The Tories and Daily Mail have found a sick new way of benefitting from austerity

Tweets from Tory MPs at foodbanks and the Daily Mail logo
John Shafthauer

Austerity in the UK has done an obscene amount of damage. It’s led to a big increase in foodbank use and the underfunding of the NHS. Volunteers are helping out in both these areas. But sickeningly, the people who pushed austerity are now trying to improve their image by supporting these charities. Not by trying to halt or reverse austerity, but by promoting a situation in which ordinary people plug the cracks.

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Foodbanks

Foodbank charities like the Trussell Trust do amazing work feeding the people left behind by this Tory government. As such, it’s obviously in poor taste for a sitting Tory MP to show up for a photo opportunity with these volunteers.

The Canary has already covered former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab pulling this stunt, but here are some others:

These are just recent examples, too. Another Angry Voice has catalogued other tweets from recent years:

And as you can imagine, people had something to say about the practice:

The Tories didn’t perpetrate austerity without help, however. They had backing from much of the media, and yet now the Daily Mail wants to promote itself off the back of this mess.

NHS

The Daily Mail, in partnership with the charity Helpforce, has launched a drive to recruit more NHS volunteers. The Mail wasn’t subtle in its aims, as the front page it published read:

Mail calls for volunteer army to transform NHS.

Most charities dealing with the effects of austerity aren’t trying to ‘transform’ the country. They’re filling in the cracks that have been caused by Tory policy. It’s telling then that the Mail sees this drive as being transformative – especially when there are lots of other things it could do to actually transform the NHS.

So what sort of person would fall for the Mail‘s obvious ploy? You may be surprised.

Duped

It’s possible to respect the charities working on the front lines without praising the right-wing forces using them to their own advantage. Some people have fallen for it, though:

People pointed out the problems with supporting the Mail on this:

James O’Brien later defended himself – saying it’s possible to support increased funding for the NHS and volunteerism. And that’s true. It is. But it isn’t possible for the right wing to do that, because they don’t support increased funding.

The con

People took O’Brien to task for backing the Mail – not for backing the volunteers. And it’s important to note this distinction, because that’s how this con works. If you try and criticise these right wingers for promoting themselves off the back of the mess they’ve made, they’ll deflect and say you’re criticising hard working volunteers.

That isn’t what people are doing, though. They’re saying that the people behind austerity can’t take credit for the people dealing with it. And they’re right to say that, because it’s true.

Featured image via screengrabs

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