I have picked through the BBC news report on Tesco dropping one of their meat suppliers with a fine tooth comb. At no point do Tesco deny that the horse meat used to contaminate their beef burgers results from Lance Armstrong cheating his way to 7 Tour de France victories.
I think this is quite a telling omission. We know Lance used blood doping. We know he used blood doping in France. We know they eat horses in France.
We know that paying tax is a moral issue as is obeying the rules in cycling. And, thanks to Environment Minister David Heath, we know that supermarkets have “a moral responsibility to ensure they know where their products come from” and ensure that they aren’t the by-product of Lance Armstrong’s thirst for horse-blood tainted victories.
I was listening to a radio version of Dick King-Smith’s Animal Farm last night, and I was struck by the noble loyalty of the horse, Boxer, who builds the windmill only to die being treated in the hospital. It struck me that whilst all the other animals let doubt creep in and poison the fabric of their society, there was one beast among them that stayed true and firm to the pigs’ vision of a State of Courage.
Horses are such loyal animals, how could anybody drain the blood from their bodies to inject into their own and then look upon the limp remnants as an opportunity to top up the meat content of cheap nasty burgers?
That is simply morally repugnant. But what’s worse is that I have no doubt that this has probably been done for tax avoidance reasons.
I’ll wager that the poor beasts had capital allowances claimed on them before being disposed of through a complex series of transactions which saw no balancing charge arise on the capital allowances. Ultimately they arise as stock in a Dutch company giving tax relief on them a second time.
Presumably, under the guise of research and development, the Dutch supplier will have been able to reduce their income tax and social security contributions, as well as creating grounds for charging inflated royalties on their unique blend of meats.
But what’s really compelling is the link with France.
We all know that the French like to eat odd things. I think this is where Lance must have crossed that moral line, deciding that there must be some use for the trail of horse carcasses he left in his wake.
Ultimately, that drive to win, that horrible neoliberal trait to trample over others’ hopes and dreams, must have pushed him over the moral cliff face and he descended into a horrible abyss of blood doping, tax avoidance and horse-butchery.
Looking back, are any of us really that surprised that a horse-vampire turned out to also be tax avoider, a drugs cheat and an illegal horse meat trader? I know I’m not.