Richard Graham MP is radiating smugness that the local paper, the Citizen, has apologised for the representation of his views on mobile phones and food banks. On twitter last night he was proclaiming that Gloucester Labour take note, as if he was completely right. And he is right, the local paper did make an error of judgement and have done the right thing in their response. But that is only a small element, what he can’t avoid is that his views, which have always been online (both on his own website and on the Citizen online), and printed on Saturday, still represent an abhorrent view of his electorate, he is clearly out of touch with the residents of Gloucester, and I still believe that he should go.
To reiterate my major issues, he has once again shown that he is quick to judge those who need support rather than helping them. He claims that usage has gone up because the vouchers are easy to get (let’s not highlight that his office is a source of vouchers) but he should really talk to some people who have gone down that route. No-one who I have talked to finds it an easy prospect. Many have to overcome personal feelings of shame and anxiety before going for help, many parents who are just doing their best to survive. This is not easy for them to do, that is then followed by working out how to make that precious food parcel last. He should not need a study to do this, he should have the evidence of those people going through his office. For him to show such contempt for people who turn up to free charity breakfasts, just because they show up smartly dressed (as he told BBC Gloucestershire) haranguing them for trying to keep a piece of personal pride, is just wrong.
We automatically assume that food bank users are all long-term benefits claimants, and that’s an easy vision for Richard to deal with, because he vilifies the Welfare State. But the reality is that many food back users are those people who have had a decent job and trying their best, but get made redundant and suddenly find themselves with the mortgage bill looming (selling the house doesn’t help) and having to make ends meet very quickly. The reality is it could be any one of us should a wrong decision of our employer happen. For Richard to say he has no idea about why usage has gone up, claiming many of them are from out of the city, even though his office is one of the distribution points of vouchers and he knows what you have go through to get them is just bizarre. I’m surprised he knows where the food bank is, because he has not even visited it while he has been an MP. He has commented that they need to go to him if they want help.
We have seen this weekend that this is not just Richards views, but a war being waged across the Country on those who are desperate to hold their lives together. Ironically, Richard, who is calling for a study, voted against just such a move in Parliament quite recently. More than a study though, we want the proper support put in place for people who need it, and we want you to vacate your seat, you are far too dangerous to the most vulnerable in our society to say where you are!