TaxPayers’ Alliance challenged on LBC radio
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.
Posted by Clifford Singer at 01:43pm on 14 December 2008
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