Monday, 6 August 2018

Low Fact Chloe - stooge of the Tory right

Surprise of all surprises, Chloe Westley, of the Taxpayer's Alliance, is invited to air her protests on Conservative Home after a barrage of scathing criticism.
The truth is, we’re a team of ten and have the operating budget of a local pub. We’re funded by thousands of people, many of whom give less than £100. Our press team is just me and my colleague, James Price. We get a lot of coverage because James and I work our butts off and our research team (of three) write awesome papers. Our biggest ground campaign this year has been on council tax, which has been increasing all over the country – and that ground campaign and our activists are managed by Harry Fone. Most of our day-to-day work is on exposing wasteful spending in local government and going on local radio to talk about things that really matter to people, like bin collections. We get a lot of airtime on national TV and radio, too, and I think that’s because we’re often the only people willing to say that taxes should be lower.
Chloe doesn't actually know the truth about the TPA which is what makes her an effective defender of it. She gives the appearance because as far as she knows, she is.

The TPA, though, is far from an innocent player. We only need look at the names on the advisory council to see that the TPA is the soft propaganda wing of the ultra Brexit campaign. Patrick Minford and Ruth Lea should need no introduction - both advocates of the most boneheaded Brexit imaginable. 

This is not forgetting that the TPA shares an address with half a dozen other sock puppet front campaigns, all of which were devised by Matthew Elliott as AstroTurf to support his bid for the designated leave campaign. The TPA is not a grassroots campaign.

Being that it is a sockpuppet it does not need a large operating budget, especially when it only exists to get its name spoken on TV and radio, for which they need a malleable but presentable girlie, available on weekends to do a slot on Sky TV when all the bigwig Tory lords and MPs are at home marrying their first cousins or torturing geese. 

The media is only too happy to use them because they are in London, readily available and free of charge. Daya to day they serve as a rent-a-quote entity for Daily Mail articles covering obscene council CEO salaries, stories which are in the main poached from local media without attribution.

As for those "awesome" reports, they tend to be lightweight PDFs designed only for talking points in the media and are forgotten within twenty four hours. If it gets the TPA name dropped on the wireless then it has done its job. It requires zero talent. You just need a central London address and a few patrons from inside the Tory apparatus and so far as the media is concerned that qualifies as a source of authority.

To a large extent, the existence of the TPA is a symptom of the dysfunction in our media, where veracity of a source is less important than the prestige it carries. The TPA is simply exploiting that weakness in the system. 

Consequently we are subjected to lightweight bilge on Radio 4 where the TPA of the Freedom Association (one man and his dog outfits) are chosen as artificial balance - where some or other toryboy or girlie will rattle off a shallow and two dimensional spiel we are expected to swallow as equivalent to expert testimony. 

Thus, our Chloe is completely oblivious to the fact she is a bit part in a far wider propaganda apparatus which all traces back to the same handful of people - Elliott, Minford, Lawson, Hannan, Paterson, Littlewood, Broomfield, Bamford and Dyson. This sordid little ecosystem also supports its own network of acolytes and gatekeepers - not least Conservative Home.

Chloe protests that hers is but a minnow organisation up against a Goliath, but all tells us is that so long as you have the necessary prestige and the right connections you don't actually need a lot of money to make a large media footprint. 

Were that the TPA just, as Chloe asserts, making the case for low taxes, it wouldn't command a nanosecond of my attention. After all, who is actually in favour of council waste and obscene payouts to CEOs and quango bosses? If anything we could remark on how utterly ineffectual the TPA is in that these are issues I was writing about before the TPA even existed and yet still nothing they have produced has actually changed anything. 

But then, of course, there is no incentive for them to succeed because titillating clickbait sorties on council waste is their bread and butter and if they had to go fishing for anything more complicated they would find themselves out of their depths and bogged down by the many complex reasons as to why money is wasted. Government procurement is an unpredictable minefield which ensnares even those with the best of intentions. 

The TPA of itself produces nothing of value and that I know of has achieved nothing of note in all of its existence. I could quite easily ignore it but then when it is used in aid of a propaganda coup it becomes my concern. 

In this, Chloe is an instrument of deception. She a personable, chirpy wee thing who has Toryboy acolytes fawning over her and willing to defend her whatever unutterable nonsense falls from her lips. She sings the soothing songs of "global free trade" without the first notion of what "free trade" actually is and how it functions in the real world. She is, therefore, a tool in every sense of the word.

The propaganda aim of the ultras, through vessels such as Conservative Home and BrexitCentral is to make the case for unilateral trade liberalisation. And though our Chloe invites us to debate "free market ideas" these are the last people to actually engage in debate. Instead they are using every avenue at their disposal, making full use of their network of sockpuppets to disseminate demonstrable lies about the WTO option.

Any number of experts could dismantle their claims. We could quote chapter and verse from numerous official sources, all of them showing why controls will apply to UK produce from day one. But there is hardly any point. These individuals are anti-knowledge, making up their own narratives to support their case, without the slightest resort to fact and using the likes of Westley as pawns in a  far wider information war. The dishonesty of Westley, though, is in how she spins the criticism directed hat her.
Ad hominem attacks on right-wing think tanks like the TPA may temporarily embolden some on the left, but the fact they feel the need to try to silence us shows that there are people out there who believe in a low tax economy; who don’t like it when their taxes are squandered by faceless bureaucrats; and who want to pay for good public services but otherwise want to be left alone to get on with their life.
People hold such views because they can see for themselves what works. Free market capitalism has brought millions of people out of poverty. In China, for example, the abandonment of central government planning (which Corbyn would advocate introducing in Britain) and the adoption of more free market policies has lifted 800 million people out of poverty since 1978.
Freedom is worth fighting for. Empowering individuals to have more control over their income and their lives is an entirely legitimate moral cause. There is a consensus in Westminster amongst MPs and commentators that more state control and spending is the only way to solve society’s problems. Surely the left can handle one or two activists like me challenging this statist consensus?
She knows full well what angers people is that she is granted virtually unlimited airtime to opine on Brexit issues she has no knowledge of, working to an agenda she is barely even aware of, with no concept of the stakes involved, and certainly where I am concerned, she is a dog in the manger chewing up airtime that could be given to any number of people who actually can competently defend Brexit.

Instead, though, our Chloe pretends this outrage is an attempt to silence free market ideas. She rattles off her tribal spiel about capitalism lifting people out of poverty, which goes down well with the gallery, but this is another deception - claiming that she is a martyr to the cause and not complicit in the dark games of the Tory right. She is working to cover their tracks.

As it happens, most adults can accept that market economies are the best venue for delivering prosperity but in this instance the agenda at work is not free market capitalism, rather it is shock doctrine tactics by people in thrall to a minarchist teenager ideology who seek to impose their juvenile fantasies on the UK, unleashing the full force of hostile globalisation which will likely result in a firesale of public assets.

One could very easily conclude, given the sponsors of various Tory individuals, that this is indeed a disaster capitalist plot with speculators rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of a no deal Brexit. For sure, the Bakers and Patersons of this world might well be dim enough to believe in "fwee twade" but the more cynical forces behind them are just waiting to cash in.

The irony, though, is the shortsightedness of these individuals. Should the warnings in respect of grounded flights and food shortage prove to be accurate, and there is every reason to believe that they are, a conservative government of any stripe is unlikely to win the next election - landing us with the most socialist Labour party since 1945.

The recent revelations about the IEA funding have finally shed some light on this corner of politics, but it prompts us to ask far deeper questions about the entire Tory apparatus - not least the revolving door culture that sees lackeys from Vote Leave landing cosy non-jobs in Elliott's network of sockpuppets. More so the concerted effort to promote shady Shanker Singham as a world trade guru.

While Westley may play the innocent underling what she represents is a corrupt network of old Tory money seeking to exploit the political dysfunction caused by Brexit to further their own commercial agendas.

She may not be fully aware of her role in it, but she is very much an instrument - chosen largely because of her aesthetic qualities and gullibility. That she is the focal point of invective speaks to the cowardice of her bosses who hide from the limelight. She can always cry "misogyny" - which is another reason why cobwebbed Tory lords have taken a shine to PR girlies. They are the must have accessory for any right wing think tank. It may be underhanded, but it sure does work.

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