Dummy spat

I think I have a duty to say that this is complete and utter nonsense. As a co-founder of the TJN, as one of the two people who led it for a decade, who co-created with John Christensen all the policies it still pursues, and who has negotiated on its behalf many times in international arenas, I am deeply embarrassed to see its current chief executive issuing a comment that is so utterly ill informed, reveals so little understanding of political economy, and is simply wrong.

There might even be a lesson here:

My simple suggestion is that if Alex Cobham stopped the abuse of the OECD and others, which has become his stock in trade, and instead invested time and effort in talking to the OECD, negotiating formally and informally, learning the constraints, understanding the mechanisms and working out the arguments that might win rather than delivering the tantrums that can never work, then he might have influenced this process rather than watched it from the sidelines.

Who runs an organisation matters. Which is why CEOs do get well paid. Why people spend rather a long time doing that succession planning. Rather than just grabbing the nearest available unemployed NGO researcher.

TJN has undertaken no innovation since then. I should, however, note that this is unsurprising. Neither Cobham, or anyone else in the tight team he keeps around him, has any actual knowledge of tax, in which none of them have ever worked. Nor do they know anything about political economy. Or tax havens as far as I can tell. Or anything else that is much relevant to tax justice come to that. Their skills are only in NGO management

Well, you know, perhaps you shouldn’t have hired him then?

That paper about copper, Glencore and Zambia being perhaps a clue that he wasn’t very good?

The unfortunate fact is that TJN, and regrettably too many others in tax justice, simply does not understand tax.

That’s rich of course…..

12 thoughts on “Dummy spat”

  1. Leftie activist with job he is clearly not qualified to do up criticises another leftie activist who has a job he is not qualified to do. I wonder if he applied for Cobham’s job?

  2. Getting close to public choice theory here!

    “There have long been criticisms of NGOs that do not appear to wish to solve the problems that they are supposedly addressing because that would, of course, make them redundant, and that is not what professional NGO managers rather than dedicated campaigners want. I can literally offer no other explanation for Cobham’s suggestion with regard to the UN taking responsibility in this case when there is not a shred of political economic logic in thinking that the UN will deliver any better, quicker or viable solution to the taxation problems that we are facing”

  3. working out the arguments that might win rather than delivering the tantrums that can never work

    Genius. I have furniture which is more self-aware.

  4. MC

    I think you captured that brilliantly. This is why a part of me thinks his output is partly satirical. Nobody can be this blinkered, can they?

  5. Prize for the first person to post a comment claiming to be a lawyer acting for Cobham/TJN threatening a libel writ.

  6. @ Dennis who should visit a Chinese New Year celebration

    Succession planning is difficult, even more so for the person about to be succeeded (which is why it’s the Chairman’s job, not the CEO’s, to find a successor to the CEO).

    But one side-benefit is that we now have a rare example (penny black level?) of Murphy actually getting something right with his first quoted sentence.

  7. The unfortunate fact is that TJN, and regrettably too many others in tax justice, simply does not understand tax.

    Finally, Herr Oberst Professor Kartoffel meets Mr. Kettle.

  8. Ouch, imagine being accused – credibly, it seems – of knowing nothing about tax by Murphy. That must hurt.

  9. Murphy’s facility of losing friends and colleagues reminds of those videos of cats attacking their reflections in mirrors

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