So, Cambo. A big oilfield off Scotland which a private equity-backed firm called Siccar Point Energy wants to exploit in partnership with Shell, at a time when energy experts are warning that the world’s fossil fuel emissions need to be cut sharply and fast. Sky News reported this week that Siccar Point Energy “is not … Continue reading There’s no oil in Luxembourg: Siccar Point Energy and tax
Nearly two years ago I looked at some numbers published by Barclays Bank and optimistically concluded that the bank might be reining in its tax-haven habit. Unfortunately that’s turned out to be bollocks. I’d noted that Barclays had booked 15 per cent of its global profits for 2018 in the tax havens of Luxembourg, Jersey, … Continue reading Barclays Bank: still hooked on tax havens
Bikepacking, now in fashion, is good old cycle touring but with less riding on tarmac roads and more on bridleways, gravel roads and stony tracks. It can be anything from weekends out in the local countryside to month-long rides down the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. The appeal of bikepacking in the British uplands … Continue reading Three mistakes I often make while bikepacking
A recent working paper from researchers at the International Monetary Fund makes painful reading for anyone familiar with the IMF’s long history of trying to compel countries around the world to follow whatever economic ideas are fashionable in elite circles in the West. The paper analyses a list of key terms used in thousands of … Continue reading The IMF takes a look in the mirror, sort of.
Revelations from the Good Law Project about billions of pounds worth of questionable procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) have got people on social media talking about corruption in Britain. We don’t yet know whether these PPE deals involve corruption or not. Corruption is very hard to prove and arrangements which may look corrupt from … Continue reading Britain and corruption: where are we now?
In my old papers I came across a letter to my family from Indonesia, written more than twenty years ago when I was a freelance journalist. So long ago, in fact, that I sent the letter by fax. This was in the turbulent months after the fall of the dictator Soeharto, when Indonesia’s transition to … Continue reading “I’m just here for pure enjoyment”. Reporting, voyeurism and violence
Every week or so, our government throws out some big idea for solving the United Kingdom's problems or boosting its position in the world. These ideas are usually half-baked and clearly intended to distract the public’s attention from failures elsewhere. The newest big idea, the “Moonshot”, is interesting because it suggests that the ruling Conservative … Continue reading Shooting for the Moon: Britain’s Tories and the Big State
There’s been a lot of interest lately about what it might mean to be British. Two recent war films, “Dunkirk” and “1917”, dig into this question but rather than coming up with confident answers, they imply that a once-influential notion of Britishness is lost and adrift. These films are set in northern France, on that … Continue reading In Britain’s new war films, it’s not really about the enemy
The British comic actor Kenneth Williams, maybe best known for his immaculately campy roles in the “Carry On” films, would sometimes give himself private sexual pleasure and record in his diary that he’d had “the barclays.” This bit of rhyming slang (Barclays Bank = wank) pretty much describes the attitude of the British public towards … Continue reading Barclays Bank and tax havens: what do the numbers say?
Last week Oxfam published this briefing about the tax rates of 25 of the biggest corporations on the London Stock Exchange, which I researched with a colleague and largely wrote. The idea was to see how their tax payments have been affected by the global phenomenon of tax competition – that is, countries slashing their … Continue reading UK-based corporations and tax competition: what’s the story?