Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Osborne's Pasty Tax Crumbles!

Pasties: Osborne's favourite. For Clegg, quiche.
Chancellor George Osborne has reversed his half-baked plan to extend VAT on Cornish pasties.  As long as they’ve been put on a tray and allowed to cool, they’ll be exempt from the 20% hike. The climb-down’s been portrayed as a resounding victory for protesters across Cornwall. 

Lib Dem MP for St Austell and Newquay Stephen Gilbert, who’d opposed the tax, said: "The strength of feeling from local people has been clear since these proposals were announced.  Plans to increase VAT would be unfair, unenforceable and cost jobs.”

Gilbert was on the right lines but the real issue wasn’t the genuine Cornish pasty, threats to the Duchy’s businesses or local protest.  Greggs, the UK’s largest bakery chain with 1,400 shops and thousands of employees nationwide, had lobbied the government for a U-turn.  Following Osborne’s announcement in March, some £30 million had been wiped off Greggs' shares; the giant manufactures various hot snack items. News of the Chancellor’s retreat immediately increased the share price by 9%.

"Yum yum!"
Osborne's recently claimed to adore pasties and apparently eats several every day.  But though his surrender helps Cornwall’s bakers, it's also encouraged Greggs to continue peddling a curious, vile-sounding product.  The company’s website describes their creation as a Cornish pasty, and reveals its grim ingredients: “Chunks of steak and minced beef with potato, onion, carrots and peas, lightly seasoned and enclosed in a puff pastry case.”  No Cornish person would ever eat such a freakish object. 

Osborne’s hike, the anti campaign in response and final humiliating defeat for the Chancellor are a microcosm of this terrible government’s blundering policies.  For a time though, the Coalition was at least able to use the Great Pasty Outcry as a handy distraction.  Now perhaps effort can be put into even more important issues.   

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