One of Them: The TPA and the Conservative Party
Other TaxPayers’ Alliance Update: 19 March 2009
Whisper it: We know they're right-wing. They know they're right-wing. But the TPA still likes to huff and puff if anyone says it too loudly. The Fabian Society's Sunder Katwala said it very loudly this week in his excellent post, with a follow-up here.
This brought a riposte from the TPA's Matthew Sinclair, who chided Sunder for saying the TPA is Conservative with a capital C, conceded it is conservative with a small c, and located it on the "centre right".
Matthew has a point: the TPA isn't synonymous with the Conservative Party. But that's because the centre right is precisely the part of the party that it doesn't represent. If you want unadulterated Thatcherism, go to the TPA. And yes: if you're a member of the Libertarian Party, UKIP, or any other fringe right party - rejoice! - there's room in the TPA for you too.
But let's not get too carried away with this "not Conservative with a big C" business. Here's TPA chief executive Matthew Elliot receiving Conservative Way Forward's "One of Us" award from William Hague in November 2007.
Conservative Way Forward was founded in 1991 to "defend and build upon the achievements of the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher's leadership". David Cameron describes it as "the largest and most effective pressure group in the Conservative Party today".
The public sector poor list
When it's trying to be the voice of "ordinary taxpayers" - and not "One of Them" - the TPA does a nice line in bashing top rates of pay for public sector executives. We often concur - though we would add that public sector differentials are nowhere near as great as those in the private sector.
In its 2008 Public Sector Rich List, the TPA contrasts top public sector rates of pay with "with a soldier earning around £20,000, a nurse earning £23,000". So, with its sudden concern for the lower-paid, you'd think the TPA would applaud Glasgow council's decision to raise the minimum wage of its very poorest staff to a "living wage" of £7 an hour. But, lo, campaign manager Susie Squire called it a "disgrace" and complained: "It’s causing even more of a wage apartheid between the public and private sectors."
The private sector rich list
One person who appears to be looking after the interests of ordinary taxpayers better than the TPA is the Barclays tax avoidance whistleblower, whose evidence was published in the Guardian and promptly gagged. He wrote to Vince Cable that the way in which Barclays Structured Capital Markets division reduces tax "has made many in the industry feel uncomfortable especially when this means less hospitals and less schools being built".
He added: "SCM has a huge amount of resources, the best minds rewarded with millions of pounds. Compare this with HMRC [Revenue & Customs] recently advertising for a tax and accouting expert with the pay at £45,000. The Revenue will always be behind the curve."
So that's two reasons for the TPA to ignore this story:
1) It undermines the group's "wage apartheid" thesis.
2) The TPA doesn't care about tax avoidance anyway (and presumably isn't too bothered about policing the blurry line between avoidance and evasion either).
In other news...
Meanwhile, LabourList looked further into the TPA-Tory crossover, Unity took the TPA to task over its skimpy "report" on Palestinian Authority aid, and MEP Richart Corbett challenged its claims on European Union membership costs.
And finally: Join us at Put People First, 28 March 2008
Posted by Other TPA at 01:24pm on 19 March 2009
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