The longer we argue, the longer the queues at the foodbank get…
My column in Society Guardian, Monday 8th December 2014.
“Poor people don’t know how to cook”, Baroness Anne Jenkin said at the launch of the Feeding Britain report yesterday, and suddenly it was as though ten months of evidence gathering, and 160 pages of written report, hadn’t happened, cast aside to be summed up in seven words.
Welcome to the new politics, where every character counts, and every statement met with an equal and polarising one. Instead of discussing and debating the 77 recommendations in the report on Monday evening, as a former food bank user who had given oral evidence to the committee myself in July, I found myself on regional and national radio and television, being asked about Baroness Jenkin instead.
And herein one of the big problems with politics today lies: instead of discussing the issues at hand, the baying mobs on all sides are waiting in the wings for someone to say something imperfect, and they pounce, hurling insults and escalating debate into personal attacks and rudeness, and nobody is talking about hungry people or how to feed them any more. Instead it’s all ‘those big bad Tories’ fault, or ‘the Church shouldn’t be commenting at all because they have a bit of gold kicking about’, or it ‘started under Labour…’
The longer we all stand on opposing sides shouting over each other, the longer the queues around the foodbanks get, and the longer the benefit delays, and the longer the queues at the JobCentre. As I said to one interviewer: at home, I have two toddlers, and quite frequently, things get dropped or spilled or broken. I could stand there for twenty minutes, listening to them both blaming each other, or I could pick it up, clear it up, or mend it.
The Feeding Britain report outlines 77 recommendations as part of a strategy to eliminate hunger in one of the richest economies in the world. If Labour MPs and Conservative peers can work together, and the Government and the Church can work together, then surely we can all put our political and ideological differences to one side and galvanise the campaign, and make a difference to the 1 million families relying on emergency food handouts, and the many more working for less than a living wage. Go on, try it. Making a genuine difference is far more satisfying than shouting the odds on Twitter.
The original article is here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/08/jack-monroe-feeding-britain-food-banks?CMP=twt_gu
Twitter & Instagram: @MsJackMonroe