Take VAT and astroturf

I wonder: is Take VAT simply an astroturf operation?

Wander through the points with me.

OK, so there\’s been a successful real grass roots (however misguided I think they are) group called UKuncut.

Then up pops this Take VAT lot, using the same tactics. OK, so far, so what?

But their first target is that VAT should be charged on air fares.

Spokesperson for TakeVAT London said:

“It is simply unfair that aviation pays no VAT. Why should one of the dirtiest and noisiest industries in the world get away scot-free when ordinary people are charged VAT on basic necessities like toilet rolls?”

Spokesperson for TakeVAT Leeds, University of Leeds student Joseph Blake said:

“As the government imposes austerity measures on hard working families across the UK, the aviation industry gets away with £9 billion a year in VAT tax exemptions. We took action today in solidarity with the London protests and to demand the government put people first, and not climate criminals like the aviation industry”.

Their press release goes straight to Plane Stupid of course.

Hmm. So, not much to see there then.

Except, however, umm, the European Union is making noises about imposing VAT on air fares:

NEW plans to impose VAT on all flights from British and European Union airports could increase the cost of air travel by a fifth.

Currently all air and sea travel is exempt from VAT within the EU but a green paper, published last month, has recommended VAT be levied on all air and sea transport.

If proposals are given the green light, it would make air travel more expensive for passengers, who are already subject to Air Passenger Duty.

The proposal, which is now being considered by the European Commission, could see the cost of flights, ferry tickets and cruises increase by up to 20 per cent.

It would just be terribly convenient if one of these new Twitter Power movements were to spontaneously, without any form of guidance at all, start screaming at airports for something which the European Union is already minded to do, wouldn\’t it?

On an entirely unrelated point, you do know that some half of all of Friends of the Earth Europe\’s money comes from the European Union, don\’t you?

There are days when I wonder myself whether I\’m too paranoid. There are others when I  worry that I\’m not paranoid enough.

5 comments on “Take VAT and astroturf

  1. Probably about the right degree of paranoia, I think.

    On a related topic, it is quite possible that the drive to prevent any increase in airport capacity is driven by the shareholders in existing airlines, half of whose value consists of the scarcity value of landing slots at UK airports. They just dress it up with Greenie-ism and NIMBYism because that’s an easier sell.

  2. It is merely coincidence. Honest, mate.

    Although as somebody once said “Just because you are paranoid, it doen’t mean they aren’t out to get you”

    It looks like fiscal policy is such a simple matter, it can be decided by popular protest. The key seems to be knowing even less about the subject than I do.

  3. “On an entirely unrelated point, you do know that some half of all of Friends of the Earth Europe’s money comes from the European Union, don’t you?”

    Tim: It is decidedly NOT an unrelated point, though I sort of kinda guess you don’t think it’s unrelated, either. Fakecharities.org has only just resurrected itself and has yet to get on to environmental “charities”. I suggest you and your readers keep watching that space. In the meantime, keep in mind Guido’s great comment on charities which exist on sucking at the taxpayer’s teat: “A charity that relies in the main part on taxes is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend.” (http://order-order.com/2011/02/08/big-society-v-big-government/)

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