Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook: Current levels of poverty in the UK are disgraceful

By Alex Green, PA

Squeeze frontman Glenn Tilbrook has described the current levels of poverty in the UK as “disgraceful”.

The pop singer connected the introduction of Universal Credit and the policies of David Cameron’s Tory party with the issue, saying there had been “a definite push by that party to not have social care at all”.

The 61-year-old, who co-founded the south London band in 1974, is using their upcoming 27-date tour to raise money for the Trussell Trust charity, which runs a network of foodbanks.

Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford (Danny Clifford/PA)

He said it was “shocking” some families could not afford to put food on the table and that he hoped to “galvanise” fans into addressing “the very real effects of poverty” through the shows.

In 2016 Tilbrook made headlines when he used a performance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to protest against fellow guest, then-prime minister Cameron.

He changed the lyrics of Cradle To The Grave to sing the line: “There are some here who are hell bent on the destruction of the welfare state.”

He told PA: “I watched a BBC Scotland documentary about the introduction of Universal Credit and the impact it had on families.

“I suppose I saw that two years ago and it really stayed with me. The hardships that one would think politically could be eradicated, if that was what we wanted to do collectively.

Tilbrook criticised David Cameron during an appearance on the BBC (Hannah McKay/PA)

“I think a lot of people do want those sorts of things to be eradicated but to me it is shocking that families can’t afford to put food on the table.

“These are the very real effects of poverty. It’s disgraceful.”

Tilbrook began collecting food at his solo shows before approaching Squeeze co-founder Chris Difford, 64, with the idea.

Each venue will feature collections boxes where audiences can donate non-perishable food or money.

Tilbrook admitted that until recently he had avoided voicing his political opinions out of “naivety or whatever reason”.

Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze performs at the Splendour Festival in Nottingham (PA)

But he said he had been spurred on by comments made by Cameron three years before. He said: “As a band I don’t think we have ever been political before.

“I think it was something that through naivety or whatever reason we are not good at, or comfortable about.

“Certainly, our watershed moment was when we went on the Andrew Marr show and David Cameron was talking about sink estates.

“I just felt so offended that the notion of something that is so noble – the building of houses for people subsidised by the state – should be reduced to this.

“There was a definite push by that party to not have social care at all.

“It was outrageous. I had directly benefited from that. I had grown up in a stable council flat with a single parent who didn’t always have enough money.”

The band, best known for hits including Cool For Cats and Up The Junction, once counted TV presenter Jools Holland as a member.

Squeeze’s The Difford And Tilbrook Songbook Tour begins on October 17 in Scunthorpe and ends on November 20 in Ipswich.