- Tucked away in a dark corner of George Osborne’s budget was a plan to impose VAT on hot takeaway foods that were previously untaxed.
- At first glance, the change is not especially controversial. It does seem odd that VAT is charged on a takeaway curry, for example, but not on a hot pasty bought from Greggs.
But it turns out an affordable pasty is something the working classes and the squeezed middle are simply not prepared to give up without a fight.
- An MP on the Treasury select committee tried to prove how out of touch millionaire George Osborne is by asking him if he could remember the last time he’d had a Greggs pasty. He looked like he'd never even heard of Greggs.
- The newspapers had a field day, in particular the Sun which likened Osborne to Marie Antoinette. ‘Let them eat pasties!’ was how they summed up his attitude to the proles.
One of the best lines came from Judith Woods in the Telegraph:
“Osborne, who has a £3 million house in Notting Hill and owns shares in the family’s upmarket fabric and wallpaper firm, Osborne & Little, isn’t short of a bob or two – rumour has it, he once tried to pay on the Tube with a real oyster – which renders him remote to begin with.”
Cameron tried to take the heat out of the row by claiming he is as normal as the next pasty eating denizen of Cornwall.
- Unfortunately, his memory was as flakey as filo. The outlet he claimed to have purchased said pasty from closed in 2007. And as @TheMediaTweets asked, is this really the kind of man who's likely to have enjoyed a rugged Cornish pasty?
- The government’s embarrassment gave Eds Miliband and Balls an open goal at which to aim. Here they are, enjoying a sausage roll from Greggs. Ed B seems a lot more comfortable in that environment than Ed M. Make of that what you will.
- Soon there was a Facebook group called Say No to the Pasty Tax, and Twitter went into overdrive. Some pointed out that small businesses will suffer from this.
- Some questioned whether the new rule would be enforceable.
- Some (presumably skinny) people were mighty unimpressed at the hoopla.
- Others made a serious political point.
- But in the main the ‘pasty tax’ provided an excuse for some jokes.