Fury as Theresa May promotes MP who said people use foodbanks because of their ‘choices’ in life


Now I don’t know about anyone else, but, if a kind, benevolent, caring, philanthropic Tory MP was promoted, then I would be shocked, this attitude of Glen’s and his ilk is totally normal and [sadly] to be expected.

John Glen is now in government despite his “astonishing” comments – and at one point was even lined up as minister for foodbanks



There was anger tonight after Theresa May promoted an MP who said people use foodbanks because of their ‘choices’ in life.

No more than we have come to expect from him and his ilk!

John Glen is now in government despite his “astonishing” comments – and at one point was even lined up as minister for foodbanks.

The government told trade website Civil Society News yesterday that Mr Glen would be minister for civil society, overseeing charities.

But that was later retracted and he was confirmed as minister for heritage, arts and tourism, part of the same department.

Even so, Mr Glen has come under fire for remarks blaming foodbank use on “the chaotic nature of lives of some people.”

And his promotion comes days after fellow Tory MP Dominic Raab – who blamed “cash flow problems” for foodbank use and said claimants were not “languishing in poverty” – was promoted to a job in the Ministry of Justice.

Foodbank use has rocketed over the last few years as austerity cuts bite (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

In a 2011 interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Glen suggested only those with “three or four children” had to beg for handouts adding: “There is a choice there”.

He said: “I believe that everyone who’s working will have enough food if they don’t spend money on other things.

“There is a choice there, that if you spend money on food to start off with.

“If you earn anything or you have the minimum wage, you will have some money for food. The question is what other things the money is being spent on.”

Pressed on his remarks at the time he said: “There is a group of people who aren’t getting the hours, hours have been cut, they’ve maybe got three or four children and things are very very tight.

“But I don’t think that is something that is an ongoing issue that people are living on the foodbank all the time.”

Since Mr Glen’s interview foodbank use has exploded as Tory cuts bite.

The Trussell Trust, who operate food banks throughout the UK, handed out 128,697 three-day emergency food packages in 2011/12.

In 2016-17 that figure had risen to 1,182,954.

Deputy Labour leader and shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said the comments were “astonishing and insensitive.”

He added: “Working families use foodbanks out of desperation, not choice, but this weak Conservative Government continually refuses to take any responsibility for the impact of their policies”

A source at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) insisted it had just been “speculation” that Mr Glen was getting the civil society brief – which is held instead by Tracey Crouch.

The source claimed the decision of what job to give Mr Glen was only made today.

That insistence came despite Mr Glen tweeting himself yesterday at 7pm: “Excellent busy first day as Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Tourism.”

With Theresa May thrashing out a deal with the anti-gay-marriage DUP , Mr Glen has also come under fire for his record defending the controversial charity Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE).

CARE helped fund a £50-a-head ‘gay cure’ conference in 2009 that discussed “therapeutic approaches to same-sex attraction”.

CARE insists it has never advocated for “gay cure”, the issue is not one it campaigns on and co-sponsoring the event did not indicate support for gay cure.

But the group says marriage is “between one man and one woman” and campaigned against “redefining” it when David Cameron introduced same-sex unions in 2013.

In 2012 Mr Glen was quoted as saying: “We’re not going to be bullied into giving up links with an organisation that does a great deal of good on the basis of a smear campaign.”

Shadow culture minister Steve Reed told PinkNews Mr Glen’s comments were “shocking” adding: “John Glen must immediately disassociate himself from this offensive slur.”

The DCMS declined to comment on either of Mr Glen’s past remarks.

ANOTHER PIP ATROCITY: Woman ‘forced to sit in her own urine for two hours’ by PIP assessor

A disabled women says she was left to sit in her own urine for nearly two hours after her plight was ignored by a healthcare professional carrying out a disability benefit assessment.

Maria Lane has spoken up about the “devastating” experience she endured during her personal independence payment (PIP) assessment, in the hope that other disabled people will not have to go through similar experiences.

She told – and showed – the assessor just 10 minutes into the assessment that she had had an accident and had emptied her bladder into her incontinence pad, and that urine was leaking into her trousers.

But she said the female assessor – who works for the government contractor Atos – “looked for a second at the pad” and then continued typing.

Atos has now launched an investigation.

For nearly two hours, she was forced to continue answering questions, with the assessor warning her whenever she failed to do so that if she did not respond she would have to return for another assessment.

Maria Lane has a number of long-term health conditions, including diabetes, osteoarthritis – which affects all of her joints and has spread into her spine – sciatica, a slipped disc, high blood pressure, and depression.

She is waiting for a major operation on her bladder, because of severe incontinence which means she has to wear pads permanently.

She said: “Once your bladder starts, you have to go. It will continue, no stopping, and then it leaks. I have no control over it.

“It just comes and I have to be prepared and change [my trousers]and if you’re nervous it is worse.

“I showed her all that, she must have seen, it was all over my trousers. She ignored me. She ignored me completely or she didn’t believe me.

“She has heard me alright because I showed them to her. She looked for a second and then went back to her report. She was like a robot. She had no emotions.”

She was also appalled by the way she was handled during a physical examination.

The assessor placed a chair behind her in case she fell over during the examination, which at one stage she did, and was “pulling my arms about” and causing her “terrible pain”, she said.

Now she says she has lost all her confidence, and has been left “devastated” by the “very upsetting” experience at the assessment centre in Enfield, north London.

She said: “It is embarrassing for me. I didn’t know what to do when I came out, I was crying.

Rebranding of ‘toxic’ Atos will fail, activists promise 

“I want to prevent this happening to other people. I would hate to see other people going through what I have.”

She added: “I am 59 years old and I have never been treated like that. She took all my rights, all my dignity.

“It was inhuman to allow me to sit there.”

She currently receives the highest rate of PIP through the enhanced rate for both daily living and mobility, but is terrified about what will happen if the assessor recommends that she loses any of that entitlement.

She currently spends about £55 a week on incontinence pads, which is paid for with some of her PIP.

She said: “If I lose that money, what is going to happen?”

She believes she has been discriminated against by Atos, and is writing a letter of complaint to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), while one of her two daughters – both of whom work in the healthcare sector – has made an appointment to see her MP on her behalf.

She is the latest PIP claimant to come forward to describe appalling experiences at the hands of private contractors paid hundreds of millions of pounds every year by the government to assess their eligibility for disability benefits.

The future use of companies like Atos to carry out disability benefit assessments was an issue at last week’s general election, with Labour pledging to end the use of private contractors to carry out all disability benefit assessments, while the SNP had already pledged to ban the private sector from involvement in Scotland’s benefit assessments.

Atos has now promised to investigate what happened to Maria Lane, while DWP has described her account as “very concerning”.

An Atos spokesman said: “We were concerned to hear of this and that is why we have written to Ms Lane explaining that an investigation into the issues raised is underway.”

A DWP spokeswoman added: “All claimants deserve an objective, accurate and high quality service and Mrs Lane’s account is very concerning.

“Atos is contacting the claimant and we will work with them to look into the issues raised.

“We expect the highest standards from the contractors who carry out PIP assessments, and work closely with them to ensure PIP is working in the best way possible.

“Assessment providers have to conform to a strict set of quality standards regarding staff recruitment and training, to demonstrate that their health professionals meet all of our requirements before they are approved to carry out assessments.”

The assessors must be either occupational therapists, level one nurses, physiotherapists, paramedics or doctors, and must be fully registered and have at least two years post full-registration experience.

She said: “All health professionals are subject to on-going quality audit to ensure they continue to deliver high quality assessments.

“Where assessors fall below the required standards and do not improve, processes are in place to stop them carrying out assessments.”

She added: “Assessment providers have their own complaints process regarding the services they provide.

“This signposts complainants to the Independent Case Examiner if they remain dissatisfied with the provider’s final response to their complaint.”

Levels of child hunger and deprivation in UK among highest of rich nations

Unicef report finds that one in three British children are in ‘multi-dimensional poverty’ and says gaps between rich and poor are widening around the world.


The UK has some of the highest levels of hunger and deprivation among the world’s richest nations, according to a wide-ranging United Nations assessment of child health and wellbeing.

The Unicef report ranks 41 high-income countries against 25 indicators tracking progress against internationally agreed goals to end child poverty and hunger, promote health, ensure quality education, and reduce inequality.

It concludes that the majority of rich countries are going backwards on inequality indicators as gaps between rich and poor widen, with many performing poorly in key areas of child health, notably as a consequence of rising obesity rates.

“Income inequality is growing, adolescents’ mental health is worsening, and child obesity is growing,” the report states.

Nearly one in five UK children under the age of 15 suffers from food insecurity – meaning their family lacks secure access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food – putting it above the rich country average of 13%.

One in three UK children are in what Unicef calls “multi-dimensional poverty” – which measures deprivation in a number of areas linked to children’s rights including housing, clothing, nutrition and access to social and leisure activities.

Sarah Cook, the director of Unicef Innocenti, which carried out the assessment, said the report was a “wake-up call” to governments that even in high-income countries progress does not benefit all children.

“Higher incomes do not automatically lead to improved outcomes for all children, and may indeed deepen inequalities. Governments in all countries need to take action to ensure the gaps are reduced and progress is made to reach the sustainable development goals for children.”

However, the report acknowledges that there had been positive progress in many areas, and the vast majority of rich countries have witnesses declines in neonatal deaths, adolescent suicide, teenage births and child homicide rates.

Food insecurity rates ranged from 1% in Japan to 20% in the US and 35% in Mexico. “Although the general availability of food is not a problem in any of these countries, too many families struggle to satisfy their children’s nutritional needs,” the report says.

One in seven children aged 11-15 in rich countries are obese or overweight, the report says. This varies from Denmark, where already low rates have fallen in recent years to 8%, to Canada and Malta, where one in four children in this age group are considered overweight.

The report finds that across rich countries an average one in five children live in relative income poverty on a scale that runs from Denmark (9%) to Germany (15%), the UK (20%) and the US (29%) through to Romania (39%). Using the multidimensional child poverty tool, there were similarly wide variations from Switzerland (11% ) to the UK (34%) and Romania (85%).

The UK ranks 16th out of 41 on tackling poverty, 34th on food insecurity, 15th on health and wellbeing, 31st on economic growth, and sixth on reducing inequalities.

The highest ranked countries across all indicators were Norway, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, South Korea and the Netherlands. The lowest were Chile, Bulgaria, Romania, Mexico and the US.

“The presence of countries such as New Zealand and the United States in the bottom reaches of this table is proof that high national income alone is no guarantee of a good record in sustaining child well-being,” the report states.

The report is the first attempt to assess the status of children in 41 high-income countries in relation to the UN sustainable development goals agreed last year to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

THE WAR ON THE POOR: Grenfell Tower fire are the latest victims



Since the Conservative government came to power in 2010, it has waged a war against the poorest people in the UK. And the people who were affected in the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower are the latest victims in this horrific fight.

Britain could slash environmental and safety standards ‘a very long way’ after Brexit, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg says

While the poorest people have suffered from austerity and public services cuts, the rich have been receiving tax cuts and seeking to gentrify poor areas. This is amplified in London, where poor people are being forced out of London’s boroughs so developers can buy their homes and create playgrounds for the super-rich.

A Labour MP, personally affected, calls the Grenfell Tower fire ‘corporate manslaughter’

Against this backdrop, people are dying. They are dying because of the Tories’ austerity programme. And they are dying because of cuts.



In 2014, ten fire stations across London closed due to cuts. Paul Embery, London regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) stated about former Mayor Boris Johnson:

Boris Johnson will have blood on his hands. It will be only a matter of time before someone dies because a fire engine did not get to them in time.

We don’t yet know whether cuts had any impact on the fire brigades’ response at Grenfell Tower. But as recently as April 2017, firefighters blamed cuts for a 15% increase in fire-related deaths in the UK.

But Tory cuts go further. Disabled people are dying because of cuts to their benefits. Benefit sanctions and extortionate rental prices, meanwhile, are driving record numbers of people into homelessness. Essentially, people are suffering and dying on our streets while the rich have opulent properties sitting empty.

Here’s the difference between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May’s visits to Grenfell Tower


‘We want justice’: Grenfell Tower protests spill on to streets

Social cleansing

But there is also another front to this war. The battle of gentrification and social cleansing. Poor people are being forced out of the capital city. Data from 2015 shows that tens of thousands of people were forced from London as a result of a combination of benefit cuts and council sell-offs.

Now Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said at the time:

This data shows that the government’s policies on welfare and housing have caused social cleansing in London on a vast scale. Families have been driven out of large parts of the city… this is not the kind of London I grew up in or want my daughters to live in.

Meanwhile, London is full of empty houses. There are 1,399 in Kensington and Chelsea alone. Across London, there were 19,845 homes sitting idle for over six months in 2016.


And while many people are homeless or in inadequate housing, offshore companies own a big chunk of London’s houses. In 2016, there was a 9% rise in the number of properties in London owned by offshore companies. In Kensington and Chelsea, 7% of all properties are owned in offshore tax havens.

Britain needs to fight back

What happened at Grenfell Tower was political. Whether we like it or not, the war against the poor is raging. The question for the rest of us is how we fight back. The support for Jeremy Corbyn and a different way of doing things was evident from the general election. People are angry. And they are seeing people suffer at the hands of austerity while the rich prosper.

Boris Johnson tells London Assembly member to ‘get stuffed’ in response to questions on cuts in the fire service

But Corbyn didn’t win the election. And we’re now faced with a Tory coalition of chaos with the DUP. A potential five-year wait for another voting opportunity is not good enough. For now, change will come from us taking action in our communities, our towns, and our cities.

Corbyn’s election surge started this fightback. Now, we need to work out how we continue the fight. Because there’s too much at stake not to.



Anne Meikle wins her Motability car back after appeal to DWP and support from The National readers


A DISABLED woman who was living in fear of deepening depression after her Motability car was taken away is to have her vehicle returned, following the support of The National and its readers.

Anne Meikle, who lives in Philpstoun near Linlithgow, West Lothian, with her husband — and driver — Raymond, told The National she received the news in a phone call from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on Tuesday morning: “It was an absolute shock. Once it sunk in I was on cloud nine and I’m still there.

“I thought it was a sales cold call and I was ready for that at nine o’clock in the morning, but it turned out to be a very nice man who said he was from the DWP.

“He checked that he had the right details, then he told me the call was about a letter of reconsideration — which I’d sent after The National article — for my enhanced personal independence payment (PIP).

“I thought he was phoning to say I’d been unsuccessful, but he said he wanted to go over a few things, and then he said ‘I’m glad to tell you we’ve decided to renew your enhanced payment’.

“I threw the phone up in the air and burst out crying — and through the tears I managed to thank him.”

Anne received her first Motability car nearly 10 years ago when she was receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

However, she had to return her latest vehicle last year after being assessed for its replacement PIP and being told she did not have enough points to qualify for the higher mobility payment, despite suffering from several debilitating conditions.

We told last month how the 68-year-old has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which affects her breathing, and arthritis. A series of mini-strokes has left her weakened down one side of her body, and she is partially blind in her left eye through encephalitis.

She has also gone through operations on both her knees, her upper body has been weakened after radiotherapy treatment for cancer and she is prone to dizziness and collapsing.

After our first article appeared, Anne decided that she would write to the DWP after taking heart from some of our readers’ comments online.

“I wasn’t going to do anything else about the refusal, then The National published the story and I had a lot of positive response to it — and I’d really like to thank the people who commented.

“I had been sinking into depression, so I decided I would try to fight the decision and wrote a letter of ‘reconsideration’ to the DWP.

Tory cuts are seizing 800 vital Motability cars a WEEK from disabled people

“In a way it was a begging letter. I had become so depressed at being virtually housebound and so ‘within myself’ since being refused the car, so I thought I would tell it how it is. I had nothing to lose.

“The response to your article made me think there are people out there who are on my side. So I wrote the letter asking them to reconsider because of the illnesses, the depression and so on.”

Aside from the online response to her case, Anne said her local community had also rallied round, with everyone on her side.

“There has been no negativity about what happened,” she said. “A lot of people have turned round and said ‘that’s not fair, you really deserve it yet we see people around that don’t and are swinging the lead and getting away with it’.

“I’ve had nobody with a negative comment towards me. I’ve been in my wheelchair in the supermarket and people have come over and asked if I’m alright and if I need any help.”

More than 900 people are returning their Motability cars every week and since the switch from DLA to PIP, 51,000 have lost access to their vehicles.

Around 126,000 of the 254,000 people who were eligible for funding under DLA and were reassessed for PIP by the end of October last year have lost access to it.

Of the relatively small number of appeals against the loss of funding (seven per cent), the majority (65 per cent) have won their case, demonstrating the failures in how cuts have been made.

According to the DWP, when one of their decisions has been overturned, it is often because the claimant has provided more evidence.

The DWP’s letter of verification, confirming that Anne is entitled to the enhanced payment for PIP arrived yesterday morning and she expects to be mobile again in around a month.

She would like to see her previous car returned, but added: “I think it’s as if we’ve never had a Motability car before and we’ll have to go to the showroom, pick a car and wait for around a month for it to be ordered and prepared.

“I’d be happy to get my old car back — I’d actually become quite fond of her.”

AND ANOTHER DWP ATROCITY: Disabled Woman Left Housebound After DWP Took Away Mobility Scooter


A disabled woman claims she has been left house-bound after her mobility scooter was taken away – by the benefits office.

Jane Roberts says the Department for Work and Pensions took away her only way of getting around after it was deemed she did not need the motorised vehicle – despite the fact she can’t walk.

The 53-year-old suffers from a breathing condition and osteoporosis, which weakens her bones and makes them more likely to break.

Her ill health is so serious, she says she cannot walk from her lounge to the kitchen without becoming breathless.

The mobility vehicle was removed from Jane following a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment last month.

Jane, from Canterbury, Kent, says she cannot leave her house without the electric vehicle, which she had used for two years.

She said: “My life is hell as I can’t go out now without the scooter. People say you have got to have your independence but I do not know how I can be independent when I cannot get around.

“I cannot get on a bus because I am claustrophobic and I cannot walk from my living room to my kitchen because I get out of breath. The scooter was very important.

“I cannot move around and I get out of breath just by talking. I can’t understand why I was given a scooter but then had it taken away.

“I walk with a stick and my eyesight isn’t very good – I really need that mobility scooter as it gets me from A to B.”

Jane says she will appeal the decision by the Department for Work and Pensions, which she says has left her unable to live a normal life.

She suffers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which makes it difficult to walk.

The condition restricts airflow to her lungs, with symptoms including coughing and breathlessness.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone that disagrees with a decision can appeal. Most people leaving the Motability Scheme are eligible for a one-off payment of up to £2,000 to help meet their needs.”


I Didn’t Realise Corbyn Was Such a Comic

It is customary on these occasions to congratulate the returning Prime Minister and I absolutely do so. I congratulate her on returning…and I’m sure she’ll agree with me that democracy is a wondrous thing and can throw up some very unexpected results.


I’m sure we all look forward to welcoming the Queen’s Speech just as soon as the Coalition of Chaos has been negotiated. Just to let the House know and the rest of the nation know that if that’s not possible the Labour party stands ready…to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest.