Tax Payers Alliance challenged


12:42 am - December 17th 2008

by Newswire    


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From: The (Other) Tax Payer’s Alliance

Here’s a rare thing: the TaxPayers’ Alliance being challenged in the media over its claims to be independent. The group’s Campaign Manager, Susie Squire, appeared alongside Labour parliamentary candidate for Streatham, Chuka Umunna, on Nick Ferrari’s LBC breakfast radio show, 10 December 2008.

After Ferrari introduced Umunna by saying “we’re crossing the party political divide here – we’re moving to the Labour Party”, Squire replied: “I’d like to point out that we’re independent – we’re not for the Tories or for Labour or for anyone. We’re just pointing out what savings can be made…”

Umunna: “Let’s not beat around the bush here. The TPA is not an independent organisation in the way that the Institute for Fiscal Studies, for example, is. Its advisory council is a who’s who of discredited Thatcherite people. Margaret Thatcher’s former economic advisor, Sir Alan Walters, sits on their advisory panel. Most of the founders – in fact all of the founders – have a Conservative Party background.”

Ferrari: “Susie, are you secretly Conservative?”

Squire: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I can’t have that – that’s outrageous! That’s just absolutely outrageous!”

Ferrari: “Why is he wrong in what he says?”

Squire: “Because we’re totally independent, we talk to everyone. I mean, God, I was in Wales at the end of last week, giving evidence on MPs’ expenses to a cross-party independent panel in the Welsh Assembly. We talk to everyone who wants to talk to us. We produce research that goes out to many MPs, cross-party, that goes out to journalists. We don’t have a party preference. Yes of course we have advisors and we have a board – any think tank worth its salt does. We’ll talk to anyone.”

But it’s not who they talk to that’s the issue here – it’s who they listen to.

See more at The (Other) TPA

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Reader comments


Well done Chuka. And well done The Other Taxpayers’ Alliance.I am interested in the claim that this is “outrageous” and the somewhat feeble description a non-partisan approach meaning mailing stuff to a cross-party audience.

This is worth investigating further. The academic advisors do contain several similar sounding names
http://tpa.typepad.com/about/2007/07/supporters.html

Given how much the TPA talk a lot about transparency, will they be willing to advise on which of their advisory board and staff members have a record of significant involvement in political roles (for example, as government advisers, party staff, parliamentary researchers, registered d), and set out how that breaks down across say the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties? That should help to substantiate this “totally independent” approach of talking to everyone, and to help kill off this “outrageous” claim that the TPA is some kind of right-wing front.

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Now I’ve got nothing against political values and views. The idea that everything is apolitical and value-free is nonsense. I run a think-tank affiliated to a political party, and we are able to conduct our research independently, disagree publicly, involve people from other parties as well. But we know and say who we are.

Perhaps TPA just need to resolve an identity crisis. I am slightly confused by Susie Squire’s claims about the organisation, given contrasting comments from Matthew Elliott. For example, take this piece of BBC reporting by Brian Wheeler, in which the group’s founders and director are quoted explaining that the initiaitve was the idea of a group of Conservatives disillusioned with the Conservative move towards the centre on spending and taxation, something which we all know they have worked hard to try and reverse, and with the explicit politics of the project clearly set out. Were the quotes made up? Have they complained about that?

QUOTES FROM REPORT:

The alliance was founded in 2004 by a group of “libertarian” Conservatives, frustrated by what they saw as the party’s decision to ditch its traditional tax cutting message.

“We thought they weren’t really addressing the issue. The Conservative Party which is traditionally seen as being the tax cutting party was going through a phase at the time, I think it is still going through a phase, where they think they need to match the Labour Party spending plans, in order to get into power,” says chief executive and founder Matthew Elliot.

“And considering the amount of money that the government spent has gone up so much in the past 10 years, we feel there is a body of opinion now out there, a body of people, who want to have lower taxes and lower spending, who are concerned about how the extra money Gordon Brown has raised has been spent.”

Will the real TPA please stand up?

Interesting. Personally I work for a cross-party organisation who will also work with anyone. But if someone challenged me on air about our leftwing past, the last thing in the world I would do is splutter like that. Why be defensive about it? It isn’t as if the TPA’s links with the Midland Industrial Council are not well known.

The lady doth protest too much.

Hahaha – of course the Tories are (alas) no more likely to cut the overall tax burden than Labour.

They’re pissing in the wind.

4. Alisdair Cameron

Yup, there’s shitloads of waste with our tax monies (like a f*cking war or two, and ID cards). But I’m happy to pay tax, even to pay more tax, for real public (not public/private scams) services, which work and enhance society, plus respect their workforces.
That crew just want to wheedle out of paying anything to help anyone, selfish swine.
Bloody sick of think tanks being fronts for overtly political ends (so that includes the blasted Smith Institute), and also of the misleading if not mendacious titling of some of ’em.
The taxpayers alliance= and alliance of a (very) few dogma-driven Tory wonks, who happen (like the other 99.9999% of the population) to pay taxes. Christ, can I set up a group of half a dozen called the Air Breathers Alliance, and make claims to speak for all mammals?

I set up a group of half a dozen called the Air Breathers Alliance

I was looking for someone to set up an organisation like that!

So will the TPA submit to any cross-party representations on their board, and if they will, will this be anything more than tokenism?

As a tax-payer, I don’t feel I’ve been consulted by their ‘alliance’.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Chuka Umunna

    @JohnPrescott Good stuff – had much pleasure making the same point here – http://bit.ly/4nIi9O (audio here: http://bit.ly/FuI3C).

  2. Chuka Umunna

    @JohnPrescott Good stuff – had much pleasure making the same point here – http://bit.ly/4nIi9O (audio here: http://bit.ly/FuI3C).

  3. Chuka Umunna

    You can read about my run in late last year with the Tax Payers Alliance here – http://bit.ly/4nIi9O (audio is here: http://bit.ly/FuI3C)

  4. Chuka Umunna

    You can read about my run in earlier this year with the Tax Payers Alliance here – http://bit.ly/4nIi9O (audio is here: http://bit.ly/FuI3C)





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