YOUR MP WRITES: Torfaen MP Paul Murphy

I took part in last Wednesday’s Parliamentary debate on food banks after visiting the Eastern Valley Foodbank in Pontypool. Speaking with the team of volunteers there, I saw at first hand the essential work they are doing helping feed and give hope to local people in need.

The statistics are staggering. The local demand is so great that the Eastern Valley Foodbank have opened 3 distribution centres to serve Blaenavon and Cwmbran as well as Pontypool. They are distributing over a tonne of food per week.

That story is replicated throughout Britain. Three new food banks are opening every week as demand explodes. In 2010/11, 4070 people in Wales were helped by food banks. This year, 60,000 will have had to seek help – an increase of over 1400%.

This dreadful increase in food poverty has a number of causes, including benefit cuts and the rising cost of living. Faced with such evidence, the Government needs to take action to address the cost of living crisis and rethink their ill-conceived benefit reforms. Instead, Tory MPs laughed and sneered during the debate as they heard stories of families going without food.

There are myths around food banks that need dispelling. Not everyone who uses food banks these days is out of work – many are hardworking people on lower incomes. But people can’t just walk in and get help on a whim – people in need are referred by agencies like the Council, Age Concern or the CAB. These are not people getting free food whilst ‘paying for Sky TV’, as one Welsh Tory MP put it – they are people struggling desperately to get by, with their children not getting enough to eat.

It shames our society that there is so much demand for this service in the year 2013. In the debate, I spoke about a little girl in Pontypool, who excitedly told a lady that she would have chocolate fingers for Christmas, but only because the food bank had given her family some. She would otherwise have had to go without even the smallest treats at Christmas.

But if food banks show the worst of our society, they also show the best of our communities. Local people have volunteered to help run the food bank in fantastic numbers. Churches, charities, offices, shops and individuals have donated food. The generosity of our people is impressive – in my own valley especially, the last time they did this in such great numbers was during the Miners’ Strike in the eighties. It is a great pity that they’ve had to do so again.

Finally, I’ve been reading the reports in The Argus about missing Newport man Ben Caplan, and my thoughts are with his family and everyone at The Argus at such a difficult time. I wish the Police and everyone involved in the search the best of luck, and will keep you all in my prayers this Christmas.

Comments (2)

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7:37pm Mon 23 Dec 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

It's shocking how under a succession of liblabcon governments the state of the actual electorate has plummeted. Unfortunately, if mainstream politicians don't get their act together there's an increasing danger that deranged extremist parties with one issue brutal solutions will fill the void. Western capitalism can not sustain itself for much longer. It is in the same position as the soviet system in the eastern bloc during the 1980s. Although ostensibly direct polar opposites both systems actually have quite a few main features in common: they are both internationalist movements that promise liberation for everyone based on meritocracy but have both ended up being ruled by nepotism and corruption resulting in hardly anyone benefitting. When the people have had enough they will get onto the streets en masse, abruptly and spectacularly as did those who brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989. The sweeping change will probably begin where it is most weakest - in southern Europe and then spread throughout the rest of Europe. Britain and the USA like today's Russia will never really change its system that much - actually when it comes to class, deference and capitalism Britain kind of trumps the USA every time. It may be smaller, but it is surely the North Korea of Capitalism and by far the most pathologically insane.
It's shocking how under a succession of liblabcon governments the state of the actual electorate has plummeted. Unfortunately, if mainstream politicians don't get their act together there's an increasing danger that deranged extremist parties with one issue brutal solutions will fill the void. Western capitalism can not sustain itself for much longer. It is in the same position as the soviet system in the eastern bloc during the 1980s. Although ostensibly direct polar opposites both systems actually have quite a few main features in common: they are both internationalist movements that promise liberation for everyone based on meritocracy but have both ended up being ruled by nepotism and corruption resulting in hardly anyone benefitting. When the people have had enough they will get onto the streets en masse, abruptly and spectacularly as did those who brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989. The sweeping change will probably begin where it is most weakest - in southern Europe and then spread throughout the rest of Europe. Britain and the USA like today's Russia will never really change its system that much - actually when it comes to class, deference and capitalism Britain kind of trumps the USA every time. It may be smaller, but it is surely the North Korea of Capitalism and by far the most pathologically insane. Katie Re-Registered

9:38pm Tue 24 Dec 13

varteg1 says...

In effect by supporting 'foodbanks' and no doubt 'charity' per se, Paul Murphy is falling right into the trap set by the do gooders across the nation, who tend to think their pathetic attempts to reduce poverty via the collection box will either actually work, or secure them a place in heaven.

The whole concept of the NHS was to cease the reliance on 'charity' for those in need of medical help and care, the same with social security funded by the taxpayer.
Murphy belongs to the party that did most over the years to in effect eradicate the necessity to rely on charity, the fact being we have been conned into the old maxim,. 'tax is bad, the funny thing being, in virtually every country where tax is high, economic health is at a premium, and charity reduced to taking care of hobby horses such as language groups, and animal welfare.

The Queen is seen doling out special coinage once a year, so the example is set, so we are all supposed to follow suit and empty our pockets for platinum salaries with golden handshakes when the top dogs move on or retire.

We are bombarded in all the media by adverts begging us to fund this or that, be it in Africa, or the middle east or here at home.
I am sick of it, I gave up donating to all, except, when I have some spare cash, the RNLI, My wife supports the welsh Air Ambulance, and that is it.

WE are in the mess that requires food banks due to government policy, and Paul Murphy is doing no one any favours by being seen as a supporter.

He, as part of the Opposition, should be attempting to persuade his fellow MPs to get shut of foodbanks, not encouraging their existence.

But past performance does not cause me to hold my breath waiting.
In effect by supporting 'foodbanks' and no doubt 'charity' per se, Paul Murphy is falling right into the trap set by the do gooders across the nation, who tend to think their pathetic attempts to reduce poverty via the collection box will either actually work, or secure them a place in heaven. The whole concept of the NHS was to cease the reliance on 'charity' for those in need of medical help and care, the same with social security funded by the taxpayer. Murphy belongs to the party that did most over the years to in effect eradicate the necessity to rely on charity, the fact being we have been conned into the old maxim,. 'tax is bad, the funny thing being, in virtually every country where tax is high, economic health is at a premium, and charity reduced to taking care of hobby horses such as language groups, and animal welfare. The Queen is seen doling out special coinage once a year, so the example is set, so we are all supposed to follow suit and empty our pockets for platinum salaries with golden handshakes when the top dogs move on or retire. We are bombarded in all the media by adverts begging us to fund this or that, be it in Africa, or the middle east or here at home. I am sick of it, I gave up donating to all, except, when I have some spare cash, the RNLI, My wife supports the welsh Air Ambulance, and that is it. WE are in the mess that requires food banks due to government policy, and Paul Murphy is doing no one any favours by being seen as a supporter. He, as part of the Opposition, should be attempting to persuade his fellow MPs to get shut of foodbanks, not encouraging their existence. But past performance does not cause me to hold my breath waiting. varteg1

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