This government simply does not understand the realities of living in Britain today

·5-min read
Marcus Rashford was awarded an MBE but has lost his latest battle with the government over free school meals (Manchester United via Getty Imag)
Marcus Rashford was awarded an MBE but has lost his latest battle with the government over free school meals (Manchester United via Getty Imag)

I read your editorial ('The government will score an own goal by rejecting Marcus Rashford’s call to extend free school meals’, 22 October) with interest and agreement. This will not go down at all well with the public, especially in the very hard hit areas of the country due to the resurgence of Covid-19.

I agree that, in their economic response, the government was very proactive at first but there has been a tightening of the purse strings. I watched Dame Louise Casey on Newsnight on Wednesday and she was passionate in putting forward her case for free school meals to continue until Easter 2021. The premise that families can rely on universal credit is perhaps fallacious because parents, even those receiving these benefits and working, still cannot find the necessary wherewithal to feed their children adequately.

I then went on to read about the comments from Conservative MPs, who plainly do not get the current crisis this country is in, with their less than compassionate remarks about parents taking responsibility and not relying on the government. This misunderstands the realities of living in Britain today. Parents, often working in low paid jobs, are doing everything possible to feed and clothe their children.

Yes, the government has been generous up to now, but this negative and harsh response to the estimable Marcus Rashford brings back memories of Theresa May’s famous observation “that people used to refer to the Tories as the nasty party”, which may return to haunt them in the long weeks and months ahead.

Judith A Daniels

Great Yarmouth

During recent correspondence with my MP, Rishi Sunak, he has made it clear to me that he supports the maintenance of the charitable status of many independent, fee paying schools and the huge tax breaks these multi-million pound corporations enjoy as a result.

Yesterday, together with 318 of his well-paid colleagues, he voted against extending free school meals to help the most vulnerable families during the school holidays, meaning many will once again be forced to seek help from food banks.

It seems that our chancellor believes that, while the children of the most privileged families should benefit from charities, those at the other end of the scale should be forced to rely on them.

David Goff

North Yorkshire

Let’s all work this Christmas

As business lunches are now allowed under Covid-19 restrictions, perhaps families should immediately form limited companies, at a cost of a modest-sized turkey, then issue shares to all their members and call an inaugural share-holders meeting for some future date, say 25 December, either at a restaurant or at the proposed chair of the board’s house.

Colin Burke

Cumbria

Coffee mourning

I read with alarm your article, ‘Pret £20 monthly subscription: Best reusable coffee cups’ (4 September). The sad truth is that customers currently carrying reusable cups will only be able to use them at a small number of outlets. While big chains, such as Costa and Starbucks, are accepting them, many others, such as Caffé Nero, are refusing to. They say this is because of coronavirus, despite over 100 scientists signing an open letter saying reusables are safe.

This is why City to Sea started the #ContactlessCoffee campaign to both inform and inspire outlets to provide coffee to customers safely. Reusable cups are safe both for customers and for our planet by cutting down on our single-use plastic use.

Rebecca Burgess, CEO City to Sea

Is this all a game to our prime minister?

With Brexit and the pandemic spiralling out of control, the common denominator is that Michel Barnier and Andy Burnham have both had to deal with Boris Johnson and his constant changes of direction, lack of clarity and loose grasp on the truth. They know from experience that negotiating with him leads nowhere but to the breakdown that was always what he planned for, whether to get his desired no-deal Brexit or just to play politics and out-manoeuvre a Labour Party mayor. It’s all a game to him. It must be like trying to nail a jelly to the wall: there can be no winners, just a mess to clean up afterwards.

They also know the frustration of dealing with someone who lacks principles and integrity. He is a master at creating smokescreens to distract attention from his personal failings.

Andy Burnham on Tuesday night cried out in frustration: “This is no way to run a country during a pandemic.” I suggest it is no way to run a corner shop, let alone a country at any time.

But we seem stuck with incompetent, failing Johnson until 2024, unless of course history repeats itself, as in 1990 when Tory MPs removed Margret Thatcher between elections. This is unlikely, as both Johnson and Dominic Cummings seemed to anticipate this possibility and expelled those honest, independently minded Tories who cared for the country before the last election, replacing them with the current crop of lightweight self-servers.

John Simpson

Ross on Wye

I have a serious concern that the legacy of the developments in regional tiered lockdowns could well be the labelling of the north as the home of reckless, dangerous behaviour, while the south is the home of responsible, moderate individuals.

This would be a totally false conclusion. The map of increasing infections is an almost complete match-up with one that would show poverty and social deprivation. Covid has revealed the true nature of our nation after 10 years of One Nation Conservatism and now our “leader” refuses to be generous to the areas suffering the most because to do so would be unfair.

The red wall could prove to be an illusion as the red mist builds “up north” and people see the true nature of this government.

John Dillon

Birmingham

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