The Tory party really are something. You’d think it couldn’t get sadder than trying to illegally fob Love Island water bottles, or, I don’t know, causing homelessness to increase every year for seven years, but then they do something so tone-deaf, so brazenly stupid, that you just have to wonder whether this is real life or we are all stuck in some torture simulation by an alien with a very wry sense of humour.
This week, several Conservative MPs sparked outrage after tweeting about a coordinated food donation to Trussell Trust food banks, despite the party having voted for policies that caused an increase in their use. According to indy100, Nigel Huddleston, Ross Thompson, John Lamont, Kirstene Hair, and Luke Graham were some of the Tory MPs to cheerfully post similar tweets about visiting and donating to various food banks across the country.
“Today I visited @Tesco Wellington Road to meet volunteers for @TrussellTrust and @FareShareUK,” Thompson, conservative MP for Aberdeen, wrote. “I was pleased to make a donation to the local food bank to help those who are vulnerable and in need #EveryCanHelps.”
Many were quick to critique the move, calling it hypocritical, as most of the MPs involved in the coordinated food bank donations voted for policies that directly led to the increase in food bank use. These include the widely criticised Universal Credit or the Bedroom Tax, which sees benefits reduced if claimants are seen to have unnecessary rooms in their homes.
“Your party's policies have caused the need for food banks in the first place,” one user wrote on Twitter, “Don't stand there in your suit and tie on some contrived photoshoot trying to convince people that you give a flying… patronising those who cannot even afford to eat or keep warm.”
Another Conservative MP, Claire Perry, also came under fire recently after posting a picture in which she is opening a new food bank in her constituency of Devizes in South West England. The tweet has since been deleted.
Most food banks in the UK are run by the Trussell Trust, a charitable organisation that relies solely on donations. This year, the rate of food bank use was the highest on record—rising by 13 percent as opposed to 6 percent the year before.
Writing in a blog post on the Trussell Trust website yesterday, the charity's director of policy, external affairs, and research Garry Lemon responded to the controversy around the MPs’ tweets, stating that “no one in the UK should need to use a food bank.”
Although “charity law means [the Trussell Trust] can’t be party political,” Lemon makes the Trussell Trust’s opposition to Universal Credit clear, and says it “will continue to call for a benefits system that provides sufficient money and support to anyone who needs it.”
Wish the Tories would just stick to fobbing copyrighted merchandise instead of screwing over the most vulnerable. Ugh.