Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged Theresa May during PMQs yesterday over the fact that a ‘rough-sleeping task-force’ she had set up last November hadn’t met four months later – especially damning when Britain has just endured one of its most severe cold spells in years and the number of people sleeping rough in the UK has more than doubled:
Mrs May seemed to think that announcing that the task-force had met for the first time on the morning of that PMQs session was a triumph, rather than looking like a last-gasp attempt to avoid having to admit that it had done nothing to help rough sleepers even during a vicious freeze. The point was not missed by honest media observers:
May: "the [homeless] task force he referred to has in fact met. It met today!" After 4 months – not sure she should look so proud of that.
— Dan Bloom (@danbloom1) March 7, 2018
But a key question didn’t seem to be discussed online: when had May arranged the meeting? So we asked Number 10.
The first response was vague, alluding to a discussing during a meeting of ‘Westminster lobby’ journalists:
The taskforce met this morning. The PM spokesperson at lobby was asked when it was arranged and he confirmed that the taskforce meeting had been planned for a while (he pointed towards the fact we said in a readout of cabinet a couple of weeks ago that it would happen).
So we asked for clarification of what ‘said it would happen’ and ‘a while’ meant – was the precise date given during the ‘readout’? The answer:
We didn’t – but we don’t normally set out exact dates of meetings that far in advance. We would have likely just given a steer it was due to happen soon.
So if the date of the meeting wasn’t set ‘a couple of weeks ago’, when was it set? We asked again: “So when was the date fixed?”
Sorry, we wouldn’t normally provide details on exactly when meetings have been scheduled
Downing Street declined to say when the date of yesterday’s meeting was fixed – which would hardly seem to be sensitive information, unless it was embarrassingly recent.
Number 10 also refused to say who was in the meeting, pointing only to a list of members that might have been – so it’s possible that one or two of them had a quick chat during a smoking break and May claimed it as a meeting of the task-force.
What can be said with certainty is that a ‘task-force’ set up to deal with rough sleeping didn’t meet for four of the coldest months of the year – and even when a meeting was loosely mentioned, a further two weeks went past before it met.
During one of the bitterest freezes in recent decades.
And Theresa May looked like she thought giving that answer was a triumph, instead of demonstrating a lack of genuine concern for the plight of our homeless people.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.