Dear Prime Minister, Please Don’t Starve Our Children
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford’s appeal to the Government to extend the holiday food vouchers for school children has been rejected by the Government. Yes — you heard that right — this Government is refusing to feed children during a Pandemic, going into one of of the harshest winters Britain will have ever experienced. Rashford, who has recently received an MBE for his services to vulnerable children, initially had to force the Tory Government into making the U-Turn to feed children back in June — their reluctance to feed them is nothing new.
But why? Why would anyone refuse to put food into the stomachs of impoverished children? Well according to a № 10 Spokesperson, “We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic when schools were partially closed during lockdown. We’re in a different position now with schools back open to all pupils.” The spokesman continues, “It’s not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during the school holidays. We believe the best way to support families outside of term time is through Universal Credit rather than Government subsidising meals.” This is a strange stance to take, not only for the obviously immoral message, but because this is the same Government that just until a few months ago had a policy all about subsidising meals, the ‘Eat out to Help out’ scheme — whereby those eating in restaurants on certain days would see the price of their meals reduced — and as previously mentioned already had a scheme in place to feed hungry school kids over the holidays. One thinks that the Eat out to Help out scheme was simply to boost the economy, especially as this scheme was a key factor in the 2nd wave of Covid we are now experiencing.
Rashford was quick to respond on Twitter: “Merry Christmas kids … It’s also not for food banks to feed millions of British children but here we are. 250% increase in food poverty and rising … This is not going to go away anytime soon and neither am I …” Rashford’s agitation of the Government for such a noble course is admirable, but alas, it seems appealing to the compassion of the Tory politicians will prove futile as they are completely void of any compassion, any receptiveness that the people around them are also human beings, that while their children stay well-fed, those on the bottom of the social ladder are not. All of this politics has its origins in the Industrial Revolution and the 19th Century.
Food is a key concept to the industrial world and to any capitalist regime. In his piece London Labour and the London Poor (published in 1861), Henry Mayhew said of dock workers, but casual workers in general and any labourer within the Capitalist regime, “Such a labourer, commercially considered, is, as it were, a human steam-engine, supplied with so much fuel in the shape of food, merely to set him in motion […] Indeed, the grand object in the labour-market of the present day appears to be to economise human fuel. If the living steam-engine can be made to work as long and as well with a less amount of coal, just so much the better is the result considered.” Children are the Tories future labourers, the working classes off whom they will forge their dystopic nightmare of a country, and to prepare them for their future conditions, they are taught that starvation is just a part of life on that lowest wrung of society, taught that there position as exploited labourers is pre-ordained, and the one thing they are not taught is how to change that, how to escape it, any alternative to capitalism. The idea that the children should instead be fed off Universal Credit is unrealistic and intentionally so. We are in the biggest depression this country has ever seen and with the 2nd Wave now upon us and lockdowns being imposed across the country, if these children aren’t provided free food over the holidays, and are instead seeing their families turned to a benefit scheme that is overburdened and insufficient, they will surely starve … the tragedy is that this is what they want. With less people alive, less people will be reliant on the benefit scheme — simply put, the starvation of children is just another budget cut to the Tory Party, a surplus expenditure. They don’t want to waste all the human fuel on those who they want to die, especially with an oncoming No-Deal Brexit where a food shortage will be an inevitability. To quote Mayhew again, “ […] There are acres upon acres of treasure, more than enough, one would fancy, to stay the cravings of the whole world, and yet you have but to visit the hovels grouped round about all this amazing excess of riches to witness the same excess of poverty […] If the incomprehensibility of the wealth rise to sublimity, assuredly the want that co-exists with it is equally incomprehensible and equally sublime.”
Annie Besant outlined in her article ‘White Slavery in London’ (published in 1888 and written to expose the poor conditions in the Bryant and May match factory, which was the site of the famous Match Strike), wage labourers of the 19th Century were actually cared for less than actual slaves, “With chattel slaves Mr. Bryant could not have made his huge fortune, for he could not have fed, clothed, and housed them for 4s. a week each, and they would have had a definite money value which would have served as a protection. But who cares for the fate of these wage slaves? Born in slums, driven to work while still children, undersized because underfed, oppressed because helpless, flung aside as soon as worked out, who cares if they die or go on the streets, provided only that the Bryant and May shareholders get their 23 per cent., and Mr. Theodore Bryant can erect statues and buy parks? Oh if we had but a people’s Dante, to make a special circle in the Inferno for those who live on this misery, and suck wealth out of the starvation of helpless girls.” And the message of Besant’s piece rings woefully true today. How some 132 years later can we be in nearly the same position as this? Where those who live off the misery of others and make their wealth off the starvation of children are still in charge?
The truth is that one should imagine humanity as an anemone-like super-organism where every human being is a mere cell. If each and every single one of us is part of a larger whole, than altruism, benevolence, and clarity are in our own self-interest, feeding hungry children during a Pandemic, is all to our benefit. The simplistic divide of right and wrong, good and evil, is necessary because our morals are not arbitrary social constructs, but rather an engrained programming instructing the super-organism of humanity not to destroy itself. The Tories fail to see this, and they prefer to mind themselves and their own, but also the 151 billionaires in the UK alone who could solve this issue fairly easily if…they were taxed correctly. But alas, I guess they’ll just let children starve.