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Sunday 29 September 2013

TPA – Local Government Theft Smear

The so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) on occasion exhibits an appetite for pejorative language which verges on smear tactics: anyone debating the HS2 project, for instance, will know all about this. This usage has recently also been adopted by non-job holder Andrew Allison, supposedly the TPA’s national grassroots coordinator, although this is an organisation with no grassroots.
More bore from the second floor

It appears that local authorities in West Yorkshire are contributing to the effort going into the opening stages of next year’s Tour de France, which, despite the name, will actually start from Leeds, on 5 July. The combined amount, from the various councils in the region, will total around £6 million. As befits a TPA non-job holder, Allison is suitably aghast at this activity, and has branded it as “waste”.

There follows the usual TPA fog of whataboutery: why can’t they get the private sector to pay up? Do they really think that anyone in their right mind will choose to take a holiday in Huddersfield (all those using the newly restored Narrow Canal and visiting places like Holmfirth must stop somewhere else)? What about commercial sponsorship? What if he’s got a pointed stick?

And, as usual, Allison has not bothered to find out any more about commercial sponsorship, nor about the proportions of public versus private funding, nor what benefit/cost analysis the councils may have done in support of their decisions. Moreover, anyone reading his attack will have noticed the use of a particularly loaded term on more than one occasion.

West Yorkshire councils dip into budgets to fund the Tour de France” [my emphasis] is the headline. Later we read “Yorkshire councils will be dipping” [ditto], and that “Bradford is dipping into its reserves”. There is only one credible reason for using that word rather than any other form of description, and that is because of its association with pick-pocketing.

Allison’s message is clear: an act of theft is being slyly suggested. Council tax payers are having their pockets picked, and of course they have no say in it. This achieves two things: the TPA immediately gets the punters on side, and then makes it doubly hard for the authorities involved to get their own message across, as they are inevitably pushed on to the back foot.

And that pushing comes from the TPA, who couldn’t be bothered to engage with them in the first place. After all, Andrew Allison and his fellow non-job holders aren’t interested in that sort of thing: all they want to do is to rubbish and otherwise belittle any form of public body, with the ultimate objective of having it diminished or even wiped out. So what better than to imply that they’re just petty crooks?

Then it’s filed under “Burning Our Money”. What a bunch of cheap spin merchants.

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