Free school meals row: Attacks by Conservative MPs on Marcus Rashford ‘nauseating’

PUBLISHED: 15:05 25 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:23 25 October 2020

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford  Picture: Michael Regan/PA Wire.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford Picture: Michael Regan/PA Wire.

PA Wire

The true measure of a civilised society is how it looks after its most vulnerable members.

High on that list of vulnerable members are children and, in particular, children living in poverty.

By that yardstick, last week’s vote in Parliament opposing the feeding of hungry children during the middle of a pandemic casts our country in a particularly poor light.

The vote itself was bad enough. The attacks by Conservative MPs on Marcus Rashford, the inspiration behind the campaign, were nauseating.

Only a few short months ago he was awarded an MBE and they were queuing up to praise him. Now they are queuing up to attack him.

Marcus Rashford is a working class lad made good who remembers the poverty he grew up in and wants to ensure other children don’t have to go through what he did.

MORE: How Suffolk MPs voted on free school meals extension

Based on their arguments in Parliament most Conservative MPs seem to find this behaviour incomprehensible. In their world view, the focus of a wealthy young footballer should be avoiding taxes rather than wanting the tax he pays to make the lives of others better.

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What most of the rest of us find genuinely incomprehensible is that a Government currently throwing cash around like confetti should balk at such a relatively small amount of money for such a worthwhile cause.

£12million for a phone app that was junked before it was launched? No problem!

£12billion for a privatised Track and Trace system that doesn’t work properly and is only having a “marginal” effect? Money is no object!

£100billion for a “moon-shot” testing programme? Where do we sign the cheque!

But a few million quid to stop our kids going hungry? That would tip the country into penury according to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.

Not all Conservative MPs agree with them. Honourable mentions should go to Caroline Ansell who resigned her government post in protest and Robert Halfon.

But sadly, not a single Suffolk Conservative MP voted to support hungry children during school holidays.

The Conservative Party has never managed to shake off its “nasty party” label. Following last week’s vote, it’s not hard to see why.

• David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

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