Please don’t let Nigel Farage be the only one who stands up to the tampon tax

The UKIP leader has shown his contempt for women's bodies numerous times - yet he's trying to woo female voters by promising what other parties won't


UKIP announced yesterday that it wants to scrap the VAT on tampons. Currently, women’s sanitary products are classed as ‘non-essential luxury items’ by the Treasury, meaning they are taxed at five per cent.

UKIP’s head of policy Suzanne Evans is absolutely right to call the tampon tax ‘outrageous and outdated’. When you consider that condoms and the pill are free on the NHS, the fact that we pay for tampons at all seems ludicrous; it’s all part of the same system!

The list of things that George Osborne considers to be more essential than tampons includes:

Ornamental vegetables

Alcoholic jellies




In February, David Cameron promised a group of students that he would look into the law:

“Some VAT things you can change. Other VAT things, if they’re linked to other products, it’s quite difficult to do it within the framework of European laws and I can’t remember the answer.

“I think it’s very difficult to do but I’ll have to go away and have a look and come back to you.”

– but has yet to make any further comment. Labour, the Greens and the SNP have so far been silent on the issue.

So it is great that UKIP have drawn attention to the issue; I hope that David Cameron and Ed Miliband will realise that they cannot allow a party as misogynistic as UKIP to outdo them on something so obvious as tampon tax.

Just to recap on UKIP’s usual view on women:

Nigel Farage has described paid maternity leave as ‘lunacy’:

“With this lunacy, that if you have children you get three months paid leave off work, or six months paid leave off work – [Godfrey Bloom] absolutely got it spot on.

“His comments get to the absolute heart of the problem of the EU. Social policy against employment policy…that’s why there are over 20 million unemployed in the EU.”

Mr Farage thinks that women are ‘worth less’ to City employers for ‘biological reasons’, and that breastfeeding mothers should ‘sit in a corner’. Meanwhile UKIP want to make it legal to discriminate on grounds of gender, (as well as race) and numerous MPs have been caught making sexist comments about ‘sluts’, women in the workplace, and the existence of marital rape. For a full list of these see here.

So it will be bad news if UKIP’s announcement on the tampon tax manages to woo more female voters. We will have reached a situation of sheer insanity if Nigel Farage is the only leader standing up to end this unfair tax on women’s hygiene.

Of course, what the pledge really is is a way to sell UKIP’s anti-EU message to a different demographic. UKIP say we cannot end the tampon tax whilst we are still in the EU. Because no European country can exempt something that is taxed under EU law, removing the tax would require a Europe-wide effort.

But European laws can be changed, so long as there is consensus across the continent.

As campaigner Laura Coryton has pointed out, these things happen in small steps, but someone needs to take the first one. If the chancellor signed up to end the tax, the petition could grow to the point that it could be presented to the European Parliament. We need the support of our government if we are to lobby for change in the EU.

This is an issue that affects all European women; sanitary products are taxed at 27 per cent in Hungary, and 20 per cent in France. But besides the actual numbers, there is a principle we must defend: the rights of women to access products that are absolutely necessary for them to function, and necessary for hygiene and dignity.

So please, Westminster – don’t let Nigel Farage be the only one who stands up for it.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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49 Responses to “Please don’t let Nigel Farage be the only one who stands up to the tampon tax”

  1. Rollo10

    20 million unemployed in the EU? There’s over 20 million unemployed in UK? Go here; Page 4 line A02! We have 19.1 million Economically In-Active + 1.9 million unemployed? That 19.1m figure, is only slightly less than the number we have in Full Time Employment? [19.3m]

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    Economically inactive is a different statistic to unemployed, and can’t be compared directly

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    Eh – several months to look at the law on this is quite reasonable, I’d push Cameron for an answer soonish.

    Farrage is making statements without looking into the legalities of the issue, which is easy to do.

  4. JoeDM

    Sod the EU laws. Let’s run our own country.

    Well done UKIP !!!

  5. Guest

    “Other bad, other bad”

    Let’s not bother to check what we can do, which is probably entirely legal under existing law.

    Well done running at the mouth, without thinking or checking, remembering you want millions not to be able to afford tampons at all!

  6. Jack

    Just think, the women in that photo sat at home at their kitchen tables colouring in placards and making imitation tampons in the belief that standing out in the street and waving them about was an effective way to change tax law. Why do people do such things? The utter futility of it. Still, it was a nice day out for them and probably made them feel part of something.

  7. Smithersjones2013

    What legalities? UKIPs policies are predicated on the UK leaving the EU not unreasonably so it would be perfectly reasonable for them to exempt any items from VAT. In fact under such circumstances they could scrap VAT and replace it with a totally new regime of retail taxes if they wanted.

  8. Smithersjones2013

    I think it is highly unlikely that the establishment parties will say
    anything about this policy. They value our membership of the EU far more
    than they value the women of this country.

    The thing is from
    Brussels perspective this will not be about sanitary products but about
    the concept of exempting an item once it has been deemed to attract VAT.
    Under cxurrent rules that is forbidden. As such they will not do
    anything about it for the simple reason it sets a precedent which could justifiably be argued for energy in thIs country, food in other countries and so forth.
    Such a precedent could undermine the effectiveness of EU taxation at a
    time when Brussels wants to promote tax harmonisation across the EU.

    the precedent were set, how long then would it be before someone thinks
    its a good idea to exempt everything from VAT and sets up alternative
    retail taxes? Brussels consequently are loath to change such rules.

    also find it particularly disturbing how misrepresentative and
    prejudiced this article is. It doesn’t even mention that the proposal
    was announced by two of UKIPs senior female politicians both of whom are
    tipped to be the next leader. If UKIP were such a bastion of male
    chauvinism surely they would not even have been on the platform let
    alone given the responsibility and profile to announce it or be tipped
    as future leaders?

    Perhaps supporters of other parties should
    list the failures of the Labour party and not least that at the start of
    this government they had I believe it was 6 MPs sent to prison. 5 for
    expenses fraud, 1 for election fraud and were lucky not to have had a
    couple of dozen others sent to jail with them including Ministers.
    Should the Labour party forever more be condemned as a party of crooks?

    of course lets not forget about the antics of the likes of Sion SImon,
    Damian McBride and Derek Draper during the last Parliament none of whom
    seem to have any respect for women at all. Given their ‘sins’ against
    women fall well within the timescales of the behaviour referred to here
    relating to UKIP and furthermore given Labour have not even mentioned this proposal who in fact really are the bad guys?

    As I understand it the likes of McBride and Simon are still members of the Labour party whereas of course Bloom for example has been expelled from UKIP.

    comparison UKIP’s ‘crimes’ against gender entitlement are small indeed to Labour’s crimes
    and that they have proposed this policy and are putting women at the
    forefront of their party demonstrates that they do have the interests of
    women in mind.

    PS The author talks of UKIP ‘MP’s’. The only
    UKIP MP’s are Doug Carswell and Mark Reckless and to my knowledge
    neither have made any such statements as the author suggests. As such this article is defamatory and libelous. Perhaps she might amend it to say ‘MEP’s’ and save herself a law suit?

  9. Smithersjones2013

    VAT rules can only be changed by the EU. The UK Government has no sovereignty over them.

    a) Get Brussels to change the VAT rules (not going to happen)

    b) Get special permission from the EU which is extremely unlikely because of the precedent it sets.

    c) Withdraw from the EU

  10. Leon Wolfeson

    I don’t care about UKIP’s fantasies.

  11. Guest

    Keep mocking that evil democracy thing you evidently want no part of.

  12. Guest

    There are rules. It’s far from clear that the UK government cannot zero-rate here, based on them.

    You sneeze, you want to withdraw from the EU. And stop millions affording tampons. Thanks, Joe.

  13. Guest

    Ah yes, Joe, they don’t want to stop women from affording tampons because they are not anti-trade, as you completely mis-state the rules – and ignore the fact that there’s a lot of momentum behind reform of that principle, as a lot of states are up in arms about things like eBooks.

    Of course you find democracy “misrepresentative and prejudiced”, as you talk about UKIP, as you want to smokescreen UKIP views and talk only about Labour – and how they’re…er…so much nicer than some prominent UKIP supporters.

    Of course you see the protesters as the evil ones, as you say that widespread bigotry isn’t an issue, and UKIP are making empty promises, based on reducing one small part of tax, but trying to lower wages overall by far more.

    Of course you find journalism, “defamatory and libellous”, by it’s very nature.
    Rich White Men don’t need none of that.

  14. politikalme

    you cared enough to put them into your first comment – make your mind up…

  15. Patrick Gearon

    ‘Please don’t let Nigel Farage be the only one who stands up to the tampon tax’

    This is the author speaking, not the ladies in the photo. I wonder if they know they’re being used while the author trips out on an anti UKIP rage.

  16. Rollo10

    Yes it is, it’s where the government park those that have been ‘Sanctioned’, those that have no Bank A/C, don’t contribute to taxation and don’t receive any benefits? They aren’t in any government programs [NEETS] They are ECONOMICALLY IN-ACTIVE, as Opposed to those 32.7m Economically Active who do contribute? And…. according to the ONS, there are over 1.7m Pensioners on that list? [Difference between A02 & A03]
    It’s never discussed because it would expose the fact, THERE ARE NO ‘REAL’ JOBS!

    Why does Cameron specifically state 15m, for his ‘Voluntary’ work? Because 4.5m are Self-Employed, he has no say over their ‘Volunteering, the rest are Part-Time, Temps? Out of just under 52 million over 16 taxpayers, only 30.9 are actually doing any work [EMP01] this would suggest the other 1.8m are retired and paying tax on Interest? [32.7 – 30.9]

    They only tell you what they want you to know!

  17. Jack

    You mean ‘demockracy’. Haha.

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    Er no. It’s everyone not working or looking for work.
    NEET is a different term relating to young people only.

    These are terms useful primarily for statistical trends.

  19. Guest

    So you didn’t read my post. Right.

  20. Guest

    Ah yes, how dare your party be discussed. Can’t be allowed, any excuse must be found…

  21. Guest

    Thanks for showing how much you hate it, and Britain.

  22. Populist Alliance

    The article states “but European laws can be changed, so long as there is consensus across the continent.” Why should we have to get agreement with umpteen member states just to take this one simple step? Getting out of the EU would mean this and other decisions being taken quickly, without long bureaucratic delays. In any case surely it is the message of opposing the tampon tax that counts, not the messenger….unless we would rather no party planned to scrap it. Given that the Labour/Lib Dem/Tory and Green Parties all support EU membership they have no option but to accept the tampon tax.

  23. Guest

    Ooh, ooh, why should we bother following rules to agree.

    You want the tampon tax, it’s clear so you can simply blame the EU, as you refuse to actually look at the relevant law – it can probably in fact be done with a redefinition of the class of products tampons fall under.

    Getting out the EU can slash trade and make sure millions of women can’t afford them even without VAT, too. Yay for your plans!

    PS, Farrage has failed to join the EU Parliament working group on VAT reform, so he’s posturing on this.

  24. George McCarthy

    You’re merely fluffing the facts. Economically Active; means they have an Income and contribute to Society, by paying tax and so on, even a Pensioner can be retired but Economically Active, paying tax on Interest. Unemployed; means they don’t work but receive JSA and are ‘Economically Active, by seeking work. Economically In-Active; means they have no income, receive no funding from the state and do not contribute to society! These are the people who have fell through the ‘cracks’, ever thought where the people who get sanctioned are placed, because they’re not counted in any other list? NEETS is a term used to indicate they are in the system But Not in Employment, Education or Training.
    We have 51.7m 16+ taxpayers, of these 32.7m are EA, of these 30.8m are Employed and 1.9m are Unemployed, which leaves 19m Economically In-Active.

  25. George McCarthy

    “These are terms useful primarily for statistical trends.”

    Why is it NEVER used? Cameron mentioned it once in five years, in a speech in 2011, he was rattling on, then said, ….”and the Economically In-Active……….are the lowest for years”! That was it, …when I looked, I found they had jumped 1.5m on his watch?

  26. blarg1987

    Incorrect as if that was the case, we would be paying VAT on the same items in every country across Europe, however we do not, for example some countries have VAT on food and exemptions on other things.

  27. Sparky

    You’re using the word ‘hate’ again Leon. It’s very revealing of your psychology.

  28. Leon Wolfeson

    Not quite. Economically inactive includes people like housewives, university students, early retirees, unpaid (family) carers, people claiming disability benefits and not working, etc.

    The rate is primarily useful as a comparative to past rates.
    Also, be sure you’re using % of the population and not absolute numbers – otherwise it’s misleading.

    (I am not, to be clear, supporting the Coalition, I’m talking about the statistics here)

  29. Guest

    Yes, I /do/ tell the truth, right. Thanks for backing me up!

  30. Sparky

    No, you haven’t understood. I’m saying that the reason you keep using the word ‘hate’ is that you’re an angry, hateful person.


    Leon you sound like a boring bastard. No offence intended.

  32. Rollo10

    VAT is set by EU @ 15% anything above is down to country of origin!
    This is why we have differences in VAT, different countries set different zero rates also.
    What we cannot do, is lower below 5% something that has already had a VAT levy applied!

  33. Rollo10

    It’s VERY clear, UK cannot change VAT rates below 15%, which are set by EU. We can only alter UP or Reduce back TOO 15%, not below!

  34. Rollo10

    Pop, you ain’t keeping up, we now need to ask each member if we can have a Referendum? According to new EU rules on QMV, we wont be getting out! We will need 72% [20] and their populations must add up to 65% of EU [the big nations]. Also as of 31st March 2017, we become FULLY INTEGRATED into EU, on this day we lose the right to Article 50 and we can no longer Repeal European Communities Act 1972? This is why Cameron said LATE 2017, he also gave another hint last month when he said “I wont seek third term”! This is because under EU ‘Cities2020’, we become ‘Regionalised’ and controlled from Brussels, each region will have a ‘selected body’ NOT ‘elected’, Parliament, as we know it, wont exist! It’s all written in the Lisbon Treaty, just a matter of knowing where.
    I suggest before voting; EVERYONE ASK THEIR MP, “When do we get usurped, by EU!?

  35. Rollo10

    Housewives and those on DLA and unpaid are ‘Economically Active’! They are in receipt of funding so must be, recorded on line EMP01, the number of Unpaid workers is listed as 114,000 and the number of ‘Government Training’ is 106,000 along with those who have two jobs, 1,200,000? They are all counted in the 32m Economically Active!
    I’m trying to point out, WE HAVE NO WORK! “In Britain, long gone are the relatively well-paid manufacturing jobs
    that helped build and sustain the economy. In its place, the country has
    witnessed the imposition of a low taxation regime, low-paid and
    insecure ‘service sector’ jobs (no-contract work, macjobs, call centre
    jobs – much of which soon went abroad), a real estate bubble, credit
    card debt and student debt, which all helped to keep the economy afloat
    and maintain demand during the so-called boom years under Tony Blair.
    Levels of public debt spiraled, personal debt became unsustainable and
    the deregulated financial sector demanded the public must write down its
    own gambling debts.”

  36. Rollo10

    No law to look into! EU set VAT rate and it’s currently 15%, each country is allowed to impose it’s own above that, but can’t reduce. Nothing that has had VAT applied can be removed, but must go to a full membership agreement!
    Tampons were originally 15% VAT, but because VAT can’t be removed, it was applied for and successfully reduced, to 5%.
    We really need to get out, because come 2020, we will be Totally under their control. Cameron has hinted at this, when he said “I wont apply for a third term”! Because in ‘Cities2020, we become REGIONS! Controlled by a ‘selected body’ NOT an ‘elected’ one?

  37. blarg1987

    However there is room to bend the rules, which does happen. And if necessary use our influence to change these rules.

  38. Leon Wolfeson

    Uh…no. Read up on this, really.
    I care that you’re abusing a statistic here.

  39. Leon Wolfeson

    What, for knowing some statistics? Pfft.

  40. Jessica Carter

    But Laura Coryton did also report that Ed Miliband has made a commitment to end the tax:

  41. Elly van den Heuvel

    Well in the Netherlands there’s no VAT on cut flowers so I’m quite sure we can have no VAT on sanitary products if we choose to.

  42. Guest

    Lower *product categories*. Not individiual goods.

  43. Leon Wolfeson

    …For which there’s a lot of support right now.

  44. Guest

    So you want to waste MP’s questions with sillyness.

    There’s of course a legal path to exit, now, *thanks* to Lisbon. And you’re talking nonsense, showing you don’t have any idea about parliamentary sovereignty, as you spin conspiracies.

  45. Guest

    Ah, you’re now at this late stage trying to move the goalposts and demand I be like you. Right.

  46. Guest

    “No facts needed”.

    Right. You’re wrong, it’s based on product categories and you’ve got a silly conspiracy there there.

  47. Rollo10

    You want facts? Here’s a picture of the UK drawn up in Regions!
    And this shows how we fit with the rest of EU
    Here is the EU legislation on VAT!

    Knob head!

  48. Guest

    So random conspiracy forum links, right. Thanks for agreeing with me!

    And signing your post appropriately.

  49. Rollo10

    Conspiracy theories, such as Agenda 21, usually turn out to be conspiracy plots, such as 9/11 and 7/7, they don’t want talking about. Usually because those calling it a ‘theory’ are in fact the ‘plotters’!
    How they got away with calling Agenda 21 a conspiracy for so long, is unbelievable, when it has an ISBN number 978-92-1-100509-7?
    It’s because they don’t want something discussed, they call it a conspiracy, like Dr Kelly’s death, he still hasn’t had an official Post Mortem? They never asked who moved the body and why?
    The Holocaust, why do they jail people for asking questions about it? Did it happen as they say, or was it a False Flag? To blame Hitler?
    Just a few, stop accepting the narrative and start asking pertinent questions!
    Why did a man, experienced in explosives, get on a bus, which later got diverted, when asked why he got off, just before it exploded? He said he’d reached his destination”? No-one knew it was going there?
    The Italian government are now taking USA to the ICC, a s new evidence has been submitted, regarding 9/11? Don’t be weak all your life, fight back! Here’s a gem from the ‘Times’ –

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