Join 3,427 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Jumping the pond
May 13, 2011 4:41 AM   Subscribe

Dozens of concerned citizens will march on London this weekend to protest high taxation and government debt. Sound familiar? The rally is the first sign of what The Guardian terms "a radical Tea Party-style mass movement" in the UK. Organisers The Taxpayers' Alliance have previously been linked to the US-based Freedom Works.
posted by londonmark (49 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
They're already in power. What more do they want?
posted by Leon at 4:43 AM on May 13, 2011


They're already in power. What more do they want?

"Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son! Come with me. It is the only way."
posted by Fizz at 4:46 AM on May 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


There's still power out there they don't have. That's what they want.
posted by absalom at 4:47 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dozens?

I don't think you'll get much of a sign-waving, shouting tea party over here. Politics is just something we grumble about in private, mostly. Anyway we all drink tea so the name wouldn't make any sense.
posted by memebake at 4:48 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure Rupert Murdoch's massive UK media holdings won't help this movement out at all.
posted by MasonDixon at 4:49 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like a zerg creep that keeps spreading and spreading.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:52 AM on May 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a surprise that when essentially selfish people get an inch they'll try to take a mile?
posted by aught at 4:54 AM on May 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Having rtfa, it looks like both the Taxpayers Alliance and the Guardian are invoking the tenuous Tea Party comparison to try and make this into a much more interesting story that it really is. A curious gambit by both sides.
posted by memebake at 4:55 AM on May 13, 2011


Dozens?

I don't think you'll get much of a sign-waving, shouting tea party over here. Politics is just something we grumble about in private, mostly. Anyway we all drink tea so the name wouldn't make any sense.



Well yes, I had my tongue firmly in my cheek when I wrote that. I don't think they're expecting a massive turnout this weekend. But I do think the movement, whatever name they choose, is a concern. The message is very appealing to people on low incomes who could easily be conned into thinking this was about their standard of living, not the profit margin of large corporations.
posted by londonmark at 4:56 AM on May 13, 2011


Interesting to see how this sort of astroturfing will go in a Parliamentary system like the UK's where the dialog isn't totally controlled by two parties. I'm sure the guiding hands are petrified that the BNP is going to embrace this and make it look distasteful to normal people. Murdoch's papers would downplay that, but the other papers would love to emphasize it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:56 AM on May 13, 2011


memebake: Having rtfa, it looks like both the Taxpayers Alliance and the Guardian are invoking the tenuous Tea Party comparison to try and make this into a much more interesting story that it really is.

ORLY? From the Guardian article:
Libertarian US Tea Party organisations attended a conference in London today to share tactics with British and European taxpayer lobby groups, and described their activities as "an insurgent campaign" against their government's tax and spending policies...

...Americans for Prosperity, another Tea Party group which claims to have 1.5m activists and is headed by oil billionaire David Koch, was also represented at the London conference, and helped fund it...

...Other leading US rightwing thinktanks that financed the conference include the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
Sounds pretty cut and dry unless you think the info is fabricated.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:01 AM on May 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


I find the name annoying. I propose a change to 'A Miniscule Number of Rightwing Taxpayers' Alliance'

On top of that, surely they should throw their weight behind UK Uncut and similar attempts to stop corporations evading tax (thus raising the burden for us individual taxpayers)?

To be honest Mayor Curley, I don't think there's much scope for the BNP in this - for the moment they're a spent force (literally, as they're massively in debt). However, there is an appetite in certain quarters for a bit of right wing populism. Just recently there was a bizarre period in which the Daily Star appeared to be actively supporting the EDL. Incidentally, there were tenuous attempts to create links between the EDL and at least some elements in Tea Party groups.
posted by spectrevsrector at 5:11 AM on May 13, 2011


Anti-tax activists are most definitely not in power, not anywhere afaik, that's kinda an oxymoron even.

Anyone who actually gained power running on any tax reduction platform favors simply less progressive taxation, usually implemented by initially reducing taxes for the rich while reducing services for the poor, and later raising taxes across the board for their own projects.

In fact, we encounter the quasi-paradoxical effect that anti-tax activists elect representatives that delegitimize the taxes, by cutting services used by taxpayers and instead giving more money to the wealthy.

At minimum, tax reduction requires separating the elected officials that determine the tax rate from the elected officials that spend the money, but (a) you cannot be sure that'll work and (b) going much further yields referenda abolishing taxes, ala Colorado.

There is only one legal & effective way to stop paying your taxes : Find some country who's taxation scheme you consider acceptable, and move there.*

* Please note, Americans living abroad must still pay U.S. taxes after the first $80k.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:12 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It has urged its 55,000 supporters to turn out, citing three reasons: the "immorality" of living beyond our means and passing on debt to the next generation; taxes should pay for services, not debt interest; and UK taxpayers should not have to pay for bailouts of failing eurozone countries.

Well the first item is a pretty partisan, but the other two are maybe not so controversial.

Are UK lefties in favor using UK taxpayer money to pay bond holders over NHS workers? Or using UK taxpayer money to bail out bond holders of Spanish, Greek, and Irish debt? Is any of this popular among British liberals?
posted by three blind mice at 5:14 AM on May 13, 2011


Are UK lefties in favor using UK taxpayer money to pay bond holders over NHS workers? Or using UK taxpayer money to bail out bond holders of Spanish, Greek, and Irish debt? Is any of this popular among British liberals?

I'm not sure what the first one means. I don't think anyone really likes having to bail out Euro countries, particularly when we're not even in the currency block. But this kind of rhetoric makes me unconfortable because, ultimately, I prefer a state that offers a fair level of support to its citizens over one that cuts back on spending and leaves the vulnerable to fend for themselves. If Greece and Portugal don't get the financial support they need, who do you think will suffer?
posted by londonmark at 5:22 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


...ultimately, I prefer a state that offers a fair level of support to its citizens over one that cuts back on spending and leaves the vulnerable to fend for themselves.
Then you had better beware of these fledgeling (and extremely well-funded, promoted and organized) groups, because that latter system you describe is exactly the system they are working to create.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:32 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, tell me something I don't know :(
posted by londonmark at 5:35 AM on May 13, 2011


I'm not sure what the first one means.

The second point of the protest: "taxes should pay for services, not debt interest;" Do UK voters (left of center) support paying debt service (bond holders) over NHS workers (services)?

If Greece and Portugal don't get the financial support they need, who do you think will suffer?

And if they do who will suffer? It is not as though Her Majesty's Government has lots of extra cash laying around. If Greece and Portugal are to be rescued using UK funds, does this not put even greater pressure on UK budgets? Do UK voters left of center support bailing out Greece and Portugal even if it means reduced services in the UK?

I'm guessing the latter two points of protest there is perhaps rather broad public support for.
posted by three blind mice at 5:40 AM on May 13, 2011


They appear to have enough spare cash to completely restructure the NHS and educational system.
posted by Grangousier at 5:49 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mayor Curley: ... Sounds pretty cut and dry unless you think the info is fabricated.

Oh, I don't doubt that they met up or went to the same conference or whatever. But just the way the article is written, it seems like both sides are name-dropping the Tea Party for P.R reasons - the Taxpayers Alliance to get publicity, and the Guardian to whip up some outrage.
posted by memebake at 6:12 AM on May 13, 2011


If Greece and Portugal are to be rescued using UK funds, does this not put even greater pressure on UK budgets? Do UK voters left of center support bailing out Greece and Portugal even if it means reduced services in the UK?

I can't pretend to speak for the entire political left of the UK, but personally, I reject this kind of rhetoric for two reasons.

Firstly, the binary scenario you paint whereby one country's social services must suffer to the benefit of the other, isn't the extent of our real-world choices (even if, in practice, that's what's going to happen). There are many ways for our government to find that money without sacking nurses and teachers. So when I see our government bailing out Greece, or Portugal, or whoever, the question I'm asking is not "why are we doing this?" but "why are you cutting public services to do so?"

Secondly, it implies right-wing movements like the Taxpayers' Alliance are quite reasonable champions of UK social services, not the the greedy, nihilist Randians they really are. The people who would benefit from their calls for lower taxation and lower public spending are not the same ones that are currently suffering from the public sector squeeze. Where was the Taxpayers' Alliance when we bailed out the banks, and why aren't they now screaming for that money to be repaid?
posted by londonmark at 6:20 AM on May 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Ugh, I hate that they are called "The Taxpayers' Alliance", as if they are acting on behalf of all taxpayers. Fuck off.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:26 AM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's the Rich Tea Party!
posted by criticalbill at 6:27 AM on May 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Leaving aside the issue of debt for a moment, what I don't understand about people who want to cut both taxes and public services is that if services are cut, they suffer too.

They'll have to pay for their own healthcare. They'll have to pay for extra security to keep out the ravenous poor. They'll have to pay extra for housing because a lack of social housing and an unregulated market has helped push house prices up to obscene levels (oops, already happened). They'll have to pay much, much more to put their kids through higher education (errr).

Why not have higher taxes so everyone gets a better deal on the whole thing through collective buying power? From a purely selfish perspective, it makes sense.
posted by Summer at 6:30 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ugh, I hate that they are called "The Taxpayers' Alliance", as if they are acting on behalf of all taxpayers. Fuck off.

I also hate the implication that the recipients of public money are not tax payers. This kind of divide and rule has been the overarching strategy of the Tories. Class war.
posted by Summer at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a surprise that when essentially selfish people get an inch they'll try to take a mile?

No, they have miles and are trying to get inches.

Maybe I'm too conspiracy-minded, but this smells to me like someone saying, "If it happened elsewhere, it would look less crazy here. Hmm, where can we make it happen elsewhere?"
posted by Legomancer at 6:40 AM on May 13, 2011


Secondly, it implies right-wing movements like the Taxpayers' Alliance are quite reasonable champions of UK social services, not the the greedy, nihilist Randians they really are.

Well that's the point isn't it? You have to "imply" something to find a reason to oppose it - and then do some pejorative name-calling - but the plain language of two of the three stated reasons for the protest seems hardly controversial:

taxes should pay for services, not debt interest;

and UK taxpayers should not have to pay for bailouts of failing eurozone countries.


It really is an American Tea Party when hysteria is being used to obscure the fact that there is probably broad appeal to some of the things the Taxpayers Alliance wishes to achieve.
posted by three blind mice at 6:46 AM on May 13, 2011


It really is an American Tea Party when hysteria is being used to obscure the fact that there is probably broad appeal to some of the things the Taxpayers Alliance wishes to achieve.

And it really is an American Tea Party when your average punter can swallow their rhetoric blindly without questioning the purpose of the organisation.
posted by londonmark at 6:53 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, a real live international capitalist political conspiracy! And to think, people said it was just our imagination.
posted by clockzero at 8:12 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the Metropolitan Police will apply their infamous "kettling" tactics against these protesters. Especially considering that these people are basically asking that public employees, such as police constables, be fired or at least have their salaries drastically cut.
posted by Skeptic at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


A couple of interesting snippets fyi:

"[After HMRC overruled its own inspectors and allowed Vodaphone to avoid a £6 billion tax bill] far from being outraged, the TPA condemned as "morally disturbing and practically dangerous" campaigners who picketed Vodaphone stores in protest."

"When George Osborne announced his bank levy, the TPA urged its supporters to read a furious attack by CityAM's editor, Alistair Heath, on the heretical notion that bankers must pay more towards cleaning up the mess they made. Alistair Heath is the son of Alexander Heath, [who is] a director of the TPA, even though he lives in a farm in the Loire and hasn't paid tax for years."

Private Eye 1284 18-31 March 2011
posted by marienbad at 8:51 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Taxpayers' Alliance have been greatly over-represented in the media so far because they provide a cheap rent-a-quote service to lazy journos.

I say this not because I am being cynical but because I have friends in the industry, and have had described to me the moment when you think "Today has been a crap day, and I have umpteen deadlines to meet. Today, I really cannot be bothered to call up half-a-dozen organisations to see what they think about this thing the government has done. Fuck it, I'll just call the Taxpayers' Alliance, they hate everything."

They have a small team of highly articulate 'spokespeople' who are very adept at coming up with the million-billionth rephrasing of "We are outraged at @ThingGovernmentHasDone, and deplore this waste of taxpayers' hard-earned money". You quote them, then you quote a government spokesperson saying "This thing we have done is a very good thing indeed", and you can turn your story in before lunch.

As a result, because of a thousand tiny, easily-excusable moments of weakness, they have gradually been accorded a level of influence that is vastly disproportionate to their actual level of support. They are not a 'mass movement', they are a think tank without the academic credentials, staffed by a handful of twats. And yet I suspect that their pitiful excuse for a march (literally dozens of participants! The people are speaking up at last!) will be covered in almost as much depth and with substantially more sympathy than the genuine mass march we had on March 26th, when half a million people from all walks of life came out. Fuck them, and fuck the hacks who can't distinguish between a good story and accurate reporting.
posted by Acheman at 9:07 AM on May 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Foci for Analysis: "It's like a zerg creep that keeps spreading and spreading."

BURN IT BEFORE IT SPREADS!!!!!!!!!!
posted by symbioid at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2011


Oh fuck, and Palin is... Sarah??? OH SHIT OH SHIT
posted by symbioid at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2011


I just want to say that the Taxpayer's Alliance make me want to become one of the soap-dodging scrounging benefit-cheat layabouts you hear about in the Daily Mail. Where can I sign up? I already like the Jeremy Kyle show and crisps and our house has a big telly, which is what the Mail tell me they all have now, so I should fit right in with all those unemployed people scabrously wasting their £46.20 per week on CIGARETTES and ACTUAL FOOD.

FFS, my mother pays tax on her government pension. That's a state benefit.
posted by mippy at 9:38 AM on May 13, 2011


Wait.

England's Prime Minister is black?
posted by mmrtnt at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


England doesn't have a Prime Minister. The United Kingdom does.

Unless there's a renegade one I don't know about. Who may very well be black.
posted by mippy at 10:07 AM on May 13, 2011


Wait.

The Prime Minister of the UK is British?
posted by mmrtnt at 10:12 AM on May 13, 2011


I wonder if the Metropolitan Police will apply their infamous "kettling" tactics against these protesters.

Maybe one of those little mini travel-kettles. Or more of a USB-powered cup warmer.

This demonstration will be numbered in the hundreds, and a good number of the demonstrators will be people who aren't genuine protestors, in the sense that being swivel-eyed, monomaniacal cockwits is actually what they do for a living.

It tells you something when TobyfuckingYoung will be one of the speakers and will probably be one of the least dislikeable people there.

I worry that gathering all of these people in one place will actually lead to a density of awfulness which will collapse in on itself, rendering Westminster permanently unhabitable because of the black hole of mendacious self-serving whining at the heart of it, gradually sucking in everything that is worthwhile, decent and good.
posted by reynir at 11:09 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The American right is a cancer. I see one of the Scandanavian-based cells is back in action, too.
posted by rodgerd at 11:33 AM on May 13, 2011


think tank without the academic credentials

I don't know how it works in the UK, but in the US, it's the norm for think tanks not to have academic credentials. In fact, the very earliest think tanks in the US were explicitly established by wealthy industrialists to serve as an "intellectual" counterpoint to the rampant "collectivism" some believed could be found in the US university system.

posted by saulgoodman at 12:48 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"England doesn't have a Prime Minister. The United Kingdom does.
Unless there's a renegade one I don't know about. Who may very well be black."
posted by mippy

There's a renegade black prime-minister? That would probably be This Guy.
posted by marienbad at 12:50 PM on May 13, 2011


And yet I suspect that their pitiful excuse for a march (literally dozens of participants! The people are speaking up at last!) will be covered in almost as much depth and with substantially more sympathy than the genuine mass march we had on March 26th, when half a million people from all walks of life came out.
Indeed. Also didn't see much coverage of the march on the 11th by the 'Hardest Hit' - disabled people who'll be feeling the brunt of many of these cuts. Historic in its own terms for the numbers of disabled people involved and a better turn-out than the TPA will manage I expect.
posted by Abiezer at 1:01 PM on May 13, 2011


Commentary on the Tea Party [PDF] from Bob Altemeyer, author of The Authoritarians.
posted by odinsdream at 2:00 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also didn't see much coverage of the march on the 11th by the 'Hardest Hit'

I complained to the BBC about the editorial decisions on the News website on 11th. The march was about 3/4 down the page (i.e. you'd have to scroll to get to it), in small print, under 'Politics'.

Top half of the page, with pictures, in much bigger print - where will William and Kate go on holiday, some other trivial bollocks, and also in bigger print, an article about the invention of a golf ball that will go straight.

If the BBC want to become Channel 5 news then fine. I wish they'd tell us though, so those of us who argue that it's an institution that's worth defending can give up and take up darts or something instead..
posted by reynir at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2011


I hope the SWP try to vanguard this movement. That'ld be awesome to see.
posted by Jehan at 6:35 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Rally against debt' activists call for more cuts in Westminster protest:
It was never going to rally the nation, but the pro-cuts demonstration outside parliament did manage to attract about 350 people, who carried placards demanding more spending cuts and cheered the burning of an EU flag.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2011


the pro-cuts demonstration outside parliament did manage to attract about 350 people

Dear organisers: it's hard to still claim that you speak for the silent majority when almost a hundred times more people have climbed Mount Everest than turned up out of a population of 55 million for your rally in London today. But better luck next time - just think, if you each bring all of your friends, you might - maybe - break 370.
posted by reynir at 12:31 PM on May 14, 2011


You Brits give good thread! I laughed more than in most US-centric threads. But maybe it's easier to laugh at the Tea Party when they're so far away...
posted by sneebler at 7:33 PM on May 14, 2011


« Older Holy mama, a new clade. (via)...  |  British "super-injunctions" go... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments