There has been much publicity regarding George Osborne's decision in the budget to charge VAT on warm Cornish pasties, and I've enjoyed David Cameron's thwarted attempt to prove he is a "man of the people" and once ate one in Leeds. However, this furore is just a populist storm in a teacup (yes, I know, there ought to be a better metaphor, but I can't think of one): merely an attempt to introduce fairness by taxing hot pastries in the same way as fish and chips.
What is far more serious in the long run, and will even have consequences when we're all dead, is the decision to apply VAT on repairs and renovations to listed buildings. Historic churches will be among those affected. The Cathedral of our diocese, Wakefield, has just embarked on a major renovation project assuming that it would be VAT free. Osborne's proposal will, if implemented, add £200 000 to the expected costs, which the Church simply hasn't, at the moment, got. I'm sure donations will be welcomed.
More to the point there is apparently an opportunity for discussion, so please send your views to http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32056. (Sorry, can't get the link thing to work.)
In France, which has the highest number of tourist visitors in Europe, the government actually contributes towards the cost of maintaining its historic buildings. It is daft that we propose to do the opposite. You'd think that a party called Conservative would actually want to conserve our heritage, even if only for its commercial potential for attracting tourists.