My thoughts on this huge issue…
📺 VIDEO: FREE SCHOOL MEALS 🍽…my thoughts on this huge issue and that I was contemplating taking a step back from politics…LIKE 👍 and SHARE 👆
Posted by Councillor Gareth Eales – Labour on Monday, 26 October 2020
Those closest to me will know and now I will share it with you, I had been considering whether I wanted to continue my involvement in politics. I’ve had a change of personal circumstance, with a new job and some other things. So, I was considering stepping away. But recent events and the shameless position taken by the government and our local Derbyshire based MP Andrew Lewer on free school meals has firmly made my mind up…to go absolutely nowhere.
How can I walk away when we have a government who acts like this? How can I walk away when we have an MP who votes to not help starving children and then justifies it by calling it “virtue signalling” and somehow managing to blame the last Labour government for it…I mean that’s stretching it a bit ain’t it? These people really need to take ownership for their own failures.
Let’s look at some quick facts; nationally there are an estimated 4.2 million children living in poverty…which is an increase of 1.4 million since the Conservatives took power in 2010. There was a lot of nonsense spoken about state dependency and how Labour’s motion was almost trying to nationalise children! Significantly 72% of kids living in poverty live in households where their parents work, so I’ll take no lectures on ‘state dependency’ from people who get subsidised gourmet meals in parliament, charge their rent, utilities & council tax bills and hefty travel expenses to you the taxpayer and have just received a £3,000 pay rise.
Locally there was 16,770 eligible claims for free school meals, as of October this year, which is an increase of 24% since the pandemic started. So urgent action is needed, and we’ve been completely failed by our MPs. So, it is welcome news that the County Council will be funding free school meals for this half term. At the time of writing this, half term has started and there is no info available on how the scheme will be accessed, which proves it was a very rushed decision, in the main I imagine to bail out the local MPs who have rightly been getting hammered!
Whilst the County Council’s announcement is a start, it does not solve the problem going into this Christmas or the rest of the pandemic or the long term. The truth is our councils nationally are on their knees, with a current £10-11 billion funding gap, so most if not, all councils cannot afford to take this on in the long term, without other service cuts or possible jobs losses. That is the reality, which is exactly why there must be a national funding solution.
I do find it incredible that senior Tories have taken to the airwaves describing the issue of free school meals as being made “too political”. Let me state this. If you are elected and don’t see or embrace that feeding starving kids or helping the most vulnerable in our society is the least political thing you can do or actually the basics of what you are there to do…you are in the wrong business! It should not even need a debate! The government and our MPs must rethink on this issue and I suspect they will u-turn shortly. I’d encourage anyone reading this to please help make that happen, contact your MP and tell them what you think…and please try and keep it clean!
In closing, I should be thankful in a way to these heartless and out of touch individuals for reminding me why I got involved in politics in the first place and exactly why I must work harder every day to boot them out!