Jonathan Isaby is the outgoing Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and will shortly take up the role of Editor of BrexitCentral.
Believe it or not, it was way back during the summer of 2011 that I left my post as Co-Editor of ConservativeHome to take up the role of Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance on a mission to further increase the organisation’s influence and clout.
Five years on, and having served as the TPA’s Chief Executive since January 2014, I am proud now to be departing from that role with the voice of the taxpayer being heard louder and clearer than ever before in the quest for less wasteful government spending, lower taxes and greater transparency about how politicians spend our cash.
The TPA’s presence in the media has grown year on year, whether you measure the column inches afforded to it in newspapers, the number of appearances on TV and radio or the reach of its social media channels. Ever since the organisation was founded by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum back in 2004, a high premium has been set on this exposure, which is vital in helping to influence public opinion and set the terms of policy debates.
But while that getting that coverage is incredibly important, arguably the greatest indicator of success for an organisation like the TPA is whether it can actually help effect real policy change. And looking back over these last few years, it is indisputable that the TPA’s influence has been felt in the corridors of power, with ministers changing public policy time and again as a result of the pressure we have exerted.
- Taxpayer subsidies to the unions have been cut with a new Trade Union Act introduced in no small part as a result of the revelations uncovered by original TPA research (the revelations uncovered by original TPA research.
- Fuel Duty has been frozen every year since the launch of our FreezeFuelTax campaign (our FreezeFuelTax campaign).
- Those all too often egregious pay-offs for departing public sector workers have now been capped in law after sustained pressure from us (sustained pressure from us).
- All Alcohol Duty escalators were scrapped after our high-impact campaigns demonstrating how politicians had been hiking the cost of living.
- Councillors have been banned from joining the local government pension scheme after we exposed how thousands of local elected representatives had been cashing in.
- And our doughty defence of the Freedom of Information Act helped force the Government to retreat on its plans to dilute that vital law which allows taxpayers to discover what central and local government is doing with their cash.
And on the back of those and many more achievements, I’m delighted to be handing over the reins of the TaxPayers’ Alliance to the brilliant John O’Connell because I have every confidence that the TPA will continue to go from strength to strength with him at the helm. His seven years’ experience in the organisation, combined with the constant wisdom of our Chairman and Co-Founder, Andrew Allum, along with an incredibly talented staff and the encouragement and support of tens of thousands of people across the country, means that the TPA really could not be in better hands as it deals with the challenges presented by the new government.
John’s most recent article for this site summed up the TPA’s policy prescription for the country in the aftermath of the vote for Brexit at June’s referendum – which leads me nicely to the project on which I am about to embark.
It goes without saying that the EU referendum was an historic moment for our country and our politics. More people voted for the UK to leave the European Union than have ever voted for any proposition or any political party at any election or referendum in British history.
So the establishment of BrexitCentral by the ever entrepreneurial Matthew Elliott, who headed the Vote Leave campaign and now returns to the helm of Business for Britain, is about giving those more than 17.4 million people a voice. As Editor of BrexitCentral, backed up by a vibrant social media presence, I want to provide them with an online home where they can follow developments as they happen while promoting a positive vision of Britain after Brexit. This week’s Spectator leader calls for think tanks, websites and other groups to “make the case for the clear, open version of Brexit that was described, and endorsed, at the referendum”. And that is exactly where BrexitCentral comes in.
The site will be launching in mid-September, but if you sign up now at BrexitCentral.com, you will be sure not to miss anything once we’re up and running. We live in interesting and exciting times, and the process of extricating us from the EU and 43 years of regulation and red tape is going to dominate Theresa May’s in-tray above all other issues. She has said that “Brexit means Brexit” and I am excited about chronicling the twists and turns of events while holding her and her Government to its pledge to follow the instructions of the British people in that momentous referendum. So many of the predictions from the doom-mongers both during and immediately after the referendum are already proving to be false. I look forward to BrexitCentral helping to make the optimistic picture of post-Brexit Britain a reality.