And this week, that promise was needed.
This is not about bowing to “celebrity virtue-signalling on Twitter”. It’s about doing the right thing
Anger felt at the Westminster government vote against the free school meals provision in England for children in need, during half-term and Christmas holidays, is still present.
It has been said frequently in recent months that people shouldn’t play politics when it comes to finding a solution to the Covid crisis. It has been a useful shield used by the Johnson government.
I have sympathy for that position. See the problem, accept it’s beyond all norms, do all that is possible to fix it.
But the vote was pure politics, arrived at because Labour had proposed the motion.
There was no need to vote against it. Believe that it’s time to become less spendthrift in the traditional Tory mould if you like. Though when you have a Chancellor (properly) offering more state intervention than almost any Labour Chancellor ever, it’s a tricky argument.
Why look like you are so inured to the genuine poverty in parts of the country, so tin-eared to reality, that you make the decision feel like a punishment? It’s two holiday periods, for the poorest children in England, during a pandemic when jobs are being lost at a terrifying rate. It may be true that there are a few feckless parents around. But that should not stop you feeding any children! There are plenty of feckless middle-class parents, but their kids are unlikely to go hungry.
Again, as during austerity, the poorest in society are bearing the brunt.
This is not about bowing to “celebrity virtue-signalling on Twitter” (by whom I imagine Brendan Clarke-Smith meant Marcus Rashford). It’s about doing the right thing. The Scottish and Welsh administrations recognised this and agreed to provide the meals.
It was just one vote in Westminster, but it feels much bigger.
So what do we do with the anger when a drive to the end of the world is off-limits?
We double down on finding ways to do the right thing. We look at the means to accelerate change and to talk about positive possibilities. We address the emergency of now and future-proof for what comes next.
This can sound platitudinous. But it’s really not. For the last few weeks I’ve been in the belly of conversations around these very things with good and smart people who want to get us all out of the weeds, to find practical and workable solutions.
The latest edition of The Big Issue celebrates our 29th birthday. As people often tell me, it’s great we’re still around, but it’s a shame we’re still needed. I know what they mean.
Now we must step things up, through the Ride Out Recession Alliance and through all ideas we can help generate and pressure we can help exert. We need your help. We need you to keep buying the magazine, to keep supporting our vendors and to keep coming with the ideas we can form into a means of tackling the future. On we go.
Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue