Taxpayers’ Alliance – public service or bunch of bigots?

Time, perhaps, to start to look a bit closer at organisations like the Taxpayers’ Alliance – and therefore to ask a few hard questions about the value, or otherwise, of their work. They are, as regular readers of the Express and Mail will be aware, highly effective at getting their name into print.

Reasonable research?

This they manage by two routes. First, they commission associated experts to write up reports on specific topics. Some of those reports are actually not bad, and expose government waste and wrong-doing at the highest level. They make good copy fodder – and i’ll confess absolutely: i’ve used their reports on occasion as springboard for stories i’ve written.

They also run some relatively clever initiatives around things like their pin-up/pinhead of the month listing, which exposes what they see as the greatest waste at local government level.

They have bees in their collective bonnet about topics like the high-speed rail link and waste at the Inland Revenue ans, so long as they are publishing stuff that raises legitimate questions, they are possibly carrying out a public service.

Unreasonable rentaquoters?

However, the real problem arises with the second way in which they achieve profile – and that is by being all-purpose rentaquote source for any and every story that might just be labelled as “political correctness gone mad”.

Trans women getting electrolysis? Appalling! Trans folk receiving hormone treatment whilst even ONE cancer patient remains untreated? No way.

To a degree they are victim both of their own success and of the way the national media work. It goes like this. Most journo’s will structure a story something like this: news (issue), comment for, comment against.

Such an approach makes life very easy. Something happens: and then you go out and collect quotes from the dozens of advocates of views this way or that who are more than happy to see their name in lights (or at least in print).

The TPA benefits from having quite a few spokespeople who also double up as experts and quote sources on particular issues – plus right-wingers like Phillip Hammond, MP – and in this, they are no better, no worse, than any other lobbying organisation. The problem sets in when you realise that because they are about saving the public money they get called and asked to comment on pretty much everything.

Hey: I could do that, too! I’m opinionated (as some of you have no doubt noticed). But i do try to gather in a few basic facts on some issues before launching publically on them.

Decent analysis – or veiled transphobia?

Not quite the TPA. A popular refrain is how there should be no spending on treatment “like this” (which includes grs, but i am not sure what else) until every single cancer patient in the country is safely tucked in bed receiving every drug they need.

Really? Apart from the snur (that’s shorthand for “snide slur”) directed at trans folk, it allows them to sound as though they are saying something meaningful when actually they are saying nothing at all. Like this? Like what?

Like breast augmentation for women who’ve had cancer since, even though there is genuine pain and grief associated with same, such treatment remains fundamentally cosmetic: perhaps the TPA would like to explain publically how they are opposed to these free-loading women rebuilding their lives. Or perhaps not…

Then there was the interesting case of the Scottish electrolysis facility. The Express weighed in, claiming this was basically trannies getting free electrolysis on the NHS. When contacted, the TPA initially hadn’t a clue why electrolysis might be needed at all: nor how it was in most instances a MEDICAL procedure and essential prior to surgery.

Not many people know that – but on the other hand, that’s the point. Ring up any old bod on the street and ask their opinion of a medical procedure and you’ll probably get a load of tripe as response.

Full credit to Emma Boon of the TPA. When i spoke to her she owned up to not having known – and agreed that the issue was more complex than she had originally thought. This in sharp contrast to the Campaign AGainst Political Correctness, who don’t seem to answer awkward calls.

OK. This is opening salvo, sort of. I think there are members of the TPA who are transphobic. I also think that there are quite a few there who are simply unaware of what goes on in detail and would probably be ashamed if they understood the absolute pain they cause to so many people by their oaring in on some issues.

I’ll be following up with a detailed exam of what the TPA are saying.



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