Sacha Lord is a man who can be accused of many things. Hypocrisy, for example. This is a man who speaks out against plague raves yet books Solardo – who have done mote than a few – to appear at his own Warehouse Project in Manchester. Or of ignoring his own advice to drink plenty of water, then charge an extortionate £2.50 per bottle.
But of all the charges often flung in his direction, even the man himself would be hard pressed to admit to possessing even the tiniest modicum of modesty. Yet here on this Monday morning, I find myself levelling precisely this accusation towards him. Because I don’t know what else to make of his latest move.
Last Thursday, Lord said he’d had enough and was going to “ruffle some feathers”. He’s done so before – earlier this year, he forced the government to drop a number of Covid requirements on the hospitality sector through a legal challenge. So when he speaks about ruffling feathers, I expected more.
So what have we got? A campaign. Its aim is to persuade the government to drop a forthcoming increase in VAT rates for hospitality. During the pandemic’s early days, VAT for the sector was cut to 5% to help them get through a difficult time. In October, those rates went back up to 12.5% – and an increase up to 20% is forthcoming in April next year.
Lord wants to see this increase abandoned, and is calling it Axe The Red Wall Tax. This is a reference to the so-called red wall which exists in the north of England due to their penchant for voting Labour. Under Boris Johnson, the Tories made substantial inroads into this red wall at the last general election – so the deliberate name choice will not be lost on those Tory MPs, some of whom represent seats which have previously had Labour MPs for decades.
No doubt the name also goes down well in Sacha Lord’s own stomping grounds in Manchester. But am I the only one who thinks this campaign shows a degree of restraint unusual for the man himself? Lord is known for being a brash man who thinks big – so why isn’t this campaign demanding a permanent 5% VAT rate for hospitality?
If anything, this is the perfect time to make big demands. Britain has a Prime Minister who’s fledgling badly. His approval ratings are sinking, and with the papers this weekend being full of stories that another Covid wave could due to hit in January, there may not ever be a better time again to make the case.
At the moment, this isn’t anywhere near a crusade. And I’m not sure it’s even close to strongly worded letter territory…