Tag Archives: food

Founding union splits from Labour in disgust at Starmer – hours before his big speech

BFAWU president Ian Hodson: the union has disaffiliated from Labour – the party it helped create – after Starmer’s rabble threatened to expel him over a connection with a proscribed organisation.

One of the trade unions that founded the Labour Party has disaffiliated from it – in disgust at Keir Starmer’s insistence on waging a “factional internal war” instead of opposing Boris Johnson’s far-right government.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) had said it would hold a vote on disaffiliation after Labour threatened to expel its national president, Ian Hodson, over connections with one of the organisations that Starmer’s Labour recently proscribed for no very good reason.

Hodson had dealings with Labour Against the Witchhunt – a support organisation for party members falsely accused of anti-Semitism by Keir Starmer’s auto-guilting disciplinary machine – until 2017.

It was proscribed by Starmer’s perversion of the party earlier this year, making any action against Hodson retrospective – and therefore unreasonable.

The union had planned a disaffiliation vote to coincide with Starmer’s speech at the Labour conference in Brighton this week – but the announcement was made the day before, heaping humiliation on the party’s non-leader.

He is the only Labour leader ever to drive away one of the organisations that helped found the party.

In a statement, the union made its reasoning clear [boldings mine]:

“We need footballers to campaign to ensure our schoolchildren get a hot meal. Workers in our sector, who keep the nation fed, are relying on charity and good will from family and friends to put food on their tables. They rely on help to feed their families, with 7.5% relying on food banks, according to our recent survey.

“But instead of concentrating on these issues we have a factional internal war led by the leadership. We have a real crisis in the country and instead of leadership, the party’s leader  chooses to divide the trade unions and the membership by proposing changes to the way elections for his successor will take place.

“We don’t see that as a political party with any expectations of winning an election. It’s just the leader trying to secure the right wing faction’s chosen successor.

“The decision taken by our delegates doesn’t mean we are leaving the political scene; it means we will become more political and we will ensure our members’ political voice is heard as we did when we started the campaign for £10 per hour in 2014.

“Today we want to see £15 per hour for all workers, the abolition of zero hours contracts and ending discrimination of young people by dispensing with youth rates.

The BFAWU will not be bullied by bosses or politicians. When you pick on one of us you take on all of us. That’s what solidarity means.”

In the light of this announcement, Keir Starmer should be dreading the moment when he takes the stage for his speech.

He was probably hoping for applause – but now he’ll be lucky to avoid catcalls. Personally, This Writer would pelt him with rotten vegetables.

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Food chain collapse means Brexit is hitting schools – and the media are whitewashing Johnson

School meals: Boris Johnson’s Brexit means these are soon to become a rarity.

The Brexit-prompted HGV driver shortage means school canteens are going to run out of food, it was revealed – just as English schools reopened for the autumn term.

Now, why wasn’t this ever mentioned before?

HGV drivers are chronically low-paid, which is probably why there was a shortage of 60,000 even before all the EU-national drivers – 25,000 of them – were told to go home by Boris Johnson’s gang of xenophobes (you call them the government).

There were plans to train up 19,000 new drivers but they were foiled by Covid-19.

So that’s 104,000 HGVs that aren’t servicing our supermarkets and schools. It must be terrific for reducing pollution but it’s not so good for your child’s nutritional needs.

But that isn’t even the worst of it!

Farmers are struggling to get workers to bring in the harvest, meaning much of the food they have grown over the last year may spoil.

Formerly people came from the European Union but “post-Brexit, that is a problem”.

Apparently 70,000 seasonal workers are needed but only 30,000 seasonal work permits are available to people now living in the EU. And there aren’t enough UK workers to fill the gap.

Either the Tories didn’t think about this when they were setting the number of seasonal permits available… or they deliberately planned to sabotage the harvest. Neither alternative is particularly palatable, is it?

This Writer will be charitable and suggest that the Tories didn’t think. There’s a precedent for this: they didn’t think the withdrawal from Afghanistan would be the mess they made it and they didn’t think giving Covid-related contracts worth billions of pounds to their inexperienced friends would do any harm, after all.

So this is probably just another symptom of Boris Johnson’s spectacular – nay, stellar – incompetence.

I’m sure you’ll take comfort from that when you look at your empty plate later this year.

And by the way, that’ll be partly due to a knock-on effect of all this: food prices are going to rocket:

According to the FT report,

the shortage of lorry drivers and more regulatory checks on imported food [will] combine with rising prices for fuel, freight and raw materials, experts have warned.

So that’s even before the effect on the harvest is taken into account!

People are, understandably, angry:

But some are strangely silent.

For example – the BBC. The omission that Peter Stefanovic mentions below is just symptomatic of the Corporation’s efforts to safeguard Boris Johnson and his Tory gang from any responsibility for their stupid decisions:

And – inevitably – they are helped in this by the utter failure of Labour MPs to highlight the harm and the reason for it. Anyone would think they had faults of their own to hide:

Perhaps it’s time people were reminded that they voted for this fiasco. Given a choice between a leader who would have ensured that there was food on our plates and Boris Johnson, the UK’s people voted for starvation:

For some, this will be the hardest part to swallow.

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Union that co-founded the Labour Party threatens disaffiliation – during Starmer’s conference speech

BFAWU president Ian Hodson: the union is threatening to disaffiliate from Labour – the party it helped create – after Starmer’s rabble threatened to expel him over a connection with a proscribed organisation.

This will be a stunning humiliation for Keir Starmer – if it happens. The decision on timing is a masterstroke.

One of the unions that helped set up the Labour Party at the beginning of the 20th century has threatened to sever its connection with Keir Starmer’s right-wing perversion of that organisation.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union is recalling its national conference to take the vote after learning that Labour is considering expelling its national president, Ian Hodson, over connections with one of the organisations that Starmer’s Labour recently proscribed for no very good reason.

The union also condemned Starmer’s apparent decision to repair its relationship with bosses while widening divisions with representatives of labour – the trade unions.

In a statement, the union’s representatives said: “The recent decision to proscribe organisations is seen as a divisive and a purely factional attack which will do nothing to unite the party or provide any real opportunity for the party to be able to unite to fight and defeat our real enemy The Tory Party.

“Our National President has only ever conducted himself in line with the policies and the decisions taken by this trade union.

“The executive expressed dismay and anger at the idea the Labour Party should consider expelling the office of our nominated political lead in our organisation, and agreed that a firm response was required should the party take such actions.

“The BFAWU executive unanimously agreed a timeline that would coincide with the leaders address to national Labour conference in September should such a situation arise.

“An attack on one of ours is an attack on all of us.

“We will not accept bullying from any bosses or a party that seems to be choosing to prefer to be on the bosses side.”

The threat puts Starmer in an impossible position. If he refuses to give in, he’ll suffer a huge public relations defeat and personal humiliation. If he doesn’t, then others will demand to know why Hodson is getting special treatment – and his proscription of left-wing groups will become meaningless.

In making this decision to stand with its president, the Bakers’ union has shown the way for everybody – including individual party members.

What’s to stop individual Labour branches and constituency parties from choosing to disaffiliate, if one of their members is threatened with expulsion unfairly? Nothing.

It seems likely that such solidarity is the only response that Starmer will understand.

Source: BFAWU to recall Conference – Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)

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Dementia patient deported by Patel; Labour councillor wants ‘anti-migrant militia’ [Also in the news]

Border Force: while a Labour councillor calls for the creation of migrant vigilante groups, Priti Patel has deported a dementia patient.

Lots to get through tonight and no time for commentary:

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The social care system is being ruined by profiteers [Also in the news]

This window-writing may have been by a child in care, but it might equally have been written by an adult – or by one of the people employed to care for either of them.

The demand for profit is causing huge harm to the private care system, it has been claimed.

Investor returns have become more important than quality care and workers’ pay, according to research.

Private equity, hedge funds and real estate investment trusts have brought in predatory financial techniques, justified in the name of enticing capital into a sector that the government has persistently failed to adequately fund.

Boris Johnson promised to overhaul the system, more than two years ago. He has yet to lift a finger.

That’s unless you include his government’s Covid-19 strategy that killed – what – 30,000 care home residents, at least?

Also in the news:

Charities are warning that foodbank use will rocket if the Universal Credit cut goes ahead

But the Tories have been pushing more and more people into food poverty. It is their policy.

So why would they care?

Iain Duncan Smith wants civil servants to go back to working in the office

The former Tory leader thinks it’s necessary “because there’s an ecosystem around them made up of cafes, restaurants bars, even theatres and other areas that give people jobs and without people back in their offices, going out for sandwiches, you know, coffees, etcetera that ecosystem will collapse and people will lose their jobs”.

Business chief asks Johnson to save firms from the damage done by Brexit – and goes unanswered

In response, Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has asked why business leaders are putting up with Johnson.

A reader responded that they are probably waiting for the Tories to further reduce workers rights and financial reporting standards, while another pointed out that Johnson made his position clear three years ago when he said, “F*ck business.”

Abbott calls for end to Patel’s cruel mass deportation flights

The fourth mass deportation flight to Jamaica since the Windrush Scandal will leave the UK today (August 11), showing that Home Secretary Priti Patel and her boss Boris Johnson have learned nothing from it.

The excuse is that the deportees are all dangerous criminals – except they aren’t, according to Labour’s Diane Abbott. And they have served the sentence for their crime.

In fact, they are being subjected to double jeopardy, which should be illegal in UK law – penalising people twice for the same crime. It is imposed because the deportees are not white.

And finally:

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Starmer, Labour, and the bullying that stigmatises people as ‘undeserving poor’

Starmer: his policy chief tells him to focus on the middle classes rather than the “undeserving” poor – so he sits there in his best suit and haircut waving the flag at us. Meanwhile thousands starve because they’re afraid of being labelled by this posh psychological bully.

Earlier today (August 5) This Site published a piece commenting on Marcus Rashford’s concern that people weren’t claiming food vouchers for their children for fear of the “stigma” that would be attached to them if they did.

Connected with that, I see that advice given to then-interim Labour leader Harriet Harman in 2015 – by that party’s current strategy director – advised her to ignore the needs of the “undeserving poor” and focus on the desires of the middle class.

There is a strong element of bullying in this.

You can bet your bottom dollar that Keir Starmer is wholeheartedly buying into that strategy today – you only have to look at where his priorities lie to see that he couldn’t give a fig for anybody who doesn’t work in a suit and earn a six-figure salary.

And people who don’t have white-collar jobs and huge salaries – the vast majority of us – are aware of this, even if we haven’t been told explicitly.

“Don’t ask us for help because you won’t get it.”

“You are a sponger.”

“You are a scrounger.”

“If you had the slightest value, you would be lifting yourself out of poverty.”

We’ve heard those lines many times before – and others like them.

The fact that Labour endorses those via the policies put forward by its strategy director means people know there’s no hope for them if they admit poverty.

So they do the British thing: stiff upper lip, keep up appearances, pretend to be “managing” even when they aren’t.

And they avoid schemes set up to help them, even to the point of letting their children starve.

(And this feeds in to the policy demands of both the Tories and StarmerLabour, because they can then claim that such initiatives aren’t needed.)

It is insidious and it is evil. Perhaps Starmer should sack Deborah Mattinson and hire Marcus Rashford instead?

Source: Starmer’s strategy director advised Labour to ignore ‘undeserving’ poor – SKWAWKBOX

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Rashford: Is lack of awareness stopping people claiming food vouchers – or misplaced pride?

The difference between sustenance and starvation: will medical staff step in and point out to families who fear the stigma of claiming food vouchers that there is no shame in feeding their children?

It’s a curiously British phenomenon, this – the mass idiocy that encourages us to say we’re managing (when we’re not) rather than accept help from the government.

Government help is in short supply under the Tories. Anybody who has the chance should seize it with both hands.

But people who can – and should – claim food vouchers aren’t doing it, according to Marcus Rashford, whose campaign for the government to provide free school meals during the holidays saved thousands of your children from starvation over the last year.

The BBC’s report is garbled regarding who can benefit, as it mixes Rashford’s school meals scheme with one for pregnant women and low-income families with children aged under four. Perhaps this new campaign is for both.

Rashford himself, writing in the British Medical Journal, said the food voucher scheme has helped 57,000 parents, but expressed concern that it was “plateauing”.

He said more than 40 per cent of people who were eligible had not registered, and suggested that this was because they came from communities with “no internet, no high street, no word of mouth” – in other words, no way of learning that the scheme even exists.

He called on health professionals to do more to ensure everybody knows about the scheme who are entitled to apply, “especially given the planned digitisation of the scheme this autumn, which will disproportionately disadvantage those without easy access to the internet”.

He asked staff to use an online eligibility calculator and “consider collaborating with us on communicating and educating people about the scheme when possible”.

Crucially, though, he also acknowledged that some people may have been shamed out of applying, in fear that they would be labelled (perhaps as the “undeserving poor”?) because they have been pushed into a position where they have been prevented from being able to feed their children.

He said more needs to be done to end any “silly” stigma and to persuade people to register for support.

I hope doctors and other medical staff pay attention to this.

It would be shocking if children starved because people who have sworn to do no harm found it awkward to do a little good.

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After another SERIES of ‘free school meals’ scandals, Rashford demands overhaul of the whole system

Marcus Rashford: he wins campaigns against Boris Johnson’s government (unlike Keir Starmer’s Labour Party) so it is welcome that he is spearheading this call for an all-encompassing review of government policy on child food poverty.

After the second ‘Free School Meals’ scandal in three days, This Writer feels sure I was among many people who wondered why Marcus Rashford – now generally accepted as the Opposition to the Tory government in such matters – had not spoken up.

Now we know.

Rashford, who was instrumental in forcing the government to provide free school meals during Covid-19 lockdowns and during holidays – including Christmas – when the Tories wanted children to starve, has not confined himself to a single FSM-related issue.

Instead he has joined with celebrity chefs and campaigners to demand a full review of Tory policy on child food poverty which they rightly say is not fit for purpose.

They have written a letter to Boris Johnson and his trained-ape-serving-as-Education-Secretary, Gavin Williamson, here:

It deserves to be reproduced in full:

 We are writing to you to express our concern that the issue of Free School Meals risks once again becoming divisive, and to encourage the Government to undertake an urgent comprehensive review of Free School Meal policy to reform the system for the longer term. We are ready and willing to support your Government in whatever way we can to make this review a reality and to help develop a set of recommendations that everyone can support. It is only by working together that we end child food poverty.

We know that all political parties agree on the outcome that we are aiming for – ensuring that all children have access to enough health, good-quality food to fulfil their potential. Last Autumn, the Government announced several very positive new measures to help combat child hunger, and we strongly welcomed those announcements. This week, we were heartened to see the Department for Education’s swift response to reports of inadequate Free School Meal food parcels being provided by private companies. The robustness of the message from you and the Secretary of State on this issue was very welcome.

I can only assume the last two sentences of this paragraph were included to butter Johnson up, as most of the nation was horrified that Johnson had contracted out responsibility to provide £30 food parcels to private, profit-making firms who did what came naturally – skimmed off five-sixths of the cash in profit and provided £5 worth of food to cover children’s meals for 10 days.

Some Tories even went on the record to say they couldn’t understand the fuss as this was only supposed to provide for a single meal in the day – without realising that their right-wing policies have stamped on families so hard that this may be the only food those children see in a day.

Despite these positive commitments, we strongly feel that now (following the series of problems which have arisen over school food vouchers, holiday provision and food parcels since the start of the pandemic) is the right moment for you to step back and review the policy in more depth. The signatories to this letter urge the Government to conduct an urgent comprehensive review into Free School Meal policy across the UK to provide recommendations for the next Spending Review.

This would allow the Government to provide strong national leadership on children’s food so that our nation’s most disadvantaged children and their families, already disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, don’t continue to bear the brunt. In the first lockdown (March-August), 2.3 million children experienced food insecurity and during the 2020 summer holidays 850,000 children reported that they or their families visited a food bank. Free School Meals are a very important part of the safety net that protects children from impoverished families from hunger and poor nutrition.

We believe the review should be debated in Parliament and published before the 2021 summer holidays. The process will require collaboration from politicians in all the devolved nations with responsibility for school food in their regions, and must involve close consultation with children and young people, as well as teachers, charities, NGOs, frontline catering staff and school meals service providers. It should draw on evidence of food insecurity and health inequalities. We stand ready to provide our full support to the review process.

And experience tells us that the only people Boris Johnson’s government likes to consult are those who are likely to agree with what he wants to do; dissenting voices are ignored. This will make it very difficult for the Tories to devise a strategy that works for any group wider than the Conservative government of Boris Johnson.

We recommend that its scope include:

1. The current eligibility thresholds for Free School Meals. The Government should seek to ensure disadvantaged children are not excluded from Free School Meal eligibility (in line with National Food Strategy recommendations) and to work with the Devolved Administrations to eliminate disparities between the nations. Current estimates show 2 in 5 UK children under the poverty line are missing out. The ongoing eligibility for children from No Recourse to Public Funds should be address explicitly.

2. How funding for Free School Meals can deliver the biggest nutritional and educational impact, supporting children’s learning and well-being throughout the school day and during the school holidays (including breakfast provision and the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme). This should include whether the current allowance for Free School Meals is adequate and whether funding for national breakfasts adequately covers all who would benefit from access to provision.

3. How schools can be supported to deliver the best quality school meals which adhere to school food standards and which ensure the poorest children receive the best possible offer. This should include introducing mandatory monitoring and evaluation on an ongoing basis of Free School Meal take-up, the quality/nutritional adequacy of meals, and examining how the financial transparency of the current system can be improved.

4. What we have learned from Covid-19 and its impact on children in low-income families and the implications of this for school food policy for the next 5 years, as the country recovers.

5. Ensuring that existing school food programmes (such as Free School Meals, holiday provision and breakfast provision) eliminate experiences of stigma for the poorest students. Review the impact that Universal Infant Free School Meals has had on stigma, health, and education.

6. The role of family income (wages and benefits) in enabling families to afford quality food in and outside of school time and during the holidays with choice and dignity.

The Tory response to this should be interesting. Tories habitually say families should be able to provide for their own children, despite the fact that their own policies have squeezed family incomes beyond breaking-point. It’s no good saying people should be able to afford things when you are responsible for ensuring that they can’t!

This review would provide the Government with the opportunity to future-proof its policy on school food, and to carefully consider how best to support low-income children and families in the aftermath of the pandemic. It would also demonstrate the Government’s commitment to tackling child food poverty in the longer term and be a significant step towards a comprehensive long-term plan.

I foresee difficulties.

Already the Welsh Government – which is run by the Labour Party – has taken to Twitter to let people in Wales know that the problems created by the Tories in England do not affect them:

The Tories are hardly going to want to work with organisations that are merrily scoring points off them.

School food is essential in supporting the health and learning of our most disadvantaged children. Now, at a time when children have missed months of in-school learning and the pandemic has reminded us of the importance of our health, this is a vital next step.

The letter is signed by Rashford, Jamie Oliver, Emma Thompson, Tom Kerridge and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and by representatives of Food Foundation, School Food Matters, Chefs in Schools, the Children Society, Children’s Food Campaign, Children’s First Alliance, Feeding Britain, Soil Association, The Bread and Butter Thing, Mayor’s Fund for London, The School Food People, Meals & More, Poverty and Inequality Commission, Independent Food Aid Network UK, Impact on Urban Health, The Fair Education Alliance, the WI, ASSIST FM, Magic Breakfast, Turn2Us, Buttle UK, Greater Manchester Poverty Action, End Child Poverty Coalition, TACT, Scottish Qut of School Care Network, Khulisa UK, The Mighty Creatives, The Equality Trust, One Parent Families Scotland, End Furniture Poverty, Family Action, USDAW, Child Poverty Action Group, Biteback 2030, Just Fair, Rose Hill & Donnington Advice Centre, Oxford, Co-Op Retail, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, The British Psychological Society, British Association of Social Workers, Association of School and College Leaders, King’s Cross Academy, Academies Enterprise Trust, Cabot Learning Federation, Co-op Academies Trust, The Shared Learning Trust, The Eden Academy Trust, LDBS Academies Trusts, National Governance Association, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and Teach First.

I include the whole list because I think it is important for us to understand the sheer number of organisations that now exist to address children’s food poverty – or have to address it as part of their wider activities.

This has only become such a major issue because the Conservatives have forced so many families into food poverty.

So it seems worthwhile to raise the issue of whether we should stop allowing Conservative Party members to form governments that inflict such misery, such starvation, on so many millions of us, just so a tiny minority can live in the kind of luxury that most of us cannot even imagine.

There’s only one question left to ask:

Why is Rashford doing the Labour Party’s job? If Jeremy Corbyn was still party leader, Labour would be all over this.

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Let’s do the Brexit ‘hokey-cokey’: supermarkets told to stockpile food after Sharma said no

Remember this? It won’t be toilet roll that’s missing from supermarket shelves in January if they follow Alok Sharma’s advice – it will be food.

I had not realised how badly business minister Alok Sharma embarrassed himself on Monday’s breakfast media round.

Only a few hours ago, as I type this, he told the nation – well, see for yourself:

It turns out he was directly contradicting the government of which he is the business minister! See:

The UK government is reported to have warned supermarkets to stockpile food and other essential supplies amid increasing fears of a no-deal Brexit in less than three weeks’ time.

And in anticipation of shortages prompted by a no-deal, ministers have told supermarkets to start stockpiling goods.

Food producers have warned supplies of fresh vegetables will be worst hit if tariffs were imposed on goods in the event of a no-deal. They say shortages could last for at least three months.

If that is accurate, then Sharma’s advice is borderline criminal.

He was telling supermarkets not to stock up on vital food, despite having been warned of a shortage in the very near future.

He was telling the nation’s grocers to starve the people of the UK.

Source: Supermarkets ‘told to stockpile food’ as fears grow of no-deal Brexit | Brexit | The Guardian

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Businesswoman rationed daughter’s food after falling through cracks in government help

Closed: while lockdowns bit into small traders’ funds, government help has been restricted only to those that meet arbitrary criteria – meaning many are going hungry, along with their children.

This is the reality of Covid-19 for millions of self-employed people across the UK.

The government trumpeted huge amounts of funding for scheme to keep businesses open – but failed to mention the small print that means some businesses don’t qualify.

It’s as though the pandemic was being used for political reasons – to clamp down on small enterprises and their owners. Isn’t it?

Jo Hill, of Cardiff, was denied any support because her business had only two years of profit on its books.

She had to rely on food banks and borrowed money to survive.

The money I have earned I have had to use for food for myself and my daughter. She’s growing like a bean pole, I couldn’t afford to buy her shoes over lockdown. At times we were so skint food was rationed, I’ve had to be really careful.

When the Chancellor announced [support for self-employed businesses] I breathed a massive sigh of relief. I was applying and it would say I’m not entitled, I was quite bewildered. The money should have gone to everybody.

“I’m too scared to spend any money at all since I don’t know what will happen in the future and how long that money will last. There have been times I couldn’t afford a food shop, I don’t know if my budget is going to last two weeks, three weeks.

The Welsh government has announced business support worth £1.7 billion to firms across the country.

And a fat lot of good it will do to single traders like Ms Hill if they don’t qualify because of arcane eligibility standards.

Source: Mum-of-two forced to ration 12-year-old daughter’s food after support cut off – Mirror Online

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