Troubled Nation: Petrol, Stamps, Pasties

This week the nation braced itself for a false fuel-shortage due to rumours of tanker drivers going on strike.  Panic-buying ended up causing traffic jams and fights among those queuing for petrol.  Around the same time came the announcement that there would be a 30% rise in the cost of first-class stamps, from 46p to 60p, as well as a 39% rise for second-class, from 30 April.  As a letter writer, I have one word for that. Rubbish! And then came the triple whammy of a proposed 20% VAT on hot takeaway food items, where the debate on the tax somehow catapulted into a ‘Pastygate’ scandal.

Does it matter if George Osborne can’t remember the last time he had a Cornish pasty or whether or not David Cameron has ever eaten one?  On the surface, the obvious answer to these questions is ‘of course not’!  But it does matter that Cameron blatantly lied to the country about having one, further adding to the ludicrous debates centering on the humble meat pie.  Oh, the lies!

I’m not going to sit here and make false claims about how much I love a Cornish pasty.  Don’t get me wrong, they do make for a tasty snack.  Truth is, the last pasty I had was ages ago in Canterbury from the West Cornwall Pasty Co.  Piping hot. Premium quality.  Ah, but what if I get one now and it’s only lukewarm? Is that lukewarm pasty VAT-able? According to the new change, “all food (with the exception of freshly baked bread) that is above ambient temperature when provided to the customer is standard [VAT]-rated”.

Confused? I am!  What if I buy the pasty cold and have them heat it for me after I’ve purchased it? Does that help me work around the new tax? All joking aside,  I am in strong opposition to such taxes, as it affects a lot of hardworking people struggling to put bread on the table.  That is the underlying point of all these debates right?  Yet the Conservative crew seem to have turned it into a (failed) PR stunt and now the nation seems to be more frustrated than ever.  I pray this doesn’t spell riots, although I wouldn’t be surprised if this all led up to future premise for some version of the Hunger Games.  *Shudder*

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