The Rise of a New British Right
Some of you (those who actually spend time watching television) may have noticed that the Tax Payers Alliance are getting a lot of air time lately, supposedly representing the honest man in the street who pays taxes and demands an end to money wasting. Who are these people, and what’s really going on? And shouldn’t this all sound eerily familiar from the United States right now?
I want to start by saying that it is in no way outside the bounds of possibility that there is a natural tendency amongst people in Britain to feel like the government is over spending. I’d hate to be seeing a conspiracy where there isn’t one, and I’d rather not have to deal with both a government and an organised network of right wing groups with money flowing in from other countries, not least because then I’d be open to attacks of the “stop being a conspiracy loon” type.
As it happens, those of us seeking to ensure that the welfare state remains even vaguely intact, that the value of a human life is equal whether the person’s assets are worth £1 or £1million, and who believe that children should be educated to equally good standards regardless of their parents time or inclinations might have to make the choice to call out certain organisations, and I shall attempt to explain why in the broadest possible terms.
You might have heard of the Tax Payers’ Alliance (TPA) before – I certainly knew it existed. They have been given much air time lately, and so its worth asking questions about them, and their wider connections. Most importantly, as I learnt right at the start of my activist life, and perhaps even earlier, you should follow the money.
Very helpfully, a group called “The Other Tax Payer’s’ Alliance”, who I strongly recommend you sign up to, have spotted that TPA are hosting a conference entitled “European Resource Bank”. I decided to swing by the conference site, and there, proudly displayed, is the logo of the TPA. Then after a bit more prodding, I found a Guardian article. The thing is, I found it on the TPA website, with no context or anything. Generally, I don’t publish bad news about myself – or if do, I try and refute it to some degree. I mention this only because, given the conspiratorial nature of any claim such a group is connected to a web of Right Wing Big-Money interests across the globe, one would assume some kind of defence would be made.
The event, the largest of its kind in Europe, is heavily sponsored by US lobby groups that have backed the Tea Party grouping as its challenges moderate Republican party candidates in congressional elections.
Critics of the event said it established a clear link between British rightwing groups and aggressive American lobbyists who pursued low taxes, loose regulation and widespread privatisation of public services.
Today’s conference will be attended by Americans who have lobbied in the US to overturn Barack Obama’s healthcare plan and maintain tax breaks for the rich. Several of the groups have close links to the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, prominent tormentors of the Obama administration.
These people clearly have no idea of the seriousness of these allegations. If I were to go to America and launch a campaign group, I would be attacked for being an outsider trying to infiltrate and influence American policy. I would be told to respect America’s sovereignty. And yet these people are open about the fact that money is pouring into British organisations to promote an American agenda. The only difference I can see is that I would want to strengthen American communities, and these people want to destroy British communities. If anything, my presupposed campaign would do less damage to American sovereignty!
Quoting “Campaigner Richard Murphy”, the Guardian’s report concludes:
"It regularly grabs slots on the BBC and other media to argue that taxpayers are hard done by. But the freedoms it wants is freedom from taxes for a tiny minority of wealthy people."
To publish an article which says such things about oneself on one’s own website does appear to be very much an endorsement of the statement, even if only implicitly. So there you go: about the closest admission you’ll ever get from the Tax Payers Alliance that it campaigns for the benefit of the wealthy. They’re not your Tax Payers Alliance, they’re their Tax Payers Alliance.