Political Scrapbook want to have their pasty scandal and eat it

Posted on May 5, 2012

I’m a fan of Political Scrapbook – acerbic and witty, they embrace a tone of blogging that many of their fellow travellers remain snooty towards. Today, though, they’ve struck a bum note.


Revealing eagerly that:

“Throughout the controversy over George Osborne’s “pasty tax”, huge donations were made to the Conservative Party by the owner of pasty firm Ginsters – sparking a row over whether the donation may have been in support of the tax on hot pasties (Ginsters are known for cold snacks) or to protect their emerging line of heated snacks.

Mark Samworth, who heads Samworth Brothers which owns the Ginsters brand, gave £100,000 to the Tories, between the announcement of the VAT change in the budget and the government’s volte face on Monday.”

they conclude “could this be an emerging “cash for pasties” scandal?

As John Rentoul might say, this is very much a Question To Which The Answer Is No.

The awkward thing about the Scrapbook story is rooted in the fact that they are not the first to allege these donations were dubious and related to the pasty tax.

They suggest today that Mark Samworth was giving money to the Conservatives to buy a u-turn over the pasty tax, on the flawed assumption (presumably from people who’ve never eaten a Ginsters) that his pasties are all sold hot. In fact, Ginster’s products are mostly sold cold.

Amusingly, that fact was the reason given by the Labour Party as recently as Saturday – crucially, before the u-turn took place – when they alleged that he was, err, donating to the Tories in support of the pasty tax, on the basis that his business is based on selling cold pasties.

Which is it? Was he a fan of the tax, donating to say thanks, or an opponent of it, donating to get it overturned? At the moment, Political Scrapbook and the party they support have managed to allege both.

In fact, Ginsters mostly sell cold pasties – a business model that benefits from the pasty tax – but had recently expanded into hot food, a move that would suffer from the tax. Cutting the tax may hit their core business, but raising it apparently hits their expansion plans, so there’s no clear motive either way.

Those who seem obsessed with hammering Samworth whatever happens need to make their minds up – he can’t be alleged to be buying influence on both sides of the same debate. Apparently, they’ve decided he is a target and will shift their conspiracy theories 180 degrees to fit the latest set of events, regardless of what they’ve previously said.

It seems that when it comes to seeking out wrongdoing, Political Scrapbook on this occasion want to have their pasty scandal and eat it.



Interestingly, since I first made this point in a comment on Political Scrapbook this morning – a comment which they still haven’t published – they’ve changed their text (without posting it as an update) to add in the following:

– sparking a row over whether the donation may have been in support of the tax on hot pasties (Ginsters are known for cold snacks) or to protect their emerging line of heated snacks.

That wasn’t present in the original post, suggesting that to at least some degree they’ve realised the illogical and unfair allegations they were making, but don’t seem willing to apologise to Mr Samworth or confess the error to their readers.

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Categories: Opinion, Politics, Westminster

6 Responses

  1. Jethro:

    Apologise? How don’t Ginsters apologise for selling somethin’ thass no more a Cornish Pasty than I am? You can’t call ‘en a Pasty wi’ mince in, mashed potato, or if ee’s less than ten inches, end to end; or, come to that, if ’tis made in a factry.

    30.05.2012 18:50 Reply

  2. Lammergeier:

    Poor Ed Milliband. Just when he thought that he could celebrate a minor victory and have a pasty/ party, the taste has turned to ashes in his mouth. One of his posh chums, has rather spoilt the pasty/ party for him. Speaking for the opposition, in the House of Lords, in an urgent debate on the matter that has gripped the nation, Lord Peston gave the game away.
    Lord Peston proudly and brazenly asserted that he had never in all his life, consumed a Cornish pasty. But, he rather fancied that it might taste like Boeuf en Croute, something he seemed to enjoy very much. Honestly; these people are so out of touch with the common people. Sometimes I truly despair of the modern Labour Party. Whatever would Michael Foot have thought of them, as he marched all the way from the valleys to Aldermaston, with nothing but a piece of coal and a leek to sustain him on his journey.

    30.05.2012 20:31 Reply

  3. James:

    Political Scrapbook is nothing more than a toned down version of the Red Rag site Labour planned to run deniably. It is funded by the GMB and it’s “editors” are controlled by Tom Watson – although they claim to have no contact with him, they mysteriously know what he’s going to do before he does it.

    They like to mock Guido as a lackey of the Tories despite the fact he spends half his time going after Conservatives. When was the last time you saw PS comment unfavourably on a Labour politician? Never happens. They constantly attack a Conservative MP for attending a party at which another person was dressed as a Nazi, but refuse to acknowledge either of these things ever happened:


    They went apeshit when Lansley blocked the Risks Register, but deleted my comment which linked to a BBC article which proved Andy Burnham did EXACTLY the same thing during his time in government.

    They also keep repeating false claims about the NI scandal which were long ago retracted (with apologies) by the Guardian.

    It is NOT a political blog or news site; it is a smear machine run by Labour. Watson, Draper and McBride’s dream never died with smeargate (long since forgotten and barely mentioned at Leveson), it just got delayed.

    30.05.2012 21:42 Reply

  4. Dan:

    I think you’re missing the main point: that Ginsters don’t taste that great! Especially cold. They’ve been sold heated up in pubs, service stations etc for at least the last decade, although I guess as this is ‘to order’ rather than kept on a hotplate, the tax wouldn’t apply. (In fact, from the sounds of it, it wouldn’t apply to their new ‘Have Me Hot’ range either – it implies that customers take the pasty from the chiller cabinet and ask for it to heated.)

    So their interest would seem to firmly with the cold pasty / bespoke heated pasty and so therefore in favour of equalising the tax between that and pasties that are cooked and kept warm.

    31.05.2012 11:20 Reply

  5. Andy:

    The other rather misleading omission from coverage of this issue – and not just by PS – is that Samworth has been a Tory donor of that magnitude for years.

    While the timing of this year’s payment was hardly ideal and therefore bound to spark conspiracy theories, it certainly wasn’t unprecedented or a one-off.

    31.05.2012 13:08 Reply

  6. Ben Everitt:

    If you eat this rubbish, you should be paying extra taxes to support the NHS and home economics teaching in schools.

    Now where’s me Marsbar.

    13.06.2012 12:39 Reply

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