Tories reportedly close to triggering leadership challenge against May

Amidst growing pressures surrounding the ongoing Brexit negotiations, its been claimed that the Conservative party backbenchers are close to launching a leadership challenge against the Prime Minister.

According to The Times, the Chair of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady has received 46 out of the 48 required Letters of No Confidence in Theresa May. While these are unconfirmed reports, they’re seemingly backed up by the amount of MPs who now feel comfortable criticising their leader. An unnamed ‘Former Tory Minister’ went as far as to tell the Sunday Times that there will soon be the moment when “the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted”, before saying “she’ll be dead soon”. Such language hasn’t been heard from Conservative politicians since Andrew Bridgen reportedly joked about “stabbing David Cameron in the front” and “twisting the knife”.

On Wednesday, the 1922 Committee will meet, and a senior Brexiteer has said that the PM should “bring her own noose to the ’22”, revealing that unless she pulls off an “uncharacteristically powerful, persuasive and coherent performance”, then her “time will be up”. And the previously mentioned Andrew Bridgen has said she is “drinking in a last chance saloon”.

With speculation rife about who the next Tory Leader will be, the favourites currently stand as being Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt and David Davis. Perhaps what is most striking is that there is no clear frontrunner amongst what is seen as a “bad bunch” of candidates.

Such news of an attempted coup against the PM will come as no surprise, with rumours emerging on Sunday that she has “72 hours to save her job”. The big question now is when, not if, the Prime Minister will be ousted, and while only Mr Brady knows the exact number of letters he’s received, its believed that enough Conservative MPs are willing to do what it takes to get rid of Mrs May. And if there really has been 46 letters already, then all it will take is just two more and there will be a leadership contest. While Brexit secretary Dominic Raab put out a rallying call for MPs to back her, it would seem like its too little too late for the beleaguered Prime Minster.

 

Brexit deal is “Still achievable” claims May, amidst difficulty over Irish border

In an impromptu speech to Parliament, the Prime Minister has told MPs that despite differences with the European Union, she believes the U.K. will still reach a Brexit deal. It comes amidst increasing difficulties in negotiating over a ‘back-stop’.

The British Government want an agreement covering the whole of the United Kingdom, however the European Union is concerned that the British plan is unfeasible and thus have proposed their own idea, which would see Northern Ireland remain part of the Single Market and Customs Union.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn describes the issue as “beginning to feel like Groundhog Day”, criticising the Government’s lack of action in the run-up to “a critical point in this countries history”. He reiterated that if Theresa May cannot get a good deal, she “has to make way for those who can”. 

Meanwhile Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster Leader, seemed visibly annoyed after Theresa May brushed off his concerns about Northern Ireland being left in the Single Market and Customs Union. In a lengthy answer, she refused to unequivocally state that Northern Ireland would be leaving the E.U. with the rest of Britain, and Dodds appeared to shake his head in disgust by her answer.

In an unreassuring speech, the cracks were on show for the Prime Minister. With the questions and concerns mounting regarding Brexit, she offered very little answers, and those seeking a strong commitment to a definite end date on a customs arrangements will be left with much to desire. 

In a highly anticipated moment for many, Dominic Grieve once again threatened to rebel against the government, saying that if the government leads the country towards a conclusion that would see us be  in a “two year relationship with the EU… with no say in the rulemaking” and remain bound to a “common rule book”,  he would “not be able to support the government unless it is put to the British people again”. 

As rumours of a cabinet rebellion stir and Brexit negotiations stalling once again, Theresa May’s attempts to cool tensions will have had little effect. 

British politicians are failing a nation – it’s time for progressive politics

A question for you. Do you think that the government has directly changed your life in Britain for the better in the last 10 years? One would guess that the majority would answer: not really.

Britain has come to a standstill. We could once boast that we were the fifth-largest economy in the world. But what good did this actually do for our society? How has the British government actually helped people directly?

One cannot deny that the Great Recession, which began in the late 2000s, has meant that Britain has needed to rejuvenate our economy.

Has that worked? Not really.

Growth in wages flail behind inflation, GDP growth has dropped dramatically, and tackling the deficit is continuously pushed back. And let’s not forget the harrowing impact which Brexit will have on our economy.

As we continue to boast about our economic prowess, homelessness is back on the rise, 30% of children live in poverty and mental health issues have steadily increased amongst Britons since the early 1990s.

Have our most recent governments begun to fail the British people? I think so.

For too long Britain has stalled at a ground level. We have bowed down to a Conservative government for eight years; a party who centre predominantly around the economy. And yet, they have failed at two levels; to revitalise the economy, and to bring social change promised to the lower and middle income earners. This needs to change.

I am sure many will shout: “but what about Jeremy Corbyn?” “Corbyn’s principles are what the country needs”. However, he will continue to live a lie until he opposes Brexit. A ‘jobs-first Brexit’ translates into, at the very least, a ‘soft Brexit’, which could also be classed as ‘no Brexit at all’. We have seen the countless number of jobs which shall disappear from a poorly organised Brexit; from industrial powerhouses such as Airbus and BMW, to the banks in the City of London. Corbyn has to get over himself, listen to his members and evoke some sensibility.

And that is exactly what British politics needs right now. Sensibility.

How does one class ‘sensibility’ in the face of British politics? Sensibility equates to progressive thinking. Sensibility equates to merging economics with social justice. Sensibility is placing Britain back onto an economic path which actually helps the poor, rather than lavishing the rich with more wealth.

A sensible politician cares about the people who live in this country, whether British, European, Indian, American – you name it. The diversity of British citizenship moulds the greatness of our nation.

A sensible politician cares about those who are suffering the most, those who struggle to maintain a basic standard of living. We cannot continue to live in a country where the richest 10th of Britain own 45% of the nation’s total wealth. Britain’s income gap is astronomical.

A sensible politician considers new 21st century social issues, pioneering groundbreaking legislation which allows every British citizen the freedom and liberty to live in this country. It is estimated that there are between 300,000-500,000 transgender citizens in the UK. Not one of them can determine their own personal identity without a series of lengthy medical tests and procedures, taking years to complete.

A sensible politician appreciates the environment. As global temperatures rise, it would be ignorant to deny the damage we are placing on the world. Investment into green technology, which nations such as Finland and Sweden have continued to do so, would prove our place on the global stage, eager to preserve the world we live in. How can we isolate ourselves as a nation intrinsically connected with every corner of the world?

Our two-party politics is in disarray. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are two politicians hung up on winning the political game. How can you vote for a Prime Minister who alters her position to sneak her way through power?

And there are many more on the British political stage who play a similar game. Boris Johnson, who once opted for Britain to stay in the single market, altered his views in the hope of grasping on to Tory leadership. Nigel Farage has backtracked on many of his views. Jacob Rees-Mogg knows that a no-deal Brexit will make many Britons a lot poorer – and make him a lot richer.

Do these politicians really care for our country?

It’s time we demanded action, change, progress. Away with the selfish, toxic politicians. In with the sensible, progressive demeanour which our nation greatly needs.

Britain deserves better.

With Theresa May teetering on the brink of collapse, its time for Labour to capitalise.

Four weeks ago I gave Theresa May six weeks left as PM. Now it looks like she won’t even get that. With the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis (and the subsequent resignation of the few remaining senior Brexit ministers), and the impending decision of the 1922 Committee to oust the Prime Minister, there is only one option for the country. And sadly for “Brenda from Bristol”, there has to be “another one”. In other words, we need a General Election…

For those who (rightly) thought Cameron was incompetent, Theresa May takes that to a whole new level. She called a General Election which she was confident she’d win by a landslide, lost her majority and has now seen SIX Cabinet resignations in 249 days. To quote the official Labour HQ line, “That’s one every six weeks”. Whether this is the most incompetent government in history is up to you to decide, but the Tories have been lurching from crisis to crisis ever since they were elected in 2010. Universal Credit, the Bedroom tax, Brexit and the reemergence of Tory sleaze are just some of the various scandals and messes that the Tories have managed to create in eight years.

And yet, perhaps its fair to say that the failure of Labour to capitalise on these crises epitomises what is currently wrong with British politics. Sadly for those who don’t like Corbyn or Labour, they are the only option. While you may think they’re a bad option, they’re the only option you’ve got if you want rid of Tory corruption and austerity. It was thought that in the election last year that Brexit would be the most important topic, and yet it was mostly disregarded by voters. But now, in July 2018, it is the Tory-made Brexit that is going to topple their own government.

Before Davis resigned, it was already news that the 1922 Committee already had 40+ letters out of the 48 needed from Tory Backbenchers to trigger a leadership contest. Now it would seem that the ‘Domino Effect’ will occur and see that target being reached. In this event, the Tories will elect a new leader, be it Mrs May once again, or the more likely ‘Brexit candidate’ (Rees-Mogg, Boris and Gove strike me as the most probable options). And once this happens we’ll be back to the summer of 2016, when the Tories had elected an unelected Prime Minister. And as we all know, this led to a General Election less than a year later.

This is what must happen again. As we approach the most crucial stage of the Brexit talks, we need to have an elected leader who has a mandate. Theresa May didn’t have a proper one considering her utter catastrophe of an election. The electorate should be given the choice between a Labour Brexit (whatever that is) and the equally unclear Conservative Brexit. Chances are that Brexit will once again be forgotten about in an election however, with Labour expected to fight an Anti-Austerity campaign once again. This is bound to resonate with the British people more than the Conservatives.

However, Brexit will come into it far more than last year. And this is why Labour MUST sort out its Brexit policy. While the two extremes of the argument (The Lib Dems with their campaign to stop Brexit and UKIP’s Hard Brexit) not expected to win people over, this is Labour’s opportunity to show that not only do they offer a far more “Strong and stable government” than Theresa May’s “Coalition of Chaos”, but that they can offer a compromise. Leaving the EU as an institution to please Brexiteers as much as is possible, and keeping some of the benefits to please Remainers.

But that is an issue for another day. One of the main comments I’ve had while talking to residents in my home town is “I wouldn’t vote for Corbyn” or “I don’t want Corbyn as PM”. That’s all well and good, but think of it this way. Vote for Labour because we want to properly fund the NHS with a feasible spending plan. Vote Labour to end austerity. Vote Labour to help the working class and the poorest in society, not the rich. If you don’t like Corbyn, bare in mind the alternative is the lying Tories. There is no alternative, because we live in what is effectively a two-party state. However there simply is no appetite for a new Centrist party fronted by rich ex-Tories like George Osbourne and Blairites like Blair himself. They would only split the vote and lead to more Tory government. So Labour are the only alternative to the Conservatives.

Perhaps the main issue for Labour other than Brexit and the anti-semitism issue is the fact that the aforementioned “Blairites” subscribe to the “anyone but Corbyn” view. MP’s such as Chukka Umunna and John Woodcock have opposed Jeremy Corbyn at every turn, shouting him down and effectively aiding the Tories. This has led for calls for many Labour MP’s (Woodcock and Kate Hoey in particular) to be deselected. Now, I’m a big believer that Labour is, and should remain, a broad church, with left wingers and centrists. However the key to this would be party unity, and sadly we don’t have that. If the moderates who are vehemently opposed to Corbyn actually backed him, they’d be real assets and we would be doing far better than we are. I agree that they are entitled to their views, but we must all come together as one united party. Because the real enemies here are not each other, but they are the Conservatives. Left wing supporters of the party must stop the abuse of the moderates as well. I’ve seen many examples of left wing trolls attacking our own MP’s and this is appalling. We are a movement. A community. A collective entity of passionate political activists looking to create a better world. We have a duty to this country to stick together and fight the Tories.

What the country does not need now is uncertainty and unelected leaders. The Conservatives have a duty to call an election now. Whether they will or not remains to be seen, but we need to sort out the issue of governance immediately. In Brussels right now, Barnier and co. will be licking their lips at the prospect of continuing negotiating with this awfully weak Tory government. They will be doing the same if its an unelected one should Theresa May be ousted.

Therefore, in order to get the most possible Brexit, being delivered by an elected team of competence, its time for another General election, whether people want one or not. Theresa May is finished, and Corbyn must seize this opportunity to finally rid the country of the Tories and bring about a sensible Brexit and end to Austerity.

And remember the options. Face more years of austerity, chaos and scandals with the Tories, or Vote Labour for a better future, For the Many, Not the Few.

Follow me on Twitter for more political opinion and news @James_Barber10

May In Power Is No Justice For Grenfell Victims

Ostensibly, society needed Grenfell. Grenfell was a community in South West London; skilled, qualified, and, until last summer, full of life. In June 2017 Grenfell Tower went up in flames entirely due to government negligence, leading to families without homes to return too and having to spend Christmas in recovery from the most severe trauma imaginable.

Offensively to the victims and emergency services the issue of Grenfell has been hoist to the mast of politicking by those with the most to lose from a truthful account of that nights harrowing events. Jeremy Corbyn has attempted to hone the attack on Theresa May in an earnest endeavour to hold Tory rule to account for fanning a culture in which the poor are bereft of concern. However, the executive’s concern still concentrates on funding selfish elite lifestyles off the public safety purse. Insofar as the Tories are pioneers of spin, blaming Corbyn for somehow “using” the event is itself an admission of guilt and demonstrates that it is the Prime Minister who is the one really liable. Corbyn cried with and consoled the people, whereas May engineered a media spectacle flanked by armed security whilst dragging along the issue with her iron claws for months to suit a narrow agenda.

The last day of the Parliamentary inquiry into the causes and failures saw a broad list of outstanding charges and criminal negligence amongst a toxic culture of complacency and impunity that culminated in an unwillingness on behalf of the authorities to meet statutory safety requirements. Testimonies by victims and their families all laid the blame squarely at politicians’ feet.

Whereas incisive criticism has exposed incompetence in government and media when public atrocities occur, this particular episode has redeemed our press to the extent that they, to our knowledge, have not scoured the private life of victims in the way that is the raison d’être of post murdochian tabloid journalism. Indeed, the press has performed exemplary service in its role as an independent auditor of government. In its concern for justice for the victims, the liberal media proved it is itself alive and up to the task of upholding the most basic of moral principles. It unanimously concluded that the circumstances surrounding Grenfell were indicative of government negligence, a startling but plausible event when people’s safety is placed below the profit margin.

Enormous trauma and distress has ensued. It is partially assuaged by public solidarity and meaningful gestures of care. But the pain is compounded by the reminder of May in rule, a regent so far removed from rot, rust, and the raging fire that tore apart the lives of so many.

Community life is beautiful. May’s spectacle ought to be the only thing condemned to the ashes whilst the spirit of Grenfell will undoubtedly rise from the ashes and long outlive it.

Gordon Brown Calls for a Second Referendum

 

Gordon Brown has become the latest in a string of high profile political figures in the UK to call for a second referendum on Brexit. According to the Daily Express, Brown plans to ‘re-enter the political fray next week joining senior Labour figures trying to thwart Brexit‘. This move was met with suspicion from those both within the Labour Party and those outside of it; time will tell how much of an influence it will have on policy of the Labour Party and the country.

It is no secret that the former Labour leader has been a long-time supporter of the European Union and has clashed with current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, over the issue and he has previously put pressure on Corbyn to change party policy.

There are arguments that almost two years on from the Referendum, people are more aware of the complexities of the issue and many who previously voted to leave have indeed now changed their minds. The referendum itself was never legally binding and so for many, it is vital to have a new, less binary, referendum which sets out the specific areas of EU policy such as membership of the Customs Union or Single Market. However, there is criticism that even with a more detailed referendum, the outcome may not be hugely successful. Opponents of the first referendum, and indeed referendums generally, would argue that they are confusing for an electorate and such important issues should not be put to the ordinary voter.

It is perhaps true to say that a majority of British people are at this point getting rather fed up with the constant talk of Brexit. Though it is indeed a critical issue and undeniably the most important issue to face the country for years, to start the whole process again with a second referendum may be detrimental to the cause that those in favour of it are fighting for.

There are further issues with demanding a second referendum in terms of the logistics of such a referendum. Since the 23rd June 2016, there have been significant changes in the politics of the United Kingdom and, at the very least there would be questions as to who would actually lead either side of the debate. Looking at the leaders of the two largest political parties, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, who both campaigned for remain, it would be difficult to imagine them both leading the Remain campaign a second time round.

It is no secret that the Conservative Party has a considerable level of Euroscepticism within it and for Mrs May to come out and lead a campaign to remain in the European Union in 2018 could spell the end of her leadership of the Party. 

On the other side of the political spectrum, Corbyn is not the ideal candidate to lead a renewed charge back to the EU either. He and many of his vocal supporters have been Eurosceptics their entire career, and to limp back to the EU now would not suit their long-term political ambitions.

The other contender to lead the Remain side would be Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable. The Lib Dems are arguably the only completely pro-EU major Party in Britain and would be an obvious choice to lead the campaign to remain. However, they have enjoyed limited electoral success in recent elections and they are still facing the hangover from the coalition years. It is clear, that a second referendum would cause major splits in what is already a fragile political landscape.

Overall, it is not untrue to say that for many, the call for a second referendum coming from a previous prime minister is not something that will go down particularly well. Every time a political figure from previous years appears on the current political system, the British public tends to react with suspicion and often hostility. To call for a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union is a bold move for Gordon Brown. There are endless arguments against a second referendum and in the words of Brenda from Bristol, ‘Not another one!’.

Johnson calls May’s Brexit customs union plan crazy

Theresa May’s plan to pursue a customs union deal with the EU post-Brexit has provoked a revolt from high-level members of her cabinet. Boris Johnson has labelled the plans ‘crazy’ and stated it would create “a whole new web of bureaucracy”.

The plan, which is similar to the one outlined by Keir Starmer in Labour’s Brexit plan, has been opposed by other cabinet Brexiteers.

Despite the EU apparently being open to the arrangement and it being a solution to the Irish Border problem, the hard Brexiteers within the cabinet are not pleased with the plan. They see the attempt to make the transition out of the EU and trade with the EU easier as a bad move as it will mean the UK will not be completely separate from the EU. Despite Johnson’s criticisms the Brexiteers both in and outside the cabinet have yet to suggest a realistic solution of their own to the Irish Border problem.

Nonetheless, with the feud within the cabinet becoming public, Theresa May might see her position as PM threatened. The powerful Brexiteers may use the threat of a vote of no confidence to ensure May shelves the customs union idea.

Business secretary Greg Clark has stated anything other than a close customs arrangement would risk thousands of jobs. Chancellor Phillip Hammond is also a supporter of a customs union.

These developments follow the House of Lords arranging a vote on an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill which would keep the UK within the EEA. The Brexit committee also urged the government not to rule out EEA membership and said the UK should consider membership of EFTA after Brexit.

The goings on at Whitehall have also provoked action amongst Labour supporters. Keir Starmer has designed Labour’s Brexit policy to be just softer than the government’s. This move by Theresa May may bring the supporters of EEA membership within Labour Party finally out into the open. Stephen Kinnock MP wrote an opinion in the Guardian this morning supporting EEA membership. Many MPs and a large percentage of the membership support EEA membership and with a need to retain it’s Remain voting supporters it might now make electoral sense for Labour to back EEA membership.

However, with more socialist members of the party resistant to the single market Labour might be left with an identical Brexit policy to the government. Emily Thornberry has spoken out against EEA membership telling Labour members it will not work.  She said a “British bespoke deal” was needed instead.

Nevertheless, Labour may become increasingly tempted to back EEA membership especially with the rise in support for the Liberal Democrats in the recent local elections.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty, Editor in Chief

This is now the second time Theresa May has copied Labour’s proposals on Brexit but the PM copying Keir Starmer’s work is not a bad thing. This is another short burst of realistic thinking from the government but our negotiators have really lacked creativity and we are paying the price for that.

Johnson is right. It may well limit our freedom to trade with outside nations, if negotiated badly, and create more bureaucracy but the Brexiteers have yet to make a single realistic suggestion of how to solve the problems we face as a nation. May needs to start making practical suggestions, or they will remain on the backfoot in negotiations that the EU has dominated so far.

A customs union negoiated properly that will allow us the freedom to strike trade deals with other nations but bide us to some EU regulation could be a very attractive option, if Davis and co can grind out such a deal in Brussels.

Whether the Brexiteers will allow May to pursue a customs union is another question. Without any ideas of their own, they would be left to diffuse the bomb that is Brexit with no tools and no clue and whilst they may hate the idea of a Remainer pursuing a moderate Brexit their own political survival might be important to them.

I fully expect a large faction of Labour to start supporting EEA membership, but Labour should be careful not to alienate voters outside of London who see freedom of movement as a key reason for their vote for Brexit.

2018 has been a disgraceful new low for the mainstream media

The editors and journalists of the mainstream media need to take a long hard look at themselves. The coverage of politics we have had to endure this year politics is probably the worst it has been in my lifetime.

Today’s headlines see Jeremy Corbyn condemned for visiting a Jewish group to attend the Seder event, a ritual service held on Passover, “with Jewish members of his local community”.

The reason, the group is not a mainstream Jewish group and has been critical of the actions of Israel. The story is frankly ridiculous. Corbyn attempts to connect with the Jewish community but is criticised, by mainly non-Jews, for meeting the wrong type of Jews.

The whole antisemitism debate has been covered poorly, without scale or background. There has been no mention in the mainstream media of the Labour Leader’s excellent record on standing up to racism, yet they were willing to ask ‘If Jeremy Corbyn was a racist’ due to his comments on a Facebook page on an antisemitic mural.

That was last week, but the coverage has dragged on and on which has led to the suppression of important stories for cheap political gain. No one in the mainstream media is innocent, from the Guardian to the Mail we have seen story after story about Corbyn’s mistake. This onslaught of media outrage suggests that the Labour Party is a hotbed for antisemitism and specifically an issue on the left. However, the statistical evidence demonstrates that Labour Party members are less antisemitic than their Conservative counterparts and that most antisemitism is found on the far right. Additionally, the continuing negative coverage has been criticised by many in the Jewish community who are appalled by those willing to weaponise antisemitism for political gain.

 

However, the issues I have with this biased coverage is two-fold. This is because the mainstream media is not only exploiting the hurt and pain of the past, but it is also providing a smoke screen for other important issues. For example, the killing of 16 unarmed Palestinians by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday. Those killed were among thousands of Palestinians who were protesting Israel’s oppressive policies along the border when members of the IDF started firing live ammunition into the crowds. Worse still was that the reports describe the events as ‘clashes’ between protesters and the IDF. These were not clashes, but rather indiscriminate acts of aggression from soldiers who turned their guns on an oppressed people fighting for their existence.

The Prime Minister refused to condemn Israel for its actions. I would encourage all citizens to write to their MPs about this attack on Palestinians, as I have today. Whilst the Prime Minister didn’t speak out, Jeremy Corbyn, yet again, confronted the senseless aggression by condemning the actions as “appalling” and demanding justice.

The media is clearly biased against Corbyn, but in case there was any doubt, statistical analysis has revealed that up to 75% of the coverage misrepresents him. However, it is important to remember that it is not Corbyn that they truly hate, but rather the centuries old movement that he has reinvigorated. In other words, his success in fighting for the many will be at the expense of the few who have for too long misinformed and oppressed the masses.

We live in dark days for traditional journalism, which is why those reading should help and support independent media.

Other stories have been missed, including Google’s continued tax avoidance, reports on poor results of Grammar schools and any real investigation into Cambridge Analytica. All stories that the Conservative Party would rather you didn’t see.

The media is biased against Corbyn, that’s not my opinion that’s a statical fact. 75% of coverage misrepresent him. He’s an anti-establishment man, in an establishment game.

I hope the mainstream media improve, it will put me out of business but I still hope they return to sanity. Short of a Charlie Skinner esc character returning there is another option. The independent media, but they need financial help to succeed.

Lords delay Dickensian changes to free school meals, but they must be overturned

Approximately 30% of children live in relative poverty in the UK, and for most of these, school meals are the only way in which they get a hot meal each day. However, under proposals voted through by the Conservatives last week, which children get Free school meals will be changing in line with the controversial Universal Credit system.

With 1.3 million children claiming free school meals, there is clearly an issue in Britain with child poverty, and we can all agree that for such a developed country this is a disgrace. Under new plans, The Children’s Society and The Labour Party claim that “over a million children will be without a hot meal in schools”.

Under the new proposal, those earning over £7,400 from work and on Universal Credit, your child won’t be entitled to FSM if they’re in Year 3 or above. But by this definition, the government is effectively saying that if you are earning even one penny over the means test threshold (£7,401), you aren’t in poverty and you can afford to feed your child. This, to put it lightly, is atrocious.

With the cost of living increasing, and real wages going backwards, many people who has a household income of £25,000 per year are struggling to cope, let alone £7,400. For example, the Minimum Income Calculator shows that a couple with two primary school age children need to be earning £19,230 per year EACH to have a decent standard of living. Yet the government argue that if you’re earning over £7,400 per year, you don’t need your child to have free school meals. This is nothing short of a disgrace. The reform is yet another example of a Tory government that simply does not understand poverty.

The Government estimate that if earning “around the threshold of £7,400” and on Universal Credit, families would have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 when benefits are taken into account. But with the aforementioned Minimum Income Calculator statistics, its clear that earning in the government estimated amounts per year from benefits and work simply isn’t enough to live comfortably. And once again, it must be emphasised that if you earn £8,000 for example, and are on universal credit, you aren’t going to be eligible for FSM.

So what can we take from this? Well, clearly, less children will be receiving FSM in the future, and this could have a devastating effect on their education and lives as a whole. It’s a known fact that during childhood, proper nutrition is important to academic success. If a child isn’t eating enough, they will struggle in school and in their normal home life as a whole. Free School Meals offer them the chance to eat a hot meal in school and combat malnourishment caused by poverty. The Conservatives clearly don’t care about this.

The Labour party were desperate for these plans to go ahead, this meant the Tory party needed further support. The solution, buying of the DUP. Promising that Northern Ireland would be excluded from the proposals so they got the bill through the Commons. This is, in my view, political corruption, and while not punishable in any way by parliament, it should be by the electorate. So many children in the future will be adversely affected by these horrific changed, and we must fight them. Winning the vote by 312 to 254, the Labour annulment failed, much to the displeasure of the  Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, who promised to “continue to campaign for free school meals for the poorest children”. The fact the DUP knew that doing this was wrong, evident by the fact the initiative will not go ahead in Northern Ireland, yet voted for it anyway is disgusting.

I recently wrote to my local MP, Conservative Whip David Rutley, and his response back was simply an attack on the Labour Party, not a justification of the new policy. Claiming that Labour have lied about the policy and that no children will lose FSM in the future, Mr Rutley was insistent that this policy would be beneficial, inserting the claim that 50,000 more children will be eligible for FSM in the future. While this may be true to an extent, we have a rising population so naturally, with more people going into a state of poverty, and his party failing to combat this, of course more children will need to be eligible for FSM in the future.

On 20th March however, the government was dealt a damaging blow, when a motion proposed by Labour Peer Steve Bassam urging the government to halt the changes to its Free School Meals policy, and this motion was won by 167-160 votes. While having no complete power over government policy, this shows that even the Lords don’t agree with the policy. The lack of coverage of this by the Mainstream Media is disappointing, as not only is this a crucial blow for the government, but it also shows that the Lords have some relevance after all.

While they should be a fully elected body, the fact they’ve rebelled against the government shows that they can have a purpose. Obviously, they haven’t stopped the government on this issue, they at least have the chance to influence and stop them from putting forward such a disastrous policy.

The debate on Free School Meals is one that must not be brushed under the carpet. We have a duty to help our vulnerable children in poverty, and the governments careless and thoughtless policy will only serve to damage the lives of these children and indeed, their families, even further. We must stand up and fight the government on this issue or else face the most vulnerable group in society suffering even further.