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As children go hungry in austerity Britain, Brian Christopher asks whether Tesco should be allowed to keep a penny of its £2.26bn profit. Meanwhile, where is David Cameron? Follow the bow-ties and tails...

A million food packages handed out to the hungry. When this is announced on TV with scenes of starving children in the Horn of Africa or a scene of natural disaster on the Indian subcontinent it is heart-breaking and fills us with anger.

That it can happen in Britain in 2014 is a crime, not a tragedy.

HungerBritish supermarkets, we are told, are the backbone of the UK economy. Tesco has just announced profits of £2.26 billion.  It begs the question, if children in Britain are going hungry, why should Tesco (the UK’s biggest food retailer with 28.6% of the groceries market) be allowed to keep a single penny of that money?

In Tesco stores across the country, just before Christmas, volunteer helpers collected tins of food as donations for some of Britain’s poorest people. Shoppers were encouraged to buy extra from Tesco, to give to the poor. Meanwhile Tesco found young people with an appetite for work and a thirst for opportunity and employed them for nothing! Accountants, peckish for some hefty fees, helped the fat cats avoid taxes and stashed the dough away in tax avoidance schemes. Profit-hungry corporations collaborating with a tax-starved government.

According to the Trussell Trust, people rely on food banks because of “redundancy, illness, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown and paying for the additional costs of heating during winter”.  Are any of these situations acceptable?  Is it inevitable that tens of thousands of people can’t afford food because they are ill, or beaten by their partners, or are waiting for the under-staffed DWP to sign some forms?

HungerIn today’s Britain it is not uncommon to see people looking through bins for food. For some people, that humiliation is preferable to the interview they need to go through before they get referred to a foodbank. Ordinary people have to go with an empty shopping bag and beg for beans and bread.

Last year 346,992 were fed by foodbanks. That’s about the population of all of Fife. One third of those helped were children. One in five mothers in the UK skips a meal to feed their kids.

This probably is a small part of a much bigger picture. It doesn’t tell the story of the pensioners too old or sick to leave the house, negotiate the bureaucracy and notify the charities that they need help. It doesn’t include neglected children who may be confined to their homes or abused women too afraid to make their situation known.

Who is responsible for this situation?

Compassionate and caring Conservative David Cameron can be seen from time to time in Britain. He can be spotted easily if you look out for the white bow-tie and tails.  He is usually at a banquet of some kind preaching about a “Big Society” and is accompanied by fellow do-gooders who care so deeply about social issues that they work for big banks speculating on food and fuel markets. At one of these banquets Cameron made a pledge to make a permanent lean state. Unending austerity. Perpetual misery for ordinary people. And frankly, for the poorest, destitution and hunger. David Cameron’s attitude could barely be closer to the “let them eat cake” heartlessness of the Ancient Regime.

A waitress and intern who served him at a recent feast had this to say:

“The guests enjoyed a champagne reception, and then were served a starter (“a celebration of British mushrooms”), a fish course and main course of fillet of beef, all served with wine of course. In the break before dessert, coffee, dessert wine, port, brandy and whisky were served and Cameron gave his speech.”

Cameron made the following delicious remarks:

“There are some people who seem to think that the way you reduce the cost of living in this country is for the state to spend more and more taxpayers’ money. It’s as if somehow you measure the compassion of the government by the amount of other people’s money it can spend.”

Hunger

Westminster MPs know quite a bit about spending other people’s money. They are happy to do it refurbishing their second homes and making their offices look pretty. They are happy to do it when the money is filtered to their friends via the Royal mail sell-off and the NHS ‘reforms’ that tear off the best parts of the NHS and throw it to the vultures. They are only unhappy to spend “other people’s money” it if it will feed people who are hungry, or raise the standard of living for the most vulnerable.

It’s as if they intend to starve commentators of opportunities for any references other than to Charles Dickens’ impoverished Victorian Britain. Wise words also come however from George Bernard Shaw’s fantastic epic play Man and Superman, in which the Devil says to Don Juan that imperialist governments in Britain “spend hundreds of millions of money in the slaughter, whilst the strongest ministers dare not spend an extra penny in the pound against the poverty and pestilence through which they themselves walk daily”.

The only thing that has changed in the intervening years since this was written  is that politicians no longer deign (or dare) to walk daily through the neighbourhoods they preach at and rule over.  They know that they are hated and that the ire of the people they rob and ruin might one day put an end to their privileges.

They live in fear and we must make that fear justified.

From International Socialist Group

British supermarkets, we are told, are the backbone of the UK economy. Tesco has just announced profits of £2.26 billion.  It begs the question, if children in Britain are going hungry, why should Tesco (the UK’s biggest food retailer with 28.6% of the groceries market) be allowed to keep a single penny of that money?

In Tesco stores across the country, just before Christmas, volunteer helpers collected tins of food as donations for some of Britain’s poorest people. Shoppers were encouraged to buy extra from Tesco, to give to the poor. Meanwhile Tesco found young people with an appetite for work and a thirst for opportunity and employed them for nothing! Accountants, peckish for some hefty fees, helped the fat cats avoid taxes and stashed the dough away in tax avoidance schemes. Profit-hungry corporations collaborating with a tax-starved government.

According to the Trussell Trust, people rely on food banks because of “redundancy, illness, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown and paying for the additional costs of heating during winter”.  Are any of these situations acceptable?  Is it inevitable that tens of thousands of people can’t afford food because they are ill, or beaten by their partners, or are waiting for the under-staffed DWP to sign some forms?

In today’s Britain it is not uncommon to see people looking through bins for food. For some people, that humiliation is preferable to the interview they need to go through before they get referred to a foodbank. Ordinary people have to go with an empty shopping bag and beg for beans and bread.

- See more at: http://internationalsocialist.org.uk/index.php/blog/hunger-in-21st-century-britain/#sthash.P9mNIS4M.dpuf

British supermarkets, we are told, are the backbone of the UK economy. Tesco has just announced profits of £2.26 billion.  It begs the question, if children in Britain are going hungry, why should Tesco (the UK’s biggest food retailer with 28.6% of the groceries market) be allowed to keep a single penny of that money?

In Tesco stores across the country, just before Christmas, volunteer helpers collected tins of food as donations for some of Britain’s poorest people. Shoppers were encouraged to buy extra from Tesco, to give to the poor. Meanwhile Tesco found young people with an appetite for work and a thirst for opportunity and employed them for nothing! Accountants, peckish for some hefty fees, helped the fat cats avoid taxes and stashed the dough away in tax avoidance schemes. Profit-hungry corporations collaborating with a tax-starved government.

According to the Trussell Trust, people rely on food banks because of “redundancy, illness, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown and paying for the additional costs of heating during winter”.  Are any of these situations acceptable?  Is it inevitable that tens of thousands of people can’t afford food because they are ill, or beaten by their partners, or are waiting for the under-staffed DWP to sign some forms?

In today’s Britain it is not uncommon to see people looking through bins for food. For some people, that humiliation is preferable to the interview they need to go through before they get referred to a foodbank. Ordinary people have to go with an empty shopping bag and beg for beans and bread.

- See more at: http://internationalsocialist.org.uk/index.php/blog/hunger-in-21st-century-britain/#sthash.P9mNIS4M.dpuf
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