by James Middleton, TPA intern
Socialism is on the rise. From Plymouth to Orkney, young people clamour for greater state intervention in their lives, higher taxes and even higher spending. Capitalism, we are expected to believe, is a stale economic model, well past its expiry date. Free marketeers are derided as (at best) delusional zealots or (at worst, and more commonly) malicious, money-grubbing parasites looking to enrich themselves from the suffering of those less fortunate.
Against this backdrop it escapes most people why, as the 21 year-old product of a dilapidated council estate in an unfashionable part of the Midlands, I should want to associate myself with the TaxPayer’s Alliance. The TPA, I have heard, is a menacing clique of predatory capitalists who pour poison in the ears of Ministers, seeking to drain money from public services and make the poor worse off.
The error in this line of thinking, other than its obvious paranoia, is that it doesn’t accord at all with reality. One of the TPA’s principle lines of work is in fighting back against unnecessary, punitive or bizarre taxes that take money away from people like me. TPA campaigns have secured freezes on fuel tax and increases in the personal tax allowance, both of which are hugely significant results for people on low incomes, who don’t have the money to waste on the government’s latest fashionable projects or inane local authority schemes.
This is the other side of the TPA coin, and perhaps the one for which they are most widely known. The surest way to minimise the tax burden on lower-income families is to ensure that local councils make efficient use of the resources they have, which they often fail to do in spectacular fashion. Whether that’s councils throwing £4.5 million away on chauffeurs for town mayors or, in the case of Glasgow, a single council burning through half a million pounds on lavish awards ceremonies where honours are presented to… themselves.
I have relied on public services and the welfare state for much of my life. I do not know where I would be today without them, but I do know that I would be more secure in my personal finances if I was paying for a smaller state. The knock-on effect of public sector profligacy, whether in Whitehall or the town hall, has an impact on all our lives. But as always, the poorest find themselves squeezed hardest. I believe that’s wrong, but I also believe it’s fixable and we already know how to set about fixing it. That’s what I think the TPA is all about.
A Britain where people are more freely able to manage, spend or invest their own money as they see fit is a Britain in which more doors are opened, with more opportunities available to those at all points on the economic spectrum. That is the Britain in which I want to live, and that is why I support the work of the TPA.