24 September 2013

What the Lib Dems really think of free, healthy school meals in Southwark




(Click on the picture above to listen to the Southwark Lib Dem speech on free healthy school meals for primary school children.)

Last week Southwark Liberal Democrats got more than a little unwanted attention. They appeared on national TV a number of times and in pretty much every national newspaper because of their hypocrisy over Free Healthy School Meals.

Labour introduced free healthy school meals for all Primary School children in Southwark when we were elected in 2010, one of a tiny number of local authorities to do so. It has proved to be an incredibly successful policy, ensuring that every child is getting a healthy, hot meal inside them, boosting educational attainment, removing stigma and tackling childhood obesity.

Surprising then that Southwark Lib Dems have opposed it vehemently for the past three and a half years. Then, just before their national conference a few weeks ago they came up against a problem: Their national party was about to back the policy! This was particularly troublesome for them, because they had employed every dirty trick they could think of in order to oppose the policy, including putting out this leaflet, suggesting Labour was giving food to "rich kids" along with a picture of an Eton Schoolboy. (Anyone who knows anything about the socio-economic make-up of our borough and our schools knows this is nonsense.)

One way that they tried to wriggle out of this was by saying that they had only opposed it on the grounds of cost:


There are a multitude of sources showing this is nonsense, not least their infamous leaflet. But I think the starkest example is the speech posted above, which is Southwark Lib Dem Councillor Mark Gettleston, speaking at a council meeting in 2011, in which he claims that the council had lots of money to spend at that time, but his Party still thought spending money on Free Healthy School Meals was a waste of money.

Proof that the only way to safeguard this treasured local policy is to vote for your Southwark Labour candidates in May 2014.

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