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In the spirit of open discussion – not

I see that Tax Research is doing a great job in promoting free and open discussion. I received a reply in response to something I had sent to Richard Murphy, reinforcing a point he had made on VAT fraud. Back came this response. Just like this

You are on the list of those who automatically fail moderation for your abuse elsewhere

And also at the request of many, many land value tax campaigners

And I mean many

I warned I’d do it

I have

Please don’t waste my time – or anyone else’s

We’re not listening


This kind of spat seems to be part of the cyberworld. I have met Murphy on just one occasion and he was on the platform at a public meeting. There was little opportunity for discussion after the main speakers had presented their pieces. No searching questions were asked and most people went away feeling satisfied, like after a church service, the faith having been reaffirmed. In fact, to have asked a searching question would have been like disrupting the service.

Wonderful, isn’t it? Not being able to take criticism. If you enter the rough-and-tumble of public debate you should expect it. You fight the criticism with rational argument, not, as Murphy does, by shouting “nonsense” and setting up straw men. We get plenty of criticism ourselves, some of it absurd and verging on abusive, but we never, ever, respond by telling people they are talking rubbish. There is always a grain of truth behind their concern. Many of the replies generated in that way have ended up in the FAQ section of our web site and have turned out to be a valuable resource.

Shutting off comments is his loss, and ultimately discredits his own cause. The annoying thing from our point of view is that Murphy and Tax Justice are preventing the LVT message from getting heard by precisely the kind of people who would have pricked up their ears if they had been given the opportunity to hear it. Murphy/TJN have drowned us out with their shouting because they have succeeded in getting a bit of funding and have got the resources to make the conference circuit where they can get themselves reported and become opinion-formers.

It’s the nation’s loss because neither Murphy/TJN’s diagnosis, and nor their proposals, whilst superficially appealing, really touch the problem they claim to be concerned about. Fiddling whilst the city burns.

Moreover, as an adviser to the trade union movement, Murphy is widely known not to be a disinterested party and there are whole sectors of vested interest there as well as amongst the greater villains. The trade unionists of the heroic days of the labour movement a century ago must be turning in their graves.

Murphy has also done a great job in persuading the socialists within the LVT movement to keep quiet by pretending to be open to being convinced if people were nice. It was never the case, as I know from another source. I hope he is proud of himself. There is a bigger issue behind this one, however, because Labour is the only credible alternative to the Conservatives. If, as seems likely, their policies follow roughly the lines advocated by Murphy, Britain’s problems will go on getting worse and worse. Labour needs to recover the radical thinking that drove the party in its early years.

To not listen is his choice. But it is the same mentality that got people sent to the Gulag. Totalitarian. Left or Right, it tolerates no questioning, brooks no opposition even from those who are trying to work in the same direction. The trouble is that there is peril straight ahead and it needs more than a bit of tinkering to avoid it. People should be careful who they listen to.