Toffee-nosed Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg ignited outrage yesterday (September 14) after describing rocketing food bank usage as “uplifting”.
The multimillionaire MP – tipped as a potential Conservative Party leader – said the rise of charities handing out food to desperate families “shows what a good compassionate country we are”.
Unite blasted Rees-Mogg as a “hard-right ideologue”, saying he was praising the fact that the Tories have made a policy of “washing their hands of any semblance of social responsibility”.
Speaking on LBC radio, Rees-Mogg said, “I don’t think the state can do everything. It tries to provide a base of welfare that should allow people to make ends meet during the course of the week, but on some occasions that will not work.
“And to have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens, I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are… I think there is a need for some private charity on top of what the state provides.”
The Old Etonian also insisted the proliferation of food banks – now numbering more than 2,000 – was Labour’s fault, saying the Tories had scrapped rules that prevented JobCentre staff from telling people food banks existed.
He said, “The real reason for the rise in numbers is people know they are there and Labour deliberately wouldn’t tell them.”
Rees-Mogg claims refuted
The UK’s biggest food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, refuted his claims, pointing out that just 5 per cent of the people who used its services in 2016 were referred by JobCentres.
The trust handed out a record 1.2m food parcels last year, up from 61,000 in 2010/11.
Head of Unite Community Liane Groves said, “Jacob Rees-Mogg is a hard-right ideologue who is praising the fact that charities are having to do the job of government in supporting those in desperate need.
“The Tories have made a policy of washing their hands of any semblance of social responsibility or compassion. They have attacked public services and decimated living standards to the point where people are driven in record numbers to food banks.
“Rees-Mogg, along with his party, couldn’t care less about the destruction left in the wake of their ruthless austerity campaign.”
Labour’s Ian Lavery MP said the comments had shown Rees-Mogg to be “the dictionary definition of an out-of-touch Tory”.
Lavery added, “The real reason people are going to food banks in record numbers is because the Tories have slashed public sector jobs and living standards over the last seven years, plunging more families into poverty and homelessness.”