Once again, the selective behaviour of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), the supposedly non-partisan Astroturf lobby group, has been brought into sharp focus as news filters out that a major project being funded by billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is in danger of going over budget. That project is the 2012 Olympic Games, and here the TPA is conspicuous by its absence.
It was revealed yesterday that the cost of the opening ceremonies alone has more than doubled to just over £80 million, by coincidence the amount over which the TPA has gone into battle in its crusade against supposed “taxpayer funded trade unionism”, as I noted the other day. Thus far, the TPA’s only comment has been a token quote from chief non-job holder Matthew Sinclair.
Also announced yesterday was the requirement for another £271 million for security at the Games. That’s well over three times the amount the TPA is trying to paint as “taxpayer funded trade unionism”. Once again, they are absent and silent on the matter, even though this money is coming out of our taxes, and they claim to represent the interests of taxpayers.
True, the TPA has previously commented on Olympic cost escalation, but there have been none of their “reports” based on their legendary “empirical research”, and none of those “campaigns” over it. Typical is this effort from 2009 by Mark Wallace, who has now left the organisation. The contrast with projects like HS2, over which the TPA has generated so much knocking copy, is stark.
But there is one aspect of the Olympic Games where the TPA has turned up, and expended more than a little effort: the acquisition of tickets by local and national Government. In June, non-job holder Andrew Allison invited the TPA’s fabled grassroots (Sid and Doris Bonkers) to shop public bodies, as the group was not sending Freedom of Information (FoI) requests themselves.
And thus the priorities of this supposedly non-partisan group: every effort is put into kicking trade unions, while the Olympic Games is very much a secondary consideration, and even then the focus is on kicking Councils and quangos over a few thousands, rather than even mentioning the almost £10 billion cost of the Games themselves.
What was that about representing the interests of ordinary hard-working taxpayers? Don’t make me laugh.