Remember when Lib Dems opposed Free School Meals?


9:03 am - September 18th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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Today Nick Clegg will announce that every child at infant school in England will receive free lunches from next September.

This has already been policy at several Labour-controlled councils across London.

Amusingly, the same policy was repeatedly attacked by Lib Dems in the past.

Here are Islington Lib Dems

Islington Liberal Democrat councillors have slammed Labour’s plans for taxpayer-funded school meals in the borough as expensive and not helping those most in need.

Liberal Democrats have identified the following problems with Labour’s plans to introduce taxpayer-funded meals for primary children:
– the Labour Government won’t fund a pilot scheme as Islington doesn’t meet its criteria so local taxpayers will have to pick up the whole tab.
– it does nothing for secondary school children for whom there is much greater need.
– will lead to a dramatic drop in Government schools funding for Islington as it is based on number of people who sign-up for free school meals
– will give taxpayer-funded school meals to families who can afford to pay for them.
– will mean subsidising families living in other boroughs using local schools.

Last year, Southwark Lib Dems too called on Labour to scrap Free School Meals for primary pupils.

And there are MPs too!

It’s going to be interesting to see how Lib Dems spin this.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


So this is a case where some Lib Dems opposed something, and now the leadership are in favour of it?

Not a party policy turnaround? Not something they’ve been bullied into?

I’m sorry, are we supposed to be furious because different Lib-Dems think different things about school meal funding? Or do you think we should be furious because they changed their minds? I’m confused. (At least partially because I’m in favour of people changing their minds, if they see new evidence.)

Here we go (from the Independent):
“universal meals for all primary school pupils were recommended in July in a review which found that in pilot schemes, students were two months ahead of their peers academically when free lunches were provided. The number eating vegetables at lunch rose by 23 per cent, while the number eating crisps dropped by 18 per cent. The improvement was most marked among children from less affluent families. Their progress in maths and English was more marked than that which followed the introduction of a compulsory literacy hour in 1998”

So, once the science comes in and tells you that something helps poor kids do better, you change your mind and support it, even if you thought it was wasteful before.

I prefer the ‘Thick of It’ version (Season 4 Ep2). Pringles all round on the backbenches.

4. Man on Clapham Omnibus

There no such thing as a free lunch, especially in politics.

Another way of phrasing this post would be “I agree with the policy, but in the interests of tedious partisanship I’ll avoid saying so and find some daft reason to attack the proponents anyway”

At what point do people become so deeply embedded with the interests of one party that they lose all ability to respond rationally to the policies of another? The same tribal tendencies and insatiable desire to criticise policies based on who came up with them, not what they are, is likely responsible both for this post and for the various of the cited LibDem criticisms of the policy when Labour had it.

And still they wonder why political engagement is in decline.

It was the Liberals under Lloyd George who introduced free school meals after the 1906 general election, they also introduced the first national insurance act in 1911. Possibly the beginning of the move towards a modern welfare state.

@ The Thought Gang:

You may not be aware that Sunny voted Lib Dem in 2010. “Amusingly”.

@ Jack C

I didn’t know that. Was he for or against free school meals at the time?

jojo
There were so many rejected as not fit to fight in the Boer War that Parliament had to do something to ensure Britain had a healthy batch of cannon fodder.

Sunny: “Amusingly, the same policy was repeatedly attacked by Lib Dems in the past.”

What’s new? The London borough where I live has been LibDem controlled for more than 25 years. In 2011, Clegg visited the borough to celebrate this historic achievement. In local authorities elsewhere, where Labour has been in power for 25 years or more, the LibDems have (very properly IMO) challenged this as entrenched power and called for change.

On the free school meals for all infants, we should postpone the celebrations until we know how Osborne proposes in his autumn statement to find the £600 milion to pay for this additional spending. Of course, free school meals for all infants will be of no help to the poorest children who already qualify for free school meals.

11. Paul peter Smith

Ceiliog, jojo
Prior to the emergence of the Labour party the Liberals were widely seen as the party of the working man. Lloyd George and other Liberals mishandling and double dealing were contributing factors in the major shift in allegience to Labour throughout the twenties and on. They have never recovered and now find themselves in this strange no-mans land of existing on other peoples defectors and those that cant make their mind up.

“They have never recovered and now find themselves in this strange no-mans land of existing on other peoples defectors and those that cant make their mind up.”

There are no Labour councillors in the London borough where I live and where the LibDems have controlled the council for over 25 years. There are solid reasons for that. Within living memory, two leaders of the small Labour group on the council have been convicted on criminal charges – smuggling booze and fags in one case and corruption in the case of his successor. How about the local Conservatives then as an alternative?

This was the Guardian report on one of the two Conservative parliamentary candidates at the general election in May 2010:

Rising Tory star Philippa Stroud ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay people

Conservative high-flyer Philippa Stroud founded a church that tried to ‘cure’ homosexuals by driving out their ‘demons
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/may/02/conservatives-philippa-stroud-gay-cure

Not to worry. She was defeated and Iain Duncan Smith promptly promoted her to a post as Special Adviser in the Department of Work and Pensions.

But there is even more about the local LibDems.

LibDems have controlled the council for over 25 years. There are solid reasons for that.

Apathy and snobbery.

Within living memory, two leaders of the small Labour group on the council have been convicted on criminal charges

Within living memory – That’s a long time for some readers.

smuggling booze and fags in one case and corruption in the case of his successor

Small stuff compared to others.
‘Senior Lib Dem councillor jailed for beating his own mother ‘like a dog’ ‘
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/senior-lib-dem-councillor-jailed-2056882

14. Paul peter Smith

@12 Bob B
‘But there is even more about the local LibDems’
Dont be a tease Bob, what could possibly be worse then cigarette running or invoking an imaginary sky god?

hypocrisy,thy name is CLEGG,-MEGLO–MANIA–THY–NAME–IS–CLEGG,,CLEGG,IS NOT EVEN,INTERESTED,IN HIS OWN PARTIES,POLICYS,ONLY HIS OWN SURVIVAL,HIS OWN,DISGUSTING,COSYING-TO HIS LOVER,DAVID–CAMERON,TO HANG ON TO POWER,,HE,IS NOT INTERESTED,IN POLICIES,ONLY,HIS OWN,,,PERSONAL HOLD,ON–POWER,THAT—-MAKES—CLEGG,,–A–VERY,VERY,DANGEROUS,MAN,FOR THE WHOLE,OF THE BRITISH,PEOPLE,,HIS ONLY—GOAL,–IS—SURVIVAL—CLEGG.—POWER—CLEGG,,NOTHIN,-ELSE MATTERS,,CLEGG WOULD,SLIT–HIS,OWN—MOTHERS,–THROAT,–IF–SHE—GOT,–IN-HIS–WAY,OR–WAS,OBSTRUCTING,–HIS–PATH,–TO–POWER,,THE –MAN–IS–A–VERY—DANGEROUS,–MEGLO—MANIAC,,AND–THE—LIBDEMS,ARE INCOMPETENT,FOR NOT,SPOTTING,IT,,THE BRITISH,,PEOPLE,HAVE,LONG KNOWN,,CLEGG—IS–UNBALANCED,,

Free school meals- Excellent. Harks back to 1945, the last time we had anything approaching an inclusive, progressive, straight talking executive.

Mind you…nowadays the little darlings aren’t to be made to eat their ‘greens’like back in the nasty old days. Meanwhile the spineless liberals that infect our schools think its beyond their PC remit to report child abuse. Signs of the daft country we find ourselves in!

18. anonymous coward

Of course Labour weren’t that enthusiastic about the Beveridge Report to start with. Bevin derided the Beveridge Report as a “Liberal Social Ambulance Scheme”. William Beveridge complained about the opposition of Labour leaders, including that of Ernest Bevin: “For Ernest Bevin, with his trade-union background of unskilled workers… social insurance was less important than bargaining about wages.” (Beveridge, Power and Influence 1953).


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