Labour accused of trying to 'take credit' for Marcus Rashford's free school meal campaign

Greg Evans
Tuesday 16 June 2020 13:00
news

In a major U-turn, Boris Johnson has confirmed that the government will be providing free supermarket school vouchers to schoolchildren following a successful campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

The Manchester United and England star had been campaigning for weeks for the government to reverse a decision to cancel the scheme which would have helped numerous disadvantaged families put food on the table during the six weeks break from school an issue that has only been further highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept many children out of school for months.

In an honest, open and frank letter that Rashford shared on social media on Monday, the footballer drew upon his own experiences as a child and the hardships that his mother went through in order to put food on the table for him and his siblings in a single-parent household. His response to the government's decision was one of triumph and unity.

This decision is reported to cost the government £120m. This is in addition with a £63 million scheme that will help local authorities to provide children with free meals and activities during the holidays and until they are due to return in September. The previous system would have meant that many families would have gone without the food that free school meals would have provided for months.

Rashford's remarkable achievement saw him quickly hailed as a hero on social media, with many declaring him 'the leader of the opposition' or even the prime minister.

The government's announcement was also made just hours before Boris Johnson was set to oppose a similar motion that was going to be presented by Labour in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon which would have asked for money to be provided for impoverished families to buy food during the summer holidays.

After the U-turn was confirmed Labour tweeted 'We did it! Thank you to everyone who campaigned for #HolidaysWithoutHunger'.

Labour's own campaign was launched last weekend when they asked their followers to add their name to a petition asking for school meal vouchers to be made free to school children during the summer break.

The equality for disabled people charity Scope had also launched a campaign in April for the school vouchers to be made available for school children in England and Wales.

Labour's tweet also contained a retweet from Keir Starmer who thanked Rashford for his efforts. But despite the fact that Labour did have their own campaign, people weren't happy with the wording of Labour's tweet and accused them of taking any credit away from the footballer.

Many Labour politicians, including Starmer, had thanked Rashford for his efforts.

And London mayor and Liverpool supporter Sadiq Kahn even shared message from Man United.

Although Labour has campaigned for the same goal as Rashford, the popularity of his campaign has overshadowed others which were all striving for the same thing.

Regardless this should hardly be the issue here and it shouldn't overshadow a big achievement for all involved.

It's also a much better tweet than what the secretary for work and pensions, Therese Coffey tweeted after Rashford expressed concerns for families who might have essential energy supplies cut off if they can't pay their bills.

Coffey later declared that she was in full support of Rashford and his campaign and had worked to ensure that people could not be evicted and 'intervened with electricity suppliers on bills.'

Thankfully, at the end of this long tale, less kids are going to be hungry.

And surely that's something we can all celebrate?

indy100 made contact with the Labour Party before the publication of this article.

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