Free school meals

Sadiq Khan’s free school meals plan is fatally flawed

Sadiq Khan said told Radio 4 listeners this morning that, while he was grateful for the free school meals he received as a child at his primary school in Tooting, he felt stigmatised by having to queue up and eat separately from children whose parents were paying for their meals. If that is what his school was really doing then it is a pretty horrible way to treat children – and create class divisions where they don’t need to exist. Sorting out payments for school lunches can, of course be handled away from children’s noses, so none of them know who is eating for free. But does Khan’s childhood embarrassment really

Why I don’t stick to football

In football, you are always stronger in numbers. With a shared focus, people from different cultures, nationalities, races, sexual orientations, political affiliations and religions can unite to achieve incredible things. When you pull on that national team shirt, rivalry subsides and is replaced with a shared desire to win. When fans step into that stadium, for 90 minutes they feel a part of something, a collective, able to leave any worries outside those turnstiles. To many it is a religion. To me, it’s still a dream. You grow up idolising figures in this game who turn out to be just like you and me. Human beings with human emotions and

The real reasons children are going hungry

‘We’re idiots, babe, it’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.’ I listened to The Food Programme on Radio 4 this week, because the channel finder on my car radio wasn’t working and so I was stuck with it. It was, as it almost always is, four left-wing ratbags moaning to one another. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the template for almost the entirety of the station’s output: miserable women carping endlessly about everything. It is almost impossible to know what particular programme you’re listening to. You have to keep your ears tuned for key phrases which might give you an indication. If it’s a woman teacher moaning about

Portrait of the week: Vaccination, inauguration and a food box denunciation

Home The government undertook to offer a first dose of vaccine to the adult population of the UK by September. More than four million had now been vaccinated. The campaign was on target to vaccinate 15 million by mid-February. A ten-day trial would see some hospitals open for vaccinations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Racecourses, sports arenas and even cathedrals such as Salisbury, Lichfield and Blackburn became vaccination centres. St Paul’s Cathedral in London suspended public worship because of the danger of coronavirus, as did more than half of Church of England churches. At the beginning of the week, Sunday 17 January, total deaths (within 28 days

Just give them cash: a solution to the free school meal box row

The pandemic has not been kind on either libertarians or people in poverty. The libertarian argument that the state should generally leave people alone to make their own choices has not often succeeded as government, largely backed by the electorate, has chosen to respond to a collective risk with collective action, even if some of that action is compelled. For people on low incomes, Covid-19 has meant more economic hardship and an increased chance of death. It has also meant that their children are more likely to go hungry. At the Social Market Foundation, we reckon 16 per cent of children – nearly two million – went short of food last

Portrait of the week: Shopping bans in Wales, soft drinks in Scotland and stowaways at sea

Home Wales, entering a 17-day ‘firebreak’, closed most shops by law but then tried to stop supermarkets selling ‘non-essential’ items such as bedding, kettles and smoke alarms. At the beginning of the week, Sunday 25 October, total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus) had stood at 44,745, including 1,166 reported in the past week, compared with 819 the week before. In England, Nottingham entered the most severe restrictions,Tier 3, taking the number of people so restricted to 7.9 million (in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Warrington). About 54 Conservative MPs from the north of England wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to ‘show

Rod Liddle

The morality of free school meals

The main problem with the government giving in over free school meals during the holidays — other than that it is immoral and unconservative, neither of which have been bars to Conservative policy-making in the past — is that it is a hostage to fortune. What if, next week, another highly paid professional footballer — Tottenham’s Harry Winks, for example, or Liverpool’s Joe Gomez — decides that the nation’s children should also be given by the taxpayer elevenses and high tea? Such a campaign would generate enormous traction, especially among the affluent. Newspapers would feel unable to resist. Come on, Prime Minister, how can you deny a starving child his

Matthew Parris

Why I’m ducking the Rashford debate

Moments arrive when it becomes clear you’re losing the zeitgeist. Whatever might be the spirit of the era, you don’t get it any more. For me such a moment occurred last week as I followed news and commentary about the footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign for meal vouchers for disadvantaged children during the school holidays. A Nottinghamshire Conservative MP, Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw), had spoken in the Commons debate. ‘Where is the slick PR campaign encouraging absent parents to take some responsibility for their children?’ he asked. ‘I do not believe in nationalising children.’ ‘Brilliant!’ I thought. And well put. Of course I don’t believe that all children who go hungry do