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Saturday 7 May 2011

After The Alternative Vote

With a change to the Alternative Vote (AV) system having been rejected by the electorate – and by a bigger margin than I thought, although there were some regional variations – those on the winning side are sure to feel emboldened, maybe sufficiently to believe that they are right whatever they do.

First among those is the instantly dislikeable Matthew “Gromit” Elliott, seconded to the No camp from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), our favourite Astroturf lobby group, and a source of appallingly slanted and poorly presented propaganda, although it does what it needs to do – get its copy into the papers – very well.

Elliott has, since the result of the referendum became clear, been praised to the rafters, notably in a short but gushing tribute on ConservativeHome by Tim Montgomerie, who is clearly now a fan. It would be no surprise for Elliott to believe even more than previously that the TPA is right in all it does.

And that would be bad news for those that the TPA has recently been targeting. At home, their campaign to lower the poverty line has been covered here previously, as have their efforts to abolish the minimum wage. Overseas, there is a persistent TPA effort to end aid to the Palestinian Authority, by suggesting that it is used to fund what they call “hate education”.

There has also been a TPA campaign to abolish National Insurance and roll the contributions (both employees’ and employer’s) into Income Tax. As I noted at the time, the main losers from this move would be freelance workers and pensioners, the latter becoming significantly worse off under the TPA’s proposals.

Anyone wondering why the TPA pursues campaigns against such a diverse range of ordinary people will not be surprised to know that they are backed by the kinds of folks who would benefit from such moves: the very well off, who would rather ordinary people didn’t know they were supporting such causes.

Now that Elliott is back with the TPA, expect them to start shouting that little bit louder. This is a time for the less well off to be on their guard, organised, and wary of Astroturf lobby groups promoting “fairness”.

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