Tory MPs using food banks for photo-opportunities is the height of hypocrisy

With the demand for food banks in the UK rising by 52% following the rollout of the government’s flagship welfare policy, Universal Credit (Trussel Trust, October 2018), it’s clear that they are one of the biggest challenges facing the United Kingdom. The Conservative government’s continued austerity and welfare cuts, coupled with the rising cost of living not being matched with wage growth, has led to the poorest in society not being able to afford basic necessities. Now, in a CCHQ bid to make Tory MPs appear ‘human’, it’s noticeable that a substantial number of MPs (Claire Perry and Dominic Raab being two of the most widely ridiculed MPs to have viral photos of themselves at food banks/collections) are using these systems for photo opportunities.

When my MP, David Rutley (conveniently now effectively the ‘food supplies minister’) posted an image on his social media feeds of him taking a picture with a food bank collection station in Macclesfield’s Tesco supermarket, it only went to further prove what the Tories are up to. Following the damning report into the effects of the governments policies in the U.K. by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, which found that the government was ‘causing misery’ and that ministers were ‘in denial’ about this, CCHQ have apparently told MPs that they must have photographs at local food banks and food collections in a bid to make them look like decent human beings, perhaps as a possible pre-election push to win over those who feel that the Tories truly are inflicting ‘misery’ on the poorest.

The sheer hypocrisy of Tory MPs knows no bounds. It is them that has led to the rise in use (up 13% on last year according to the Trussel trust in March 2018). It is them that have left many of the poorest in society living in ‘misery’. And it is them that will continue to create further poverty unless they are voted out.

The new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, criticised the ‘scathing’ report by the UN Special Rapporteur, arguing that not only was it wrong, but the ‘extraordinary political language’ was ‘inappropriate’ and  ‘discredited a lot of what he was saying’.

However, what Ms Rudd fails to realise is that its the government she serves that has caused this report to be published in the first place due to their horrific policies. That is politics and the fact that the language of a report that said that it was the government’s fault that many were living in poverty only goes to prove that the report’s claim that ‘ministers are in denial’ is more than accurate.

Jeremy Corbyn used PMQs this week to attack the PM on her record on the area, and in a sharp condemnation of the recent actions of Tory MPs such as Claire Perry and Dominic Raab, said that “food banks are not just a photo opportunity for Conservative MPs, all of whom supported the cuts in benefits that have led to the poverty in this country.” The Prime Minister’s response? Denying the report by the UN Rapporteur and refusing to halt Universal Credit. In pointing out the hypocrisy of the Conservative MPs, he drew the exact response that he wanted from Theresa May, proving that the ‘extraordinary political language’ of the UN report’s claim that the ministers were in denial is true.

Following on from her staunch denial of the UN report’s validity, the Prime Minister then had the cheek to once again blame Labour for the problems, saying that the Tories have had to make difficult decisions due to ‘Labour’s poor control of the countries finances’. To blame the Global financial crash for her austerity plans is a disgrace.

This Christmas, remember the families that are suffering as a result of the Tories austerity while you look at pictures of smiling Tory MPs laughing away and having a great time while getting a picture at a food bank. Remember the ‘misery’, a word so often repeated in this article due to the emotion it brings out, that this government has instilled on those who desperately need help as the Tory MPs live it up in their magnificent mansions and cosy cottages. Remember that there are people that are relying on food banks to feed them due to the barbaric Universal Credit system as the Tories tuck into their expensive Christmas meals that will no doubt be claimed back via their expenses, out of the taxpayers’ purse. Because while those who actually rely on food banks are suffering, the Tory ministers are ‘in denial’ as they live out their fancy, taxpayer-funded, luxury lives. Because this Government, and indeed, the Conservative Party on the whole, truly are for the elite, rich few, and most certainly not the many in this country that suffer at the hands of their cruel and callous policies.

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James Barber

Labour Party Candidate for Broken Cross and Upton in the 2019 Cheshire East Council Elections & Youth Officer for Macclesfield Constituency Labour Party.

James Barber has 16 posts and counting. See all posts by James Barber

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