Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Pasty Gate
March 28, 2012 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Following an amendment in the recent Conservative Party budget, VAT on 'Baked Goods' will be re-instated. In response, the question of whether or not David Cameron once ate a Greggs pasty infects the British press. The Telegraph have a live blog covering what has been termed by some Pasty Gate
posted by 0bvious (61 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
A pasty? From Greggs? Every poor person knows you don't buy pasties from Greggs. It's either a steak bake or a sausage roll you want. Hot sticky sausage rolls, good for your kids, good for your nana.
posted by Jehan at 7:41 AM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Pasties? Really? After everything else, the attacks on the sick and the disabled and people on housing benefit and the unemployed and the North and parents and NHS workers and the idea of a National Health Service or indeed public services at all. Pasties? That's where Our Great Nation chooses to draw the line?
I mean, if it means these evil fucks take a beating, I'll be happy, but it's a pretty bloody weird line in the sand.
posted by Acheman at 7:50 AM on March 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm happy to get behind a a mush-filled-puff-pastry-rectangle tax. But keep your stinking hands off our national dish, English!
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:59 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a great article here on the budget process in the UK, by a former civil servant. He points out a lot of mistakes made by Osborne and his team in this budget: "He continued with [VAT on] hot takeaway food. You’re joking, I thought, not that old chestnut. I personally blocked that one back in 2005." (Warning: "great article" if you're a politics / policy / process wonk, maybe not if you're not).
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:04 AM on March 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


I bought a cornish pastie yesterday and it had one of those inedible bits of gristle in it and it got stuck in my throat and I sort of had to sick it up from the back of my throat and then wander all the way over to the bin with it in my mouth all horrible and chewed and throatfilthed and then I spat it into a bin and all of that put me right off the rest of the pastie.
posted by dng at 8:05 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Cameron: I once ate a pasty off Rebecca Brooks while riding a police horse through the NHS

"Fuck you all, you oiks" added the lusty Prime Minister, his skin glistening with British pride.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:06 AM on March 28, 2012 [17 favorites]


Is Greggs more or less the British Dunkin Donuts or Tim Hortons?
posted by maryr at 8:13 AM on March 28, 2012


It's just a chain of bakers, where instead of really being a bakers it's just a sandwich shop.
posted by dng at 8:15 AM on March 28, 2012


Ed Miliband along with shadow chancellor Ed Balls and shadow chief secretary Rachel Reeves... - picture caption from Guardian liveblog

HOLD THE PHONE. You have a position called "shadow chancellor" which already sounds like Palpatine's title pre-Emperor, but it's currently Shadow Chancellor Balls?
posted by maryr at 8:16 AM on March 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think the larger issue is that I've been living here for over four and a half years and only recently realized that Greggs is a bakery. Why is that?

Look at their logo. Just look at it. Take a long, starchy moment for it to soak in.

Every time I see a Greggs in the wild, my eyes slide off it because the logo is subliminally screaming "O HAI I AM A SMALL BANK OR POSSIBLY A MEDIOCRE MUTUAL FUND FIRM. MAYBE A REAL ESTATE PLACE. I...I'M NOT SURE MYSELF".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:18 AM on March 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


You have a position called "shadow chancellor" which already sounds like Palpatine's title pre-Emperor, but it's currently Shadow Chancellor Balls?

It's no Baroness Blood.
posted by dng at 8:19 AM on March 28, 2012


or Lord Adonis
posted by kersplunk at 8:20 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also I'm not sure Balls is even close to being a funny word here. It'd be better if he was called Ed Bollocks, I suppose.
posted by dng at 8:21 AM on March 28, 2012


Shadow Chancellor Balls, and his wife, Lady Balls.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 8:23 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is Greggs more or less the British Dunkin Donuts or Tim Hortons?

Nay, 'tis a god. God of baked food. I once worked with somebody who went to their factory temple near Manchester (Ashton I think). He said it was delightful.

Shadow Chancellor Balls, and his wife, Lady Balls.

Actually his wife is Yvette Cooper, who is also a politician. She's kept her lastname, so their children are Balls-Cooper. Which is a delightful name for a jockstrap.
posted by Jehan at 8:29 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pasties? Really? After everything else, the attacks on the sick and the disabled and people on housing benefit and the unemployed and the North and parents and NHS workers and the idea of a National Health Service or indeed public services at all. Pasties? That's where Our Great Nation chooses to draw the line? I mean, if it means these evil fucks take a beating, I'll be happy, but it's a pretty bloody weird line in the sand.

Nail-on-the-head. I'd like to expunge my thoughts on why Pastygate has taken off like it has...

Two things have happened in the last week that mark pastygate as a real turning point in public opinion. Firstly, the "£250k will get you anything you want from our leaders" scandal. That kind of thing isn't in itself fatal for a government, similar stories erupt every few years. With Blair it was cash-for-honours. But it taints you.

Secondly, the Budget. No-one in the Treasury would have agonised too hard at putting VAT on hotly baked goods, given the historically massive social cuts on offer. An easy way to bring in few million quid. Greggs wouldn't have even come into the equation.

But Greggs is a big-ish company ($1 billion revenues) that's been hit hard by this. Unusually for a big company in the UK, it's pretty well-loved by its punters. Greggs has friendly image, is very active in social media, and 1,500 outlets that sell cheap food. They might have killed off local family bakers, but that's another argument.

The vast majority of the population have been to a Greggs at some point, I'd say. The poor, yes, but Greggs are equally prevalent in upper middle class areas. The only place you won't find a Greggs is in very rich areas. There is no Greggs in Knightsbridge, or Canary Wharf.

So when George Osborne admitted he couldn't remember when he last had a Greggs, that probably said more about him than all the Eton rich-daddy jibes he shrugs off every day. It screams "out of touch", with bells and whistles on it.

So yes, pasties are the line in the sand. It's the first cross-population issue the government has stumbled on, and in hilarious fashion, having so far focused their misery on disparate and powerless minorities.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 8:30 AM on March 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't understand why this is a thing, and I hate the Tories.
posted by londonmark at 8:35 AM on March 28, 2012


I have nothing of substance to add to this conversation, save for the memory of a very good Cornish pasty enjoyed at the National Theatre between halves of His Dark Materials. Thank you, Great Britain, for that taste treat.
posted by the sobsister at 8:40 AM on March 28, 2012


The most important thing about all this is that whoever the next head of state who comes over here is is going to have to go on a heavily photo'd pastie eating trip somewhere with David Cameron.
posted by dng at 8:44 AM on March 28, 2012


To this USAian, "pasties" refers to nipple covers for strippers. So I was a bit confused.
posted by notsnot at 8:48 AM on March 28, 2012


Greek Prime Minister baked into a giant pasty, fed to EU commissioners: Cameron claims credit for "British solution to Eurozone crisis".
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:51 AM on March 28, 2012


Why would a stripper need to cover her nipples? Isn't that defeating the point of the stripping?
posted by dng at 8:52 AM on March 28, 2012


their children are Balls-Cooper. Which is a delightful name for a jockstrap.

Technically I think it would be someone who handcrafted barrels which would then be used as codpieces.

For further lols, consider that coopers also make butts.

juvenile philology lols are the highlight of my day basically
posted by elizardbits at 8:53 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, if it means these evil fucks take a beating, I'll be happy, but it's a pretty bloody weird line in the sand.

Actually, when you think about it, it makes total sense.

Personal experience - particularly of something negative - goes a long way towards molding the opinions we have. People are generally pretty bad at genuinely seeing the bigger picture or taking long-term consequences into account.

My dad was the epitome of the upper working-class Thatcherite in the 80s, for example, until an injury on a building site left him unable to work for about four months (and us as a family on the breadline). Suddenly it became very clear to him that being on benefits didn't automatically mean you were lazy or stupid.

Similarly, my Uncle's bad experiences with the American healthcare system when one of his kids suffered an injury whilst on holiday turned him into one of the NHS's biggest defenders almost overnight.

For most people going through life generally being not-poor and not-rich, things like NHS cuts, Stop and Search, Privacy laws and Public Sector salaries all very much fall into the abstract "not my problem right now" category. That's true of things like pensions and retirement as well particularly for your average twenty-something.

Think I've said on here before that this is, to my mind at least, the biggest problem the UK Left currently faces - stuff like the Welfare State is an abstract concept that's very tricky for people to get their heads round and get riled up about when its attacked. That's particularly true when the attacks are small nibbles (or disguised as such) by the Tories and (sadly) elements of the Liberal and Labour Parties who should know better. If Cameron turned round tomorrow and privatised the NHS wholesale there'd be uproar, as long as he does it one section at a time though people will be mildly annoyed but never quite enough to do anything about it until its too late.

Sausage Rolls and Pasties though? Everybody in that general poor-to-middle group eats them. That's lunch for a huge swathe of the general working populace. Everyone from White Van Man to Office Worker gets their lunch from Greggs (or a similar shop) at least a couple of times a month.

That's why this is a big thing, because although it sounds silly it really isn't. This has directly hit millions of people straight in the pocket, and also an industry (and its workers) who most people actually don't dislike. What's more, its a massive, not-so-subtle reminder to a whole bunch of people that Dave and George are not the kind of people who shop (or eat) on the high street.

Basically Thatcher stole our milk. George has now stolen our cookies. You'd have thought both him and Dave would have learnt from her experiences in this area given they seem to be hellbent on turning Britain into some kind of Thatcherite Dystopia right now.
posted by garius at 9:00 AM on March 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


David Cameron being forced to eat a pastie live on TV would be much more harrowing than the pig-fucking scenario Charlie Brooker fantasised about.

Especially if he encountered the gristle/choke scenario I did yesterday (see earlier post on this exciting topic).
posted by dng at 9:08 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can someone who speaks British English clear something up for me? Having read the word, I always assumed that pasty was pronounced with a long A, like paste-y, but I think on a British show I watched the other day they pronounced it with a short A, like past-y.

Is this right? Is it past-y?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:08 AM on March 28, 2012


It rhymes with "nasty", which is what cheap pasties are.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:13 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I bought a cornish pastie yesterday and it had one of those inedible bits of gristle in it

Yeah, I have a bit of an idiosyncrasy over things like this. I can't eat a lot of pre-made foods that contain meat, unless it's visible. If you've sealed it up in pastry, my first thought is "what are you trying to hide? It's gristly bits, isn't it?"

Is it past-y?

Yes.
posted by Hoopo at 9:13 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It rhymes with "nasty", which is what cheap pasties are.

Okay that confirms that I was wrong in my pronunciation; I was trying to make it sound like "pastry" but for all I know "pastry" rhymes with "nastry" for the British.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:15 AM on March 28, 2012


But past is said with a long A. Although a different sort of long A to paste. This is very confusing.

Pasty is definitely said with a short A though. And the other sort of pasty would be said like pastey (IE: David Cameron has a very pasty face, the pasty-killing bastard).

In my horrible Essex voice at least. And neither would rhyme with nasty.
posted by dng at 9:17 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hear somebody paid £50k to eat a pasty with Cameron.
posted by Jehan at 9:17 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Basically, if you ask two british people how to pronounce something neither will agree. Later there will be a fight.
posted by dng at 9:20 AM on March 28, 2012


Cut-me-Own-Throat Dibbler is going to be very displeased about this.

But also "Pastygate" is hilarious, and for anyone who was upset at the poor guy who just loves top hats and proper buttons, I feel like your anger should really be focused on the politicians and lobbyists who never eat delicious pastry packages and who dine without top hats with Cameron.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:21 AM on March 28, 2012


Basically, if you ask two british people how to pronounce something neither will agree. Later there will be a fight.

Nah, just lots of tutting and maybe a raised eyebrow.

Someone might say "ohforGODsake" under their breath though if things get really heated.
posted by garius at 9:22 AM on March 28, 2012


> To this USAian, "pasties" refers to nipple covers for strippers. So I was a bit confused.

Depends on where in the US you're from.

> Why would a stripper need to cover her nipples? Isn't that defeating the point of the stripping?

Just accept it as a thing that happens here and try to not think too hard about it. There's already a conundrum in the FPP people are wrestling with.
posted by ardgedee at 9:22 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


That sounds like a fight to me.
posted by dng at 9:23 AM on March 28, 2012


If you're American, pasty rhymes with nasty (roughly). But if you're English, it only rhymes with nasty if you're a northerner (or, more properly, not a southerner).
posted by Omission at 9:25 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Basically, if you ask two british people how to pronounce something neither will agree. Later there will be a fight.

We don't mind if can't pronounce "pasty" to rhyme with "nasty" like other English folk. That's okay, we'll let you southerners have your regional dialect. We'll forgive you. We're nice like that.
posted by Jehan at 9:25 AM on March 28, 2012


Basically, if you ask two british people how to pronounce something neither will agree. Later there will be a fight.

They made like a whole musical play out of this idea.

(That's Jeremy Irons; couldn't google up Rex Harrison on the youtubes.)
posted by bukvich at 9:37 AM on March 28, 2012


Tax my Yum Yums? IT WILL NA STAND
posted by scruss at 9:43 AM on March 28, 2012


HOLD THE PHONE. You have a position called "shadow chancellor" which already sounds like Palpatine's title pre-Emperor, but it's currently Shadow Chancellor Balls?

Just to clear up this particular point - the Government appoints its Cabinet, but in order to provide a consistent voice on each particular topic for the purposes of debate and public information, the Opposition appoints a Cabinet of its own. Because this Cabinet doesn't actually have any particular power beyond that held by any other MP, it's referred to as the Shadow Cabinet, and each of its ministers is the Shadow [role of minister].

So, Ed Balls, as Shadow Chancellor, is the member of the Opposition who would be the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Government suddenly fell and the Queen invited Ed Miliband to form a government.

(Incidentally, in my Southern/East Anglian accent, "pasty" is pronounced "pass-tee", where "pass" rhymes with "sass".)
posted by ZsigE at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2012


Jehan: "A pasty? From Greggs? Every poor person knows you don't buy pasties from Greggs. It's either a steak bake or a sausage roll you want. Hot sticky sausage rolls, good for your kids, good for your nana."

Do not do a search for "steak bake". You might get an explanation of what looks like a yummy meal. And you might get something else.
posted by Splunge at 10:31 AM on March 28, 2012


The correct pronunciation of 'pasty' (note the 'y' in the singular) is 'paahsty'. The sound is midway between the 'a' in 'and' and the sound a sheep makes.

Unless you're from Cornwall, or possibly Devon, any attempt to pronounce the word will sound odd.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:45 AM on March 28, 2012


That Telegraph live blog is great "BREAKING pasty news: PM may have got his pasty from a Cornish Bakehouse, or maybe it wasn't even Leeds, says his spokesman"
posted by IanMorr at 10:49 AM on March 28, 2012


It's not doing the independence for Scotland people any harm, given that this is the country which will put anything in a hot pie (and yes, will deep fry the pie too, depending on where you get it from). Not just Greggs, but macaroni pies!

(I hope I'm not the only one reading this thread who is being overwhelmed with the desire for a hot pasty.)
posted by Coobeastie at 11:40 AM on March 28, 2012


Macaroni pies are intriguing...
posted by maryr at 11:44 AM on March 28, 2012


Deep fried macaroni pies moreso.
posted by scruss at 11:57 AM on March 28, 2012


Sooooo this is what gets served up at Dave's Donor Dinners in the flat above Number 11.....
posted by gallus at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2012


We switched Radio 4 on half way through the news covering this story, and after a short sound bite in which David Cameron talked about how he likes to go down to Cornwall for a Cornish Pastie, the announcer announced that David Milliband had bought a sausage roll.

Out of context it was the maddest news story ever. Made madder by the seamless editing and Radio 4 news voices.
posted by zoo at 12:11 PM on March 28, 2012


Has the PM eaten a pasty? Milliband in sausage roll kerfuffle.

Why didn't anybody tell me that they were making new Goon Show episodes?
posted by benito.strauss at 12:22 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


that David Milliband had bought a sausage roll.

David or Ed? They're easy to tell apart as David's the sexy one...
posted by Jehan at 1:09 PM on March 28, 2012


When I heard of this I deliberatively went in Greggs to show solidarity.

Another nice little touch of the budget was adding VAT to static caravans... the main manufacturer in the UK is in Hull, one of the worst unemployment black spots in the country and they are talking of having to shed workers.

Though personally I'm more outraged by stamps going up something like 25% to 50p for second class! Those poor ex-static caravans makers are not going to be sending out many job applications.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:24 PM on March 28, 2012


I think they misunderstood the point of the Occupy movement. It wasn't bakers they're upset with.
posted by pwnguin at 3:30 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


god, you only pay 6% tax in michigan for hot pasties ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:51 PM on March 28, 2012


Taxing bakers is the closest we'll get to taxing bankers
posted by knapah at 4:15 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, nobody can drive to Gregg's for a pasty because the Government has caused a mass panic over petrol shortages. However, I always take the bus to Gregg's, so I'm all right Jack.
posted by Myeral at 2:06 AM on March 29, 2012


Don't the British have a 200+ year history of getting into trouble over taxes on food and drink?
posted by TedW at 3:11 AM on March 29, 2012


When are Gregg's pasties ever hot? Do you have to pay the VAT if they're cold and have to be microwaved when you get back to the office?
posted by goo at 10:11 AM on March 29, 2012


Greggs 'pasties' are always either lukewarm or contain searing magma; those are the two possible quantum Gregg-states.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:00 PM on March 29, 2012


I wonder how 'I'm not paying the VAT on that, it's cold!" will go down.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:38 AM on March 30, 2012


Pasty tax sparks threat of bakers' march
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:13 AM on March 30, 2012


« Older It's like a synthesizer control interface made out...  |  Got questions about your bike ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments