Johnson’s hunger games: scoring an own goal
One would think that Boris Johnson would find it hard to resist a campaign to feed hungry children during school holidays. After all, he gave in before - and happily shared the limelight with ManU footballer Marcus Rashford, who forced the issue last summer. And didn’t he just “honour” Marcus with an MBE, for precisely this reason, only 3 weeks ago?!
But no, so far, no meals at government expense this time! Says it all, really, and including about the empty gongs awarded by this very un-classy, class system.
So it is just as well that parliamentary recess has intervened, so that Johnson doesn’t have to face any prickly questions during schools’ half-term. But since there are no school meals right now, given the government’s refusal, it also exposes ministers’ responses, as shameful lies. They say they don’t have to feed the 1.4m kids (plus another million since the pandemic!) eligible for free school meals in England, because £63m was given to councils to sort this out. Except that the £63m was given over 12 weeks ago, to last for 12 weeks and is long gone. And right now, charities, food banks, Marcus Rashford, and the more well-to-do pubs and restaurants are having to distribute food to families who otherwise would have nothing.
But of course it is not just children who go hungry. With the end of furlough, bosses are throwing workers to the wolves. In some London boroughs and deprived parts of the North West and East, applications for Job Seekers Allowance have gone up as much as 300%! But many - especially young workers who are bearing the brunt of the job cuts - don’t qualify for JSA. And anyway, with living costs sky high, rent unaffordable and food prices shooting up day by day, a £20/week increase in benefits, which is all the government has proposed, after a 5-week wait, is gone in a flash.
The “unemployment pandemic”, precipitated by the end of furlough, is a crisis upon a crisis for individuals and families. And in truth, it should really be the final straw for a capitalist system which is based on the constant need to make a “profit” through exploiting workers, pandemic or not.
It was reported that Walsall’s Tory council leader said parents struggling to feed their children should go shop at Marks and Spencer: “let them eat M&S”! Which recalls Marie Antoinette’s answer to the hungry Paris masses in 1789: if they had no bread, they should eat cake instead... Not long after, the revolutionary masses sent her to the guillotine. Maybe today’s government doesn’t deserve physical guillotining for its carelessness. But the class system it defends - based on satisfying the greed of few at the expense of poverty for the many - certainly does.