Oldham MP blasts Tories for ‘sickening’ foodbank photoshoots as cost of living crisis worsens

Oldham MP Jim McMahon has slammed Tory MPs for arranging foodbank ‘photoshoots’ as the cost of living crisis worsens.

The shadow environment secretary led a debate on the cost of living crisis and food insecurity in the House of Commons this afternoon, accusing the government of being “too busy” trying to save Boris Johnson’s job to solve the issue.

The MP for Oldham West and Royton said he was ‘sickened’ to see Tory MPs visiting foodbanks for photo opportunities while making the cost of living crisis “even worse”.

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After hitting out at environment secretary George Eustice for not attending the debate, Mr McMahon accused the government of “not understanding” what the “darkness of poverty” entails for households across the country.

He said hard-working families have been hit with the “triple whammy” of a cut in Universal Credit and an increase in taxes on top of the rising cost of living.

Adding to the debate, Nottingham Labor MP Lilian Greenwood said she was concerned that the number of people using foodbanks would rise after a recent visit to one in her own constituency.

Mr McMahon said he found it “sickening” that Conservative MPs were carrying out those same visits.

“The job of government is to make sure there is no need for foodbanks – not to turn up for a photoshoot,” he told MPs.

Mr McMahon continued: “On top of the cost of living crisis the government are making it even worse. The National Insurance rise in April will cost the average household £600 a year more, the freeze in the personal tax allowance £78, and petrol will be up £250. While real wages and pensions are set to fail.

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“This is firmly a bills bombshell and it is made straight in the door of Downing Street.”

Mr McMahon said foodbank use has “rocketed significantly” despite the UK being one of the richest countries in the world.

“It shouldn’t be needed,” he told MPs.

Earlier in the debate, Mr McMahon was asked to clarify whether he referred to a Number 10 campaign to save the PM as “Operation Shag-a-Dog”.

After saying the government was busy “saving the job of one person” instead of “getting on with the job”, he said “Operation Shaggy Dog” was in “full force”.

Conservative MP Jerome Mayhew said: “I think the operation wasn’t called Operation Shag-a-Dog but perhaps he would care to correct that.”

Deputy Commons Speaker Nigel Evans said: “I heard shaggy dog. I am sure everybody heard shaggy dog”, before an MP from the back benches was heard telling the MP to “learn to speak northern”.

Responding to Mr McMahon’s comments, Defra Minister Victoria Prentis said a food strategy identifying “new opportunities to make the food system healthier, more sustainable, more resilient and more accessible” would be published in the coming weeks.

“We know that people are facing pressures with the cost of living which is why we’re taking action to help them,” she said.

“This includes targeting support…if we target support to the most vulnerable and low-income households we can do the most good.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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