Tory social media accounts last weekend (December 2018) were full of ghoulish MPs grinning victoriously as they celebrated the necessity for foodbanks.
Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was pictured above wearing a bib asking for donations to foodbanks. Raab is an employee of Institute of Economic Affairs, an extremist libertarian think-tank that promotes the complete destruction of public service infrastructure and is funded by disaster capitalists seeking a cliff-fall no-deal Brexit, and he wrote an essay for another such think tank, Centre For Policy Studies, wherein he demanded a bonfire of workers’ rights, human rights and health and safety regulations: Raab’s ‘Escaping The Straight Jacket’.
Claire Perry, who attracted infamy to herself via a deliberate libellous remark about Jeremy Corbyn on BBC’s Question Time, seemed ecstatic in the photo above. People go to foodbanks because they need the food to survive. Using a foodbank is never a choice. Perry’s glee was akin to shitting in the faces of the people who are forced by destitution to go to a foodbank. A pair of scissors was in her hand; she had cut a ribbon to open the foodbank.
Via his think-tank Centre For Social Justice, Iain Duncan-Smith created the vicious policies that caused the destitution that led to the necessity for foodbanks. His presence at a foodbank with a forced smile was particularly disgusting. He had the smirk of a successful assassin.
Some Scottish Tory MPs publicised their respective visits to foodbanks with similar comments. A template from Tory central office helped to construct the messages and each MP was careful to remember to advertise the supermarket.
Clearly, the only reasons for an exponential rise in the number of foodbanks and an even steeper rise in the number of users are Tory policies on welfare, housing and employment law. The mix of a multitude of vicious cuts to benefits, sanctions, high rents and low-paid, low-hours insecure employment has left millions of people with insufficient income to survive. Foodbanks, relying on donations from the public, are a fine example of public generosity but are also a guilty verdict on the Tories Social Murder strategy.
The Tories’ motivation to be photographed at foodbanks was a PR stunt for the MPs and for the party. The stage-managed coordinated nature of the photo opportunities over the last few days was not only a grotesque insult to the users of foodbanks but also an insult to the general public because the Tories assumed everyone will fail to make the connection between the prevalence of foodbanks and Tory policy.
These PR stunts were infused with ghoulishness and pleasure. An acute absence of humanity is required to be able to grin with pleasure at the existence of a last resort for survival when the grinner is the direct and only cause of the destitution that led to that last resort. The Tory MPs that partook of the stunt were proud of themselves. They had the air of hunters posing in front of their kills.
People’s willingness to donate to foodbanks is a wonderful natural human response. It is humanity that the Tories could never understand or even imagine. For the Tories, a foodbank is a photo opportunity devoid of self-awareness.
Kate Belgrave for Independent