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  • Writer's pictureKirsten


Thanks to The National for letting me write about the utter hypocrisy of the Scottish Tories on free school meals.

—Kirsten Oswald: Douglas Ross's Tories' excuses on school meals won't wash

THE free school meals debate has once again highlighted the callousness at the core of the Tory party. The Tory Government’s outright refusal to help feed hungry children marks yet another stain on its record and reinforces its nasty party tag.

While communities and councils work together to help vulnerable children and families following the inspirational campaign led by Marcus Rashford, the Tories shamefully turned their backs on them. No remorse. No regret.

When the opportunity came in Westminster to ensure no child went to bed hungry by funding free school meals, Boris Johnson’s Government voted it down – and they were backed by Scotland’s very own Tory MPs.

They made a deliberate decision to deny hungry school children food. That is something people will never forget.

This week, Douglas Ross disingenuously attempted to shift the goalposts over his immoral stance by claiming that it is an England-only issue which he will not vote on. However, the fact is Tory cuts to free school meals funding will deprive children of food and impact on Scotland’s budget.

Douglas Ross may continue to run the line, but he has run out of excuses. People will not be fooled by his hollow words.

As scandalous as the stance is, at least Boris Johnson has the courage to live up to the Tories’ nasty party tag and admit he does not support Marcus Rashford's campaign to feed hungry children.

Shame on Douglas Ross for claiming to support this campaign, while standing on the side-lines as thousands of children in England will go hungry this Christmas break under the watch of his party. That is rank hypocrisy.

With a potential second vote being proposed when Parliament returns from recess, it will be a test for Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tory MPs. Will they do the right thing and back measures to fund free school meals? Or will they shamefully squirm their way out again?

The SNP is clear - the Tory Government must now fully U-turn over its disgraceful position of rejecting free school meals funding. Reports of inadequate half measures fall well short of the action needed. In Scotland, the number of primary pupils receiving free school meals has doubled in the last decade thanks to the work of the SNP Government. And we have already taken steps and committed £10 million in funding to continue free school meals in Scotland over the coming holidays.

We will continue to tackle inequality and hardship with the restricted financial levers available to us. However, this latest shameful episode of Tory callousness has only confirmed again that the only way to properly protect Scotland's interests and our values is to become an independent country.


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