Tag Archives: Food Banks

A letter I wrote on food banks to Paul Maynard MP 04/10/2013


Dear Paul,

I read with interest your views on food banks this morning. While I understand your concern about people somehow getting “addicted” to poverty, I do wonder sometimes if you and the rest of your colleagues actually live in the real world.
My mother was a teacher in the 1970s in New York, and my father worked as a cashier in a bank. Both respectable jobs, you would think; and yet, we were forced to live on food stamps at one point in time. Why? Because they had three young children under the age of 5, and the cost of living was high. In the end, it was easier for us all to emigrate back to Ireland than to try to struggle on in a huge metropolis. We were lucky to have that choice; many didn’t.
Here’s the thing. I’ve lived in the UK for the last 15 years. I am happy to say that I have only had to sign on twice for a period of (in total) less than two weeks. Where I can, I prefer to work. But one thing is very clear to me that maybe hasn’t sunk in with you and your colleagues at Tory Central. I pay my taxes so the government will take care of things like health, education, welfare. I pay those taxes so that we can live in a society where (as a civilised society) we take care of the needy and the vulnerable. I DO NOT pay taxes so that banks which I am funding with my hard-earned money can continue to pay bonuses to those, who quite frankly, in any other sector would be seen as wholly incompetent. If I had a choice in the matter I also would not pay those taxes to fund the military (and as a pacifist, I have questioned that with HMRC in the past). 
It seems to me, as someone who is self-sufficient and takes responsibility for herself, that the Tory view of the less fortunate is wholly apposite to the oft-trotted out phrase “We’re all in this together”. We are clearly not; and you and your colleagues would do well to live on the poverty line for a month, as an experiment, to see if it would change this most unsavoury habit of poor-bashing. It does nothing to enhance the Tory image; in fact, it reinforces the belief that will be pretty widespread by the time we get to the polling booths that the Tory party consists of people (mainly men) who are wholly out-of-touch with reality. As a centrist in most things, I could not in good conscience vote for a party that would seek to bring a country that I have grown to love to the standard of living for many people that is akin to a third-world level of poverty. When the first wave of people start starving on the streets (and it seems to me, from what I see when in Central London we are not that far away from that happening), maybe you and your colleagues will refrain from making inane statements like those about food banks; however, I suspect the lot of you are so far removed from society in terms of your beliefs and ideology that you would start blaming the corpses.
Yours disgustedly,
Gráinne Gillis