Theresa May has left thousands of people stunned with an answer she gave in an interview with Vogue. Interviewer Gaby Wood asked:
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I think I’d want to make sure that everyone in the world had access to clean water and sufficient food, so that we didn’t see people starving
The answer prompted disbelief on social media:
Considering May is the Prime Minister, her desired superpower is a power she already has. At least in the UK. But as others pointed out, she is actually advancing the opposite:
Before becoming Prime Minister, May was a top Cabinet Minister in David Cameron’s administration. Yet the number of three-day food packages sent out by the Trussell Trust alone increased from 40,898 to 1,109,309 between 2010 and 2016. That’s an increase of 2612%.
But it’s worse than that. A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger estimates that over half the emergency food issued comes from organisations independent from the Trussell Trust’s figures. This means the real numbers are much higher.
The government tries to downplay the connection between its policies and food bank use, saying that it’s “complex”. But, as common sense suggests, an Oxford University study confirms a “robust link” between the stripping down of the welfare state and food bank use.
And this agenda is continuing under May’s unelected premiership. Her Chancellor, Philip Hammond, recommitted to austerity in his budget speech [10:20]. And the worst of that austerity is coming through under May, with cuts of £51.4bn between 2015-2019.
The messaging behind May’s answer
The Prime Minister’s answer to the superpower question is cut from the same cloth as the government’s defence of its food bank record. Her answer is part of the narrative that seeks to blur the link between the actions of politicians and the real world. As freelance journalist Ellie Mae O’Hagan commented:
Politicians lamenting the state of the world is all part of them trying to convince us that inequality isn’t the product of their choices.
They want us to believe that polarised inequality is a natural world order. That hereditary, neoliberal capitalism is a natural process like photosynthesis. Some of them have probably convinced themselves.
In wistfully wishing to end hunger, May acts like she’s delivering a winning speech at a Miss Universe pageant. But she is not Miss Congeniality. She is the Prime Minister of the UK. The person facilitating hunger in one of the world’s richest countries.
– Check out the People’s Assembly Against Austerity
Featured image via screengrab