There has been a bit of noise on social media to day about this poster produced by the anti-poverty charity Oxfam:
The Telegraph wrote up the story as “MPs shocked by ‘disgraceful’ political campaigning”. The poster coincides with the publishing, by Oxfam of this report called “Below the Breadline”. In it, it discusses poverty in the UK and the rise of food banks. The thing that seems to have irked the Tory Party though is Oxfam having the temerity to link food-bank usage with benefit sanctions, low wages and zero-hour contracts among other things. The Telegraph piece quotes three Tory MPs as criticising Oxfam and reprints a letter of complaint to the Charities Commission from one of the MPs. Conservative columnist for the Times Tim Montgomerie branded the recommendations in Oxfam’s report “socialist remedies”.
The report’s recommendations are in fact rather mild. It calls for an imposition of a living wage for all by 2020 (heaven forbid work should actually pay enough to live on), calls on the government to commission independent research into food bank usage (any responsible government should be doing this anyway), and to review the use of sanctions (which as Oxfam point out are a very inefficient way of achieving their stated aim of getting more people into work).
The response from the Tory Party follows a very well-worn path. The recurring strategy is, if someone disagrees with you, don’t try to argue your case, just try to smear the person or organisation making the attack – say they’re ‘socialist’, ‘stalinist’ or just ‘politically motivated’.
How should anti-poverty charity campaign without ever mentioning what they feel are the route causes of that poverty?