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Thursday 19 April 2012

Cameron Hires TPA? Big Mistake

If a Telegraph piece is anything to go by (the Mail disagrees), Young Dave is about to make the kind of mistake that sensible and thoughtful folk would avoid. Because the Tel has reported that he is mulling giving a role within 10 Downing Street to Matthew “Gromit” Elliott, founder and CEO of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). The most basic of research would show that this is not A Very Good Idea.

Dave should steer well clear of the second floor

How can I be so sure? After all, Elliott apparently masterminded that No To AV campaign, and is said to be one of those Great Communicators, as well as having founded an Astroturf lobby group that gets its copy in the papers and its talking heads in front of the camera. All this is true. But it does not mean Elliott should be allowed anywhere near the levers of power.

There is one very good reason for this (maybe more, a lot more, but let’s start at the beginning). Most importantly, just because Elliott and the TPA get their propaganda into the kind of papers whose editors and proprietors want to hear it does not mean they know how Government – local and national – actually works. The TPA does not engage with its targets, so why would it?

When the TPA goes after a public sector organisation, it does so by submitting Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, often on an industrial scale, or gets one of its staff to scan the job adverts for titles that can then be called out as “non-jobs”, not because they have any lack of relevant content, but because the TPA says so. No knowledge of how the organisation functions is required – or gained.

Sometimes, if the information available does not support the desired outcome, the TPA goes further and just makes it up, most notoriously with its report “Britain and the ECHRwhere the assertion was made that the ECHR had cost the UK £42.9 billion (this figure was not backed up with one factual citation). Otherwise the group are masters of the false assumption and logic leap.

This was epitomised by “reports” claiming that Government had paid organisations to lobby itself, that taxpayers pay for Trade Union officials (who are, naturally, agitating for strike action), and that grants to environmental groups are paying for political campaigning. And who can forget the false premise of the “report” suggesting that speed cameras cause more road accidents?

Here on Zelo Street we know all about the TPA (last year’s summary HERE), enough to know that none of their dubiously talented array of non-job holders has a knowledge of the workings of Government greater than zero. If Elliott has any sense, he will know this equally well, but I doubt that he will let it get in the way of a self-aggrandising move up the greasy pole.

The result will be like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Only worse. And much funnier.

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