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Parenthood: a fringe interest

Other TaxPayers’ Alliance Update: 20 Feb 2009

It seems we underestimated the TaxPayers’ Alliance. We said - based on its own estimates - that it gets an average of 13 media appearances a day. But responding to Polly Toynbee’s excellent critique in the Guardian last week, the TPA boasted: “In January we broke our record for media coverage yet again, with over 530 appearances in the media arguing for lower taxes.”

This is one TPA statistic we have little reason to doubt. But quantity and quality are two very different things. Journalists turn to the TPA rent-a-quotes because they can be assured of the same response: “This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money and a prime example of government nannying.” There are times when this view may be justified, and others when it isn’t. But for the TPA that’s beside the point - they just fire off their single transferable comment.

Here’s another TPA quote: “It’s a fringe interest programme and we’d like to know how much it’s going to cost.” That’s campaign manager Susie Squire criticising plans to improve antenatal programmes for fathers and to allow dads to stay overnight in maternity wards (Telegraph, 14 Feb). A fringe interest programme? Did Susie actually hear the question before she started answering?

Ensuring taxpayers’ money is well spent is an important issue - but the TPA has no credibility. As blogger Tom P wrote last year: “All their reports start with the answer and work backwards. They ‘know’ that the state is wasteful and inefficient so their reports are an exercise in confirmation bias.” Both Polly and Tom’s articles are essential reading:

These rottweilers do the work of the Tories for them, Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/10/taxpayers-alliance-public-sector

Maybe we need a Real Taxpayers’ Alliance?, Tom P, Labour and Capital
http://labourandcapital.blogspot.com/2008/11/maybe-we-need-real-taxpayers-alliance.html

Posted by Other TPA at 04:57pm on 20 February 2009
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