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Sunday 16 November 2014

TPA – Ashamed Of Its Past

One of Zelo Street’s favourite targets over the years – their first mention on this blog was back in August 2009 – has been the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), the Astroturf Lobby Group that is not an alliance of taxpayers, and does not possess any discernible grassroots. The usual suspects in the Fourth Estate have not been featuring the TPA much recently, and there’s a good reason for that.
Rather less guff from Tufton Street

The sad reality is that, right now, the TPA is supposedly employing rather a lot of staff and hangers-on, but the product of their endeavours is somewhat hard to find. And what is worse, the past Oeuvre appears to have vanished – some of the TPA’s most notorious whoppers and hatchet jobs are no longer online. Were all those FoI fishing expeditions for nothing?

One example of the missing TPA campaigns of the past is that against aid and loans to Argentina: when today’s Zelo Street post on that subject was being researched, it was found that the TPA’s links were still there on Google search, but were dead. It can’t be a personal thing: this was started by founder Matthew “Gromit” Elliott, whose face is still there at the top of the rogues’ gallery.

It gets worse: all the way from the (spurious) accusation that the then Labour Government was paying firms to lobby it, to the fraudulent assertion that speed cameras had actually caused more deaths and injuries, to the claim that motorists are paying billions inexcessive motoring taxes”, to the dishonest claim that Royal Mail staff without job titles are costing taxpayers money, the links are dead.

Even the TPA’s supposedly landmark research has gone missing. References to Matthew Sinclair’s much-promoted (well, it was by the TPA) book Let Them Eat Carbon are dead. And, although the report of the “2020 Tax Commissionis still live at its own URL, the TPA’s own link to the final report is also dead. All that back catalogue – and it’s all gone missing.

It’s not as if the TPA is short of staff – according to its website, there are twenty of them. Even if you assume that the regional coordinators, research fellows, founder and chairman are only occasional participants, that still leaves ten of them. Are they incapable of auditing changes to their website? Or has there been a Soviet-style move to erase past research – and staff?

It looks more cock-up than conspiracy: the account by now-director John O’Connell of the TPA’s not-very-successful awayday to Ashton-under-Lyne (see the Zelo Street take HERE and HERE) on ConHome is still live, but the TPA website links in his piece are, like so much else from the past, dead. So little going on, and the back catalogue unavailable – what a complete shambles.

Are people still putting money into this venture? More fool them if true.

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