Thoughts on the foodbank debate, from the public gallery.

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It’s taken me almost 24 hours to write this post, as if I had written it after the debate last night it would have probably been a big rant about what a nasty piece of work Esther McVey is – and the work that has gone into the debate and the efforts of 142,000 people who signed and shared that petition was too valuable to waste in a rage.

So I took some time to reflect, rather than leap in, and here I am.

Last night, sitting in the public gallery at the House of Commons, I witnessed the hideous, smirking face of one (yellow and blue) side of the house. Half empty benches lined with braying, jeering, sneering MPs, shouting down Maria Eagle in her opening speech as she attempted to set the terms of the debate for food bank users, volunteers, and struggling households up and down Britain.

To sum up the Tories response, Esther McVey ‘welcomed’ the rise in food bank use. She wasn’t the only one:

Roger Williams (Con): “Food banks have come rather late to my constituency, but I really welcome them.”

Another MP claimed the Government was doing everything it could:

Robert Halfon, Con: “No one denies that there is a problem, but…the Government are doing everything possible to alleviate it.”

Iain Duncan Smith scuttled out after McVey gave what was described by one MP as ‘the nastiest speech I have heard in 43 years.’

Again and again they brayed that ‘food banks opened under Labour’. Yes, they did. Nobody denies that. But if the Tories were so concerned about food bank use in 2005, where was their petition? Where was their campaign? Where was their opposition day debate? And where is their explanation for the surge in their use over the last three years since the Coalition Government began its ‘war on welfare’?

They repeatedly claimed that ‘work is the best route out of poverty’ – refusing to acknowledge the many more unemployed people than job vacancies across Britain. Refusing to acknowledge that a great proportion of food bank users are people IN WORK, part time, full time, on minimum wage, on zero hour contracts. Work is not necessarily a route out of poverty – which is a terrifying indictment of life under this Coalition government.

I realised early on what was happening, as McVey claimed that there were ‘only 60,000 foodbank users in Britain’ – when the Trussell Trust figures and Oxfam figures show that there are almost TEN TIMES that amount. But nobody, NOBODY corrected her. Nobody intervened. It just flew out, another unchallenged lie, thick and fast as she jabbed her finger at the opposing benches and talked so off topic that I wondered if she even knew what debate she was at.

Labour MPs shared, one by one, devastating stories from their constituencies. The man who was using a food bank after being sanctioned for attending a cancer appointment. The man who tried to hang himself. The woman whispering to food bank staff that she needed sanitary towels and toilet paper.

Ian Lavery (Lab): “A gentleman in my constituency…was sanctioned when he was in hospital for a heart condition. He lived for a further three days on field mushrooms and borrowed eggs. Is that what we want to see in the UK in 2013-14?”

Madeleine Moon, Lab: “The working poor are finding it difficult to get basic products as well. My food bank has told me that people sometimes talk to staff quietly to ask whether they have toilet paper or sanitary products. It is not just food that people cannot get, but other expensive products.”

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab/Co-op): “Figures released this week show an increase in diseases such as scurvy and rickets, and an increase in malnourishment. The Government should acknowledge that in the context of today’s debate. Frankly, it is disgraceful that we have not had a Minister from either of the main Departments sitting on the Front Bench for the whole of the debate.”

But the Tories response was blanket, whipped, a refusal to engage with any of the real world being spelled out before them.

And that’s their whole strategy. Denial. Defiance. Distraction. Not a flicker of emotion as Labour MPs spoke passionately about the desperate situations that their constituents found themselves in. Just a three line whip and a stout refusal to stray from the party line of hardened hearts and outright denial. It’s easier to talk in numbers, in micro-economics, neo-liberalism, national debt, belt-tightening, than it is to talk about starving children, homelessness, destitution and despair. It’s easier to walk out of the debate than listen to the heartbreaking testimonies one at a time.

One Tory MP said: “As a parent myself, I cannot conceive of not being able to feed my child.” And that’s the whole problem. Stuffed suits fighting their way to the front of subsidised bars and taxpayer-funded canteens – jeering about the poor who at the very same time were fighting over reduced fruit and vegetables in their local supermarket. There but for the grace of God they go, but they do not represent their cold, hungry, desperate constituents. Shame on every single one of the 296 who voted against the motion, and I hope that shame follows them to the ballot boxes in 2015. Enjoy your beers in the Strangers Bar, because if fairness and justice prevails, those beers are well and truly numbered.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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Categories: Blog

193 Comments »

    • I find this engagement on “foodbanks” rather horrible.. Yes they are a reality.. Should charitable “help” be a necessity for “poor” families receiving benefits rather than the state paying.. Well I am afraid I say YES..

      After benefits were introduced It was common knowledge that welfare assistance was not designed to pay a “family’s” total living expenses, it was a supplement to help alleviate poverty only. This tenet has not changed !!!

      An Example.. During the 1950’s/60’s if a single girl had a child she had to rely on help either from her parents, the child’s father or she had to get a job; and In the worst case having to give up her baby.

      Being able to live purely on State benefits should not have become an acceptable lifestyle.

      Complaining there have been no jobs available has been disproved by the fact that approximately 4 million + Immigrants have successfully attained full time employment since 2000… In 2000 the working population consisted of about 9% immigrants (European/other) and is now about 17.5% (approaching one fifth of total working population).. The main reason immigrants have these jobs is because, in the main, UK citizens will not take them.

      • I don’t think your opinion is that simple. I think you may find that often the jobs the immigrants take are not advertised through British Agencies. Lately even politicians have been voicing their concerns that ‘gang masters’ and overseas agencies are filling British jobs before British workers have a chance to apply. Something many of us have suspected for many years. Also you may find that the low paid jobs that go to immigrants go to immigrants who live in multiple let accommodation where many British families, single people etc., live in nuclear family situations often in areas where there is no industry and travelling costs are so high that low paid jobs miles away are not an option. What a country when we cannot either motivate or educate our own people and sing the praises of immigrants who take these jobs, thus keeping down the wages of working people in this country. What I would like to see is people with opinions like yours, live on £70.00 a week from which you will have to pay all your bills (except rent) go to interviews, pay for broadband, because it really is a necessity these days if you want to apply for a job and keep body and sole together when you have applied for a job with one of our large supermarkets, not even been interviewed only to be served by an immigrant who can barely speak English. Try it. I know young men and women on good salaries who call in the pub on the way home and think nothing about spending £70.00 on one nights booze and fags and then call the less fortunate scroungers. Think about it.

      • So, your reasoning is that in the 50s & 60s that’s how it was, so that’s how it should be now? Shall we just freeze technology and social thinking at an average 1955 standard then or do you allow us to advance, but only in specific areas of your choosing? I think being able to ‘live’ i.e. survive on state benefits is perfectly acceptable, and by that I mean a basic level of food, shelter and utilities. We are talking about people who cannot afford FOOD – to eat – a necessity – for life.

  1. It was a depressing session.

    Maria Eagle made a standard Labour speech while the Tories bayed and laughed. Esther McVey showed that she’s a one-woman Nasty Party. Many of the Labour speeches were breast-beating from central casting, but not all. Most of the Tory speeches were irrelevant or unpleasant, but not all. Steven Baker (Con, Wycombe) had a thought-provoking story to tell. I wonder if you can identify with his “poking the fried egg”, “eurgh, what’s that?”.

    It was pointless. Nothing was going to come of it except a few forgotten minutes on the telly. After a rushed debate the government won the vote. They don’t have to take any notice.

  2. A Daily Mail reader who I know actually said to me when I said I had donated food to a food bank that they didnt know why I bothered.People who used them had enough money for fags, bingo and booze, they were just scroungers.

    Just shows the depth of ignorance on the subject.

    • I’ve had or heard similar responses for lots of different charitable deeds/organisation’s work.

      Strange isn’t it? On the one hand, as you say, it’s plain ignorance. But on the other hand, so what if that’s the case? I think those able to feed themselves do also treat themselves to just as many if not more luxuries.

      Why should those who are better off financially be able to enjoy all those luxuries, not donate to the poor AND judge the poor for their consumption of the same luxuries?!? I think unless you are living a (somehow) objectively super healthy lifestyle you have no right to pass judgement on other people’s consumption of anything and if you are that super healthy person then you have an obligation to educate those around you, including the poor, to help improve other people’s quality of life.

      Either way, we must share our time, knowledge and money to help others.

    • I think part of the problem there is that there are people that do that but not all. So people use those people as an excuse not to help those that are really trying. It’s a chronic problem. There are a lot more people trying to help themselves but they don’t fit into the agenda of those who think everyone has a sense of entitlement.

    • You are so right, Karen. It is the reply I get rather too often. Have we lost a sense of community completely? Is it really the case that “The well-fed one wouldn’t understand the hungry one”? Even after so many fantastic classical stories including Dickens?

    • Unfortunately it is not just Daily Mail readers who consider the poor to be that way through their won fault. That attitude against the poor is growing among those who may never ever have to depend on a Foodbank or any other kind of hardship help.

    • That is disgusting Karen but the media are to blame as they always report on the few who abuse the system rather than the many being abused by the system! Benefit claimants are mostly are portrayed as scroungers.

  3. If we had unconditional basic income we could end all this. There would be a real safety net and nobody would go hungry. Everyone in work would be guaranteed to be better off than those out of work and the jobless would be free to take temporary and part time work without having to then fight the government for benefits. If you could engage your fans in the same way for Basic Income as you have for this single issue, we would have enough votes in one day to meet the quota for the UK and 10% of the votes that we need for the whole of Europe to get the EU to start us on the road to ending poverty. Please get in touch http://basicincome.org.uk/sign

    • You are absolutely right, Paulo. A universal basic income is the next step forward in civilization and long overdue. It will permanently eliminate poverty and stimulate the productive economy much more effectively than the crude, cruel dogma of “earn or suffer”.

      But UBI will only work as part of a wholesale restructuring of our financial systems – banking, money creation/distribution, and taxation.

      Most importantly, we cannot propose funding UBI via conventional taxes on productive activities: people will not vote for UBI if it means significant increases in income and sales taxes.

      There are better ideas (e.g. negative interest rate) which must be pursued and developed before UBI will be taken seriously.

      • UBI doesn’t require “wholesale restructuring of our financial systems” or “more taxes” – the Citizen’s Income Trust has outlined a scheme that’s approximately cost and revenue neutral, just by replacing some benefits, tax reliefs and allowances.

      • Most, if not all, of the funding for UBI already exists – we pay it out every day in benefits and pensions, plus in salaries to those administering such things, not to mention the great sums of money handed to Atos & Capita etc. UBI also means cutting the DWP department almost completely. To the point that it would perhaps be better as an arm of HMRC. That’s one snout out of the trough instantly as well.

    • Indeed! I’ve long been a proponent of universal basic income. It would save a big bundle now spent on administering benefits and, more importantly, it would restore dignity to people.

    • Well said, Paulo. Politicians seem determined to ignore the one policy, unconditional basic income, which would change this horrendous situation for the better. It’s like there’s a weird public S&M game being played between the Tories and Labour – the Tories on how this cruel nonsense is somehow necessary, Labour on how badly people are affected, yet with no alternative except more of the same. Or if Rachel Reeves is to be believed, perhaps even worse. How many times does it have to be proved that the big stick approach towards unemployment doesn’t help people find jobs when the jobs don’t exist? How wide does the wage and productivity gap have to get before people start demanding their money back? Businesses do or make things to profit the owners, so employment is something they’re always looking to cut down on, especially with new technologies. Why so much insistence that people ‘be employed’ rather than acknowledging how much we already do regardless of whether we have a job, and supporting people in finding new, better ways to employ ourselves? Please support the European Citizen’s Initiative on Unconditional Basic Income. It’s an old idea whose time has finally come.

    • Very well said, I would like to see more publicity on ubi out there in the media as it is a real solution to a very real problem. I would love to see an article written by the author of this piece on the subject. What about it Jack?

    • With all due respect to suggest that a universal benefit would end hunger though sounding fair is in essence naive. Having worked both for the state benefit system in one job and alongside struggling individuals and families in another I know it’s not that simple. No bureaucratic system can possibly take every single persons situation into account, because the reasons for poverty are varied and complex and often involve people’s life attitudes and lifestyle choices in addition to their circumstances. Perhaps one of the best answers is proper financial education and/or access to help for those who struggle educationally. Tighter regulation in banking and on excessive interest would also help protect the most vulnerable people. Another answer is taking individual responsibility to help people and not to expect the state to do a job that is impossible.

      • Really
        my attitudes to work have been far above most middle class earners and I always felt insecure due to low wages even when feeding my ex’s not my children

    • Absolutely! That is most definitely what is needed.

      Somewhat counterintuitively it will actually reduce welfare dependency – or at least the welfare mentality. And the genuine security would be fantastic.

    • You are right there, I’ve signed the basic income petition.
      Despite two household that have increased over the past 10 years
      i wonder how long it will be before I qualify for Foodbank or any other hardship payments. Even if you are on slightly more than the recommended living hourly rate it is easy to have a shortfall unless you have the ability to work an 80 hour week.

  4. Well said Jack, I watched/listened to it online whilst at work and I was absolutely disgusted with the way in which the debate was conducted.

    There was no surprise that our local MP’s Eric Ollerenshaw and the equally vile being that is David Morris voted against the motion because neither of them are capable of independent thought and only ever side with the Government unless it’s about Gay Marriage which Morris voted against.

    It’s appalling that this is the way politics is conducted in 21st Century Britain, it’s not a school playground and you should be able to have serious discussions about the ramifications of government policy without resorting to jeering and bickering.

  5. The bit I saw last night wasn’t a debate it was just a bit of banter about how good these food banks are, how wonderful. Ignore the underlining problems, get a big brush and lift that carpet up.

  6. Jack,

    does the voting process allow a way to bring about an early vote to remove members or do you actually have to let their terms expire and vote in a national election.

    This might have to become LiveAid 2013 or 2014.There must be someone in the music biz, fearless.

    Be well

    Laurence

  7. I follow you on line avidly Jack, don’t ever stop what you doing we need people like you. I hope that succeed in whatever endeavours you plan in the future. If I can help I will but am in a similar boat to all the other out their. Take care. Peace

  8. There’s no excuse for their ignorance or their jeering They are supposed to serve the people, not rule over them (if you still believe that’s what politicians do). But, after reading a comment on one if your other posts, it seems all your hard work to get the signatures and get them to Westminster was wasted because a pile of extra stuff was tacked on. If true, a very noble an honourable cause was hijacked and turned into something that was never going to get the votes. A great opportunity has been wasted, in part, because it was put in the hands of a bunch of Labour MPs, who couldn’t pass up the chance to royally f%*k things up the way they always do and quite frankly, they suck just as much as those jeering Tories.

    • Seriously, you’re deleting my comments? I give up. I quit going to the Daily Mail because they wouldn’t publish my comment in support of you, Jack. Other than my “hobnobbing” comment last week, for which I sincerely apologised, I’ve tried to be supportive even though I see things from a vastly different perspective to most commenters here.

      • Richard, I have 238 comments to go through and 600+ that have been shifted to ‘spam’ – usually when a user posts more than one in a period of time. Don’t be over sensitive if a comment doesn’t appear immediately, sometimes it takes days to go through them and I do have a job to do and a child to look after, unlike the Mail who have hundreds of staff to deal with things like this. Jesus.

  9. What a disgrace, The coalition MPs are our representatives. They should be working for us. but instead they are laughing at us as they watch us struggle to keep our heads above water. They are totally out of touch with the realities of life. Keep fighting Jack.

  10. How sad, how very sad. Do they not realise that this can so easily happen to so may of us. So many are just one pay cheque away from a major crisis.

    • The real wickedness is that Yes ! They DO realise that – but they just don’t care !! They are always going to be OK, because they are already rich, and have wealthy friends – the rest of us can just go hang. In their eyes. we are a DRAIN on the economy, needing food, education, medical care, social care… what a waste of money which could be lining THEIR pockets…. ! ! ! ! !

  11. All these politicians are the same. I remember signing a petition to Number 10 when Gordon Brown was PM and although tens of thousands of us signed it all I got from it was a load of drivel, written presumably by a civil servant, that said absolutely nothing in a 1000 words. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.
    It’s going to take something like a petition signed by at least two or three million people to get them to sit up and take notice as this level of support would indicate to them that their seat was possibly at risk.

    • I entirely agree with you. They are all the same, if they are not robbing us they are taking us to war. Funny how they can always afford war.

  12. I had to turn it off during Esther McVey’s speech because I could stand it no longer – what she was saying bore very little relevance to the debate, it was trite and insulting and the constant shouting, jeering and braying made it difficult to listen. The brayers are a total disgrace. I am left speechless that this behaviour is deemed to be acceptable.

  13. Well done for even getting them to hold a debate Jack, and well done for your efforts on behalf of the vast majority of people in the UK who are not finding life particularly nice to live at the moment.

    Yes, McVey and crew were, and always will be, sickening to watch – but quite honestly that is what I (and I think a great number of people) have come to expect from them.

    Don’t give up – you have a voice, and that alone is a great thing which gives all those who feel they do not have a voice themselves a ray of hope to hold on to.

    May I wish you and your small family a very happy Christmas, and may 2014 bring you great happiness and some much deserved and well earned peace. Thank you for speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves xxxx

  14. Time for us to get organised and make sure we note those that vote against the bedroom tax and food banks.
    We need to use our right to vote these abominations out of power and for more like you Jack to stand up and make a noise, I’m sure there is one “Jack” in every constituency, time has come to stand up and be counted and EVERY UK citizen with the right to vote to use that vote and remove these awful excuses that are supposed to be representing us the ordinary folk on the street.

    I have not always voted but by god I am making sure I do now and making sure I question everything that’s happening and encouraging everyone I know to go forth and demand the right to a living wage, and not to be frightened by sanctions etc.
    Surely folk can’t sit by the way now as this governments policies have impacted into everyone’s daily life in some way.p

    Jack stand for Parliament, and show these twits what compassion and a true good heart is….

  15. I honestly don’t know anyone who uses a foodbank. I think they are a fantastic idea and obviously lots of people require them urgently but who pays for them and where will additional money come from? I already pay an additional £35 per month of my wages in pension tax which I don’t get paid into my pension, basically a £35 per month pay cut and I don’t receive a penny in state funds and wont either when I retire. I have received a 1% rise in the past 3 years and am far from being a fat cat, tory or rich, just one of millions of tax paying and working parents in Britain.

    I have no comment on foodbanks as I have no working knowledge of them, I simply don’t want to read he said she said, I want to know WHY there is a need for them and WHAT can be done to stop them being needed. I just don’t want to be the one footing the bill

    • The majority of people using them are due to problems with the benefits system, either through delays or sanctions or rule changes (so no money coming in at all). Others are using them due to a drop in income as welfare cuts come in and drops in wages take effect for those who have low paid jobs.

      As a personal example I am seriously sick and disabled and had to give up my job as a university lecturer 3 years ago. Given that this was a highly paid job I have some savings and so I have never had to resort to a food bank. But otherwise I would have had to due to errors with the benefit system.

      6 months after first being awarded ESA (the benefit given to those too ill to work) I was reassessed. Unfortunately they lost my form. The first I knew of it was a P45 through the post and my benefits being stopped overnight. As I had sent the form by recorded delivery, they acknowledged their error, I sent in a new form, and on reassessment was once again found too sick to work. The money was backdated.

      The problem is that all of this took over 2 months to sort out. During this time I had no income whatsoever. As I said earlier, I had savings and was able to live off that. But as you can imagine, someone less fortunate than myself would have struggled.

      In such a case Food banks may well need to step in. Although as you are only allowed 3 parcels I am not sure what someone in my situation with no savings would actually do. I hope I never have to find out.

      The situation is not likely to change any time soon, in fact it is going to get worse. Changes recently implemented by the benefits system now deliberately leave people without income for weeks at a time (eg mandatory reconsideration, end of month Universal Credit, in kind help). Most people on benefits are by definition poor and, unlike me, won’t have a few savings to fall back on.

    • Hi Lee, I volunteer for a food bank in Dagenham which is fully supported by Jon Cruddas, our Labour MP and his team. I work full time and my co-worker owns his own business. Jon’s team refer people to us and we deliver to their homes. All of the food we get is donated by the congregation of the church we attend or bought with any money they give. We also use a supplier who recently delivered 6 pallets of food which we paid for. We are not paid and I believe that is the same for every other food bank volunteer. We do it because we want to give those who are genuinely in need a hand up, NOT a free handout as some people believe. The majority are on benefits, granted but some are just struggling to pay their bills and feed their children. As far as I know, no one outside of a food bank pays anything to run them but a recent initiative saw our local council join food banks in the borough with schools and children’s centres so that the community could donate. An extra pounds worth of shopping goes a long way to help. Ultimately, our aim is to help those we visit to find work where possible and not rely on us but until then, we will make sure they are not going hungry. Hope this gives you an idea of why the need for food banks is so vital and necessary in the current economic climate.

    • I think you should add ( as well as “I just don’t want to be the one footing the bill” ) ” I hope I am never forced to use one ” because, , as you are not a ‘fat cat’ you should know that NOBODY IS SAFE.

    • I live in a town where sadly alot of people are forced to use the foodbanks. The foodbanks are provided by the churches and local charities, the food in them is provided again by the churches and the charities. i do feel that it is very sad that in such a wealthy society that we live that there are those who are not so blessed.It is sad that we live in a society where the most vulnerable are not cared for as they might. I don’t earn a lot of money but it costs nothing to put a few extra tins per week into my shopping basket.In doing this when I can i hope that I too might be helped when I can’t.We never know when our comfortable lives might be changed just like that and we too might need help from such a place as these.

  16. What got the poll tax stopped? What got dawn to dusk working down to an eight hour day? What got the Magna Carta signed? Wasn’t debate, was it? From the behaviour of the Tories in this so-called debate you can see why. You can ‘debate’ till you’re blue in the face, history illustrates clearly it won’t change a thing. This oppression and theft goes on and gets worse till it’s forcibly ended. Better get used to the idea. How could you think it would be any different? Name the bully that was ever stopped by debate! Good grief…

    • I see your poll tax and raise you the emancipation of slavery, the American civil rights movement and Indian independence.

      All of which were achieved through non-violent protest, debate, democratic political action and most importantly changing public perception to the point that inaction became an untenable option for those in positions of power and change occurred.

      It is a long and painful road and will require patience and self sacrifice but non-violent protest has a proven track record of producing real change. Jack and others are starting a movement. If enough people support it and are prepared to sacrifice for it and if the justice of the cause can be demonstrated over and over again then eventually change will inevitably ensue.

      • I’m sorry, but civil rights and Indian independence was not always done with “non violent protest”. And people died, quite often, and rather brutally. Non-violent protest only worked at the time because the message was clear: “See all of us…now think of what will happen if we all get angry.” It was that undercurrent threat which made people stop and think, and even then a lot of people ended up dying at the time.

        The difference now is that non violent protest has no teeth in it. It’s clear to governments that people will not rise up, that the numbers mean nothing; that it is just venting steam and after the protest is done, people will go home. As a result, protests are now generally ignored. People are too passive. Ergo, I doubt anything will change.

  17. Jack –

    Don’t give up. No campaign worth fighting for – votes for women, abolition of slavery, racial, & sexual equality – was ever won at the first hurdle. Your petition got a debate. That debate has been held, and MPs’ words and votes are now recorded for posterity – they may well come back to haunt them. It is dispiriting when your opponents don’t see sense right away and accept your arguments, but you have to keep chipping away. One day there will be fairness, and people living in one of the richest countries in the world will not have to rely on food banks. But until that day comes, more power to you and your comrades-in-arms.

  18. It would be good if we could take the politics out of the debate and concentrate on the issue as all sides can batter the other with sly comments. It’s not completely a Lab/Tory idea/problem/excuse; All need to deal with the facts and not the slick clever speeches.

  19. “As we are saying, it is positive that people are reaching out to support other people – from church groups to community groups, to local supermarkets and other groups.

    “In the UK it is right that more people are… going to food banks because as times are tough, we are all having to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt personally which spiralled under Labour, we are all trying to live within our means, change the gear and make sure that we pay back all our debt which happened under them.”
    Esther McVey

    These are the key words for me in that vile woman’s speech, people are using food banks to help pay back the national debt, it’s right that people are going without food, I forced myself to watch the whole debate, the anger disappeared they are not worth mine or anyone Else’s energy that anger uses.
    The term the nasty party was true in Thatchers reign of terror and is true today.
    It forced me to make a bit of scene when I was putting food in the food bank trolley today at Sainsbury (small one) someone who was a bit peeved at waiting while the attendant helped me put the shopping Id just bought in the trolley piped up we don’t have any people here (Shrewsbury) who need a foodbank, I put him straight and the others in the queue were surprised too, one woman asked me what things were needed so I handed over my list, before I left the store the Trolley was nearly full and a small group of people are now aware, It’s the level of ignorance that is the problem now, the Government were never going to submit and help or alter policies. Working at informing the general public is the only answer to this and other Welfare problems

  20. Jack, I waited and hoped for the debate to happen and was looking forward so much to an open and honest session in parliament to discuss why the need for food banks was so high. As we saw it was a jeer fest, a nasty Esther McVey sneered her way through her speech and IDS sat beside her sneering, every time a labour MP spoke they were drowned out by braying fools it was horrible i watched the whole thing from start to finish. What I would like to know is can this subject be brought to the house again and again or do we have to wait till voting time at the next election to vote the out of touch fools from office.

  21. There is a level at which people SHOULD take responsibility: Responsibility for the fact that we have a government which is systemically corrupt and psychopathic.

    The US declaration of independence shows that it is not our right to throw off such tyranny, it is our duty.

    Clearly, the democratic channels have long since dried up in usefulness. Clearly the state and media will demonise and smash to pieces many overt and antagonistic forms of protest.

    It seems to me that one obvious tool has not yet been tried : An attempt to occupy parliament in demand of very serious reform, notably regarding lobbying and straight out bribes for policy (£100k to £250k being the known figure for “premier league” policy influence with NOTHING being done about it beyond actually PROTECTING the government from it being called corrupt.)

    Thanks nonetheless Jack for your sterling ongoing efforts. People like you, and there are of course many, give us hope for humanity in dark times of rule by some absolute filth.

  22. Esther McVey has a small majority, just over 2000. Perhaps nearer the time you could remind her constituents of her contribution to the debate. Revenge may yet be a dish served cold.

  23. Does anyone here belong to the London Freecycle cafe group? I have posted jack’s list of MPs there but it keeps getting “moderated off”. Any thoughts as to why? It is MEANT to be a forum for open debate on any topic”

  24. We are all going to have to keep fighting hard for quite a while yet unfortunately. Whilst the Labour Party aren’t as mean minded about all this as the Tories, they still allowed UNUM (and Lord Freud) to run an evening at their last Party Conference. They are currently also wedded to the idea of demolishing state benefits and replacing them with private insurance.

    What is heartening though, is that there are lots of people coming together in this struggle for basic humanity. Every time I feel like I’m surrounded by a pack of baying wolves ready to leap at my throat (as I did when watching footage of the foodbanks debate), I very soon see a counter example of people showing strength and generosity in helping others. The sad thing is that it’s those of us who have least who care most. The good thing is that there are a hell of a lot of us.

    Keep up the fight people!

  25. deeply saddening . Is there no compassion. Food banks should not exist in this day and age in the UK. But thank God they do! As said before most MP’s are just braying donkeys,no matter which party, Vote out all sitting MP’s or their nominated sucsessors next election the only way to change things!

  26. I was expecting this to happen. Theres no glory or money for any of them so brush it under the carpet mentality. Hoping it will go away. You have still done well so dont give up. But dont sacrifice your life fighting. Next step? Get others involved to help take it to the next level.

  27. it really upsets me when I see things like this. My father, who campaigns for the Conservative party doesn’t believe me when I tell him about the Conservative party laughing at poverty etc he doesn’t read the Conservative manifesto as I questioned him about it in the last general election and he couldn’t answer one of my questions about electing the police commissionaire etc. He doesn’t watch news programmes like panorama or anything else like that. He just believes if he is okay then everybody else must be okay. When I try to explain to him what I am paying a week for bedroom tax, he says I should be getting a discount because my wife and I sleep in separate rooms (For medical reasons), even though I’ve told him this is not the case. He still believes that it is true. I have my appeal against atos on the 23rd of this month and he is so naive that he thinks I should walk it, and there wouldn’t be a problem. My point is, like my father, most Conservative voters are exactly the same and they don’t read things like this and they don’t watch news programmes on this sort of thing, and they honestly believe that anybody That uses food banks are just scroungers because, like it was said in somebody else’s post they can afford to buy cigarettes & probably have a dog and always plays on the scratchcards and the national lottery and they probably got a bottle of whiskey tucked away somewhere and can always afford a drink can of beer

  28. as I posted on my fb…
    Get your head round THIS…
    Gidiot Osborne spends tax payers money arguing AGAINST banker bonus caps, who are now set to get a 44% rise while this government is now set to receive 11% pay rise.. While average income is now down 8% since 2008…
    EU offers financial help to subsidise the food banks to help feed the poorest and the worst off amongst us (Fund for European aid to the most deprived) and IT IS REFUSED!!!!
    Now let that sink in, ok?

  29. David Cameron: “The test of a good society is you look after the elderly, the frail, the vulnerable, the poorest in our society. And that test is even more important in difficult times, when difficult decisions have to be taken, than it is in better times.”
    Andrew Marr show Sunday 2 May 2010

    David Cameron: “Fairness means giving money to help the poorest in society. People who are sick, who are vulnerable, the elderly – I want you to know we will always look after you. That’s the sign of a civilised society and it’s what I believe.”
    Election speech 6 Oct 2010

  30. It’s all there above and I can’t add anything meaningful except that I don’t feel “sad”, just furious. I just want to say to you Jack that your command of words and skill in composition are comparable to those of many Oxbridge educated journalists writing for the national press. It must be your passion that summons up the language. The amount you write in a week must take up a lot of your life every day, never mind ploughing through all the comments. You are certainly entitled to the living wage.

  31. Thanks Jack, you have raised awareness amongst ignorant people like me and I am very interested in the sainsburys campaign! for which I wish you good luck. With that behind you I hope that you can give your son enough to eat, and he will be very proud of what you have done.

  32. Hi
    I cant ague with what you say. Even though I buy the Daily mail.( we are a 3 person household and it was the only one we could colectivly agree on, its also fab for lining the cat tray)! I am better off than some and not as well as others. I know this though Twice in my life I have faced homelessness, Once beacause of a berevement and the second time I had my home compulsory puchased because the government said my district was not fit for human habitation. I dunno thought I was doing quite well! hey what do I know though; im a jo blogs know nowt me!. Like all of you I struggle daily to keep things going and I cannot belive that the Tories would STILL allow this need for food banks to happen.Women are still (in my view) very vubnerable would Mcvey ever contemplate havieng to as for sanitary items and loo roll! No!
    Keep on going Jack.
    May you and your family have a happy christmas xxxxx Rachel plymouth

  33. Mc Vey used to be our local MP when we lived in Merseyside. She used to be less mad then. Now she’s become a party drone and a nasty one at that. Our local guy now, supposed to be Lib Dem, was on your voters list. With a massive food bank in his constituency town and another in the town where I’m going to work today. Small town, food bank in the church hall and there were 250 christmas food parcels all lined up.

  34. My mp voted no in this vote. I have just returned the Christmas card he sent me this week, with a clear explanation of why I wont be voting for him again. I’m a working single mum and really struggling. Told him to enjoy his payrise why I apply for a winter wellbeing grant as I cant afford to heat my home.

  35. Thank you for your write up. So many people just don’t see the truth of the situation.I was brought up in Africa as a child and never thought I would see “handouts” being a necessity of life here in the uk. We are too ready to shout the word “corruption” in the context of developing countries & hunger but I am now begining to use this word in the context of the MPs who denigrate those who are struggling whilst they sit in comfort & are so untouched that they laugh at those who go with the necessities in life. I find them quite hideous…..

  36. The scary thing is that pretty much all the parties are complicit in this. And voting for any of them won’t change a thing.
    I’ve voted Lib Dem all my life (well it was SDP at one point) – but I’m faced with a major problem at the next election, who do I vote for!?
    I added my vote to this foodbank debate, but I also knew it would do absolutely no good.. parliament is corrupt.
    Sadly I don’t know how to fix it.

  37. Please, please let’s keep fighting for more awareness and changes to actually happen. We can’t give up. Jack, very well done for all your hard work so far.

  38. The biggest problem is the fact that most of the government are millionaires, they haven,t seen poverty. They don,t understand because they have far to much money. Poverty can lead to other problems ie mental illness and addiction.

  39. Jack,

    We are planning a FOODBANK FAST to highlight these issues, clearly there is no ‘appetite’ for action from the Gov. If we can mobilise a fast across the nation living on the foodbank minimum we might get some action and debate on the wider issues…. (buying to the value of it, not actually using them!!) there will be a Facebook page later today for this.

    Thanks for your campaigning, time to crank up the pressure…

  40. A terrific bit of writing Jack, that needs to be read from everyone across the political spectrum. When they offer you that MBE, take it, because you’ve earned it. (At work we say MBE’s are “My Bloody Efforts, OBE’s “Other Buggers’ Efforts”.

  41. Brilliant Jack. I was ashamed that mcvey is a fellow human being, and being from her neck of the woods ashamed that she is from an area of poverty but chooses to pretend otherwise.

    Thanks again for a well balanced blog.

    Pauul j.

    • Yes Paul she made me laugh banging on about something for nothing culture then gets her utility bills paid by the tax payer

  42. Thank you for writing this; it has been very much “on my heart”. I want to get involved as we have a dreadful crisis. Ironically, I was studying for an M.Sc in Public Heath and had to leave due to illness Sadly, I game to face the grim reality of a huge mortgage and no income. The associated stress compounds matters and “one enters into a viscous cycle” of declining health. I will hear today if I have got a new post as a Community Food Development worker. I so want to be part of the solution.

  43. The fact that this is an issue and some one has even a song about it ‘Christmas At The Foodbank’ says it all.
    The fact that the debate turned into another blame game – it was Labour’s fault – it’s the coaliton’s fault – isn’t this beyond who’s fault it is – it IS an issue and one that needs to be confronted and dealt with.
    The biggest disgrace is the lack of media coverage – anywhere – didn’t see it on the news and there was certainly nothing in The Guardian the next day (I know, there, I am a Guardian reader). This has really been swept under the carpet and the way many MPs laughed and jollied their way through the debate, makes me run for my conspiracy theory manual …
    Genuinely surprised though at the lack of coverage but it is an issue that won’t just disappear and like Jack says, their disgraceful behavior on this issue will come back to haunt them

  44. We are sliding into the abyss with the financial rating close to a Third World country – all the legacy of the Labour Party… who even kindly left a note saying that the money including the Nation;s Gold reserves were spent…. I am so glad that everyone wants to reelect Labour so that they continue with handoputs that they cant fund so that they can finish the incompetent job they started… it wont be Food banks everyone is talking about then because the lights will have been switched off and ALL services will have shut down… In the meantime PLEASE can all Socially minded folk mobilise themselves and lets be the Country that I grew up in. Find a food bank – buy nice products and include cleaning & personal hygiene products, donate and make sure the products get distributed! I have volunteered at a foodbank and many items go out of date because the items go unclaimed and more product is going in than going out 😦

    • “who even kindly left a note saying that the money including the Nation;s Gold reserves were spent” Actually that’s been misunderstood. It had, until then, long been a tradition for a departing Chancellor of the Exchequer to leave a jokey note that all the money had gone. Actually it is impossible for a government in charge of its own currency to spend all the money, since they can always print more. Unfortunately Osborne decided to spin his predecessor’s note as if it were true. In short Osborne, knowing that it was a joke, lied to the general public.

    • BTW I should add “How do I know about the traditional joke? Because I’ve worked in much of the Civil Service, including the Treasury. It’s an old established joke for departing Chancellors.”

      This Government has, more or less, lied about everything since they took office. They have continued to lie, even when it has been (repeatedly) pointed out that their own official figures contradict them. They are making policies at the moment which are based on lies. For example, did you know, according to the IMF’s figures an unemployed Romanian would be £20 a month better off than they would be claiming in the UK? The only European countries less generous with unemployment benefits are Estonia and Latvia. Even the US gives is more generous.

      If you want to know what to believe, believe the opposite of everything the Government says, and everything that they ever have said since the moment they took office, even if the opposite of what they say disagrees with your own firmly held beliefs. That way you’ll have the truth 90%+ of the time.

  45. It’s interesting how this bold, brave new face of Toryism is still relying on so many lazy “but this started under Labour” arguments. That’d be the NuLab movement cut from the same neo-liberal cloth as you lot of Blair worshippers, eh Cameron? Same bunch of corporate twats, different CEO.

  46. Jack this post actually made me cry – I’m not sure why, but I think you have captured the truth of conservative politics perfectly. The point scoring, the heartlessness and the closed ears. I feel for that poor man who at the end of life didn’t have enough food, for poor children who won’t celebrate Xmas and who don’t have anything to eat, for desperate parents. It’s just all so awful. Well said. Xxx

  47. Did Labour not also shout down Esther McVey during her response, to give some balance to you pointing out that the Coalition shouted down Maria Eagles’ motion?

    ‘The nastiest speech I have heard in 43 years’ sounds very much like a comment made to point score. Is it really the nastiest speech that MP has heard in that time?

    This accusation of jeering about the poor. Where is there any evidence that the jeering was aimed at the poor and not the opposition?

    ‘fighting over reduced fruit and vegetables’, is there any better source for this than ‘one of my constituents texted me’?

    ‘cold, hungry, desperate constituents’ is this new to the Coalition government or has it always been the case. And is that a fair representation or the representation of a minority, an increasing minority, or what exactly?

    PS – I am not pro-Coalition or anti-labour, or the other way around. I just want to ask questions to help better inform my own opinion.

    PPS – I have myself struggled with paying bills, affording shopping, and repaying debt for much of the last seven years.

    • Look, if they are jeering the opposition, they are also jeering the poor.

      Imagine that its a debate about returned soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder. Do you jeer the opposition? No you don’t, because you understand that you would by default be jeering the soldiers.

      PS – I hate people who pretend to be fair and objective.

  48. They (cons mainly) are so out of touch with the general public they don’t see this as a priority or issue. I wonder if they lived with a family who deal with this for a while or did a “secret millionaire”-esque thing they would WAKE.UP!

  49. My parents volunteer at our local food bank, and the scale of “just local” suffering is huge. In Northern Ireland we have a lot of other issues as you may be aware, but real poverty is immense. Scary thought that these “people” are running the country…..

  50. Denial plays a big part of this. I am scared for the first time in my life these people debateing something they notting about. Surely this is evil beyond my thinking. Are they even fit to debate.?

  51. I still hear a lot of people mentioning Tories or Labour or whoever as if they are somehow different, above or below each other.. I don’t trust any of them, and choose to vote with my feet through civil disobedience.. democracy is a lie. Corporatism and lobbying and vested interest has been the order of the day in the UK for many years. Let’s never forget that illegal war in Iraq and assume that Labour actually cares about poor people.. they killed millions of them! It is time for the people to rise up, and force change..

  52. #IDS spent quite a bit of time at #McVey’s backside – I thought that type preferred uncovered piano legs or going out into Whitehall to clean up the streets .

    Cameron was conscious that the Tories were seen as a party of London & the South East ….out of touch toffs …that’s why a professional scouser like her was promoted …She does her job to the absolute letter ….the Junior Minister parroted off …exactly what CCHQ told her to do ,

  53. The subject was about Obsessive Compulsive disorder, which I suffered from. This is quite a few years ago, long before OCD was widely known about. The programme showed small clips from people interviewed on the streets expressing their particular type of OCD. Because some of their comments seemed ridiculous to none sufferers, McV, ey replied “What a hoot!, brushing it off as something rather funny. At the time I felt she was insensitive to other people’s sufferings, so it comes as no surprise to hear recent comments about her. The thing is, it’s no good going on about these MP’s, what we need to do is make sure in 1915 we get rid of this current government, they are delusional about reality,and all I can say is that you can very easily fall off the prosperity ladder. I am not a Christian, but when Jesus said “what you do to the least of these, you do it for me” says it all. One day these arrogant MP’s will receive their due karma, and then they will realise what they didn’t do for “the least of them”.

  54. Excellent post, Jack. I was dismayed by the childishness and point scoring of some of the MPs when dealing with an issue which we the people they supposedly represent had asked them to debate, and which is so important to so many of us. I think the only way to make our elected representatives take us seriously (if we are not big party donors and vested interests) is by making sure everybody registers and votes. Getting people at foodbanks to register – and letting the MP in each area know they are registering – would be a useful move. I don’t want this to be party political – any MP needs to know they are answerable to their electorate, whatever their party. Is there any plan or campaign to do this? I’d be happy to volunteer.

  55. I am sure Ms McVey would be welcome at my local Foodbank in Norwood. Then the scales might fall from her eyes, and perhaps it would dawn on her how people truly struggle to survive.

  56. I have (& will continue)voted all of my long life for the LABOUR party!but they must now TRULY LISTEN to people'(who are the salt of the earth) when they return to power! And DO NOT DISREGARD their basic necessities,like the SCUM in power at present.

  57. IDS and McVey are disgusting, and he is the worst of all the Tories. He’s always mouthing off about the unemployed, but he doesn’t do his job and just buggers off in the middle of a meeting. They should both be sacked at once, and good riddance to them, too!!! And sanction their benefits when they sign on!!!

  58. Hi jack,
    Just wanted to say I had written to my local MP Alok Sharma, shame he didn’t reply to say he was to attend the debate – anyways he voted against the debate. I have sent another email so hopefully I will meet him.
    Thank you for raising a really big issue effecting millions in UK- I love following your blog but were it not for your campaigns I would not be so informed about these issues.
    Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends!
    Tammy

  59. Absolutely disgusted by those that didn’t vote for. You can guarantee if one of them needed to use a food bank or watch their children go hungry this would be cleared up straight away. It is hideous that people have to go through this in this day and age and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. Jack, well done on bringing this to the attention of the media, of the MPs and the generally population who have maybe never had to use this service.

  60. Scurvy and rickets.

    SCURVY and fucking RICKETS! In the 21st century, in one of the richest countries in the world.

    What the fuck is going on?!?

  61. Seriously, these people need to do an Undercover Boss style visit for a week to understand the people they are working FOR….. Chris Grayling on Newnight last night being on his own planet as well.

  62. I watched some of this Commons debate live until I couldn’t stand the immature behaviour of some of our MPs anymore. I am not British but Dutch and for people of my generation and older it is an emotive subject. My parents lived though the famine conditions of the winter and spring 1944/45. In late April and May 1945 thousands of lives were saved by Britain’s emergency food aid, dropped by RAF planes. Growing up as a child you were taught never to throw any food away. As it happens, this famine also turned out to be an exceptionally well documented “nutritional experiment” on the urban population of a developed and literate country which continued to keep good records throughout the period. Cohort studies of people conceived and born during the famine have demonstrated clearly that poor nutrition of pregnant women, leading to foetal malnutrition, has medical consequences for the later life of affected babies. They tend to include cardiovascular problems, hypertension, schizophrenia, diabetes and a propensity to become obese. The existing historical data are so precise that it is known that the effects vary according to stages of pregnancy when foetal malnutrition has occurred. Furthermore, it is known such effects are passed on to subsequent generations. The subject continues to be researched and a recent Dutch scientific study (October this year) mentions in passing that many affected people are aware of this and worry about the risks of passing on such effects on their children in turn. Related research suggests that malnutrition during early childhood of both sexes has similar effects which also tend to be hereditary. These empirical observations from population data are increasingly supported by scientific work in the field of epigenetics. Low birth weight is often an indicator, but not always. Changes in nutritional conditions, i.e. periods of relative malnutrition followed by periods of proper nutrition tend to increase such long term effects. It seems that the early developing human body conditions itself, and its descendants, to a life of scarcity and can’t cope very well with a later change in conditions. It seems to me that, apart from humanitarian and ethical considerations, even incidences of malnutrition in a minority of the population in a developed and a relatively affluent country such as the UK store up future significant social, economic and medical costs over generations to come. In the long term it is surely an awful lot cheaper for society to ensure that pregnant women and young children have always access to an adequate and balanced diet and are not left to cope with the nutritional lottery of what they can get from food banks.

  63. We need to look deeper into the causes of our financial woes and boom/bust cycles — simplistic blaming of one political party or another allows the real culprits to escape. In particular, the grotesque edifice that is our modern banking system. I have absolutely no affiliation with the following organization except that I applaud their efforts to educate us all in the scams perpetrated by the financial industry. Visit http://www.positivemoney.org/ and decide for yourself, but prepare to be outraged by what you discover.

    • Hmmm. But the politicians decide how much to tax, and to whom the money goes. And the politicians decide their own attitude to those less fortunate than themselves.

      So by all means fix the banking system, but hold politicians accountable for their own behaviour.

      • Indeed, and I agree, that’s why I said “simplistic blaming” and not “do not blame”. Nobody in their right mind would suggest politicians are blame-free, but there is a much deeper and systemic problem with the control of our money supply — which impacts everything. Treat the cause of the disease, not just the symptoms.

  64. I could rant on for ages about this, but instead… we don’t give up…we show our contempt of them and their opinions by using the power of our votes!!!

  65. lot people dont get itim diabled not a scrounger i carnt help being ill id rather ne well but ive lost im 2 ill , please ak that man to stop grining theres people dying beacuse of him its awfull that he just smiles hurts and walks of

  66. Jack, well done. You’re an inspiration. I am still gutted at the way the debate went and how McVey and IDS scuttled away. I am disgusted with the laughter and jeering at stories of hunger and poverty. Good luck to you with your new work and all the best also from my mum, who thinks you’re lovely! xx

  67. Whither democracy now? After all the majority of the MPs in the house belong to parties whose memberships surely oppose this disgrace. And we’ve had a petition which has been laughed off. So where next?

  68. The food banks WERE NOT opened under Labour, they were opened under NEW LABOUR! There is not a person on the planet, or anywhere else for that matter, can convince me that New Labour were anything other than Conservative in disguise.

  69. We obviously have a bunch of psychopaths running this country. They are fully aware of the harm that they are doing and yet have no empathy with the people they are paid to serve.

  70. Well written Jack

    Your anger comes through in every line

    Having read the Hansard transcript, one can only be disgusted at the antics on the Govt side of the ‘House’

    It appears to be a tactic of theirs now, to bawl and bray through any ‘debate’ which questions their policies. Especially where Ian Duncan Smith’s Department is concerned.

  71. The initial reasons that Salisbury foodbank was set up were to help people who fell through gaps in the system. No public system can react immediately. Labour isn’t completely immune from criticism because it failed to resolve the DWP decision to stop jobcentres from issuing vouchers but the major rise has been since the coalition took control. Some of that rise is simply down to economics – a recession and low wages combined with increasing fuel and food costs, but the implementation of the changes to benefits has had a huge effect. The strange thing is that the Trussell Trust has offered to help the government to understand what is going wrong but instead of agreeing to listen they refuse to accept there is an issue.The net result – real people suffer.
    Well done to those MPs on the government benches who did speak up for people. Let’s hope Mr Duncan-Smith can be persuaded to sit down and talk.

  72. We have a government that loves unemployment because it gives the low working class uncertainty about their jobs, they have no job security and are too frightened to stand up for higher pay better hours and better contracts because there are thousands of unemployed waiting to take there places ! its very sad to see that Robert Tressel’s book is as relevant now as it was when he wrote it – the difference in lifestyles, the blatant ignorance and greed of those in power is criminal the only difference between now and back then is we don’t have the workhouse something i’m sure the government and daily mail would love to see the appearance of. Very very sad times.
    I spent a short amount of time at a local food bank and was shocked and saddened by the work that they do for families that cannot afford to eat I went home in tears, as this could be a service I may have had no choice but to utilise if it were not for my parents. I can feel the absolute shame and despair of these people and you can also see it on their faces. For these parasites to then shout and sneer about poverty is outrageous, they are so out of touch in their expenses paid ivory towers and their 11% pay rise that they are blinded and cannot see or are not arsed how this is now a country where poverty is the norm !

  73. Interesting that some people put booze and fags in the “luxury” category. Try walking in the shoes of others and you may find that these are ways for people to cope and they are remarkably effective. Not a luxury, a coping mechanism.

  74. Esther McVey is ruthlessly ambitious, she’s an MP in a constituency not far from me and I’ve never liked her, and her stint dealing with the disability benefits when she was in Work and Pensions showed what a thoroughly nasty piece of work she is. The Tories are, by and large, so far removed from real life that they have no concept of what it’s like to live on a low income. Disgusting.

  75. I just emailed Esther McVey:

    I’ll keep this short. The debate in the House regarding food banks did nothing to endear the Conservative party to the nation. It demonstrated exactly what everyone knows. You really are the nasty party and this has back-fired on you all. Your total disregard for those in need is plain for all to see.

    You should all be totally ashamed of yourselves. I sentence you all to spend a day at a food bank working as a volunteer and meeting those who are so disadvantaged.

  76. Hahahahahaha xD

    It was a disgraceful sight to see the kind of people who represent and run this country acting like immature idiot; but it’s clear that this piece of so called journalistic reporting is nothing more than a one sided piece of rubbish which can be summed up as follows – “Tories bad, Labour good”.

    The rise in use of food banks is a horrifying reminder of how desperate and dark this country is becoming, but merely acknowledge the problem will do nothing to alleviate it. The root cause must be identified and tackled, but this government is proving that it lacks the fortitude and determination to actually turn things around from the debt ridden, self-obsessed, delusional mess we spent over a decade getting ourselves into.

  77. It’s really important to read the text of the motion. I was outraged by this when I saw on your blog yesterday how many MPs voted against the motion but when you read it you can see why. Labour hijacked a hugely serious issue for political showboating and a cheap shot at the government. Their intention was never to prompt a serious investigation but to make the coalition look nasty. Mind you a few tories took the bait nicely, Esther Mcvey’s speech showed ignorance and apathy and very few of the tories have any true understanding of the poverty so many people are slipping into. Some of the labour speeches were passionate and spot on, but that motion could never succeeded in parliament and the Labour leadership knew that, hence there was never any serious intention to provoke an investigation. Once again the nonsensical pantomime that is party politics took precedent over any serious social action.

    • Exellent comment. The House of Commons is pretty dysfunctional and produces and enless stream of poor quality, rushed and not properly debated and scrutinised legislation. In the food bank debate: if only one, just one, of them had stood up had had said something like: “All governments make mistakes and we are all fallible humans. Party-political point scoring gets us nowhere. We have a problem and what are we going to do about it?” they might have come to their senses. It was a bad day for parliamentary democracy too..

  78. I have e-mailed my local MP Keith Simpson since July with instances of gross failure..no real response, just auto reply..I approached and sent copies of my e-mails to another MP Richard Bacon…he at least took time to read them, sent a genuine reply of remorse, due to Parlimentary laws, had to pass back to Mr Simpson as Mr Bacon was of another constituency …but at least sounded interested, even though frustrated at not being able to address the issues I had raised…
    Mr Simpson response…he still was awaiting response from JSA from July!! Regarding benefits stopped..this was November..
    When I replied that the issue was regarding another matter as well…
    Response..he had now closed the case!!
    I didn’t request this, sent another e-mail challenging this..nothing at all…..
    I have copies of e-mails sent…he couldn’t have read anything at all…
    I will not give up fighting injustice of people I know suffering..it only took a small group with Wilberforce to end slavery..c’mon guys, make a stand…

  79. We really have to look at a new charter of government in this country and move away from the feudal medieval system we have blindly followed since Doomsday Book. We are BRITAIN the people, not the landed gentry, the wealthy and the powerful. Our Government and “Opposition” system must be destined to history. It is time the right people were in the right jobs leading our country and the “party” system is Britain’s biggest anchor!

  80. I have a fixed income,l only spend on bills an food.l pity young family’s trying to manage,while the government give the green light to earmark 15million pounds for a margret thatcher museum in London. Vote out this corrupt gov.

  81. Great post jack and keep the awareness rasing going . I regularly donate to my local food bank and would encourage others to do likewise (especially including the odd little luxury) .

  82. I’m a Brit who lives in Canada now but here Food Banks have been going so long that they are now no longer viewed as an emergency service .. it’s awful – the Ontario government has yet to increase the minimum wage and people can’t live on it. Anyway, just thought I would mention that here they have a community thing here for contributing menstrual items to the food bank so that people who can’t afford to buy tampons can get them – it’s called Tampon Tuesday – you can find more info here: http://www.tampontuesday.com/history/
    Thought I’d mention it in case people in the UK might want to start something similar

    • Interestingly, Angela it was a trip I made to Ontario 3 and a half years ago that inspired me to do more to increase the amount of help we were giving through the food bank I now help to run. I said at the time the situation in the UK was not as dire as the homelessness I saw there and the key to helping people here was to get behind closed doors to understand the problems people in our communities were facing. It has taken a while to build up trust but we are getting there. The food bank I visited in Peterborough, Ont had been going for 25 years but there did not seem to be a process in place where the 90 odd food banks operating at the time communicated with each other so any users could visit as many as they wanted to. This is something we are working on here to ensure food is going to as many of the right people as possible, thus avoiding the minority from abusing the generosity of those who have contributed through donations or their time.

  83. These people are only limited to three collections they are not being fed by the food bank in the way people imagine. Plus it is a bag with something like noodles for the meal. The food is all donations too from others with not much themselves usually. Food bank doesn’t excuse the government from responsibility to the most vulnerable in our communities.

  84. Biggest problem seems to me is that the users of the food banks themselves will have means to voice their opinions,as they will not have the luxury of the iPads and computers needed to respond and comment. So Tories listen to those of who do have the means and do care about their plight. A former Tory supporter who cannot believe their callousness.

  85. As for the jeering, well it’s another throw-back to our Hurray-Henry society and frankly like various other anachronisms- time it was revised.

  86. I questioned my MP on this (one of those who voted against), he is a Lib-Dem and said the motion had been taken over by Labour and that he couldn’t vote against the coalition. I didn’t think this was a good excuse BUT although I agree with the motion, it was taken over by Labour and used for point scoring, wasn’t it? It is such a shame this debate couldn’t have been non-political and focused on sorting out the actual problem (folks going hungry).

  87. We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.

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  88. It is sick that politicians claim taxpayers’ money for their luxuries when there are so many people blatantly in genuine need. BUT it is not all conservative MPs; just as not all Labour MPs act honestly, neither are all conservatives your enemy. “Stuffed suits fighting their way to the front of subsidised bars”- this from you Jack, who knows that just as not all benefit claimants are scroungers, not all Conservative politicians agree with the party line or exploit their privileges. Yes food bank use has risen under the coalition. However, part of this rise is because now, job centres are permitted to refer desperate people to food banks, as they did not under the previous government. No this cannot explain nor excuse the amount of people forced into food banks, while MPs vote for a pay rise (something I think should not be allowed for shockingly obvious reasons). But it does show that as with anything it is a complex situation which can’t necessarily be solved by Labour techniques, for example, Labour welfare promises would further exacerbate the deficit in government funding and the degree of debt in what was described by one journalist as a black hole.
    Before I am attacked, I would just like to say that I don’t which I know better than anybody else. I am only 15, and while outwardly am not particularly on one end of the spectrum or the other, I do believe I am privileged for the opportunities I have been given. I cannot express how much I admire Jack for her ethics…and her recipes! I want to better understand so welcome criticism. Sorry if this sounds long winded.

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