Unless they’re being called ‘the nasty party,’ the Tories love a slogan, but their heartless decision not to fund free school meals at half-term turned ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ into ‘Starve a Kid to Save a Quid.’
MP Bob Seely shot himself in both feet by putting party loyalty above the Island’s hungry kids. Bob’s choice – not to help the Island’s poorest families – really angered people, with social media awash with bile and fury. Trying to justify his indefensible parliamentary vote by serving up lame, party-drafted excuses only made matters worse. Not even all Tory MPs were convinced by the government’s hollow words, claiming to have already handed out ‘plenty of extra money’ to those in need.
At Westminster, Bob enjoys heavily subsidised food and drink in luxurious surroundings, as if he and his cronies couldn’t afford to pay full price from their £81,932 annual salary (rising to £85,291), which would seem like a lottery win to the least well-off, but he still put in a claim of 31p to buy sugar for his office. One thing’s for sure, young Master Seely didn’t eat gruel as a Harrow schoolboy – annual fees £42,600. Bob’s privileged education was not his, but his parents’ choice. That should have taught him that it’s not children who make financial decisions in families.
Our incoherent government is spending tens of billions on this pandemic; what difference would £20 million to feed the children really make? To put it into context, our modest roundabout project at St Mary’s is costing almost half that, so the price of feeding every poor child in the entire country is a couple of small-town roundabouts. One local wag drew a cartoon of Bob; unsurprisingly the caption said, ‘Let them eat sausage.’
Those of us living in the real world know people who are struggling or just getting by. Not all kids have perfect parents; some make poor choices while others lead chaotic lives, but most skint people simply don’t earn enough money. People who say nasty things about those living in poverty knowingly choose to ignore the simple truth: it’s not children who buy fags or booze instead of bread, fruit and vegetables and besides, circumstances change. In this crisis, many good people have lost their jobs, while others are living on reduced pay.
Do supermarkets accept just 70 or 80 per cent of the price of your groceries at the checkout? Will your landlord or utility company accept 70 or 80 per cent of what you owe? Does Bob actually realise any of this? Adults elect pitiless politicians like Seely, so when he and his penny-pinching Westminster chums fail to do the right thing, we must retake ownership of the problem.
It now falls to us to find ways to make sure local children have enough to eat. I’m really proud of the Island’s response to the Tories’ ghoulish school meals decision and am happy to make my own modest contribution, our Isle of Wight ‘people’s policy’ is that no child will go hungry – even the Council agrees.
You already know I don’t believe Bob takes the job of looking after Islanders seriously. He’s shown little interest in our problems. Just being an MP anywhere is what Bob always wanted; now he’s achieved that aim, it’s all about him, his ambition and obsession with overseas interests. For now, we’re stuck with that, but under Bob’s government, the rich have been getting richer. The gap between the haves and have-nots does matter and it’s constantly widening. I believe that spells real trouble for us all – even Westminster Bob.