Marcus Rashford should set up a rival test and trace that works just as badly. Maybe then kids could eat this winter

Mark Steel
·5-min read
Marcus Rashford scored for England on Sunday (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Marcus Rashford scored for England on Sunday (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Andy Burnham’s played this battle very badly. He should have set Manchester up as a particularly useless track and trace company, then he’d have been given £80m a day.

He could have announced: “We will deliver a world-beating system within a few weeks”. Then next July the CEO, someone like Liam Gallagher, perhaps, could issue a statement “A’right, I don’t ******* know who’s got ******* Covid, so ******* what”, and the money could be shared out across the region.

The amount spent on the test and trace system that doesn’t test or trace very well, has been £12bn. And the extra amount Andy Burnham was asking for, was £5m. So the government thinks it’s alright to chuck away £12,000,000,000 but to find £12,005,000,000 is outrageous.

The government’s offer to Manchester would leave the poorest people living on two-thirds of their normal income. But the prime minister won’t see that as a problem, because when he was a bit short he didn’t ask for handouts, he got himself a £250,000 a year writing a column for the Daily Telegraph.

He probably feels that’s what people in Manchester should do, so they’ll be fine as long as they’re prepared to write editorials with headlines like: “Balance of trade’s gonna be sound after Brexit, mate, stock market’s gonna be banging, know what I mean?”

Marcus Rashford has made a similar mistake. Instead of mucking about with petitions, he should start up a ferry company with no ferries like the one given a ferry contract to deal with Brexit back in 2018. Within a week there would be enough money to feed every child a five-course-banquet starting with ‘quail compote served in pelican-beak’ personally stirred by Marco Pierre-White.

Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith explained his opposition to Marcus Rashford’s proposal for £15 food vouchers for hungry children, saying “I do not believe in nationalising children.” This is why, in the 1930s, when kids were starving with rickets, they would splutter joyfully between rasping coughs, “at least I’m not nationalised”.

If you see a starving child, don’t be one of these communists who thinks their problem can be solved by food. If they’re really hungry, the kindest thing you can do is sell them to an Albanian child trafficking gang, so they can feel the pride of paying their own way in life.

Boris Johnson also said MPs who voted against the bill to give free school meals to children, understand the problems raised by Rashford. I’m sure that’s true. For example, Jacob Rees-Mogg voted against the bill, and the lowest estimate of his wealth is £55m. He has six children, so if each of them was so hungry they needed more than £9,167,000 worth of food, they would have to go without.

This is a worry he has to live with every day, that he will have to look a child in the eye and say “I’m afraid we can’t afford the entire fishing stock of Norway today. So I’m sorry Titus Andronicus, you’ll have to put your tummy rumbles out of your mind.”

The MPs who voted against providing dinners for children must watch the film Oliver and be outraged. Because they’d probably say: “It’s fair enough that Oliver isn’t given anything when he asks for ‘more’, but he should never have been given anything in the first place. That was the problem with Dickensian London, it was too kind to children.”

Maybe the government should outsource the feeding of children to the same companies they’ve contracted to track and trace, like Serco. Not only will they not feed them, they won’t even find them. It will be a fun game of hide-and-seek to take the kids’ minds off the fact that they’re hungry.

Several MPs who rejected the scheme to provide food commented that policies couldn’t be made by “celebrities”. And Rashford himself said many people told him he “doesn’t have the education of a politician.”

Because it’s only when you’re clever enough that you understand how important it is for people worth millions of pounds to deny hungry kids a £15 food voucher.

In a similar way, people with no experience of how the body works often believe if you’re hungry, the answer is to try and solve the problem with food. These idiots are the ones who cause the trouble.

And these are large sums we’re talking about, because the proposal that MPs were voting on was that the food vouchers would be worth £15. So a hungry child has to understand, if they AND Manchester as well as funding a seemingly useless track and trace system are to be helped out, that would cost £12,005,000,015, and no country can afford that.

Anyway, the government has responded to Rashford’s demand, they gave him an MBE. That’s generous enough isn’t it?

This could be the answer if the government is prepared to extend this scheme. Instead of wasting money on food, the government should give out prizes for the people who ask for it. If someone from a Child Poverty Group produces a report, revealing how many children are going without meals, Rishi Sunak can tell them they’ve done very well and give them a Super Star Certificate for being polite.

In his statement following the vote, Rashford said “We must work together to protect our most vulnerable children. This is not politics, it’s humanity.” No wonder the Tory MPs voted against that sort of nonsense.

It shows the Tories are serious about the commitments they made to the North of England. They’re doing all they can to look after people in the North, the only exceptions being children and Northerners. Apart from that, they’re being wonderful.

But never mind all of this, someone referred to them as scum, that’s the worst thing.

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