school meals - Dr Kieran Mullan Crewe & Nantwich MP

Crewe & Nantwich MP Kieran Mullan has defended his “no” vote on a proposal to extend free school meals until May 2021.

He was one of five out of six of Cheshire Conservative MPs who voted down a motion to extend free school meals to feed more than 1.4 million children during school breaks until Easter next year.

The bid, tabled by Labour, was defeated by 322 votes to 261 – with a majority of 61.

Many have criticised the MP on social media today after last night’s vote.

“local MP Doctor @KieranMullanUK voted against extending free school meals for the most vulnerable children in #crewe & #nantwich during a pandemic . How do these Tories sleep at night?” said one.

And on his Facebook page, others have posted strong comments.

One said: “Yesterday you had a chance to send a message that you care, your vote shows otherwise.You have shown more compassion this week to dog owners rather than struggling parents.”

And another commenter hit out, saying: “In Crewe we have at least three food banks, a social supermarket, four homeless provisions and countless other services supporting vulnerable people in poverty.

“Your colleagues in Westminster have failed to tackle rising poverty levels for families both in and out of work and completely fail to understand that this is a societal issue and not down to the poor spending habits of individual households.”

But Dr Mullan defended his vote, saying it was “not a good approach” to have schools feeding children all year.

Dr Mullan said: “If we are saying that is the only route for children in less well off households to get a meal then surely we need to have schools feeding them on a Saturday and Sunday as well during term time?

“If people are struggling with poverty we need to do things to tackle that directly through the welfare system.

“That is exactly what this government has done already. This free school meals policy would’ve been £15 a week. We have already given people on universal credit an extra £20 a week.

“So actually people are just asking for more money to go into welfare when we have just increased that months ago by a £1000 a year.

“And in addition the government has given local authorities £63 million to provide welfare assistance directly to those in the most need and £500 million to cut council tax bills for those on lower incomes.

“Whatever we do, however much is spent, for Labour it will never be enough and they will say we are cruel and nasty.

“I will point out that whenever you hear Marcus Rashford speak about poverty, remember he experienced this growing up under a Labour Government.

“Where were the Labour MPs calling it shameful then? Does that mean none of them cared about child poverty?

“Why was it Labour didn’t extend free school meals to the holidays during the 2008 financial crash when people were struggling then if it is so important and vital?

“Free school meals are a specific thing we do, giving children a nutritious meal in school to support their learning when at school.

“We should not ask schools to organise giving out money every day and become part of the welfare state.

“And yes, whilst it isn’t the fault of children and we should support them regardless, as we do, don’t let people shout you down if you think it is important to also talk about parental responsibility particularly for absent parents, stable families, work over welfare, asking people to consider their finances when deciding their family size and other factors that play a role.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not allowed to say we expect parents to be primarily responsible for their children where they can.”

(pic by Richard Townshend, creative commons)

17 Comments

  1. William says:

    Government is prepared to pay consultants in failing test and trace contractors £6000 per day, but not families trying to feed children £15 per week. Unemployment has surged because of coronavirus and will be worse because of Brexit. People will be struggling to keep going.
    Would Laura Smith, our former MP, have voted against the interests of the people who elected her?

  2. Professor Julia Rouse says:

    The facts are that child poverty fell under the Labour Government because Gordon Brown invented Tax Credits. It has increased ever since. And will now spiral. Most children living in poverty live in working families. Our problem is low paid and insecure jobs. Many women are also working hard juggling care and domestic work. Surely the first principle of pandemic management is that no child goes hungry. Yes, under a pandemic, welfare investment must rise. Poverty scars life chances so preventing it is sound policy making. And the welfare system already manages family size by not giving Child Benefit to third and subsequent children. Contraception is not full proof. A doctor should know that.

  3. Andrew says:

    If people cant afford to keep their kids they shouldnt have them.

    • Julia Rouse says:

      And what would you do with hungry children alive now, in this pandemic? These children are alive and hungry.

    • Phil says:

      A naiive throwaway comment. Let’s hope you never have any patriarchal responsibilities and tough decisions to make.

    • James says:

      Typical gammon response there Andrew.

      What about parents who were financially stable when they decided to have kids then, through no fault of their own, find themselves unemployed?

      Think before you spout your bile.

    • Peter White says:

      And why can’t they afford to keep their kids?, because your Tory heroes have been destroying working class jobs and pay for the last decade? so if you had a baby in 2010, they would now be 10 years old, so what do you think should happen?

  4. Phil M says:

    I cannot think of one positive thing our new MP has done since he was voted in. And what makes it worse, we had a really good MP in Laura Smith that was voted out. Towing the whip on this is just wrong – if he knew the grass roots problems in his constituency, he would not have done this. Shameful.

  5. Ernest Charlton says:

    Yes, parental responsibility is paramount, but only the most naive politician would expect some families, who themselves have experienced turbulent and chaotic lives, to be always be fully capable and informed when spending their extra 20 quid from the uni grant.
    Kids don’t choose their parents even if their parents chose to have to many. They are here and they are hungry. We should care for them. Keiron, you are wrong. Hang your head in shame.

  6. Neil Fenton says:

    Our MP is perfectly correct in all he has said!

  7. Jeanne Dow says:

    Fact check:
    “I will point out that whenever you hear Marcus Rashford speak about poverty, remember he experienced this growing up under a Labour Government.”

    Marcus Rashford was born on 31.10.1997, so he was less than 12.5 years old when David Cameron became Prime Minister.

    Very disappointed that Dr Mullan continues to tow the party line showing little compassion and no backbone: Eg. The defence of Dominic Cummings’ jaunt to Durham in a joint letter with Edward Timpson; The support of the Internal Markets Bill, that broke the law in a ‘limited and specific way’. (Can’t complain: We voted him in.)

    • Phil M says:

      Exactly. What a load of nonsense. If he wanted to start talking seriously about the timeline – he should also mention the withdrawal of the tax credit system, the removal of child benefit for those families with more than 2 children and the systematic closure of the Children’s Centres. These were a great community resource that aimed to tackle a lot of issues that were not being picked up – education, welfare, nutrition, health…all of this happened under the Conservative government of the last 10 years. How convenient that he forgets to mention all of that.

  8. tom whatson says:

    It does seem petty but he has to toe the party line, he cannot go feral, they clearly have been making the wrong decisions for years on this. My opinion is you have as many kids as you can afford, but given that there is real need here I would say look to other sources to find funds. Lesley is right, I am sick of hearing how much footballers waste their money on, time to dig deep and find ways of giving the local kids in their area proper meals whilst at school. It would only mean some of them having a slightly less bulging wardrobe, or one less car.
    It is gross as years ago many leading members of industry built entire towns, hospitals, libraries etc, what do this lot do?

  9. Phil Martin says:

    Our MP should hang his head in shame together with the rest of his colleagues in this disgraceful government. There is no excuse for this vote. Did he seek his constituents’ views? He presumably has no moral compass if he just blindly follows the whip on matters such as this, the Cummings affair and the illegal Internal Market Bill. There will be a reckoning.

  10. lesley says:

    I’m sure if every footballer donated a weeks worth of wages they would have enough money to feed every child breakfast lunch and dinner, with Raymond Blanc to cook them!

  11. Sarah Perris says:

    And this – from A DOCTOR…. how can you sleep at night? Shame on you.

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