In 1497 Myghal Josef an Gof and Thomas Flamank marched to London with thousands of other Cornish people in armed revolt over what were perceived as unfair tax rises that the King of England had imposed on the Cornish to pay for his war with Scotland. The outcome of the protest for An Gof and Flamank was the death penalty, but their Cornish rebellion had culminated in a pitched battle on Blackheath in London that has been remembered for over 500 years.
This week's budget from the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has seen another
unfair tax being potentially imposed on the Cornish, which affects the very food that Cornwall
is famous for and a veritable symbol of Cornishness itself. Cornish people are incensed by the
Chancellor’s intention to impose a 20% VAT tax on pasties - Cornwall's national dish – in what
has already become known as the 'pasty tax'.
Last year the European Commission awarded the Cornish pasty the much coveted protected
geographical indication (PGI) status, which means thatCornish pasties cannot be called 'Cornish'
unless they have been made in Cornwall. The award was the culmination of a long term campaign
of which the Kernow branch of the League was part. Now with that particular campaign won, a
new campaign has been set up to protect the status of the pasty as a good of the people, rather
than of the rich. The Exchequer’s plans to increase VAT on hot take away food to 20% - which
is likely to increase the cost of the pasty by a fifth of its current cost - means that what
has been the staple diet of many ordinary Cornish people for generations could become more of
a luxury food item in the future.
A group has been set up on Facebook that has attracted thousands of members calling for
people to get behind the campaign calling on the Exchequer to dump the tax. The group is
calling on people to sign an e-petition to the Government, which already has almost two
thousand signatures. The Facebook group points out that as well as being a well-recognised
symbol of Cornwall, the pasty is "a key part of our manufacturing economy and thousands of
people in Cornwall are employed either directly or indirectly by the pasty industry."
Campaigners argue that the proposed tax will not even bring in revenue for the hundreds of firms
in Cornwall that sell pasties, but the proceeds willgo straight to the UK Government coffers
in an attempt to help pay for England's enormous budget deficit.
Even some Cornish Members of Parliament of Exchequer Osborne’s own Government oppose the tax.
Member of Parliament Andrew George MP told hiscolleagues that he will fight "them on the beaches"
to oppose the tax.Whether over 500 years later the Cornish will rise up in revolt against
England to protest against another unjust tax remains to be seen. But whatis for certain, like
An Gof, Flamank and hundreds of their compatriots, the Cornish won't go down without fighting
for this one either!
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