Jacob Rees-Mogg has sunk to a new low. From his anti-abortion and homophobic attitudes to his filibustering, Rees-Mogg has proved time and again that he has pretty vile attitudes. But his latest comments about food banks plunge to new depths. And they show how desperately out of touch the MP is with the misery his party has inflicted on the country.
Speaking to LBC radio, Rees-Mogg described the increase in food bank use as “rather uplifting”. He claimed that:
I don’t think the state can do everything that it tries.
It provides a basic level of welfare… but on some occasions that will not work and to have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good compassionate country we are.
Rees-Mogg also tried to blame Labour for the rise in the number of people using food banks:
The real reason for the rise in numbers is because people know they are there and Labour refused to tell them.
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“The real reason”
Since 2010, when David Cameron became prime minister, reliance on food banks has risen from 41,000 to 1.2 million recorded uses. The Trussell Trust runs 400 food banks across the country. In 2016/17, it provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis.
In particular, benefit sanctions and the Conservative government’s flagship reform, Universal Credit, have caused misery for families. The Trussell Trust reported in April 2017 that, where the benefit had been rolled out, food bank use had doubled.
Food bank use also increased over the summer holidays when children stopped receiving free school dinners. One food bank in Cornwall handed out 2,000 meals over the summer. And the picture there isn’t getting any better. According to its Director Don Gardner:
We know there are children out there starving and that really does hurt. We get children in here and they see some sweets which have been given to us and they fall on them as if they’ve never seen sweets before
We’ve had ladies and men coming in with tears running down their faces saying ‘I’ve never done this before. I worked for 40 years. I suddenly got made redundant’.
“A good compassionate country”
Rees-Mogg is right about one thing. We do live in “a good compassionate country”. People are not willing to sit by and watch children starve. They are giving up their time and donating goods because, otherwise, people will go hungry.
His attitude is perhaps not unsurprising, though. Speaking earlier in the year, Labour MP Laura Pidcock explained why the Tories have so little idea about the impact of their policies:
Never having experienced poverty nor seemingly able to show much empathy for those that have, it’s not surprising the Tories have got it wrong again.
But it is not “uplifting”. This is what communities do in times of crisis. It is what people do when things are desperate. And people are desperate because of the crippling measures that Rees-Mogg voted for and his government implemented.
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