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Monday, 1 August 2011

TPA – Not That They’re Tories

The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), the Astroturf lobby group with the sole objective of demonising Government – any Government – along with public service and public works, has set great store by its assertion of being “non partisan”. Sadly, as with the claim of “grassroots, this is baseless. The TPA moves exclusively in right wing circles.

And in confirmation of this stance, the TPA has just appointed as its political director Jonathan Isaby, direct from ConservativeHome, who will no doubt join in the chorus of disapproval directed against the HS2 high speed rail project. After all, the TPA insists that this will benefit the south-east disproportionately, cost over £1000 per family, and be used mostly by the well-off.

This opposition is presented by the TPA as their supporting improvements to the rail network that supposedly represent better value for money (despite the small problem that their preferred solution is unworkable), and not merely opposition to a project that is seen as a leftover Labour affair, having been championed by Andrew Adonis at the end of Pa Broon’s time at 10 Downing Street.

But the contrast with the TPA attitude to their friends on the right could not be more stark, and especially their silence over the wish list of occasional Mayor of London (and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph) Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. On the BorisBus and the cable car – the latter being a £50 million unsponsored white elephant – there has been not a word.

Granted, the costs involved are not in the same order as those for HS2. But Bozza’s proposals for a new London airport somewhere out in the Thames estuary are not merely in the ballpark, but yet higher, with the “Boris Island” scheme reckoned to come in at around £70 billion, more than twice the cost of the HS2 “Y network”. Thus far, the TPA has been silent on the project.

So maybe they will be commenting on a variant of the island project, a £50 billion new airport which would be built on the Isle Of Grain, proposed by Norman Foster and eagerly backed by Bozza, if only out of the need for consistency. After all, it would benefit the south-east disproportionately, cost over £1500 per family, and with air travel costs set to increase, would be used mostly by the well-off.

But it’s been championed by a Tory who backs removal of the 50p income tax rate, brings no Labour baggage with it, and it’s out in the sticks somewhere that won’t inconvenience those who bankroll the TPA.

So that’s all right, then, and the TPA will keep quiet. Not that they’re Tories, mind.


John Ruddy said...

I wasnt aware of the TPA reccommending money be spent on a series of rail improvements? I thought their view was it was much better spent on motorways? Or am I confusing them with someone else?

Tim Fenton said...

The TPA are pushing Atkins Rail Package 2 (RP2) as a counter to HS2, but it only covers the West Coast Main Line. Also it is impractical and unworkable: the timetable is over ambitious and no extra capacity is provided at peak times.

The thought also occurs that if the TPA were to get HS2 abandoned, they would then ditch their support for RP2.