Today, as if sensing that I may be short of Astroturf lobby group propaganda to fillet, the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) has excreted another of its dubiously argued attacks on the EU, in the shape of a “report” called “EU Taxpayer Funded Environmentalism”, which seasoned TPA watchers may find bears a remarkable resemblance to a previous missive, from December 2010.
More bore from the second floor
From its pages spews a veritable tide of logic leaps and false assumptions: at the outset, grants are linked to campaigning, but at no point does the TPA show where grant spending is directed. Here’s another: “Taxpayers pay twice: once for the grants, then again with the higher prices that result when environmentalist groups successfully campaign for new regulations”.
Higher prices is a false assumption, as is the idea that any one group is solely responsible for legislation. And, still on Page 1, comes another: “many of these groups have launched legal actions against the British Government”. Who funded the action? The TPA doesn’t know. Another false assumption, as is “Taxpayers funding groups they disagree with”. What is the grant spent on? You don’t know.
It just goes on: “Many of the campaigns funded support introducing more stringent targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which would likely result in significantly higher costs”. Where’s your Benefit/Cost Analysis (BCA), TPA people? Ah, but we know from the TPA’s attacks on the HS2 project that a BCA is one of the most flexible weapons they possess, so that would be pointless.
Here’s another pearler: “The European Environmental Bureau has recommended that minimum levels should be introduced for energy taxes such as Fuel Duty”. So what? Well, “it would stop a government choosing to reduce the excessive burden on motorists in the future”. Not without morphing into something with rather more clout than a recommendation, it wouldn’t.
The “report” continues in this vein, making unproven assertions and littering the text with more false assumptions, followed by the obligatory spreadsheet dump (just the six pages of it) at the end, just to persuade the more gullible hacks that they’ve done some proper research, or as the TPA’s Pretentious Wing likes to call it, “empirical, real world research”.
But the real howlers are in the budget and currency calculations: the TPA uses the UK’s gross contribution to the EU, which since 1997 has been almost three times the net contribution. And even the exchange rate is seriously wrong, assuming €1.33 to the Pound. That puts their own figures around £7.5 million out on conversion alone (the current rate is €1.24, it’s not been significantly higher for years).
But the usual suspects in the press will lap this up, so that’s all right, then.