Subsidies can on occasion be a good thing, when they encourage employment and equality, when they allow social enterprises to function, some subsidies to rail and energy, the council tax freeze can keep prices down, good for the many with little money.
However, one set of subsidies at this time of year makes me sick to my stomach. Currently restaurants and bars in Westminster receive £7,000,000 (7 million pounds) in subsidy a year from the tax payer so that MPs food and alcohol prices stay low. MPs recently voted to freeze prices until next May. Enough time for some of them to benefit until they’re voted out at the next election. By the time that this current freeze ends MPs will have awarded themselves a 10% pay rise. In 2012/13 MPs were subsidised to the tune of £7500 each for the bars and restaurants in Westminster. MPs also just agreed to spend £200,000 on refurbishing their bars and restaurants. We also pay £1,000,000 in subsidy to the Lords for bars and restaurants. In 2013 Holyrood subsidised their restaurant to the tune of £50,000 pounds and MSPs were able to get a top of the line Christmas dinner for under £10.00.
Now, compare that to the recent figures that state that between April and September this year 835 children had to use foodbanks in Dundee to feed themselves, not adults getting food for their children but children turning up, being assessed and receiving emergency food to allow them to eat. 3371 people have used foodbanks in Dundee so far this year, compare that to 8082 bottles of champagne bought this year by Westminster, not cheap crap mind you.
Now while Stewart Hosie MP SNP and Jim McGovern MP Labour in the City have raised their voices against sanctions and welfare changes the Labour Party in the main have backed most of the attacks on the poorest. Food poverty is a national disgrace but when you consider the luxury that MPs afford themselves then something has to give next May in the General Election. The General Election next May is more than a vote for a political party now, the vote is about a decent society that defends the most vulnerable, that sees social justice as a right not an aspiration. When you go to vote next year think about all the hungry people in Dundee, many young and elderly, when you put that X in the box please consider this and many blogs on the net, do not put your X in the box that allows this abuse of privilege to continue, that allows people in Dundee to be treated as the lowest of the low. We deserve better, Dundee deserves better, as do areas all over Scotland and the UK.