On behalf of children and parents, Theresa May can f**k the f**k off

Theresa May

On 7 March, children across the UK celebrated World Book Day. In what seems like either a savage act of cruelty, mind-blowing ignorance, or a twisted mix of the two, Theresa May ‘celebrated‘ too. But she really can fuck the fuck off. Because she and her government have wrecked the prospects of an entire generation of children.


May shared a tweet stating: “A love of reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give children”. And yes, she’s correct. But how dare she?

In 2019, too many families can’t afford to eat, let alone buy books. Because of this, many parents have relied on public libraries. Yet in 2018, May’s government slashed library funding by £30m, 130 public libraries closed and paid librarians lost jobs. An extra 3,000 volunteers have had to be been roped in to run existing libraries.

May opened herself up to a barrage of criticism in response to her tweet and was called everything from “charlatan” to “an evil witch“.

But as if closing libraries isn’t bad enough, her government has also forced the UK’s education system to its knees. Throw in soaring levels of child poverty and food poverty and May’s tweet is one huge ‘what the actual fuck’?

Poverty, poverty, poverty

Most parents would love to read with their children. But too many simply can’t afford books. According to a report from the National Education Union (NEU), over 4.5 million children now live in poverty. This is a rise of over 400,000 more children since 2012/13.

May’s tweet showed no awareness of the fact that, as the Literacy Trust revealed in 2017:

Read on...

One in 11 (9.4%) children and young people said they do not have a book of their own at home, rising to one in eight (13.1%) children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

So with cuts to libraries, the most obvious place for children to develop vital literacy skills is school. Yet teachers have now warned that education funding cuts are so severe that “it’s dangerous”. As a Guardian investigation found:

Teachers and parents… complained there was not enough money even for basics such as textbooks, stationery and science equipment… Staff have been made redundant, class sizes have gone up, subjects have been scrapped and teaching hours cut.

Hunger games

And, against this backdrop of chaos, according to the Times Educational Supplement (TES):

Teachers are warning that more and more children are coming to school ill-equipped for learning because they are not getting enough to eat at home.

According to TES, teachers have seen children rummaging in bins to find food. In a survey of teachers, 88% said that they’d “noticed a rise in the number of pupils coming to their school hungry”. One teacher said:

You ask what they had for their breakfast – sometimes they’ll say, ‘Mum didn’t have any food.’ Other times you just get that stare, and they don’t need to say it.

A survey by the National Education Union and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) also found that almost “nine in 10 teachers” believe that “poverty is significantly affecting their pupils’ learning”.

Yet, as The Canary reported in January, a Commons select committee report condemned the Conservative government’s failure to “recognise and respond to the issues of hunger, malnutrition, and obesity in the UK”. Pointing to rising levels of food poverty – particularly for children – it made a damning recommendation: to appoint a minister for hunger to deal with the spiralling crisis.

Every child matters

Each and every statistic and anecdote relates to a real child. Each of those children is our future. These damning figures don’t seem to even scratch the surface to explain the full extent of the current decimation of an entire generation of children. But what else can we do? When our prime minister issues a self-satisfied smug tweet to insist parents read with their children at home, she reveals nothing but twisted ignorance of a crisis created by her policies and her government. So really May, you can fuck the fuck off.

Featured image via Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916/Flickr

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us