Somerset Tories Under Fire Over Child Food Poverty Vote

“Shall we let them have some more….?”

Less than a year ago Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell Grainger was winning his seat to Parliament with a whopping 25,000 more votes than his nearest rival, Labour’s Oliver Thornton. A 7% increase on the previous massive vote. Mr Liddell-Grainger is clearly massively valued and appreciated by his loyal constituents. It would seem he can walk on water, do whatever he wants and the voters will just pile on vote after vote to make sure he’s the one there in Westminster saying exactly what they themselves would be saying if they’d had the chance. Yet….this week eyebrows are furrowing and  nostrils are temporarily widening as his most recent votes have included voting against an agricultural bill which would  have protected food standards in the UK and voting against Marcus Rashford’s popular and inspired free school meals bill to end child food poverty. And people aren’t happy! What is happening to the Teflon Tory?? Is it all downhill from here or is it just a temporary blip on his trajectory to universal popularity?

“Remind me why we voted Tory again….?”

Mr Liddell-Grainger explained “I voted as I did because we were being presented with an open-ended scheme with no indication as to how long it would remain operable. No study had been carried out to accurately assess the need and therefore the financial implications and I could not commit the Government to supporting a measure whose cost was utterly unquantifiable. I have been written to by several constituents supporting the idea of free school meals in the holidays and citing a number of hardship cases which apparently exist locally. I have asked for specific names and addresses but have received no further information. I am completely aware of the hardships that some families are experiencing as a result of the anti-Covid measures but believe their best interests will be served by a clearly-targeted, individual approach, so if they would care to contact my office directly I shall do whatever I can to assist them.”

Put a Stop to Child Food Poverty!

Cllr Hilary Bruce with Labour’s general election candidate Oliver Thornton. People voted Lidell-Grainger instead to make sure they got the right policies voted through….

Labour councillors have been shaking their heads in disbelief at the Tory response. Cllr Hilary Bruce (Fairfax) and Cllr Leigh Redman (Hamp) were both active volunteers during the lockdown period and saw first hand the situation in some of the hardest hit wards in Somerset . Cllr Hilary Bruce said “When are they going to put a stop to child food poverty in the UK? Free School Meals in the holidays should not be necessary, just as foodbanks were not meant to be a solution, they were designed to tide us over whilst a solution was found. We still need solutions…and in the meantime no child should ever have to go hungry in our wealthy nation, not for any reason. Surely, how long it would remain operable is a question for the Government to answer. Mr Liddell-Grainger invites those in need to contact him directly, but he should step into our communities and see for himself what is happening, not wait for people to come to him with their hand out. Talk to the many wonderful organisations who are all too aware of how many families and individuals are suffering, especially in the present circumstances. In fact, I would be happy to help arrange a meeting with those operating in and around Bridgwater. Does he really think hungry children, many in vulnerable situations, are going to be able to contact his office?! What a ludicrous response! “

Ensure Children do not go Hungry

Cllr Leigh Redman -wrote directly to Liddell-Grainger after the vote

Bridgwater Councillor Leigh Redman wrote to Liddell Grainger to express his disappointment saying “This issue is one that I see every day and an issue I feel strongly about. There was an opportunity to amend the motion clarifying how the actions were to be reviewed, but instead you took the easy way out. it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that children do not go hungry, Ian, children do not stop being hungry just because the school bell rings for the end of term. Surely your constituents send you to Westminster as our Member of Parliament to vote to ensure that the children who most need your help at any time of year are protected? In your constituency there are around 3000 children who rely on free school meals, some see this meal as the only substantial meal of the day, they are in need now. You talk about your government already providing financial support, about universal credit being a help, but so many people are finding for the first time that universal credit is really poor and does not help those most in need, especially those applying for the first time, who might have expected help. I volunteered during the lockdown.  Do you realise that over 50% of those using Trussell Trust food banks at the start of the pandemic had never needed help from a food bank before, and families with children were the hardest hit, accounting for nearly two in five of the households needing to use a food bank? These are staggering numbers. Many of our local families are under enormous pressure, whether that is before school at breakfast, many schools in your constituency already fund breakfast clubs during term time, a good breakfast will help a child get more out of their day, or a hot meal in the middle of the day can increase good behaviour and helps after school. You have missed an opportunity to help those in real need and your excuse for voting down this motion, in my opinion is poor, this half term and the Christmas term break, there will be young people going hungry and you will have contributed to that.”

Labour Leader Brian Smedley searches Lidell-Grainger’s entry in Debretts for any mention of the word ‘compassion’

So You Thought Voting Tory was a good idea…….

Bridgwater Labour Leader Cllr Brian Smedley said “This is kind of the problem in voting for these people…they do now think they’ve got the right to do whatever they like . The children of the working class might be right to stare disappointedly at any parent who thought voting Tory last time round might be a good idea, and British Farmers will be justifiably livid at being let down by people they thought were on their side…but now hopefully know better. And of course people shouldn’t just blame ‘Our Ian’ because in fact ALL the Somerset Tories voted the same way*. That’s what people wanted and that’s what they’re getting. Maybe next time don’t vote them in…??”

Footnote * MP James Heappey ‘didn’t actually vote that way, In fact he didn’t vote at all.

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Clare Sawdon-Smith
Clare Sawdon-Smith
3 years ago

Shocking that they voted against this measure. The excuses I’ve heard are just so unbelievable. One Conservative MP said he didn’t want to crash the currency’ although he admitted children would go hungry. Crash the currency! What nonsense. The amount of money needed to do this is about 60 million. It is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions being spent for consultants and useless track and trace systems. Feeding the children will not crash our currency. Another said he didn’t want to encourage a ‘dependency culture’ Such statements in the middle of a pandemic when people have, through no fault of their own, been managing on reduced wages and/or benefits is just insulting. And finally, where was James Heappey?

George Macpherson
George Macpherson
3 years ago

I think this is a true scandal that should not be allowed to be swept under the carpet by the Tories. For example, what head-teacher has permission to give details of those children at her/his school who are in the very unfortunate position of having to be given free breakfasts and free lunches? Why should they humiliate people who are already feeling awful about themselves – possibly being mentioned in Hansard.
I get the impression that His Worship Liddell-Etc, churns out whatever the whip gives him. I would guess he forwards his letters to the whip for suitable replies, drafted by Cummings and co. It is truly shameful that the fifth most wealthy country in the world can’t feed a few hundred or even thousand of its own helpless citizens. And the need for food banks is another disgrace. How CAN people vote for such greed and selfishness?

Ian Tucker
Ian Tucker
3 years ago

Contact him that’s a joke I’ve been trying for four months and he can’t even acknowledge my emails.

3 years ago

It wasn’t “open-ended” it was until Easter, it seems that Lidell-Grainger fabricates the truth as much as his leader.
He obviously has no regard for those most vulnerable in our society. Shame on him.

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