TaxPayers' Alliance

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The TaxPayers' Alliance is a British pressure group which ostensibly campaigns for a better deal for UK taxpayers but in reality pursues a right-wing pro-business, eurosceptic agenda while trying to get as much media coverage as possible.[1] Its funding is shrouded in secrecy, but it has received money from several wealthy businesspeople and it appears to have close links to the UK Conservative Party.

It is the parent organisation of Taxpayer Scotland,[2] which campaigns on a Scottish level, and is frequently quoted in the Scotsman newspaper. It also has a charitable arm PERT (Politics and Economics Research Trust). Its founder Matthew Elliott is one of 2 leaders of Vote Leave, one of the main groups campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union.[3]

It has been accused of being a Conservative Party front by former Labour Party MP Jon Cruddas and journalists including Polly Toynbee and Kevin Maguire.[4] In 2010 it moved into offices in Tufton Street, London, near other mainly right-wing bodies including climate change denialists the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Adam Smith Institute, Social Market Foundation, Policy Network, Policy Exchange, Centre for European Reform, Tory Reform Group, Civitas, Centre for Policy Studies and Global Vision.[5][6]

Prominent members[edit]

Matthew Elliott
Founder and former Chief Executive, a former researcher for Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope.
Florence Heath
Elliott's wife, became a director.
Alexander Heath
Elliott's father-in-law, another director despite living in France and paying no UK tax.[7]
Andrew Allum
Chairman; A management consultant in his day job.
Jonathan Isaby
Chief Executive since 2014.
Ruth Lea
The former chief economist at Lehman Brothers.
Susie Squire
Former campaign manager, became a special adviser to Conservative minister Iain Duncan Smith.
Stephan Shakespeare
Also behind ConservativeHome website, has chaired meetings for the TPA.

Funding[edit]

A 2009 Guardian investigation found that "a large part of its funds come from wealthy donors, many of whom are prominent supporters of the Conservative party."[1] Individual supporters include Anthony Bamford of JCB, Tory and UKIP donor Stuart Wheeler, and construction company boss Malcolm McAlpine.[1]

WhoFundsYou, which rates think tanks on their openness, rated its transparency as E, its lowest level, for the 2014 financial year, finding it did not declare its annual income, the names of donors, or the size of donations.[8] SpinWatch also criticized its lack of transparency in 2012.[5]

It has also received money from its charitable subsidiary, PERT, although that appears to be against Charity Commission rules.[9] and would be hugely hypocritical, given that income directly from taxpayers in the form of gift-aid makes up a sizeable portion of the charities funding.

Campaigns[edit]

Showing an impressive grasp of PR, it called for the Conservative government elected in 2015 to cut pensioner benefits as soon as possible rather than near the next election in 2020, because by then, current old age pensioners would either be dead or would have forgotten about it.[10]

It wants to replace the existing National Health Service funded by taxation with an insurance-based system.[11]

The TPA seeks to end existing arrangements for funding the BBC, abolish all public-service television, and replace them with a system where viewers pay directly.[12]

It wants to abolish air passenger duty[13] and all other green taxes.

As well as campaigning in the UK for lower government spending, against school building, and against any form of wealth tax, it takes a strongly pro-Israel line, opposing "hate education" in Palestine.[1]

Rivals[edit]

An alternative group called The Other Taxpayers’ Alliance was set up to campaign against the Taxpayers' Alliance while trying to be more representative of British taxpayers, but it shut down in 2011.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Who is behind the Taxpayers' Alliance?, Robert Booth, The Guardian, 9 October 2009
  2. Who, Taxpayer Scotland website
  3. The EU referendum campaign groups: who’s In and who’s Out?, New Statesman, 14 October 2015
  4. TaxPayers' Alliance, Wikipedia, accessed 26 January 2016
  5. 5.0 5.1 A closer look at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Steven Harkins, SpinWatch, 31 May 2012
  6. Three ways Brexit overlaps Climate Skepticism, New Statesman, 2016
  7. Taxpayers' Alliance Director Pays No Tax, Political Scrapbook, 2009
  8. TaxPayers’ Alliance 2014, Who Funds You
  9. TAXPAYERS’ ALLIANCE REPORT ‘FUNDED BY GIFT AID REBATES FROM TAXPAYER’, Political Scrapbook
  10. Taxpayers' Alliance: Cut pensioner benefits 'immediately', BBC, 5 October 2015
  11. We need to find a new way to pay for healthcare, TaxPayers Alliance, January 22, 2015
  12. It's time to switch off the Licence Fee, TPA, 27 Feb 2015
  13. Scrap air passenger duty, TPA, 2009