The Taxpayers Alliance, union bashing and ‘non partisanship’

I’ve just been watching BBC Breakfast and there was a woman on from the Taxpayers Alliance talking about quangos. She was presented as ‘independent’ but the TPA is anything but. Isn’t it time the media began to question them more closely about their alleged ‘non-partisanship’ instead of giving them a free ride?

Its director, Alexander Heath, doesn’t even pay tax in this country.

“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.

This Guardian story says that the TPA is ” subsidised by the taxpayer“.

The Conservative-linked Taxpayers’ Alliance, which campaigns against the misuse of public funds, has set up a charity under a different name which can secure subsidies from the taxman worth up to 40% on individuals’ donations. In one example, Midlands businessmen said they channelled funds through the Politics and Economics Research Trust at the request of the Taxpayers’ Alliance after they asked the campaign group to undertake research into policies which stood to damage their business interests. The arrangement allowed the Taxpayers’ Alliance to benefit from Gift Aid on the donations, a spokesman for the donors said.

The TPA is vehemently anti-union, here they make the specious claim that union leaders are paid from ‘our’ taxes,

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “It is small wonder that they aren’t worried about the tax burden or the national debt when they are so well-off, but it is ordinary, overstretched taxpayers who will suffer if they get their way.”

The Alliance is opposed to monies paid to the unions under the Union Modernisation Fund – a government-funded project to help support non-political, trade union activities.

What are “non-political, trade union activities” when they are at home? Union-bashing has become a sport among Tories and right wing libertarians and, as the above paragraph shows us, they aren’t beneath telling a few lies in order to propagate the myth that unions are ‘outdated’ and ‘out of touch’ and workers (the word is never used) would be better off ignoring them.

The TPA is quite literally doing the work of the government, spinning story after story about the ‘cost of trade union activity’,

Well firstly it is false to say that most of the country believes that even more “investment” in public services is needed rather than cuts. YouGov polling forDemos several months back revealed that the last government lost voters at the general election because the public recognise the need for cuts and more polling by YouGov for left foot forward showed that the general public opposes more influence for the trade unions. Presumably because the trade unions have got it wrong on the single most important issue facing Britain – that is the need to curb the growing national debt.

Ah ha, the national debt but does the TPA understand what the national debt is and where it comes from? Oddly enough, no; they continue to labour under the assumption that the national debt was created by public spending (i.e. social programs) rather by wars. The current national debt goes back to the First World War. But what is the relationship between trade unions and the national debt. The answer is: there is no relationship between them.

Left Futures says,

The employers group, the CBI, had suggested changes to trade union recognition law and a further limitation on our immunity when balloting for industrial action. From the lunatic fringe came the Taxpayers’ Alliance with its proposal to stop the “tax payer subsidy” of trade unions in the public sector, in other words to stop the right of union reps to carry out such trade union duties as representing employees on grievance and disciplinary issues.

I thought the TPA was supposed to speak out about taxation. Why is it getting involved in union bashing? Let’s remind ourselves who funds the TPA.

Tim Horton, research director of the left-leaning Fabian Society, who has investigated the TPA, claimed the group is “fundamental to the Conservatives’ political strategy”, which he said was to destroy public confidence in politicians’ ability to deliver public services, thereby paving the way for cuts.

Not just cuts but tighter anti-union legislation too. These Tories won’t be happy until they’ve transformed this country into a facsimile of Chile.

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