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Thursday 3 February 2011

TPA – Sheer Nastiness

The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) is seemingly prepared to pick over the most minor part of public expenditure: yesterday, the smug face of non-job holder Chris Daniel headed an article in the TPA’s “burning our money” strand (you want pejorative language? Look no further) whingeing about exercise equipment supplied to prisons in England and Wales.

Daniel’s piece reveals that a whopping three million notes was spent on exercise equipment during the 2009-10 financial year. That sounds like a very big number, until you realise that it translates into a cost to each taxpayer of rather less than 10p.

The TPA article, predictably, whines on about “expensive equipment”, while mentioning only briefly that much of it is remanufactured or refurbished – in other words, second hand – and erroneously compares facilities available in prisons to folks who may have to cancel their gym memberships due to the economic downturn.

No mention is made of the potential benefit of avoiding medical problems typically associated with the less mobile – after all, prisoners have by definition no freedom to exercise except within the confines of their prison. So no comparative analysis is made, which is predictable, as this piece, in characteristic TPA fashion, has been written to fit an agenda, rather than stimulate informed debate.

That agenda can be seen at work in the commentary provided by the TPA’s Emma Boon to papers like the Daily Mail: “It is outrageous that the Government is splashing out on top of the range new equipment for convicts, while pushing up taxes for ordinary law-abiding citizens” (my emphases: similar comments were also printed by the Express).

Only one conclusion can be reached from the above: this is a crude and deliberate attempt to whip up anti-Government sentiment by selective release of figures, backed up with inflammatory rhetoric, with the sole objective of, as usual, demonising that Government.

And that’s not good enough.

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