“On Merseyside, they concluded that many single mothers were struggling to provide a nurturing home environment and often didn’t cook nutritious meals which the whole family could sit and eat together leading to poor nutrition, so they launched the first Credit Crunch Cookery Course, which is a five-week, basic cookery course, where participants are able to cook a simple two course meal to take home to their family.”
The words are from a speech a year ago by Tony Baldry, the MP for Banbury and the Second Church Estates Commissioner, during a fractious Commons debates on food banks.
He was quoting from a Church Urban Fund report called: Hungry for more: How churches can address the root causes of food poverty.
Of course, it could be that the mums in question weren’t poor, at least compared to other people in Britain, but this is unlikely – since Merseyside has areas of deprivation and single mothers tend to be poorer than ones who have a partner, because the household has no second income to pool.
It could also be that the mothers can cook nutritious meals but weren’t in a position to for one reason or other. But if so, why introduce them to a “five-week basic cookery course”?
Furthermore, Baldry quoted a survey which said that “27 per cent selected poor household budgeting as a significant cause of food poverty, and 14 per cent selected a lack of understanding of good nutrition”. Where was the survey from? Why, from the very same Church Urban Fund report.
What can we conclude from all this? Very simply, that if that Church Urban Fund makes a point then everyone will nod gravely and agree…but that if a Conservative peer makes the same one she will be hauled off to a media show trial.
It is yet another illustration of the Conservative Party’s main electoral problem: that it is seen by many voters as a Party of the Rich. The problem looms as large as ever, almost ten years on from the start of David Cameron’s modernisation project. It is this widespread belief that could cost the Party the next election – not Ed Miliband.