Since their non-job holder Chloe Westley was called out on the organisation’s lack of transparency, and broadcasters were similarly called out for giving her and other representatives of non-transparent Astroturf lobby groups a platform from which to spout their propaganda, those on the centre-left have become rather more interested in the workings of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance.
The TPA, like the rest of the similarly-minded alphabet soup which includes the ASI, CPS and IEA, declines to tell the world who pays for the central London offices, the dubiously talented array of non-job holders and their expense accounts, and all the other resources needed to have someone on call 24 hours a day in order to get their copy into the papers.
But what we do know about the TPA is that it talks well, but lies badly. The scale of hypocrisy on display is staggering, exemplified by a new “report” which has formed the basis of an article in the Mail. “Britain's tax burden has reached its highest level for almost half a century, a report has found … The taxman is set to take £724.9billion this year - 34.3 per cent of GDP … That is the highest proportion since 1969-70, when the country was run by a Labour government under Harold Wilson” tells hack Ian Drury.
And who has brought forth this claim? As if you need to ask. “The report, written by the TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign group, also said overall Government revenues are at a 32-year high at 37 per cent of GDP, a measure of the size of the economy”. And, so what?
Ah, but that would be to miss the TPA’s penchant for falsehood and misinformation. Take this gem from the Mail article: “The research also found that new taxes have hit poorer households the hardest. It discovered that the bottom 10 per cent of earners in Britain pay 49.5 per cent of their income in tax”. Er, WHAT?
Here is the TPA’s “research” that feeds into that claim: “In 2016-17, the bottom 10 per cent of households paid an average of 49.5 percent of their gross income in taxes. This excludes benefits in kind, such as travel subsidies, education and the NHS. This is an increase from 42 per cent in 2015-16 … Of the 49.5 per cent of tax that the bottom 10 per cent paid, 43 per cent of this is made up of VAT and Council Tax”.
TPA HQ, Tufton Street, Westminster - who pays?
VAT and Council Tax. One, we don’t get, or expect to get, council services for nothing. And two, neither VAT nor Council Tax are “new taxes”.
It gets worse. Back in 2011, the TPA suggested that one way of getting the unemployed back to work might be “you could stop banning them from selling their labour at a price employers are actually prepared to pay (rather than a price politicians and bureaucrats deem to be ‘fair’)”. In other words, they were suggesting abolition of the minimum wage. So don’t think for a moment they are on the side of the least well off.
The TPA at that time also suggested reducing out of work benefits, airily declaring “you could reduce the attractiveness of the incentive package you offer in exchange for them not working”, as if being on the dole was rather like getting a Golden Hello in the City.
In addition to that, the TPA has previously urged lowering of the poverty line. And then we get to the NHS, where the TPA is also pretending to show concern.
The Mail article tells “The report warned that taxes could have to rise even further to fulfil the promised £20billion-a-year funding boost for the NHS … John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘The funding models for social care and the NHS need real reform, not ever higher taxes’”. We know what the TPA thinks of the NHS.
Chloe Westley - who pays for her to spout her propaganda?
They have previously told “We desperately need a healthcare system that offers us real value for money. As it stands, the NHS wastes too much money and is too centralised. Evidence shows that choice and competition drive up standards”. And we know what “choice and competition” means - eventual abolition of the NHS.
That the TPA wants to do away with the NHS was only underscored when its “2020 Tax Commission” proposed a flat tax, which would mean lots more money for its greedy backers, while shrinking Government to such a size that there would be very little for the least well off … and either no NHS, or significant contributions from those who use it.
Once again, the TPA claims to show concern for the least well off, and for others among the 99.9% of taxpayers who it does not represent. The reality is that this is a front group dedicated to demonising Government and any kind of public provision in order to satisfy its ideological agenda and benefit its greedy and uncaring backers - some of whom, it is becoming apparent, may not even reside in the UK.
This is why those who challenge the TPA on its alleged facts, and demand that it make public who funds it, are right - and the right-leaning part of the press, which recycles its propaganda as if it were fact, are wrong. Never trust the TPA.