The Tory Hunger Scandal

If I were to sit down and write an article, even in list form, of the reasons this government deserves to be brought down, all of the different forms its damage to the country is taking, and all of its acts of immorality, I’d be sat down for a long time. In fact, I’d be sat down for so long that by the time I’d stood up I would not have an article in front of me, but a book. Not a book I imagine anyone would want to publish either, as it would be a hopeless slog of despair to read.

Conversely, if I was to give you one reason why this government should be ashamed of itself, condemned and brought down, that’s much simpler. Forget all the background noise, forget the xenophobia, the incompetence, the lies – forget it all. Here’s a singular reason for you. Just one. This summer, a third of British parents had to skip a meal in order to feed their children during the school holidays.

This was brought up by Labour backbencher and MP for Stoke-on-Trent Ruth Smeeth at Prime Minister’s Questions last week. Voicing her disgust with this shocking state of affairs, she led into the question:

How many kids will have to go hungry and how many parents have to go without food before this Prime Minister will do her job and act?

Her statement and question was one of the most powerful I’ve heard at PMQs in some time. The rest of the session went by like a blur as I sat in shock at that statistic, replaying it again and again in my head. No, that can’t be right. Surely not. That can’t really be the case. Can it?

I soon snapped out of it and returned to reality. Of course it can. Under this government, no damning statistic should come as a surprise anymore. Nonetheless, and let me just repeat it for you, a third of British parents had to skip a meal in order to feed their children during the school holidays. No, we’re not talking about a famine-struck sub-Saharan country, we’re talking about Britain. And no, not Victorian Britain, 21st century Britain. More to the point, Tory Britain.

This is one of the most stinging indictments that can be made of this government. We are one of the wealthiest states on the planet, but over 30% of families couldn’t afford to feed their entire household this summer. This is nothing short of a full-blown hunger scandal for a country as economically developed as ours.

This government, from the day it took hold of the levers of power, has exercised a masterclass in immorality. From the bedroom tax, to the public sector pay freeze, to the constant and malicious targeting of the most vulnerable in our society with a sinister programme of austerity, the Tories have truly epitomised their old maxim – the nasty party.

Is it not bad enough, that nurses, the people who spend their lives dedicated to caring for others, are forced to rely on foodbanks to subsist themselves? Have we not reached rock bottom, when disabled people are driven to suicide by a government that tells them they don’t deserve benefits because they’re fit to work when they’re medically not? Are we not already beyond the pale when we have thousands of people sleeping on our streets because they aren’t granted housing benefits and this government refuses to build affordable housing? Now, this ideological conquest of austerity has led to parents being forced to choose whether to feed their kids, or eat for themselves.

Of course, that’s not really a choice for any parent, they will always choose to feed their children, as is human nature. But why must we live in a society where that choice is even presented? It is disgraceful. It makes me sick to my stomach. This is a government that looks after its own, that protects the interests of the elites, and if the rest of us go hungry, see if they care.

I am truly ashamed to live in a country that’s governed by a mentality that will put more effort into fighting court cases to defend six to seven digit bonuses for bankers, than into the alleviation of relative poverty in Britain. We are in 2017 Britain, and no child should go hungry. By the same token, no parent should go hungry just to feed their kids.

One of the most economically developed, technologically advanced countries in the world is starving its people. Welcome to Tory Britain.

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