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Crisis? What crisis is that? The latest Ben Shenton musing on the state of Jersey?


Ben Shenton has again written a well-balanced critique of Jersey's affairs.

What is most telling is in his closing lines:-

  • You could dismiss this piece as just Shenton having a moan again, but now Shenton is being contacted by senior figures in the finance industry – leaders in law firms, fund houses and accountancy practices – who are genuinely worried.

At what time do we start listening to the people in the know?

Crisis? What crisis is that? [read here or below]

THERE are three certainties in life – death, taxes and the fact that there will always be many people much more intelligent than you are. Death and taxes are inevitable. As for intelligence, this is a curious trait, because the easiest victories for me, primarily in politics and legal conflicts, have been against people who overestimated their own intelligence. If misguided intelligence was an asset, which it certainly isn’t, then Jersey would indeed be very rich.

These “intelligent” people often reach their conclusions by mixing with a small group of like-minded people from a similar social background.

As a group, they then believe in their own infallibility. This is especially true in the civil service where opinions are largely based on reading books, or reports by like-minded consultants, rather than personal experience.

They then base their recommended policies on these flawed soundings, and because of “groupthink” they consider any criticism as beneath them and unworthy.

I have worked in investment management for over 40 years and, especially since 2005 when I entered politics, I have taken my soundings from those from all walks of life, and I keep my eyes and my ears open.

For example, the official statistics say the housing market is flat yet I know of a threebedroom house near me that was advertised for £1,100,000 in June 2022, but was recently sold for £680,000. I also know the similar house next door sold in 2020 for £700,000.

I also know that swathes of new-build flats remain unsold and are empty, even though we officially have a “housing crisis”.

Furthermore, there are many wealthy individuals trapped in houses they cannot sell, with mortgages they cannot afford, owing tradesmen they cannot pay. None of this is in official statistics.

I also know that private lending has dried up due to regulation, that a few family offices are pulling out due to over-regulation, and that finance industry staff are being laid off due to costs. The only growth sector at present, and for the past few years, is the public sector.

Instead of dealing with the crisis, the government deny we have one. We employ about 35 people in the communications unit and they seem to have only two messages.

When something goes wrong their message to the media is “no one is available to talk to you”. When the public catch them out over retention payments, obscene consultancy payments, breaches of conflicts of interest, or any of their myriad weaknesses, their message to the public is “move along please, nothing to see here that is any of your business”.

But the government needs to take notice.

You could dismiss this piece as just Shenton having a moan again, but now Shenton is being contacted by senior figures in the finance industry – leaders in law firms, fund houses and accountancy practices – who are genuinely worried.

As Aldous Huxley wrote in 1927: “The truth does not cease to exist because it is ignored.”



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