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The new political weapons of choice

So, David Cameron and George Osborne have done what no British Government has even tried to achieve since the introduction of VAT. They claim they have a deal from the EU which will allow them to scrap the tampon tax. We say “well done Dave” and sometimes the end justifies the means but why should this come about now just days after George pledged to direct the receipts of this tax towards women’s charities? And why do they need a deal from the EU to change UK VAT rules in the first place?

The problem stems from inflexible European laws which mean that member states can apply reduced rates of VAT at their discretion (as has been the case with sanitary products, which have been taxed at 5%) but to apply a zero rate requires the agreement of all other member states. Tricky stuff.

The European Commission, keen to keep the UK within the fold, has said it will publish an “Action Plan” on VAT next week in an effort to allow member states more flexibility over VAT. At no point did they mention sanitary products but Number 10 have jumped on this to achieve maximum political spin.

It all comes ahead of a key vote next week where a number of Tory MP’s had threatened to vote for an amendment to the Finance Bill to allow the zero rating of sanitary products – something they were hoping would throw a light on Brussels role in controlling the UK’s tax raising powers.

Those campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU will be hoping that this undermines that initiative and deals a blow to those pushing for Brexit based on political interference from Brussels.

A few months ago (election campaigning aside) few politicians cared whether tampons were taxed or not. Now, they’re being used by both sides in the biggest political fight of our generation.

This reminds us of our favourite tampon game you just have to imagine that Cameron is throwing the tampons and the guys running towards you are Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and, dare we say it, the Queen?

For years’ campaigners have sought to scrap the tampon tax based on the simple premise that it’s unfair and inappropriate. It’s finally been brought to its knees by a politicisation of the issue, clearly engendered to serve other purposes. Pro EU campaigners claim this as an example of how Britain can exercise a powerful, confident voice within a reformed EU and those against use it to highlight the inflexibility and bureaucracy which exists within the EU.

Whether we end up with Brexit or Bremain, we at TOTM think the fact that something good has come out of a twisted political situation is to be welcomed for a change. The fact that it’s going to be scrapped has to be a good thing and, on balance, we think the ends do justify the means; after years of campaigning and much political horse wrangling VAT will finally be zero rated for our organic cotton tampons, pads and liners.

St.John Burke, Co-Founder and Director of TOTM.

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