Free school meals: PM, we know you’re no communist. Marcus Rashford just wants you to help feed hungry kids

This summer Boris Johnson declared: “I am not a communist”. There is a reason he felt the need to make such a statement.

His has been a Conservative government like no other, paying the wages of millions of workers and imposing draconian rules upon our freedoms.

Yesterday, the Chancellor opened the public purse yet again and announced an emergency bailout package for businesses estimated to be worth a whopping £12 billion.

The Treasury is splashing huge amounts of cash, and we all remember the £500 million Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

So it feels absurd that, when it comes to the sensitive issue of child poverty, ministers decide now is the moment to make their stand as the guardians of the public purse.

It would cost the government a paltry £20million a week to extend free school meals during the school holidays.

And one look at footballer Marcus Rashford’s Twitter feed shows you that the public is firmly behind his campaign to extend this vital service.

Cash-strapped cafes, businesses, community groups and councils – all hit by the pandemic – have stepped up to help those who need it.

Forget this week’s vote in Parliament, the backbenchers, the opposition, the point scoring.

This is a moral issue and Downing Street is going to sustain damage by holding out.

Ultimately this is a battle of political wills – and the public is the jury.

Number 10 was digging its heels in this afternoon, and they might just manage to scrape through this half term.

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But the councils I spoke to this morning are really worried and they are already gearing up to provide emergency meals during the Christmas holidays.

And I don’t imagine our Prime Minister will enjoy being called Ebenezer Scrooge throughout December.

Red folder, but no Little Red Book (AP)

From the infamous Barnard Castle eye test to Margaret Ferrier’s coronavirus trip , our political elite have failed as role models this year.

It has been left to a 22-year-old footballer to stand up for this country’s disadvantaged children.

Rashford has shamed the government once already into acting and I don’t doubt that he can do it again.

The government has told us to use our “common sense”. Now the public, who are overwhelmingly on Rashford’s side , is telling the Government to “find your heart”.

Prime Minister, we know you’re not a communist. We just want you to help feed hungry kids.


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