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4th May 2012

Are you kidneying me?

In October 2012, the Mayan’s prophecy looks set to be fulfilled. It’s the story of the year- an issue which encapsulates the current struggle for justice and divisions in our society. Something one man, elected to our democratic chamber called “a major issue, not just in Cornwall, but across the country”. Yes, it is the […]

In October 2012, the Mayan’s prophecy looks set to be fulfilled. It’s the story of the year- an issue which encapsulates the current struggle for justice and divisions in our society. Something one man, elected to our democratic chamber called “a major issue, not just in Cornwall, but across the country”. Yes, it is the pasty tax.

Now, just in case you’ve been on an island somewhere, it may be worth briefly explaining. George “Draccy” Osborne announced in his budget, that VAT will now be placed upon “baked goods”. The main issue of contention is what qualifies as a baked good- the legislation proposes it be in comparison to the temperature outside, implying that whether you pay VAT or not depends on the weather outside. Anyway, enough technical crap, let’s get on to the hyperbolic controversy surrounding this issue.

It is rumoured that, in what shall hitherto be referred to as pasty gate, the issue is causing serious divisions within the government. Whilst David Cameron showed his common roots and confessed his love for a good old pasty, George Osborne was a little more reserved, under ferocious cross examination from a Select Committee claiming that he “can’t remember the last time I bought a pasty in Greggs”. A bipartisan, adversarial Cabinet who are able to work together, despite their differences, or signs of in-fighting, lack of consensus and a fractious government?

On hearing that his government was labelled an anti-pasty government, it is rumoured the Prime Minister quipped “alas- it is true, we do love a bit of olives and pepperoncini before supper”. Some have similarly highlighted the difference one letter can make, suggesting that, to avoid the tax, Gregg the Bakers add an ‘n’ to their company name to become Gregg the Bankers.

To those who already weren’t George Osborne’s biggest fan, it has given a new meaning to the calls of “you pasty fucker!”

The general euphoria in the media was just what national newspapers should be covering: Syria; the NHS; meat and potato. And apparently in reverse order of import[liveblog]ance too. The Telegraph ran with  “will Osborne regret being too posh for pasties?”

Now, the real issue here is that government are breaking the working classes (that homogenous group that us non-working folk know everything about) and more specifically, Northerners. The government is intentionally penalising poor people and also eroding the vital cultural heritage of the North. By which of course I mean, as the Motorways do, anything North of Luton. We Southerners do like a freshly shot pigeon pasty now and again, but everyone knows we are Johnny come latelies and will never understand the true importance of a good old pasty.

Never will you hear my MP Glenda Jackson refer to my London constituency, as Mr Gilbert, MP for Newquay and St Austell did, as a “meat and potato pie” constituency.

And we should all back the well known socialist, pioneer of consumer rights and champion of all things just- Ken McMeikan. The chief exec of Greggs said “people will lose their jobs” amongst other deep sympathies with consumers.The former chief exec of Tesco Japan and retail director of Sainsbury’s knows all about small businesses and real struggle. My hero! It’s not like he could just ask the shareholders to  take a small reduction in their massive payout, instead of firing a few employees. It’s the government’s fault, those bastards! Death to the infidel government and praise be to the almighty Mckenzie!

Instead of making a point about how stupid the economy was that people are left unemployed when we tax pasties an extra nineteen pence, some just went “yeah, fuck the po-po!”

Let me put the record straight. This tax embodies nothing. Of all the policy to scrutinise, at a time when the NHS is undergoing major change, why has this got any coverage? I doubt anyone will ever say “well, the history books show- you should never fuck with a man’s pasty”. If anything, it’s much welcomed distraction for the government from other policy.

As any good journalist should do, I undertook a rigorous survey. I went to Greggs and worked out the average price of a pasty- 97p. The average VAT tax paid by a consumer going to Gregg’s is hence 19p. Now, let us assume that, on average, Northerners have 5 pasties a week. This figure may appear arbitrary and even a little excessive, but is obviously empirically grounded and based on solid fact, rather than mere conjecture.

This means, in a year, the average Northerner will spend an extra FIFTY quid on their pasties!

To bring the hard hitting impact home, I thought I’d measure the real cost of this VAT.

The average Waj- 17 bottles of bleach.

For a Yorkshireman (or woman)- 1/6th of a whippet puppy.

For your hipster, or ‘wanker’, – two Orlando Pirates snapbacks.

Average Championship fan- sketchy tattoo

The average Rugby player- an All Saints top

Many may think this exercise has been pointless, with silly assumptions, a small sample size and flawed logic. You are wrong.

The general outrage can be summed up by the Shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who when asked about the pasty tax replied- “You need to make sure you keep your carbohydrates up”. Great.


Ben Moore

Ben Moore

Columnist 2011-2012. 2nd year PPE student at the University of Manchester. Will be writing about pretty much those three letters.London raised, open minded.

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