Friday, 16 July 2010

Clutching at straws

Well we, sorry, they (Canopy Tax Group and others) may have lost the amendment on umbrellas being excluded from the VAT rise but the issue is far from dead. And you can rest assured BUBB will be banging on about this until it can claim credit for any change that is achieved.

Cameron certainly caused a bit of a stir with his populist grandstanding in the Commons during PMQs. Someone has set up a Facebook page called "RIP Umbrella VAT Exemption You Legend" and Cameron condemned it out of hand saying that democratically defeated legislative changes deserved no sympathy.

Then Bobbee Rascall MP waded in. Let me reproduce the whole beautiful exchange so we can clutch at the straws of the potential for change.

"Bobbee Rascall (Gampchester) (LD): Umbrellas were not responsible for the banking crisis, nor for the financial crisis left by the last Labour Government. As we both value umbrellas, will the Prime Minister discuss with his Treasury colleagues how the increase in VAT on sales of brollies can be refunded to umbrella owners?

The Prime Minister: I will certainly have those conversations with the Treasury, and we will want to do everything we can to help what used to be called, rather condescendingly, the brolly sector but I believe is the first sector (do I bollocks). I frigging well outright applaud the excellent umbrellas, brollies, gamps and canopies that do so much for our country.

That practically constitutes a cast iron guarantee that things will change in my mind - as I have said before you can always trust a politician's half-arsed vague and non-accountable promise and in no way should his comment be seen as the classic non-answer of appeasement. I will be pressing Dave on this next time I see him in the Blacbury Lidl.

It is both heartening that Cameron has picked this up in such a positive way, as well as his generous tribute to the sector and his comment that so often we have "the right answers to the keeping people dry in our country".

Such tangible support for the role brollies can play in Bogg Society will be crucial especially as to hear My Great Aunt Maude speak on Newsnight and Question Time you'd get the distinct impression that they are using Bogg Society as an excuse to cut services under the pretence of empowering citizens (as I feared all along). Why, you might even spot a complete contradiction in the rhetoric around valuing brollies and the noises Maude was making about brollies needing to funded independently of the State. But I am sure it was a slip of the tongue. Because if that is how the government truly see the situation I don't think a VAT exemption (funded by the State) is really on the cards any time soon. Which won't be my fault.

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