As much as I can’t stand politics, all the media mayhem over petrol and pasties is so ludicrous that it’s hard not to follow just for pure entertainment. Last week the nation was rocked by three major crisis, a false petrol shortage, an increase in the cost of stamps, and most outrageous–a proposed VAT on pasties (which could possibly lead to a bakers’ march).
All the controversy over pasties doesn’t end there. In fact, it gets better! Never mind the lies that David Cameron told about having a pasty at the West Cornwall Pasty Company. Our trusted friends at the Daily Mail have discovered that the PM indeed sampled some Greggs treats when visiting the bakery last year, but it was in fact a sausage roll, not a pasty. Pastry, pasty, all the same when sold warm – all VATable.
But one question still remains, as I asked before, how warm is warm? I scoured the internet for the most simplified answer and forgive me for quoting the DM twice in one post, but I couldn’t have put it any better. If the pie is hotter than what the ‘ambient temperature’ is in relation to the food,you’ll pay VAT at 20%. “Cold or lukewarm and you grab a bargain, cheat the taxman – and maybe get a free dose of food poisoning.” Well said, Paul Harris!
Truth be told, what this nonsense about pasties and scaring people into hoarding ‘jerry cans’ of spare petrol (I think I even read somewhere that a woman in York suffered 40% burns when pouring petrol into a jug in her kitchen with the gas cooker on) really highlights is how out of touch the current government is with the people. I’m not sure what the Labour lot were trying to prove when they decided to jump on the pasty bandwagon, but to be fair, you can’t fault David Cameron for having a privileged upbringing. He had no say in it, really. But there certainly is a huge gap between Tory politics and what the people need.
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*