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Wednesday 7 December 2011

TPA – In EU Fantasy Land

As yet another EU summit approaches, there are stirrings from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), who would very much like to influence matters. To this end, they have produced yet another in their long line of dubiously researched “reports, with a long wish list which they suggest Young Dave should take with him to Brussels later this week.

This has been authored by Lee Rotherham, who you can tell because he’s a doctor. The name will be familiar to TPA watchers as the author of one of the dodgiest dossiers to come out of the organisation in a long time, that on “Britain And The ECHR”, which I considered at the time. This asserted that the ECHR had cost the UK £42.9 billion, but contained no cite for any of the numbers pitched.

Indeed, a whole £25 billion had been made up on the fly, as Rotherham tried to pin the compensation culture on the ECHR. Other figures were wildly exaggerated, and the Appendix liberally filled with the by-product from the northbound end of a southbound bull. As any kind of quantitative analysis it was utterly valueless, and would not have stood even cursory analysis.

More from the comfortable of Tufton Street

So is the latest “report” any better? Sadly, it is not: typical of Rotherham’s attempted sleight of hand is “Restoration of UK Government powers over taxation”. Really? To whom do I pay Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT? Who collects fuel duty? Stamp duty? Air passenger duty? Insurance tax? Well, the UK Government does, so that’s another freshly steaming pile, then.

Anything else that catches the eye? Well, there’s “Bringing to an end the treaty objectives of ‘ever closer union’”, which is equally hot and steaming: that’s in the original Treaty Of Rome that established what was then the EEC. Taking that out would mean leaving the EU, which is probably what the TPA really wants, but has to skirt round the issue and pretend to want engagement instead.

What else is in the Rotherham lucky bag? How about “Triggering massive reform to the structures of the EU itself”? Sounds really impressive but means absolutely nothing. Like “Slashing the UK budgetary share” and “Radical cuts to budgets where policies have little demonstrable benefit”, yet more bullet points cobbled together to make up the numbers.

Of course, the TPA could advocate “Enabling the electorate to become more knowledgeable about the EU”, or “Basing TPA reports on the EU on fact, with reliable citations included where appropriate”, or even “Replacing knocking copy with reasoned debate”, but that isn’t going to happen with an organisation whose sole objective is the demonisation of Government.

So no change there, then.

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