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Let them eat cold pasties…

We really are supremely fucked. They (by which I mean Gideon, obviously) are putting VAT on pasties. Are we not cunticulated enough? Apparently (and this is weird) there is hell on about this in the South West of England despite the people who are really going to take a hit from this are Greggs who are from the North East. I do mean it is bizarre because the whole “above ambient temperature” clearly means If I buy a Cornish pasty in Stockport (which is the sort of thing I might do) then clearly it has had much time to cool down en-route from Cornwall. I know this because when I was a kid my parents rented a VW camper van for a holiday in Cornwall. It broke down, and when I say broke down I mean there was fire coming out of the engine at the back. I was the one who told my Dad who was driving – I don’t think I ever saw him more concerned – I mean the engine on fire is never a good sign. The AA took us home and lorks that was a grim ordeal. I mean if you live in Gateshead (as I did) breaking down three miles from Land’s End is double-plus ungood.

Anyway, enough of my woes from a quarter of a century back. I am quite recovered from it. But on another holiday up in the Lake District we stop at Tebay services and I (I ought to be shot) buy a Ginsters pasty. I only managed to grockle myself fully and feel human again by the M60. Terrible guts. For most of the M6 I would have kissed the hand of any humanitarian with a gun who offered to shoot me. And that dear readers is what Gideon wants to put Value Added Tax on as though it was a luxury. A pasty is hardly a luxury item like a Gucci handbag, it’s usually a grimnacious ordeal. I think that is why people are up in arms over the pasty tax. VAT started as a tax on luxuries and inevitably wound-up being a tax on almost everything in much the same way income tax was a temporary measure to beat Boney. Oh, and didn’t VAT start at like 8% or something. It’s now 20% but not on “life’s necessities” such as children’s clothes. Well, I’m not a child but I suspect if I wandered the streets stark bollock naked at the age of 38 I’d rapidly be scrobbled by the rozzers for some public order offense. Especially if I were also eating an untaxed pasty.

Let’s call a spade a spade here. They have taxed everything because they are broke. A few weeks ago I got a new sofa. Now there was an unexpected dividend. Before hiring a man with a van to fetch the new and take the old to the tip (that was taxed!) I slit it and 8 quid fell out. That is what Gideon is doing. The gubbermunt is so broke it is taxing pasties in a demented attempt to make ends meet.

And for what? The NHS? Welfare? No… I’m with Mark Wadsworth here. Mark is a chartered accountant so when he figures things on the back of his “magic fag packet” he is worth listening to. His point is that we are in the financial shit not because of the big-ticket items but the huge number of little things and the waste and chronic overspend on those little things.

Here is an example. I come from the Western Gateshead commuter belt. As a result of John Prescott’s ten year transport plan they built a new bus stop. This was epically top-down and therefore located on the grounds of Ryton Rugby Club. I know what they were thinking. On the road west out of Blaydon there are essentially two “villages”, Ryton and Crawcrook. I say “villages” with the quotes because they are essentially dormitory towns for Newcastle and I guess Gateshead. So, they build a transport hub (multi-modal transport was in fashion) at the epicentre of Ryton/Crawcrook. The thing is whilst it is at the centre of the two “villages” it isn’t actually that local for anyone in particular. The idea was that this hub would be fed by bikes and taxis. This of course flew in the face of reality. Public transport is a pain anyway but public transport with a change is an epic pain which is of course why people tend to spend lots of money (taxed of course) on cars. The entire hub nonsense doesn’t work. Put simply nobody gets a taxi to get a bus. So this monstrance lasted two years and other than bored kids skate-boarding was never used. They built a bus-stop in the middle of nowhere on the basis of a theory which would have been debunked by asking anyone who lived around there (like me) which they clearly didn’t because they knew better. It cost GBP 1.3m to build. It probably cost something outrageous to demolish and it actually harmed bus travel in the area. Now seeing as I had lived in the area most of my life did they think to ask me? No. Or any of the fifty thousand people this was supposed to serve? Did they fuck.

I almost fell off my chair when I heard the 1.3m figure for what was a glorified bus stop. It had a little hut with staff where you could buy travel cards and such but nobody ever went there. All it did was prolong my journey in and out of Newcastle by 2 minutes. Nobody ever got on or off there and there is a very simple reason for that. Why do you think Ryton Rugby Club is there? Because there are no houses because Ryton and Crawcrook can never join because there is a former coal mine between them so you can’t really build much. You can have prop-forwards scoring tries but obviously that is not the same as building a housing estate or a supermarket. Subsidence. And anyway prop forwards are ten a penny (well more than that because presumably they’re taxed too…)

So that is where it has all gone. It has all been spent on random shit in some form of Keynesian orgy. And that is why Gideon is taxing pasties. Because we are epically fucked and there is nothing else left to tax. And that is why this frankly bizarre issue for a revolution is going to run and run. Because quite simply we only get it when we see how utterly insane it is and it isn’t even just that. We get it when we see how fucking desperate the government clearly is. No pretence anymore. Fucked immaculate.


  1. Henry Crun says:

    About the bus stops. 6 or 7 years ago Derbyshire County Council spent eye-watering amounts on ensuring that all the bus stops in the rural areas around Biggin, Hartington, Peak Dale etc, were wheelchair friendly ahead of the introduction of new buses which were likewise wheelchair friendly. Only to find that the new buses were completely unsuitable for the narrow country lanes (especially out towards Sterndale and Longnor).

    One lady I know (from Biggin) remarked to me that it was a complete waste of money as Biggin had only one bus stop and the one person in the village that used a wheelchair was in her 90′s and housebound.

  2. NickM says:

    Ah Henry,
    When I lived in Levenshulme, Manchester they spent an unbelievable sum of monies on raising the bus stops and got “kneeling buses” for that very reason. Do you know how many wheelchair users used ‘em? Not one from my experience. I am mates with a disabled guy (CP) and he was like “fuck that – I got a car. True and he drives like a demon. I was riding shotgun when he turned across four lanes of the A6 and it was emotional I can tell you. An interesting point is due to his disability he gets a car pretty much buck-shee. That of course costs me, you and him cash but it also costs him something else. It has to be traded-in but he really liked that Clio. Who does that really help? That is wrong. I mean Dom can hold down a proper job and all so probs can afford a motor but whilst I understand he is disabled and whilst I can’t honestly say why not give him some wheels why can’t he keep it? He really liked that Clio. He almost fucking killed me in it.

    That was a truck coming down the A6. That was serious. It could have been very unpleasant.

  3. john b says:

    VAT isn’t, and never has been, a tax on luxuries. The whole point about VAT has *always* been that it’s a flat-rate tax on all goods and services; a few exemptions were created when it was introduced to placate lobby groups and do-gooders (latter being why kids’ clothes are exempt; WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN is always an argument-stopper that no politician has the balls to take on).

    It’d be far better to go down the Kiwi route, abolish all exemptions, and just have an immensely simple tax at a slightly lower rate, but given the ludicrous fuss being made about taxing pies on the same basis as ice cream and crisps (both of which have always been VAT-ed), I don’t see it happening any time soon.

  4. Sam Duncan says:

    “Now seeing as I had lived in the area most of my life did they think to ask me? No. Or any of the fifty thousand people this was supposed to serve? Did they fuck.”

    A few years back, they painted double yellow lines round all the street corners in this area, making parking even more of a nightmare than it already was. Nobody pays any attention to them, and they occasionally send a bloke round with a truck to nick people’s cars and hold them for ransom. (If a private individual did that, it would be illegal: even clamping is considered extortion up here. If we do it. Councils are above the law, apparently.) Did they ask any of us?

    Let’s hear it for “democracy”, folks.

  5. Sam Duncan says:

    Oh yes: the VAT thing. Two words: the second is “Union”.

  6. Loki says:

    A big hello from a fellow Gateshead lad :)

    Small world……but you wouldn’t want to paint it :)

  7. RAB says:

    I seem to remember reading about a bus shelter that some Council built recently. State of the art it is, LED displays the lot. Probably even talks to you soothingly, saying things like “there there dears don’t fret, there’ll be one along in a minute.” Cost an enormous amount of money, but there is just one snag, and a fairly major one too. It isn’t on a bus route! Probably by now dubbed by the locals “The Bus shelter of Dreams”.

    Just five minutes walk from my gaff is our local park, St Andrews. It’s a sweet little park and very well used. It has a bowling green and a kiddies paddling pool (the only one in Bristol) and a playground. Well last year the Council decided that the Playground needed a makeover, so they ripped out all the swings and climbing frames and stuff (there was absolutely nothing wrong with any of it) and put new stuff in. The also thought they’d go for an extra feature, a large sandpit. I’ve no idea where they got the sand from, probably flown in from the Malidives, cos it doesn’t look like the stuff that is in abundance for free down at Weston Super Mare, it’s incredibly white and fine grained. Well the playground is on a slope of about thirty degrees so the sand is now escaping and oozing out down the hill, so they have to keep topping it up. This all cost £150,000 and in the middle of the reccession !

    And they put in some street furniture too. Two notice boards (there are 4 more to come apparently) one telling the history of the park and the other the story of the night a Wellington bomber crashed in the park in 1942. Fair enough quite informative and interesting, but they also put up a signpost pointing to all the park’s features… To the paddling pool etc. It is the most fatuous thing you will ever see. The park is about ten acres and you have to be Stevie Wonder not to be able to see every bit of it from every other bit. The sign has one arm pointing to the children’s playground and the playground is literally five feet away.

    Oh and a few years back the Council decided to re-paint the paddling pool, it was looking a bit shabby. So they spent twenty grand on the paint. Guess what they bought? Blue emulsion! It had not occured to the little dickbrains in the Council that you need special waterproof paint, so as soon as they put the water back in it washed the paint straight off, and they had to do the whole thing again with the right stuff.

    So you are dead right Nick, it aint the big stuff that’s bankrupted us, it is the needless nickel and dime stuf that did it.

  8. Thanks for linking. Apart from that, agreed. Take that bus stop and multiply it by several millions and that’s where our money goes.

  9. Sam Duncan says:

    Further to my oblique EU reference, Richard North has the goods, as usual. It’s our old chum the Sixth VAT Directive* at work.

    Meanwhile, Daniel Knowles “Assistant Comments Editor” at the Telegraph’s website, thinks VAT has nothing to do with the EU, and “was introduced as an ideological measure by Thatcher”. What the bloody hell is going on at that place these days? The one thing even the paper’s ideological opponents used to be forced to acknowledge was that it was without equal on basic factual reporting. Christ.

    *Well, my old chum. It was reading about it nigh-on twenty years ago that first alerted me to just how deeply the EU is entwined with our once-sovereign nation’s government. I used to be one of those a-big-international-cooperation-club-is-a-good-thing-surely merchants.

  10. NickM says:

    The Telegraph is a poor imitation of the Beano.

  11. Palamedes says:

    The local bus stop round my way is at the end of a loop and every bus that stops there loops around and goes back on the other side of the road. The two bus stops can’t be more than 10 metres apart.

    Presumably, ‘elf & safety mandate it for those who haven’t passed their Crossing the Road GCSE.

  12. Paul Marks says:

    Every other day seems to disclose yet another new tax in this budget.

    One of the taxes that has long particually irritated me is the tax on house repairs – it has caused many a good house to fall into ruin.

    However, at least it did not apply to repairs to churches.

    But now Mr Osbourne (or some adviser or civil servant) has decided to “simplyfy” the system of taxation in this area…..

    You guessed it – as with the taxation of income old people own, “simplyfy” turns out to mean “increase”.

    A 20% tax on maintainence repairs to churches – that will push many parishes into crises.

    If this was some athiest plot it would at least have some sense to it.

    But no – it is just the government being ……….

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