David Cameron today faces possibly the biggest crisis of his premiership so far. Whilst every poll shows his party firmly behind Labour and last week’s Budget was poorly received by even the most staunchly Tory rags, the country is now up in arms over the new “pasty tax”.
Many commentators have wondered why the government have chosen to apply VAT to hot pies and pasties, but these so-called “experts” are missing the point somewhat. Osborne is not slapping a tax on pasties, but slapping a tax on heat.
A number of Tory backbenchers, especially those in the 1922 Committee, have always been hostile to Cameron as leader, finding him too liberal and centrist. Recently, there have been clashes between the 1922ers and the front-bench over such issues as equal marriage, and No. 10 have become increasingly aware that they need to throw these MPs a right wing policy bone. By taxing the accelerated movement of atoms within a baked pastry good, Cameron is clearly attempting to appeal to his socially conservative colleagues who believe that such liberal atomic motion within cheap savoury snacks will lead directly to the eventual disintegration of the traditional nuclear family.
Pasties were originally eaten cold by mine workers deep beneath the surface for a nutritional, stodgy lunchtime meal and would include both savoury and sweet fillings. “Pasties didn’t make the transition from a placid functional unit to an excited mess of bubbling particles until the 1960s, when rudderless, pagan nomads starting eating them straight from their campfires during drug-fuelled ritualistic initiations,” one 1922 executive committee member told me*, “Thankfully, Thatcher managed to remove the decadent sweet element in the 1980s – a forgotten catalyst of the miners strike.”
However, the hot pasty tax alone is not enough to win favour with the disproving cabal of MPs. Another dissenter told me he was “seething*” with the pasty backtracking by the Prime Minister at an Olympics press conference this morning, where the PM told journalists that he “love[s] a hot pasty” before adding that the last time he bought a cornish pasty, he probably “opted for the large one”. My senior Tory source, who is a PPS for a prominent Cabinet member*, was outraged. “What kind of Prime Minister uses such innuendo-laden language as ‘opted for the large one’? Surely we should be asking ourselves how he came to possess a working knowledge of ‘90s jungle culture slang?” and warned that, “In yet another shameless outpouring of liberalism, he’s alienated normal Conservative members up and down the country.”
Rumours of compromising pictures were already following the Chancellor like an ominous steam, the emergence today of photos seemingly depicting George Osborne eating a pasty are likely only going to inflame the already ironically heated situation between the frontbench and backbench Conservative MPs. Whether the pasty was hot or cold has not yet been confirmed.
With teachers on strike today, union bosses are reportedly treating the pasty tax as another sign that the Government are launching an all-out class war. Designs are already being drawn up for “I supported the 2012 pasty rebellion” badges, t-shirts and oven gloves, in an attempt to garner sufficient public support on the hot matter to call a general strike in the summer. The Cabinet appear unabashed by these developments, with the recent good weather has led them to call an emergency meeting to consider extending the heat tax to warmth emitted by the sun.
It’s going to be a long, stuffy summer for the Prime Minister. Rumours amongst his own MPs suggest that he might not be able to stand the heat in the kitchen*.
* – not really