In a rarely witnessed shocker, Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, has replied to a letter from his constituents. In this case the Bridgwater group of Labour Councillors who sent him an angry rebuke for voting against free school meals. In it they highlighted the anomalies between some of his constituents who lived on less than £7,400 a year while he drew expenses of over £80,000 calling his vote a ‘callous betrayal of hundreds of thousands of poor families’. At the same time empty plates appeared on the door step of the local Conservative party offices in Bridgwater, presumably from angry constituents, bearing slogans such as ‘Hungry kids can’t learn’ and ‘child poverty up 800,000 under the Tories since 2010′.
In Liddell-Grainger’s response he claims the Labour letter is a ‘political stunt’, and that ‘identical letters’ have gone out to Conservative MPs across the country. Labour members obviously reject that and say he is “side stepping the issue…as well as being insulting” (so no change there..)
He then describes provision of Free School Meals as ‘not a statutory benefit’ and that ‘other significant support for families has been rolled out’. Labour again reminds him that “Somerset has received £125,000, in order to try to meet the needs of hungry children during the school holidays, but the Council itself says that this is not enough and is lobbying for further funding. A national scheme, such as was proposed would be much simpler, and probably cheaper to administrate.”
The MP then bizarrely goes on to say that ‘none of you have raised this matter with me sooner’ before ,oddly, referring to ongoing correspondence with Labour Cllr Leigh Redman who he then asks to ‘provide him with names and addresses of the 3000 children in Bridgwater that he claims are in need’.
“Reply demonstrates he is unaware of the misery…”
Labour members have dismissed the MPs response saying “We reject the accusation that it is a political stunt and his reply demonstrates that he is unaware of the misery that some families in his constituency are suffering as a result of Covid-19. Whilst we welcome the National Food Strategy recommendations, in particular to: Expand eligibility for the Free School Meal scheme to include every child (up to the age of 16) from a household where the parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit (or equivalent benefits). And whilst it will “kick start a full review of our food system”, the point is that there are families in need NOW who cannot wait until a review is carried out. That is the point we were making, which he has chosen to ignore.”
The original Labour letter can be found here.
The Labour reply in full