The message from Cornwall: hands off our pasties | Edward Rowe

Cornwall is one of the poorest regions in Britain and a pasty tax would hit an industry worth more than £100m to our economy

In 1497, a Cornish man called Michael An Gof led an army of men from Cornwall to London in protest against enormous taxes that Henry VII had levied upon us to pay for a war against the Scottish. An Gof, who lived in a small village called St Keverne on the Lizard, represented a Cornish nation that didn’t believe in such a ridiculous tax. After a fierce battle against a well-armed and trained English army, he was hung, drawn and quartered for his beliefs. His head was placed on a stake on London Bridge.

On 29 April 2012, an uprising against the so-called “pasty tax” resulted in more than 700 people congregating in Falmouth to march from The Moor through the town to the gathering point on the harbour called Events Square. In a freezing cold wind and rain that was whipping in over the sea, the proud marchers wore black and gold and their chants echoed through the historical port. All who attended hoped their voices would be heard in Westminster.

The march was of course in protest against this unworkable tax (the argument rages on about whether it applies to cold pasties and whether bakers can sell them cooled), but as with any Cornish event, it was a celebration.

The superb Aberfal Oggymen whose ages range from mid-20s to late-50s sang some beautiful Cornish songs, the Falmouth Marine Band led the march through the town and resisted visiting several of the pubs as they normally do, the Porthleven Dinghy Club blasted their song, Don’t Tax our Pasty and the organiser and leader of this dedicated crew, the Kernow King, provided plenty of laughs and reasons to smile. Of course, a serious element was brought and well covered too, with MP Andrew George, councillors Bert Biscoe and Alex Folkes, pasty maker extraordinaire Ann from Ann’s Pasties on The Lizard, tax specialist John Endacott, Mebyon Kernow MP Loveday Jenkins and the Deputy Grand Bard launching the event with wise and wonderful words in Cornish and English.

It was a special day, but what made it so special was the people who attended. They were peaceful, they were proud, they were cold and wet but most of all, they were passionate about this dreaded “pasty tax” that will see an out-of-touch government plunder a Duchy that is not given the credit or respect she deserves. Local lad and father of three Mark Collett said: “Given the weather being so atrocious, it was an awesome turnout and I suggest that today was certainly the tip of the iceberg.”

Cornwall is only about 250 miles away from London, but it occasionally feels that London and the men and women that govern us are a million miles away. Cornwall is not only one of the poorest regions in Great Britain, it is also one of the poorest in Europe and, to this day, the humble pasty represents all that is Cornish.

Our beloved pasty is tasty, it’s filling and it employs hundreds of people in the Duchy. It is worth more than £100m to the Cornish economy. But, most importantly, it’s ours, not George Osborne’s or David Cameron’s, people who appear to be desperate to take a little corner off the large steak pasty for themselves.

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