This letter was sent to the Sittingbourne News Extra and the Sheerness Times Guardian, and published last week.
It wasn’t that long ago that we read on the letter pages the effect the so called “Gagging Bill” would have on our charities and community organisations – basically no such organisation could speak ‘politically’ in public. It all sounds really dry boring stuff to many but to some, including myself, this was a serious infringement by the Coalition Government on the right to speak openly about our society.
So when Oxfam announced that child poverty in Britain today has reached unacceptable levels and has led to an alarming rise in cases of malnutrition, I wasn’t ready for what happened next; a Tory MP popped up accusing Oxfam of being political. Oxfam went on to compare the life expectancy of male adults in parts of Glasgow to that of a male adult in Kenya and commented that in the worlds seventh largest economy, the UK, we should not be seeing children go hungry. I like many, was shocked to hear Oxfam’s findings and saddened to hear a Conservative MP accuse them of being political and then going on to say that Britain is prospering and Oxfam have got it wrong.
I disagree, it is true there are some people prospering in Britain today but not the majority; we don’t have to look to Glasgow or Kenya because there are parts of Sittingbourne and Sheppey were nearly half of the children are living in poverty, food bank use in Sheerness is up and its operations are expanding and our very own credit union based in Murston is responding to need as much as a credit union as it is a crisis support centre.
I thank Oxfam for making public, and bringing home to us, the shocking truth of Britain today; like I thank the Archbishop of Canterbury for calling for an end to rip off payday lenders. I would expect any MP to respond not by gagging them, but to have the confidence to listen, and accept the reality, and work with others to solve the pernicious problem of poverty and hardship in peoples lives.
2015 General Election Candidate for the Labour Party