Broadcast this widely:…during a debate in the House of Commons this week on food banks, members on the Conservative benches saw fit to laugh. They found it hugely amusing that 60,000 of their fellow citizens, including 20,000 children are facing the prospects of Christmas with out enough to eat. Such is the concern of the British Government for the people on who’s behalf it governs, Ministers chose not to contribute to this debate. Ian Duncan Smith, Minister for Work and Pensions, who is responsible for the Welfare Reforms, wore an inane grin as he heard that half a million people would be relying on food banks in this festive season, he then sneaked out of the Chamber leaving his deputy to answer any awkward questions. Not that she demonstrated any sense of seasonal good will. Speaking in response to the Opposition debate, Esther McVey claimed that it was a good thing that more people were turning to food banks. In an attempt to echo Cameron’s ‘we all in this together’ she said, ‘we’re all having to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt personally.’
Why is this Ms McVey? Can we just remind ourselves where this massive debt came from. The Office of National Statistics has calculated that the true cost of the bail out of the Banks adds up to £1.5 trillion. So the Banks sheer incompetence has landed us with the debt that McVey tells us we all have to pay off, by, if necessary going hungry. These incompetents are still taking £millions in bonuses, while we tighten our belts to pay for their stupidity. This, the richest business sector in the world, with some of the most highly paid executives have plunged us all in to debt and they collectively and personally are doing everything possible to shirk their responsibility. So it is left to the little people to pay up for their folly and greed, to go hungry so that they can enjoy Christmas with the very best of Champaign to celebrate another year of total rip off of the British people.
No wonder the Tory benches were laughing. They must find our gullibility at swallowing their lies about the state of the economy uproariously funny. For them, the economy is doing just fine.
What triggered this debate was an e-petition signed by 150,000 people, calling on Parliament to debate the rise in food banks. Petitioners got their debate, but all they got from this Coalition Government was smirks, laughter and walk-outs. There are now more than 400 food banks operating in the UK and serving nearly half a million people in 2013, a growth of 170% in 12 months. The Government is fully aware of this fact. DEFRA commissioned its own report, completed in the summer, but it has failed to publish it. Why? Because we suspect it might point the finger at Duncan Smith’s Welfare Reforms. No wonder he scurried from the Commons Chamber before questions could be asked.
The Government claims that there is no link between welfare reforms and the growth in food banks. They claim that food banks are popular simply because they offer free food – this is what LibDem Minister Lord Freud told the Lords when trying to explain away their existence in this, the seventh richest country in the world. Clearly this ennobled Minister, enjoying his £300 per day attendance allowance on top of his ministerial salary is unaware that the users of food banks have to be referred to them by an accredited agency and carry an authentication voucher. No Minister food banks do not offer free food on a drop in basis. If the report gave any substance to Freud’s claim, it most certainly would have been published by now and the results blazed across the pages of the Mail and Telegraph. But the report will not do this, it will show that food banks are a result of benefit delays and refusals, bedroom tax and personal debt, low wages and zero hours and the dreadful choice some have this winter between eating and keeping warm.
It doesn’t have to be like this. The Green Manifesto shows how we can build a fair and sustainable economy. Poverty is not a fact of life, it is a political choice, Greens refuse to accept that choice. Austerity is a political choice that the Greens reject. Fairness and equality in opportunity benefits all in society and that is our direction. Million pound bonuses and hunger this Christmas are the result of decisions taken by Parliament. Work with us to oppose those decisions, work with us for the common good, together we can make hunger and despair a thing of Christmas past.