Review by Steve Morrissey (moviesteve.com)
"A fascinating, informative film asking all the right questions"
Here in Brexit Britain we find ourselves in a peculiar situation. In spite of having done pretty well out of Europe, including our various rebates, opt-outs and special deals, fifth richest country in the world and all that, we have suddenly rebelled, storming out of the arrangement in a strop, angry about something that no one can quite articulate – it might be the straightness of bananas or democratic accountability, or something else entirely.
Meanwhile, the political left appear to have given up talking in a language that most people understand (mysterious references to “social issues” really don’t cut it) and the populace seems to see no contradiction in buying arguments about “freedom” and “control” from people who live here but are domiciled for tax purposes elsewhere (Lord Rothermere of the Daily Mail), people who actually live in tax havens (the Barclay brothers of the Daily Telegraph), or in the USA (Rupert Murdoch of News International). And, most notably of all, from people based over here but whose allegiances are over the Atlantic (how UKIP’s Nigel Farage and his paymaster Arron Banks love being photographed with the new US president).
How we got here isn’t the subject of Michael Oswald’s latest film, but The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire does shed some light on the miasma of weird that has taken hold of the zeitgeist, when, after 40 years of a “free market” experiment that has seen living standards for many stagnate or fall, people seem to be voting for more not less of the same thing and are blaming “globalisation” for policies masterminded and put into effect by their own governments.
By Frederik Obermaier (Author and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist)
Want to know more about the menace of tax havens and the role of the City of London & Overseas Territories? Then this great film is a must!
By Richard Murphy (Professor of Practice in International Political Economy, University of London)
In 2011 Bick Shaxson shattered the secrecy of the City of London with his book Treasure Islands. Now Michael Oswald has, in effect, turned the story into a film that achieves the same result.
‘The Spiders Web’ lays bare the corruption that led to the UK being at the heart of the world’s tax haven and dirty money network, and explains just how it stays there. Experienced tax justice campaigners, academics and politicians, backed on occasion by an unsupportive cast from the States of Jersey police (watch it and see) make it clear that the UK has become dependent upon corruption for its apparent well-being.
This film is shocking, persuasive, factual and shaming. Watch it and you won’t view bankers, lawyers, accountants or many in our political elite in the same way ever again.
By David Quentin (Tax Barrister - London)
A brilliant film, skillfully deploying the documentary staples of archive footage and expert talking heads to tell its story, which by its nature risks being technical and fragmented, in an accessible and compelling way. The narrative is framed by reference to the evolution of the UK from an imperial to a financial one, but the issues are wider and more immediate: the systemic, structural opacity and corruption at the heart of a world purportedly governed in the interests of respectable business and in accordance with the rule of law.