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Money managers under the microscope

Revolution! Jersey-style

March 31, 2010

jersey.jpgThe corridors of power are pokey in the government buildings of St Helier, capital of Jersey, the British island tax haven off the coast of northern France.

Some 53 elected legislators representing the island’s population of around 91,000 people are forcedto share eight computers lined up call-centre style in a chilly room on the ground floor of the States Assembly building.

This forced proximity between the island’s politicians could get increasingly awkward on account of a growing left-of-centre political movement challenging the hegemony of Jersey’s financial services industry, which makes up more than half the economy.

“Finance has to pay its way,” said Geoff Southern, a deputy in the Jersey parliament who supports the idea the island’s financial services companies should contribute more in tax.

Southern is co-founder of the Jersey Democratic Alliance, a party that seeks to represent the iinterests of ordinary people in a community increasingly dominated by the finance industry that he says does not favour the natives.

Unsurprisingly, his arguments are met with some hostility on the island.

“It’s the easiest job in the world, being a socialist in Jersey. You only have to be one inch to the left of Attila the Hun and people here think you’re preaching revolution,” Southern said.

But his opponents argue there is little alternative to favouring financial services on an island only 45 square miles in size.

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Don’t let France be a deadbeat. You go, Jersey!

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