Real area of ‘growth’ is in our food banks

Western Daily Press - - Opinion -

I READ with in­ter­est Paul Halas’s lat­est let­ter on the chair of the South West Con­ser­va­tives’ pro­pa­ganda pitch about their re­cent bud­get and the state of the econ­omy (“Bud­get throws less well-off a few crumbs”, Western Daily Press, November 7). While I don’t nec­es­sar­ily al­ways agree with all of Mr Halas’s ar­gu­ments, he’s cer­tainly on the money with this one.

My ques­tion is, why have Tory high com­mand started writ­ing such let­ters to the re­gional press? Per­haps a gen­eral elec­tion is afoot.

I won’t fo­cus on the bud­get, with its tax cuts dis­pro­por­tion­ately ben­e­fit­ing the al­ready filthy-rich, and its to­tal dere­lic­tion of duty in ig­nor­ing the most press­ing geopo­lit­i­cal is­sue of the age – cli­mate change (not to men­tion the Tory-in­duced frack­ing earthquakes now plagu­ing Lan­cashire). In­stead, I want to high­light Tory fairy tales about our al­legedly “suc­cess­ful” econ­omy.

Here are some bald facts about the econ­omy that – sur­prise, sur­prise – you’ll never hear from the Tories. The big­gest growth in­dus­try in Bri­tain un­der the Tories is ac­tu­ally food banks, with their use soar­ing by an ex­tra­or­di­nary 13 per cent in re­cent months. And of course that’s how they want it: the Tories have dis­dain for the wel­fare state, and if they could get away with it, they’d see it abol­ished al­to­gether, and our poor­est, most de­prived cit­i­zens sup­ported by char­ity and crumbs from the ta­ble of the rich.

Next, never be­fore have so many of our cit­i­zens been in work­ing poverty, with many in low-paid dead-end jobs forced to use those self-same food banks. And the shock­ing statis­tics on days off per an­num in Bri­tain due to stress, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion con­sti­tutes the other bur­geon­ing growth area in our “suc­cess­ful” econ­omy. You’ll never hear about th­ese shame­ful facts in the Tory-sup­port­ing me­dia, but rest as­sured that Labour will be wak­ing peo­ple up to th­ese shock­ing re­al­i­ties as the next elec­tion ap­proaches.

I’ve also just heard that the United Na­tions has re­cently launched an in­quiry into ex­treme poverty in Bri­tain. Such in­ter­na­tional hu­mil­i­a­tion is the legacy of Tory rule and 40 years of un­tram­melled ne­olib­er­al­ism; and let’s just hope we get the op­por­tu­nity to give the Tories our ver­dict on it at the polls sooner rather than later.

Dr Richard House Stroud, Glouces­ter­shire

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