Thursday, February 17, 2011

John Glen MP is an inhuman, insensitive bastard.

Sometimes, you see something on TV that angers you beyond belief, that makes the blood thunder round your veins and fizz as it boils. Last night's Channel 4 News carried a striking report from Gary Gibbon on a food bank in leafy, upper middle-class, rural Salisbury, nestling in the Wiltshire countryside.

We saw a young family with a baby, having had their double incomes reduced to one of just £800 a month and unable to afford food on top of their other bills. A single parent, who was temporarily unable to work through illness and went to the food bank to feed herself and her child because the cupboard was bare. There was a jobbing builder, living in a sparsely-furnished flat and coping with income that varied massively from month to month depending on the weather and the market, admitting that he had gone without food to ensure that he kept a roof over his head.

These are not scroungers, ripping off the taxpayer because they know how to play the system. These are - to use the favourite phrase of politicians - hard-working families. Ordinary people who find that the money they earn simply isn't enough to keep body and soul together. They have to rely on the charity of a local church group that collects food donated by shoppers at a supermarket.

This is wrong. In this century, in this country, it is fundamentally wrong that this is allowed to happen. If you want an evil to target, this is it.

Then Gary Gibbon went to see Salisbury's new Conservative MP, John Glen - the product of Oxbridge, the Conservative Research Department and consultancy firms. He is about as in touch as you would expect for a young man with no experience of how the majority live or indeed any idea how to cope with a low income. Blessed with a safe seat, unfortunately, he will never need to understand it either.
"I believe that everyone who's working will have enough food if they don't spend the money on other things. There is a choice there that if you spend money on food to start off with.. if you earn anything or you have the minimum wage, you will have some money for food. The question is what other things the money is being spent on."
Typically, John, it is spent on mortgage or rent, heat and light, transport to work, perhaps a few clothes. People pay off what is most urgent and cut back on other things - they fall behind with the electricity or gas and end up on prepayment meters, allowing the house to get cold rather than load the meter card with money they don't have and that coldness brings illness. They make sure the kids are fed and go without themselves.

They need decent jobs that pay decent living wages, not part-time, minimum wage positions. I have some hope that Ian Duncan Smith's benefit propositions might offer some light at the end of the tunnel, but my fear is that it will be an oncoming train, with insensitive bastards like Glen quaffing champagne and celebrating the accident of birth that has brought them such good fortune. I hope that IDS will cut through the maze of benefits, but I suspect that the real driver will not be the relief of poverty, but cutting the cost of helping the poorest in our society.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm glad someone else agrees because I thought I was going mad watching that pompous bastard last night. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing. Hopefully the people of Salisbury heard it too, and will get rid of him asap.

Anonymous said...

Like you I was appalled at the comments made by John Glen who referred to the people of Salisbury requiring food handouts to make ends meet as, "living chaotic lifestyles". If this is happening in leafy Salisbury, what is happening around the rest of the country? Unfortunately, Johnny Poorbugger and the rest of the working poor cannot shop at John Lewis at the taxpayer's expense like MP's such as John Glen. People such as him, career politicians and the rest of the Jeremies and Jemimas, who have in reality contributed nothing to the economy, have no right to sit in judgement over anyone in this country, pretending they know what it is like to exist on low income. The hypocrisy is palpable. Hopefully, as Katherine states, the people of Salisbury will get rid of this despicable man at the next election.

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose either of you will now have the moral integrity to eat your own words.

Raymond Soltysek said...

Excellent post. I e-mailed Glen about his starring role. You can find his reply in the comments section of my blog about this incident at

Shanine said...

So what did John Glen say in those other 19 minutes that we didn't see? I highly doubt he went from such provocative(see the reaction on twitter to them) to suddenly spending the rest of the time expressing sympathy the rest of the time.

Plus someone kindly replied to me on twitter that his comments were pretty typical of his personality, they knew someone who had stood against him in May 2010, of a church going Tory who blames morals above circumstances.

I would LOVE Channel 4 to compile a Dispatches programme on this and show John Glen's interview in full.

PoliticalHackUK said...

Anonymous - I'll happily withdraw my views on John Glen if his claims can be substantiated.

'I was misquoted / taken out of context / stitched up' are the standard defences raised by those caught out by the media.

Anonymous said...

Maybe so many people will be on low incomes because the last government stole so much of their pensions through the dividend tax grab that turned this country's pension industry from being the envy of the world to the joke of the world.
Good to see you lambasting consultants - oh but wasn't it the last government that made this industry mushroom?

And actually if you were really honest you'd agree that a lot of people struggle simply because they've got used to hand outs always being there and think nothing of takeways, newspapers, Sky TV, cigarettes and beer or the latest Nintendo for their kids and think this is basic living standard stuff - it's not.

Anonymous said...

Here in Salisbury we will never get rid of John Glenn because he has a "safe" seat, a monkey could get in here if he wore the conservative colours. At one time Salisbury was reported to have twice the national level of poverty, the jobs are few for ordinary folk and most of them badly paid.