Goodbye Prime Minister; let’s save Pieminister

Margaret Thatcher visiting Jimmy Carter | Photo: Copyright waived by US GovernmentBy the time you read this, Margaret Thatcher will have been laid to rest in London. Whether or not you consider yourself an Iron Lady loyalist, her funeral will mark the passing of an Oxford institution.
The Somerville alumna graduated in 1947 and, in assuming office, became the seventh post-war Prime Minister to hail from this university.

To quote an equivocal Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton: “As Britain’s first female prime minister, and one of its longest serving, Baroness Thatcher ranks among the most prominent of Oxford’s alumni. One of the foremost politicians of her age, historians will debate her legacy for decades to come; today we remember a graduate of the University who reached the highest public office and had a lasting impact on British politics and society.” Thatcher features prominently in these pages, with a range of opinions represented in this week’s Comment section.

And whether you agree or not, it is goodbye to the former Prime Minister. But we may also be bidding goodbye to Pieminister, another Oxford institution. Those who frequent the Covered Market will be familiar with its smiling service, its succulent pastry, its delicious, chewy, flavoursome meat – and it is to our unmitigated despair that we announce that the Market’s rents may be going up by 70 per cent.

If it is true that Oxford students are the leaders of tomorrow, altruistic and socially conscious as well as connected, then let it be known that we shall not stand for this cruellest of cuts.

Tell The Man that he can take our playing fields, take our higher education budgets, take our milk, if he really must – but he cannot take our pies.

It’s as if the outcry over the Pasty Tax never tore through the ivory towers of the City Council. We’ll wager that while the fat cats of our local government were deciding the extent of the hike, they were feasting on Moo-Moo Milkshakes, on Bolitas Cheeseballs, and, of course, those tasty, tasty pies.

But the real culprit, of course, is cutting on a national level, which has backed the City Council into a corner stickier than a Brown’s breakfast. State funding of local businesses was never high on the Thatcherite economist’s list of priorities, and it is at times like this that the Old Somervillian’s economic policy comes under closest scrutiny.

We cannot bring back Margaret Thatcher, but we can certainly fight for our purveyors of tasty savouries, so vital to our city’s economy and student lifestyle.

You can take our Iron Lady – but not our pie and gravy.