendants, answered.

Now there are many discontented people once again in Nottinghamshire just as there are in the Caribbean or the Channel Islands and our precarious and flawed way of life should be a common cause for protest. Except that it won’t be – anymore than our ancestors tried to stop the slave trade until its demise was inevitable – we know that our flawed economic order based upon Finance and the pursuit of profit will struggle on to the bitter end.

Unfortunately, the job of achieving change is not best left to others and there is no likelihood of a martyr passing this way soon. It’s not a case for forging 12 feet long pikes and marching on the centres of government or commerce either - but something substantial is necessary.

The economies of Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man will not survive a collapse of the magnitude of the failures that are occurring in the Caribbean. The Icelandic Banking collapses in Guernsey and the IOM already threaten to bring substantial and long term harm if investors pursue claims through the courts for compensation. Even the Woolworth’s pay-outs shook the tree.
The social consequences of substantial economic failures could not be addressed by our Island governments. Outside intervention will be necessary – just as it has already proved necessary in the Turks and Caicos Group.

So once again, why don’t we take this opportunity to open a dialogue with the UK government about our constitutional, political and economic relationships both with the peoples and countries of Britain and the EU? Are there any political leaders in this Island who are prepared to step out of line and make the necessary overtures?

We have recently had Michael Foot whizzing around the British territories looking at financial institutions and as always he has met only the “officials”. His reports are due to be published soon but will they contain anything except more adulation of the bankers?

The UK Justice Department has just announced that it is calling for evidence from the general public on the relationships of the Crown Dependencies – the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man – with the UK. This is the perfect opportunity for our elected representatives to show some initiative and to organise preparatory discussions with a view to making reasoned and considered submissions. Look at; As Darwin said; it’s heads or tails. Use them or lose them.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

Hi VFP,another great post. Well done. Just one point, the link at the end does not work properly.

Anyone else purprised that the local rag does not want to know your opinions on anything anymore?
It seems 'have your say'is only for the trivial subjects.

voiceforchildren said...


Thanks for letting me know about the link, I am trying to rectify it.

I am not the author of the post but have contacted the author and hope to have the link working ASAP.

As for the FILTHY RAG NOT ALLOWING "Have your say" I have posted before that I can "very accurately" predict what letter or story will allow the "have your say" button.

You are correct, less and less, items have this facility, they are so predictable and I would say, if it wasn't so sad, they are a complete joke.

voiceforchildren said...

Have got the link working.

Anonymous said...

VFP, I can't help but be amazed by what you have achieved over the past few months. Your 'crusade' for want of a better word, has gathered so much momentum. And to think this has all been caused by the powers that be, by not giving you, a concerned parent, the answers or reasurance that you needed that your son was in safe hands. Instead they tried to brush you off, I bet they are regretting that decision now!!! They really are as stupid as they look. If only they did the right thing fromn the start.

Keep up the good work. We are very proud of you here.

voiceforchildren said...


Thank you so much for your words of support, they really do help to make my Blogging crusade worth while.

Mine and my whole family's life have been turned upside down, due to this governments "treatment" of us.

I am unable to go into any detail, but one day, the truth will out.

Thanks again for you kind words, they help.

Anonymous said...

1 single story let's you have your say tonight in the spare loo roll called the JEP. And that is of a UFO sighting 20 yrs ago. Amazing! What a total bunch of W*****S. This is Guernsey on the other hand, has no such cencorship. In an article about the Turks and Caicos Islands a reader responds by saying 'from what i have read about the situation in the T&C, the rule of law had broken down and the islands were collapsing into a banana republic with people genuinely afraid to speak out against those in power' Remind you of anywhere? When will the people of this island wake up to the propaganda machine? The situation here gets worse everyday. Democracy can not even give the impression that it is working here anymore.