The Freedom Association would have you believe that they know what freedom is and that it is the diametric opposite of ‘socialism’. But that’s only if you live in a one-dimensional world that is populated by cardboard cut-outs and silhouettes.
This statement from Norris McWhirter, who co-founded the TFA with his brother, Ross is quite revealing,
“Freedom is usually appreciated only by those who have lost it, consequently it requires not praise but intelligent, active and continuous defence. We campaign for limited government and the fundamental freedoms essential to the maintenance of a humane and civilised society.”
– Norris McWhirter C.B.E.
The problem here is who is McWhirter talking about? Moreover, what is this ‘freedom’ that he is speaking of? It turns out that it’s just another ruse for the already wealthy to get their hands on more power and wealth. It is freedom at a price.
The Freedom Association claims to be “a non-partisan, centre-right, libertarian, pressure group”. I think the Freedom Association would like to think of themselves as ‘non-partisan’ but they are anything but; they have extremely close relations with the Conservative Party, indeed one would think that they had a symbiotic relationship with them given the numbers of Tory MPs and MEPs in their ranks.
Their 7 principles are quite instructive,
Personal and Family Responsibility
The Rule of Law
Free Market Economy
National Parliamentary Democracy
Strong National Defences
Someone is having a laugh here. They want a “national parliamentary democracy” but they want “limited government”? They’re also in favour of a “free market economy” what they haven’t told you is what this means for those who don’t move in the same circles as they do. If you’re rich, you’re fine. If you’re on a low income, forget it; you don’t get any freedom because freedom for TFA equals the freedom to make money at the expense of the freedom of others.
The Freedom Association also has a regular series of conferences and meetings that it calls The Freedom Zone (sic). In the Freedom Zone, invited guests and members can slap each other on the back and tell each other how much they believe in ‘freedom’. Looking down the list of guest speakers, I can see that Fraser Nelson, the man with possibly the most irritating voice on television, was booked for 7 September. The event was sponsored by the Taxpayers Alliance, who try to portray themselves as ‘non-partisan’ (there’s that word again) but once again it is a smokescreen,
But a Guardian investigation has established that a large part of its funds come from wealthy donors, many of whom are prominent supporters of the Conservative party. Sixty per cent of donations come from individuals or groups giving more than £5,000. The Midlands Industrial Council, which has donated £1.5m to the Conservatives since 2003, said it has given around £80,000 on behalf of 32 owners of private companies. Tony Gallagher, owner of Gallagher UK, a property company that gave the Conservatives £250,000 in 2007, is a member of the MIC, as is Christopher Kelly who owns the international haulage firm Keltruck, and Robert Edmiston who owns IM Group, a large car importer.
Hmmmm, have a look at who’s on the council. See any familiar names? Oh, look, Lord Malcolm Pearson of Rannoch, the former UKIP leader is a member (there will be more on the links between the Tories and UKIP in a forthcoming blog).
The board now features no one who could be described as just an ordinary taxpayer. Members include Ruth Lea, the former chief economist at Lehman Brothers, Mike Denham, a former Treasury economist who worked on tax and spending under Margaret Thatcher, and Saul Haydon Rowe, partner at financial firm Devon Capital LLP.
Ah, if it isn’t our old friend, Ruth Lea, scourge of the workers and enemy of the poor. Lea is often used as an ‘economic expert’ by the BBC (whom the right like to portray as ‘left-wing’) but as we all know, economics isn’t ideologically neutral – in spite of attempts by lazy news producers to inform us of the contrary.
The Freedom Association and its assorted front groups like Tea Party UK would have us all beleive that freedom isn’t possible any other way but through them and their ideological bedfellows, the Tories. But this kind of freedom comes with a massive price tag. The ‘freedom’ that they and other right wing libertarians offer doesn’t interest me. I can’t afford it.
I’ve just found out that Alexander Heath, the de facto leader of the Taxpayers Alliance does not pay British tax. The Guardian says that,
The admission, made by Matthew Elliott, the TPA’s chief executive and founder, is potentially embarrassing for the Conservative party, which has close links to the group that claims to be “the guardian of taxpayers’ money, the voice of taxpayers in the media and their representative at Westminster”.
“Mr Heath, a retired teacher, has lived in France since marrying his French wife in 1973,” said Elliott in a statement. “He is still a British citizen but he is a French taxpayer (where taxes are higher than in the UK!). He is passionate about the Taxpayers’ Alliance.” Elliott said Heath returned to the UK for about a fortnight each year and owned no property in Britain.
Time to close the tax loopholes methinks.