Pm Tuesday evening, the SKWAWKBOX published a list of the MPs, including 302 Tories, who voted to deprive over a million schoolchildren of a free, hot school meal – at a time of soaring child poverty and malnutrition in one of the richest countries on earth.
Those MPs had voted against a Labour motion tabled by Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner. It seems some Tory MPs did not enjoy the scrutiny – as they took to Twitter to try to justify their choice to prolong children’s hunger, which teachers know is damaging their education.
Craig Tracey, North Warwickshire
Latest full-year expenses: £154,450.91.
Tracey tweeted to justify his vote by regurgitating Tory HQ’s selective use of a Channel 4 FactCheck article, to claim that the Tories are giving free school meals to 50,000 additional children rather than depriving over a million children of them:
That was easily dealt with. First of all, Angela Rayner had shot down the lame attempt at deflection in the first exchange of the debate on the amendment:
The very same claim was made by a Tory MP in that first exchange – and Ms Rayner’s response debunked it:
Chris Philp (Croydon South) (Con)
Does the hon. Lady agree with Channel 4’s FactCheck, which says:
“This is not a case of the government taking free school meals from a million children”.
These are children who are not currently receiving free school meals, and in fact the Government’s proposals would see 50,000 extra children receive free school meals. Perhaps the hon. Lady could stop giving inaccurate information to the House.
The hon. Gentleman should know that his Government have introduced transitional arrangements, and we are clear that under the transitional arrangements, those 1 million children would be entitled to free school meals. With the regulations, the Government are pulling the rug from under those hard-working families.
In my own boroughs of Oldham and Tameside, a total of 8,700 children growing up in poverty are set to miss out. In the Secretary of State’s own area, the total is 6,500. So much for the light at the end of the tunnel that the Chancellor mentioned over the weekend on “The Andrew Marr Show”!
Not only that, but the above exchange was included in the article Mr Tracey was responding to in order to try to justify himself.
The FactCheck article, in fact, had criticised a claim nobody had made. It concluded that Labour’s claim was ‘not the full picture’ because the Tories’ change to the law would not take free school meals from a million children who already had them – but it would stop the million children getting one in the first place.
But Ms Rayner had never made that claim. Here’s what she did say – which FactCheck even included in their article:
The plan ‘could leave over a million children’ without a free, hot school meal. They don’t have one – and they’ll be left without one by the Tories’ rule change that will mean children whose parents earn a paltry £7,400 a year.
The Tories’ attempt to weasel out of the reality of their actions was not merely slimy – it was based on an entirely false premise.
Tracey then switched tack. Without giving up on the ‘not getting them in the first place’ claim, he tried to claim that Ms Rayner had not been able to say how Labour would pay for the supposedly-extra school meals:
But this was not true.
During the debate, Ms Rayner was asked about funding – and answered, correctly, that it had already been included, fully costed, in Labour’s manifesto for last year’s General Election:
Alex Burghart (Brentwood and Ongar) (Con)
I thank the hon. Lady for giving way; she is being extremely generous with her time. The Labour party manifesto committed to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils. This is an additional extension of free school meals to a lot more children who are in secondary school. Will the hon. Lady please tell us how much that would cost and how her party would fund it if it was in power?
The hon. Gentleman will know that the “School Food Plan” that was published in July 2013 recommended that the Government looked into free school meals for infant and junior schools. The Labour party manifesto was clear that we would just extend that. It was unfortunate that the Government chose not to do as recommended, instead just giving it to infants. If Conservative Members would like to see our costings and manifesto, I am sure I could provide that, because there were many more costings in our manifesto than there were in the Conservative manifesto
Tracey’s claim was not only untrue and possibly defamatory – it was entirely hypocritical, since it was the Tories 2017 manifesto that lacked costings and how they would be paid, not Labour’s.
Predictably, Mr Tracey was still not ready to acknowledge his errors. Again he tried to switch tack – this time asking the SKWAWKBOX for the costs. We advised him to read the manifesto, since neither we nor Ms Rayner should be doing his job for him.
Conor Burns, Bournemouth West
Latest full-year expenses: £149,557.47.
Rebuked by one of his constituents about his vote, Mr Burns responded with the same, tired reference to FactCheck, combined with some arrogant-sounding bluster:
We referred him to the false premise of the FactCheck article and challenged him to answer, yes or no, whether the Tories’ vote on Tuesday night would mean over 1 million children not getting a meal who would have had one had the Tories not changed the law, then for him to apologise – to those hungry children and their families:
So far, he has not responded. Ah well.
Marcus Fysh, Yeovil
Latest full-year expenses: £190,348.52
Marcus Fysh, challenged by a Twitter user over his vote, responded aggressively – but still relying on the false-premise, debunked FactCheck article:
When the SKWAWKBOX responded by pointing out that his claim was debunked, he doubled down with another tired and discredited smear:
We merely asked him the same simple, yes/no question we had put to his colleagues – and challenged him to apologise to the families his vote had helped to deprive:
So far, he has failed either to respond to the question or to apologise to the children and families in poverty who will now not qualify for a free school meal.
The similarity – and obnoxious tone – of the responses not only exposes the intellectual and political bankruptcy of the Tory party, it also underscores its status as the party of callousness and cruelty to the vulnerable.
‘The nasty party’ is no longer close to an adequate description.
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