Politics Part 1: Foodbanks

I engaged with the Foodbanks debate on social media a little the other week. I wanted to say a couple of things that are slightly too long for a tweet on the topic.

The first thing I read was lots of statuses from people denouncing their MPs for not voting to investigate the increased use of Foodbanks. I had seen that my MP was on the list of ‘no’ voters, but before criticising him I wanted to be sure of what I was criticising him for. So I looked up the motion.

Most of the motion was great. I heartily agreed with it. But the final part is basically a shopping list of Labour policies. The Tories would never vote for this. In fact, I wonder if the motion was deliberately constructed to make the Tories vote no.

Such a political strategy seems pretty self-defeating to me. It may make the Tories look nasty, but it achieves nothing for the good of the country.

Don’t get me wrong. I think this is an important issue and I want to see it investigated, and I think the Conservatives’ behaviour during the debate, if reported accurately, was disgraceful. But I don’t think that the motion put forward achieved much other than political posturing.

It’s also worth reading about the nature of the ‘Opposition day debate

The second thing is that this article infuriates me.

It claims that Iain Duncan Smith refused to meet with the Trussell Trust, the organisation that supports most of the UKs Foodbanks because he thinks that they are political and looking for publicity. There’s also people saying that the increase in foodbank use is simply because more foodbanks exist.

Let’s address that latter point first. Even if it is true, we’re still left with the fact that 600,000 people have needed food from a foodbank. It’s this not an appalling number? Should we not be finding out why this is and doing something about it?

The Trussell Trust then. I’ve had a quite long work meeting with the Trussell Trust. I don’t know if I’m actually allowed to say that, but I did. And here are my impressions of them:

It should be noted that these are purely my opinions of them based on that meeting rather than any official position that they’ve taken.

They are one of the most humble and least political and publicity-seeking organisations I’ve come across. It appears to me that they would rather they weren’t growing. They would probably rather they didn’t exist at all. They are, from what I can tell, a-political; supporting no one party. They have some interesting statistics that may help governments analyse poverty and the effects of political decisions. But they are not affiliated with a party or ‘side’.

I, personally, think that IDS is stupid not to want to meet with them and I’m pretty angry that he’s referred to them in this way.

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  • David Bunce

    Yes. I think you’re right. My impression of the debate is that, once it got into the back benches, there were good and stupid points being made on both sides of the house – some Labour MPs were out just to score political points, some Conservative MPs deeply worried on about their Constituents and the situation they find themselves in. And vice-versa. I found the reductionist narrative of Labour good, Conservatives bad to be highly tedious.

    One point I was glad to hear mentioned by several MPs was the mention of how being dependent on food banks destroys people’s dignity. This is a huge issue, and is just as important to seek to address that as it is to give emergency aid.

    And yes, the Trussell Trust are an excellent, a-political and dedicated organisation and IDS refusing to meet them should be, quite frankly, a resigning issue. I wrote to my MP urging him to persuade IDS to reconsider.