Originally published for The Daily Mirror online
A furious plant shop owner has vowed to take lighthearted revenge on locals who voted for the Conservatives – by adding a 10% ‘Tory tax’ to their purchases.
But the chalkboard sign outside Matt Woodruff’s shop in Lewes has sparked a backlash – leading to his business receiving online abuse from right-wingers.
The neatly written message asks Conservative voting customers at Woodruff’s Yard to make themselves known, so they can be subjected to an additional 10% tax on any purchases.
“I’m sure as someone who has opted to support a party of elitist, self-serving types, that you understand this is one of the many ‘tough’ decisions that I need to make to ‘balance the books’ under your preferred government,” the sign reads.
“The backlash has seen a complete lack of sense of humour from Tories,” Woodruff told Mirror online. “I’ve had online abuse and people hoping that my business goes under.”
“It’s very surprising as it’s only a blackboard and it’s no different to what the right-wing press do.
“It seems it’s fair game to vilify the left, but when some little chap makes a sign, using Tory language and policies, it seems to cause quite an upset.”
The East Sussex town of Lewes had previously been represented by a Lib Dem MP since 1997, but Thursday saw Conservative candidate Maria Caulifield gain the seat.
The sign urges shoppers not to be a “shy Tory”, but it seems it is largely being ignored. So far, only one Conservative voting customer has made themselves known to Woodruff.
“I’ve had endless online abuse via my website and local forums, with people using pseudonyms,” the shopkeeper told us. “Yet only one customer has admitted she voted Tory – albeit after she had bought her plants so the tax couldn’t be applied.”
Woodruff is surprised his jokey sign has attracted such a backlash
“Of course I have no intention of actually charging them extra – it’s simply a joke to cheer up the liberals across the town.
“We woke up on Friday disgusted and embarrassed at the news that Lewes had elected a Tory MP – there seemed to be an air of mourning.
“So on Saturday, off the cuff, I thought I’d make a little sign to poke some fun at the ‘Shy Tories’ and cheer people up.”
And what about the 5,427 Lewes residents who voted Ukip? Well, Woodruff’s message is simple: “Please shop elsewhere.”
See also: How Not to Fund a Tory Business