SSP member, Angus Clark had this letter published in the Bearsden/Milngavie Herald.
The opening of a foodbank in Milngavie, as referred to in a recent B&M Herald article, made depressing reading. Although the initiative is to be welcomed in one sense, it is an alarming indicator of how desperate ordinary people have become and is a shame on our society.
In the last 18 months the number of foodbanks opening across the UK has tripled. In only the last year the biggest provider of foodbanks, the Trustle Trust has handed food parcels out to 355,985 people, including 120,000 children. These people are relying on foodbanks to survive but this represents just the tip of the iceberg as this only includes those referred by their GP of welfare advisers. This situation has arisen as a direct result of the Con Dem Governments attack on working people through welfare cuts, the Bedroom Tax, fuel price increases, poverty wages, and delays in welfare payments, and this is borne out by the Trusts report. This crisis is so bad that Tesco will be supplying the equivalent of millions of meals a day and most of its surplus fresh food to charities. The British Red Cross have, for the first time since the Second World War, announced that they will be distributing food parcels in Britain. Most people are having to spend a bigger proportion of their income on escalating food prices and some are even having to buy less food.
This is all leading to a social catastrophe and the Con Dem Government are trying to deny that their policies are linked to this massive increase, blaming it on’ poor financial planning’. People who have worked all their days are proud and do not find it easy to ask for food hand-out’s. Those who are in poverty wages also feel guilty but find it impossible to pay the mortgage, clothe the children, heat the house and put fuel in the car. The decision to go down to a foodbank will be a painful one but they should not feel ashamed. The Government should feel ashamed. The young schoolboy who has not enough money to pay for his school lunch and no food in the house to make a sandwich and decides to stay off school to avoid embarrassment should not feel ashamed. The Government should feel ashamed.
The Con Dem Government, of which our MP Jo Swinson is a Member, commissioned an Investigation into the reasons for foodbanks and said they would publish the information by the summer of 2013.The need for a survey was a diversionary tactic as we all know the reasons for the increase in foodbanks, notwithstanding this, our elected representatives decided not to publish the Investigation. Maybe they had something to hide? However on 4th December 2013 a member’s motion was tabled to get this Investigation published along with measures to help people avoid having to rely on foodbanks. As usual our elected representatives voted against this motion, including our local MP Jo Swinson. Jo voted predictably along party lines, just as she voted in favour of retaining the bedroom tax, which is now in the process of being defeated in Scotland due to public pressure.
The increase in foodbanks is a worrying trend in that they are the last ‘safety net’ for ordinary people who are in desperation. They run the risk of becoming ‘institutionalised’ and taken for granted which we as a society must never accept. If they fulfil a need in Milngavie then, by implication, they will fulfil a need throughout the country and this is a depressing fact. However, in reality the increase in foodbanks are just one symptom of a failing and degenerated economic system which is no longer capable of providing for basic needs never mind advancing the living standards of ordinary people. This is what we are witnessing in the 21st Century, a system which does not deserve to live, but which refuses to die. We all need to do what we can to help it on its way.
SCOTTISH SOCIALIST PARTY