The ongoing row and associated fall-outs over the extension of the free school meals voucher system in England to cover holiday periods up to Easter 2021 is a perfect illustration of the rottenness at the very heart of the Tory party which is dragging England into the gutter.
Make no mistake: the cold, cruel, and callous attitudes which infect the Tory party like a cancer are more pronounced and prevalent in England, and the free school meals furore during holiday periods highlights that fact. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all taken steps within the limited confines of their respective devolved drip-feed budgets to make provision for hungry and vulnerable children during school holiday periods. The Tories in Parliament voted to deny that protection to over one million children in England last week, and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. England stands isolated and exposed as a nation run by the dregs of society.
By denying hungry and vulnerable children in England access to at least one hot meal a day during this October school break the Tories have confirmed their entirely appropriate label as the ‘nasty’ party. A bunch of over-paid, pampered, privileged, and wholly out of touch with reality no-marks voted to deny poor and hungry kids a daily hot meal. Let that sink in. It is scandalous enough that 4.2 million children are living in poor households in one of the top five richest societies in the world. But when the evidence from all credible research sources, charities and schools themselves determines that 1.4 million children will go without a daily meal during school breaks, how can individuals on £82,000 a year plus weekly food allowances of over £400 and gold plated travel, expenses and pension scheme vote to deny kids food?
Millions for Tory Donors but Not Enough for Hungry Children
These political reprobates have no problem accepting an above inflation salary increase of over £3,300 while denying nurses a decent wage rise. They enthusiastically hand out contracts worth hundreds of millions without any tendering system to Tory party donor companies for unusable masks and other PPE and £12 billion to Serco and pals for a test and trace system which is woeful but don’t dare suggest an extra £20 million to guarantee poor and hungry children get at least one hot meal a day. It really is an impossible task to express fully the internal rage I feel at the cruelty displayed by the 322 Tories who voted last week to defeat the Labour motion to extend the free school meals provision. Contracts which gift consultants in private companies £7,000 a day and guarantee huge dividend payments for already rich shareholders are fine but feeding hungry kids is out of the question.
Examine the opening remarks of Labour’s Kate Green MP during last week’s debate for the acute contrast in Tory priorities:
“While the provision of free school meals is being closed, the gravy train is still open for business—with £7,000 a day for consultants working on a test and trace system that does not work, £130 million to a Conservative party donor for unsafe Covid testing kits, £160 million of profits for Serco and an increased dividend for its shareholders, because the Government threw good money after bad on a test and trace contract that is robbing the public. Yesterday, a Business Minister said that extending free school meals was not as simple as writing a cheque, but why is it that the money only runs out when it is hungry children who need it?”
From Eat Out to Help Out to Starve a Kid to Save a Quid
The Tories devoted over £500 million to their foolhardy ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme which benefited the better off more than anyone and contributed to a renewed spread in the Covid19 virus but today their tagline should read ‘Starve a Kid to Save a Quid’.
On the day of the free school meal debate and probably fuelled by the contributions from pompous Tories throughout it, Labour MP Angela Rayner was accused of referring to Tory MP Christopher Clarkson as “scum” as he attacked Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for trying to get a better Covid19 Tier 3 lockdown package for his city and surrounding areas. Instead of the low paid workers on minimum wages getting two thirds of their weekly wage during the heightened restrictions he wanted them to receive 80% as was the case in March to September. How dare he fight for low paid worker… He was slated by Greater Manchester Tory Clarkson and Rayner reacted. She apologised after a pathetic and over-zealous ticking off from Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing. But she shouldn’t have apologised. The reaction and word she used was entirely appropriate.
What does the word ‘Scum’ Actually Mean?
What does the word scum mean? Look it up. Google it.
“noun. a film or layer of foul or extraneous matter that forms on the surface of a liquid. refuse or offscourings. a low, worthless, or evil person.
the scum of the earth
The absolute worst kind of person or people. The phrase comes from the Bible. The people who carried out those atrocities are the scum of the earth”.
So, there you have it. The word has biblical origins. It refers to those who carry out atrocities. It means a ‘low, worthless, or evil person’. How on earth is that an inappropriate term to describe a group of politicians who vote against feeding poor and hungry children? It isn’t inappropriate. It is accurate. How dare these Parliamentarians in the House of Commons insist on being described as ‘Honourable Ladies and Gentlemen’ when they spend their days doing dishonourable things to poor children, the National Health Service and public service workers.
Some people object to the use of the word ‘scum’ on the grounds it is outside the parameters of normal political discourse. I’m sorry, but normal political discourse is littered with empty, meaningless and dishonest phrases like ‘honourable’ to describe men and women who cheered and whooped when they voted to keep nurses and health workers wages down in 2017 after seven years of an austerity driven pay freeze. They slashed the living standards of millions of essential workers, all suffering reduced living standards to pay for the economic crisis caused by the bankers and stockbroker spivs. The Tory MPs and their fellow travellers in the Lib Dems, DUP and red tory Labour members acted entirely dishonourably by voting to make public sector workers, pensioners and the poor pay for an economic mess caused by the rich.
Young Marcus Rashford’s Campaign Has Compelled Labour to Fight
Last Wednesday the first line of the opposition day motion said it all:
“That this House calls on the Government to continue directly funding provision of free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021 to prevent over a million children going hungry during this crisis”.
Compelled to act by the tremendous campaigning of England and Man Utd footballer Marcus Rashford, the Labour Party could not respond in any other way than to take up the cause of hungry children during a pandemic which is getting worse and causing even more hardship. These are not ordinary times we are living in. These are extraordinary times and the poverty which already shamed the UK prior to Covid19 is getting worse and deeper. The choice facing the Tories couldn’t have been clearer:
“More than 1.4 million children benefit from free school meals. Nearly 900,000 eligible children live in areas now subject to tier 2 and tier 3 Covid restrictions. Their families face an upcoming furlough cliff-edge, an inadequate replacement system and the deep fear of growing unemployment. So the question for Members on the Government Benches is simple: are they absolutely confident that support is adequate and that no child in their constituencies will go hungry?”
Faced with that stark and clear choice the Tories and ONLY the Tories voted against the free school meal extension motion. That was not the actions of ‘honourable’ men and women. Only five of their number rebelled. That vote to deny hungry children food in one of the richest societies in the world was the conduct of a low life, a dreg of society, someone appropriately described as ‘scum’. How pathetic it is in 21st century Britain that it is perfectly acceptable to deny hungry children food, but it is unacceptable to call someone ‘scum’ for doing so. The rank and stinking hypocrisy reeks through the place like freshly laid manure.
Unprincipled Tory U-Turn is Coming – Lower Than Vermin
I predict the Tories will perform yet another U-Turn in the next few week and reverse their opposition to free school meals vouchers being issued during the winter months. They are under huge pressure to change tact and they will succumb to that pressure. Will that mean they are no longer deserving of the ‘scum’ label? No. On the contrary. They will not reverse their opposition to feeding hungry children during school holidays because it is the right thing to do, they will reverse their opposition because they think failure to do so will lose them public support. In other words what compels them is self-interest, not the interests of children. They deserve to be called ‘scum’ and much more besides. They have earned it over decades of dishonourable conduct and behaviour.
However I still prefer the inimitable Nye Bevan description of the Tories after years of poverty and Herculean efforts to build a National Health Service in the teeth of determined Tory opposition who wanted healthcare to remain private and beyond the reach of millions of ordinary people. Bevan said on the eve of the NHS launch in July 1948:
“That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin”.