Tea Party comes to London

The European Resource Bank – Europe’s largest annual meeting of free-market think tanks – convenes in London tomorrow. It is hosted by the Taxpayers Alliance (TPA), an organisation whose claims to represent ordinary taxpayers are somewhat undermined by the opulent manner in which the meeting will be carried out. Tonight is launch night, marked by

“a champagne reception at a fantastic penthouse apartment overlooking central London.”

This is all possible because the event is funded by wealthy American anti-tax lobbyists, supporters of the ascendent Tea Party movement.

Lobby groups sponsoring the event include the Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity, both of which are funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. The Heritage Foundation, Ronald Reagan’s favourite think-tank, is also a prominent backer. Unsuprisingly, speakers include the likes of Arthur Laffer, a key economic adviser to Reagan in the 1980s.

The Tea Party is increasingly gaining a reputation as a bigoted organisation. Its Washington rally at the end of last month was headed by controversial Fox News host Glenn Beck, who has previously accused Obama of harbouring “a deep-seated hatred for white people”.

This Newsnight documentary exposed the place of racism in the movement, which is thought to partly explain its growing success in America. Analysis of the Tea Party’s demographic has found the often populist rhetoric of the organisation is not backed up in fact: the typical member tends to be a ‘white, Republican, older male with money.’

These links with the far-right, libertarian, and socially conservative Tea Party movement provide telling clues to the true ideological identity of the Taxpayers Alliance, for those who were still seeking confirmation of it. The organisation is occasionally quoted in the press as if it were a politically neutral organisation, something the BBC has been criticised for.

Most recently, various newspapers have taken up the TPA findings that some union activity is funded by the public purse. The TPA should not be treated as an impartial source of evidence. As the Trade Union Congress’s blog points out, their figures are misleadingly distorted:

“[the TPA] will gladly tell you that the cost of union facility time to Hammersmith and Fulham Council is just short of £200,000 per year – but won’t mention that this represents an incredibly small proportion of that local authority’s total expenditure, which annually is in the region of £180 million.”

The TPA have also been attacked recently for themselves wasting ‘millions‘ of taxpayers’ money, as a result of their numerous ‘spurious’ public enquiries.

The event will be seen as an opportunity for a vital boon by the nascent British Tea Party group. Since Daniel Hannan launched the party in February, to mild encouragement from the right, they have held a few events across the country, but have failed to mature as a serious political pressure group. Their most high-profile event so far was the torturously-named Devon Cream TEA Party fringe event at the UKIP conference.

So there’s no need yet for a British version of the Coffee Party – the Facebook-started American progressive group which has sprung up in opposition to their fiscally conservative rivals.

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23 Responses to “Tea Party comes to London”

  1. Andrew Tindall

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  2. Andy Sutherland

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  3. David Skelton

    The last thing we need is a UK version of the ‘tea party’ movement.

    I blogged about their UK ‘launch’ here:

    http://www.platform10.org/2010/02/a-british-tea-party-movement-is-the-last-thing-british-politics-needs/

  4. Panuwat

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  5. Sophie Woolley

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  6. Confused

    “These links with the far-right, libertarian, and socially conservative Tea Party movement…” How can you be both socially conservative and libertarian? They’re literally completely different.

  7. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  8. Cal Russell-Thompson

    Because we didn't have enough ad hominem tax arguments from the ERB already RT @leftfootfwd Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  9. Chris

    @Confused

    “How can you be both socially conservative and libertarian? They’re literally completely different.”

    In theory, but in the warped minds of the mental people that attend tea parties political theory doesn’t apply.

  10. Little miss Gobby

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  11. Kristofer Keane

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  12. MS

    Tea Party comes to London | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/aLoUOl – Freedom!

  13. Lox

    Chris, your comment is patronising and complacent. Pretty typical of a lot of Left Foot Forward correspondence, then. In your worldview, it’s an absolute given that if you think the state has excessive control over your money (and hence your labour and your time) then you must be at least socially consrvative, if not a homophobic racist. Some Tea Party-ites might be, of course: just as a lot of Labour/Tory/LibDems might be. The fact is that a lot of people involved in the Tea Party movement think that the state should have minimal interference in the lives of individuals-whether that’s curtailing their sexuality, their ethnic identity, or their right to allocate the products of their labour in the way they choose. Perhaps one day you might grow up and see the logic of that position. Perhaps. Incidentally, this has nothing to do with political theory. Most popular movements don’t: they arise from the perception of injustice on the part of power.

  14. Mr. Sensible

    1 of the things that struck me was when the Tea Party in America held their rally near a monument to Martin Luther King.

  15. Lox

    Hello Mr Sensible, what was so striking about that?

  16. Mike

    tax avoidance alliance

  17. Gerry

    The same Tax payers Alliance who refused to condem Eric Pickles new specially adapted £70,000 Ministerial jag
    because he was speaking on their platform at Tory Party conference

  18. NJKeating

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/aLoUOl

  19. Simon Sayer

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

  20. LaurieT333

    Tea Party comes to London | Left Foot Forward: The European Resource Bank – Europe's largest annual… http://bit.ly/cRD7u6 #tcot #p2 #tlot

  21. Army Mom

    Tea Party comes to London | Left Foot Forward: The European Resource Bank – Europe's largest annual… http://bit.ly/bLRCmC #tcot #p2 #tlot

  22. Stephen W

    The entire article is an attempt to slander by association. It’s a disgraceful character assasination. You accuse the tea party of being evil, with barely a scrap of evidence, and then imply that because the TPA share some views with them they must also be evil. Guilt by association and stereotype. Now we all knew that the “evidence based blogging” was rubbish but this is a new low of throwing any pretension at “evidence based” at the window.

  23. ellispritchard

    RT @leftfootfwd: New post: Tea Party comes to London http://bit.ly/dALQ2g

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