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Archive for June 17, 2020

The genuine need for Free Meals is something this Government will never understand

 

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The Government U-Turn on providing Free School Meals during the Summer is one that only a different set of politicians could have avoided.

Yes, we have seen Boris led once again by powers outside of his control. But where the Labour Party is concerned, they have also spent many years in power too, never once taking the opportunity to extend provision beyond the end of School Terms.

Political philosophy has become so malleable these days that it is difficult to identify where the left begins and where the right starts.

In fact, so transparent has the motivation of all politicians to secure and then maintain power at any cost become, we have entered a new chapter in British Politics where the leaders themselves are not leading and instead are being led.

Scientists and the Media led the Lockdown. Protests are now leading a national identity crisis. A Footballer has led the policy on Free Meals for Children to be changed.

The increasing need for Free School Meals and support for households suffering from food poverty during the Lockdown has drawn attention to the deepening impact of the Government’s farcical decision to deliberately engineer a recession. But also, to the reality beyond the current crisis that there is a huge demographic in the UK that simply cannot afford to eat.

For reasons unknown, the Conservative Party manages public policy under its control with the clear belief that unemployment and poverty are one and the same thing.

It may not be intentional. But this callous and disengaged approach to social disadvantage in the UK leads the politicians responsible to provide on our behalf for those in need with the idea that once an unemployed person can be recatagorised as having a job, the problem is no longer theirs.

A clear and dangerous disconnect exists where decision makers really have no understanding of what it is to live in poverty. They have no idea of the experience of a life where the simple basics must wait until a payment arrives or often are something that you simply cannot afford.

Indeed, it was very sad to hear the mocking of queues outside of shops like Primark and Sports Direct on Monday when ‘non-essential’ retailers reopened, as I can relate well to what it is like when shops like these are the difference between standing in rags and being properly clothed.

I grew up in a one parent family, in social housing and received Free School Meals. I left school with no qualifications at 16 and could very easily have been one of the ‘statistics’ that this debate has been all about. I went on to become a senior manager with a national charity and launch my own successful start-up when I was 30. But I became a Conservative Councillor and Licensing Chair too and saw the inner workings of what politics, politicians and political parties in this Country do.

Politicians on all sides of the political divides do not possess the experience required to make the decisions that will affect the lives of people other than their own.

The political party system has turned Westminster into a quasi-monopoly that splits three (or four) ways and the majority of candidates endorsed by the Parties do not have the skills or knowledge necessary to understand and empathise with the lives of people who will continue to find themselves going short for as long as this way of doing politics in the UK remains in place.

You cannot fix a problem if you do not understand or will not accept how it was caused.

The problems that riddle society like social mobility, racism and food poverty are simple in their complexity. They require a level of 360 degree thinking and empathy from Government that this political culture collectively does not encourage in any way.

The rot is now so ingrained within the system that Politicians like Boris. Keir Starmer and the London Mayor are all being led by events. They have resigned responsibility for taking the lead without having done the right thing and stepped down.

The Conservative Government of today does not understand that the need for Free Meals for Children does not only exist when children from deprived backgrounds are in school.

Boris may have caved into this amongst other demands since his tenure in No10 began. But the policies that are needed will not be written and the changes that the whole of our society needs for the future will not be implemented until we have a very different type of politician driving it and standing at the helm.

 

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