Whenever the local paper wants to run a story about real or alleged "waste" in the public sector - who they gonna call? The Taxpayers Alliance! Frequently you will see stories in the Argus about "taxpayer anger" over this or that supposed piece of public sector excess. In fact, on closer inspection the "taxpayers" in question turn out to be the TPA - the new rentaquotes for lazy journos everywhere.
So it is worth asking what this organisation actually stands for.
A look at their list of prominent supporters gives some clues - a who's who of right-wing free-market thinkers such as Madsen Pirie and Patrick Minford. In fact, for an organisation dedicated to opposing "non-jobs" in the public sector, they boast a fine array of academics who doubtless pull in generous salary packages courtesy of the taxpayer. Their Chairman, Andrew Allum, left the Tory Party in 2003 - because it wasn't free-market enough for him.
The TPA has a simple approach - find extreme examples what might appear to be bad spending decisions (but leave out the context and the fine detail), and a few examples of high pay. And from this extrapolate a bloated public sector, full of "fat cats" and failing to deliver.
Among their favorite targets are so-called "gold-plated" public sector pensions, which they want to dismantle. In fact the average local government pension, to which workers contribute all of their working lives, amounts to a more nickel than gold £4000 pa. These pensions are paid to such "fat cats" as street cleaners, teaching assistants and school cooks.
Strangely they have little to say about the huge taxpayer-funded bailout to the big banks - now estimated at £3000 per household. But they want to cut taxes -especially for the rich - and they want to cut the public sector - the services that you and I rely on.
So next time you see The Taxpayers Alliance in print, have a look under the veneer........