Tory MP Lee Anderson has been accused of “harassing” his staff member, Katy, as a pawn in his ongoing row over food bank use.
Anderson shared a photo of an office staff member (”Katy”) on Twitter, saying she earned less than £30,000 ($37,103) and did not need to use a food bank.
Specifically, because she is single and rents a room in a house share.
“Katy makes my point really well,” he wrote, referring to his previous claims that poor people only food banks because they “cannot budget”.
In response, Labour MP Dawn Butler said the tweet was “a form bullying and harassment”, urging the Ashfield MP to delete his message.
“Whether Katy agreed to this, it is unacceptable to use a young female employee this way,” the Labour backbencher tweeted.
These tweets, and ongoing national row over food bank use during the UK’s cost-of-living crisis, coincide with a number of stories that NHS trusts are opening food banks solely for the use of their staff—all of whom are self evidently also in regular paid employment.
Now, in a country where the median salary is currently £31,285 ($38,718), the problem with Anderson’s comments has little to do with Katy. Rather, the focus here should be on the fact that everyone else in the country is not Katy. That they are the ones desperately in need.
Katy’s situation—that of a single person without financial dependents, with a steady job, with “affordable” accommodation—is not the norm in the UK. And not at all the norm for the people forced to use food banks.
If anyone were suggesting that absolutely everyone earning less than 30k needed to use a food bank (and they’re not), there would be upwards of 20 million people in need. Currently, there are 2.5 million.
An appalling number—albeit an easy negation to Anderson’s naive arguments.
With that said, our elected officials might want to tackle rising food costs and inflation in the UK (which is now at an all-time high), rather than the people most vulnerable to it.