Tuesday, 19 July 2011

What are the TaxPayers Alliance "independent champions" of?

On Friday, the government published a white paper on Open Public Services (PDF). It forms part of the government's cuts and reform agenda, and in particular promises to allow for increased privatisation and marketisation of public services. None of which is particularly surprising.

However, via Political Scrapbook, my attention was drawn to this clause;
Commissioners can be held to account for their decisions by users (whose rights of redress we are strengthening), by independent audit and inspection bodies (for example, the National Audit Office) and by independent champions (such as the TaxPayers’ Alliance).
I can't say I'm surprised by the wording here, but it does take a certain level of audacity to describe the TPA as "independent champions." As the Scrapbook points out, it was founded by former Tory councillors, researchers and activists. It has an explicit goal to "reverse the perception that big government is necessary and irreversible" and thus make the case for the right-wing "small government" ideology. And, just for laughs, its director isn't actually a taxpayer.

More than that, they have a naked anti-working class agenda. They have previously attacked facilities time for trade union reps (attacks answered by the TUC in this PDF) and more recently played the Daily Mail's card of equating the workers' movement with the highly-paid bureaucrats at the top of the unions. (This false dichotomy is dissected by Cautiously Pessimistic here.)

Perhaps the most explicit revelation of their anti-worker agenda was revealed by Matthew Sinclair last September, when he advocated getting "1,000 people to protest" against "the strikes on the London underground." The US Tea Party movement took up this idea more recently, when its reactionary supporters decided to stage protests against workers in Wisconsin who were fighting for their very right to combine and assert their interests against those of the bosses.

They also endorsed the Rally Against Debt, which I described thus;
In essence, it is the privileged and elite crying out for increased hardship to fall on the working class so that they can be better off. Whilst Cameron and Clegg tell us we’re “all in this together,” this is the crowd who sneer and gloat at every job loss and every cut.

Hence the contempt with which people like the Devil's Kitchen dismiss us as "evil" and "abominations." The working class, who through our labour produce all the wealth in society, represent "indolence, extortion and stupidity" and are thus a burden on "those of us who produce wealth through our hard work, our ideas, our capital and our innovations." That is, the parasites of the ruling class and petty-bourgeois for whom the state exists only to assert their property rights through its monopoly of violence so that they can expropriate our labour as their own profit.

The name, “Rally Against Debt,” is also misleading. The government programme that these people are cheerleading – from increased tuition fees to a slash-and-burn approach to welfare – will see household debt for most people skyrocket

Already, ordinary workers are saddled with debt. The past 30 years have seen the percentage of GDP that goes on wages shrink considerably. In real terms, even most effective pay rises of the past few years have been pay cuts when measured against inflation. Whilst the rich have gotten ever richer, the rest of us have had to turn to credit to make up the shortfall or just to make ends meet. As those at the top steal the fruits of our labour to line their own pockets, we are forced to borrow it back and pay obscene interest rates on it. 

With the recession and the banks, bailed out by the taxpayer, tightening credit supplies, this has only gotten worse. The credit rug is being pulled out from under us when there is nothing to replace it because the government promoted it as the only game in town whilst our wages shrank. 

Those attending the Rally Against Debt – from Tories and Liberal Democrats to the Taxpayers’ Alliance and so-called “libertarians” – are protesting not only for this to continue, but for every safeguard that working people have against it to be ripped away and torn down.
So, no, the TPA are not "independent champions." They are one of the most vociferous advocates of the class war being waged against workers. Though the white paper and this passage seem to have been buried by the News International scandal, we should not forget that and make sure that - whatever role they take in the dismantling of public services - it is fiercely resisted.