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Saturday 14 May 2011

TPA – Damp Squib But Serious Message

Today, under the aegis of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), the Rally Against Debt was held in the shadow of Parliament. This event was supposed to be a counter to the March For The Alternative, held on March 26, but instead descended into farce as only around 200 turned up.

Worse, half of those 200 were hacks, photographers, and those who had turned up just to watch. Yes, the supposed “grassroots campaign”, although in reality just another Astroturf lobby group, managed a measly 100 followers, addressed by the dubious convocation of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Tory MP Bill Cash, the TPA’s senior non-job holder Matthew Sinclair, plus Paul Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole.

And despite the paltry turnout, the TPA has managed to garner significant media attention, with this BBC report typical. The group, with Sinclair again the pundit, also got themselves into the coverage of the March For The Alternative, which was attended by around half a million people.

Thus the media reach of the TPA: they get their propaganda into the papers, and onto the TV. Their voice is not merely heard, but actively sought out. Yet their popular support is negligible. Today’s “rally” hardly filled a corner of the area penned off for it. The Met had sent a van – maybe the Comfortable of Tufton Street were expected to get out of hand – but this was the easiest of overtime.

And thus the lesson for those wanting to counter the TPA: every photo of this pitifully small gathering, every comparison with the March For The Alternative, and any and all evidence of the obscenely disproportionate attention lavished on the TPA and their hangers-on has to be gathered together and put before the print and broadcast media at every opportunity.

The right leaning part of the Fourth Estate will be reluctant to admit the excess of attention that they give the TPA, but the part of the media that matters the most – the broadcast part of it – may be more willing to admit the error of their ways. This “rally” has shown all who will see that the TPA has next to no popular following.

As such, calling it may have been the TPA’s biggest mistake.

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