Back into the news recently has come an organisation that could not be less deserving of the attention it receives: the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, which is not an alliance of taxpayers, but an Astroturf lobby group whose sole purpose is to discredit and demonise any form of Government. The TPA’s latest talking head, Australian Chloe Westley, has been allowed to tour the media advertising her dubious brand of propaganda.
As more and more people have become wise to the baseless pretence that it gives a damn about ordinary taxpayers, the TPA’s pretence that it exists purely to advocate for low taxes, therefore, is a campaign that has progressed not necessarily to its advantage. This was shown when its Twitter feed told “RT if you think the tax burden is too high”.
TPA HQ on Tufton Street in SW1, paid for by .....?
The adverse comment was quick to materialise, with Jolyon Maugham replying “RT if you think @the_tpa shouldn't benefit from tax dodging”. Adam Jezard had the TPA figured out: “RT if you think the TaxPayers Alliance is funded by people who don't pay tax and don't care about your schools, hospitals, pensions and emergency services but want to turn you into cash cows by privatising everything so you pay them for poorer services”.
Maugham repeated his contention: “It would be lower if you weren't funded by tax dodging”. And Jim McCabe asked the question many others were asking: “RT if you think @the_tpa should reveal who funds it”. Along with other right-leaning groups like the ASI, CPS, IEA, CSJ and Policy Exchange, we don’t get to find that out.
Moreover, the TPA’s past form shows not only that they have a minuscule support base - their paid membership represents less than one-tenth of one per cent of all taxpayers - they are also prone to falsehood and misinformation in their propaganda.
Take, for instance, their report “Taxpayer Funded Lobbying”, which claimed Government was paying lobby companies to lobby it. This was a pack of lies from start to finish - but it was the result of lots of FoI requests. It was also the result of a pre-written conclusion.
The TPA claimed that speed cameras increased deaths and injuries on the roads. This, too, was a significant slice of dishonesty that relied on sleight of hand and lack of examination from the press to get its untrue message across.
They hosted a “2020 Tax Commission” which proposed a “flat tax”. What they did not tell was that this would mean abolishing the NHS, a subject on which they have produced at least not one, but two, other hatchet jobs in the meantime.
And who can forget the avalanche of disinformation from the TPA on the HS2 project? After all, this was about Government, and they were therefore opposed to it, whatever the benefits of the exercise (see HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE).
As for its support, we saw that when, in the wake of the TUC’s March for the Alternative in March 2011, which saw at least 350,000 on the streets of London, the TPA called its own “Rally Against Debt” in May of that year. No more than 350, including speakers, hacks and snappers, turned up. Yes, fewer than one-tenth of one per cent.
The TPA should say who pays. And then cut out the misinformation. That is all.