[Update at end of post]
A survey from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has considered pay levels in both public and private sectors. That much is routine. But the conclusion – that public sector workers were paid on average just over 8% more than those in the private sector – triggered an all too predictable response from the dubiously talented collection of non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA).
The resulting post, “Unions try to mislead taxpayers over the public sector pay premium”, authored by Emma Boon, recently featured on Question Time fraudulently asserting that the TPA was there to “stick up for taxpayers’ money”, tells that Trade Unions are “desperate”, that the findings “discredit” them, and that they are “selfish ... to organise strikes and protests”.
So far, so predictable, right down to Ms Boon asserting that the pay gap between public and private may in reality be even greater. In support of this claim, she cites, er, a three year old Comment Is Free piece by Matthew Sinclair, who by the most fortunate of coincidences happens to be the TPA’s chief non-job holder. Moreover, she asserts, we’ve forgotten about all those “skilled tradesmen”.
But there is one false assumption of significant proportions being made here, and that is to characterise this as Unions on the one hand (and by implication their membership) and “the tax-paying public” on the other (quite apart from the TPA providing a “calculator” to show how right they are, which defaults to private sector workers getting a zero employers’ pension contribution).
So the inference is clear: “the tax-paying public” is a separate entity to not only the Civil Service and local Government workers, but also police, firefighters, teachers and everyone who works in the service of the NHS. Yes, all those doctors, nurses, specialists, surgeons, anaesthetists, receptionists, midwives, counsellors, pharmacists, porters and their managers are not real taxpayers.
And this is not an isolated occurrence of the genre: Ms Boon was at the forefront of the recent TPA demonisation of the Motability scheme, feigning outrage on behalf of all those taxpayers while managing to miss the fact that many of the disabled people who use that scheme are also part of the tax-paying public. Motability is a significant part of keeping them able to make that contribution.
That attack, as I pointed out at the time, was shabby, vicious and unnecessary. The latest one is equally so: as the ONS paper states at the outset “It is difficult to make comparisons of the two sectors because of the differences in the types of job and characteristics of employees”.
But the attack satisfies the TPA’s sole objective, to demonise Government – any Government – along with public service and public works. So that’s all right, then.
[UPDATE 1810 hours: consultant group Income Data Services has passed adverse comment on the ONS' attempt to compare public and private sector pay, as reported by the deeply subversive Guardian. The group argues that such comparisons are "farcical".
This, of course, is not reported by the TPA, which selects only articles and other information that matches its Government bashing agenda. No change there, then (many thanks to Colin Hewson, who tweets as @old_oak, for pointing out the link)]