Many thanks to the readers who followed up last month’s editorial and contacted their election candidates about the threat of VAT on books and magazines – as promised, I am keeping a list should this issue raise its ugly head again. Practising what I preach, I contacted the Labour and Conservative candidates in my constituency before polling day (no offence to the other parties but it was a two-horse race where I live). The Labour candidate very quickly sent me a personal reply stating that he was happy to endorse my argument and pointing out that his party’s manifesto specifically ruled out an extension of VAT to items such as books. It also turned out he was a wargamer and had written books on the subject back in the 80s (what are the odds of that?). Equally quickly, the Tory candidate sent me a pro forma, and slightly curt, email saying she was too busy campaigning to answer my inquiry. She then went on to pledge that “if I am elected … constituents [sic] emails will be answered quickly and efficently [sic]” thanks to the “handsome allowance” MPs receive to employ staff. This didn’t quite strike the right note with me as I’d prefer to know a candidate’s views before polling day rather than afterwards. As it turned out, she was elected on 6 May and I’ll be following up my inquiry later – after I’ve given her a chance to set her office up.
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