Great Britain

Teen accused of Shipley MP Philip Davies as heated debate breaks out over free school meals motion

A HEATED email exchange unfolded between a teenage girl and Shipley MP Philip Davies over his decision to vote down an opposition motion to extend free school meals over half term breaks until Easter next year.

The bid, tabled by Labour, to give each disadvantaged child a £15 a week food voucher, was defeated by 322 votes to 261. Only five Conservatives rebelled, but Mr Davies and Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore voted with the government.

Jim Innes shared a series of emails on Facebook between his teenage daughter and the MP after she emailed him to share her anger. 

She wrote: "How dare you vote to let children starve over the holidays? Almost 20,000 children in Bradford require free school meals; the city in which you live, the place with constituents YOU are meant to be working for and today you voted so they'd go hungry over the holidays."

She went on to say: "I seriously hope you reconsider your position, but I'm well aware of your abhorrent views and lack of compassion for the poorest and most vulnerable in our country and community so I'm not too optimistic."

In response, Mr Davies said: "Thank you for your email, even though you show how intolerant you are to anyone who holds a different opinion to you.

"I appreciate that virtue signalling is in vogue, but I am afraid I take the rather old fashioned view that parents should be primarily responsible for feeding their children rather than the state.

"That never used to be a contentious view - even when Labour were in Government and they refused to do this - and I am very sad it has become so.

“You are not seeking this as an absolute last resort in the most exceptional circumstances – which would be one thing – but you want this to happen as a matter of course.

“I am afraid that I cannot support a such a state power grab away from the principle of parental responsibility. If we are not even going to ask parents to be responsible for feeding their children then I wonder what we would ask them to be responsible for.”

The initial email went viral on social media after being shared on Twitter. The full exchange of emails have also been shared more than 300 times on Facebook.

Mr Innes went on to reply to Mr Davies, thanking him for replying and setting out why his 16-year-old daughter was so impassioned about the issue.

In his reply, Mr Davies said: "I am delighted your daughter has a passion for politics. That is to be commended.

"However, I hope that she will develop a respect for other opinions - even though she has every right to disagree with them - and an acceptance that there is not a monopoly in compassion and morals amongst people who only hold the same view as her.

"There is too much intolerance for other opinions in politics. The fact that we have a right to our own opinions and a right to disagree is precious. There are many other people around the world who would give anything for that right."

In another email, Mr Innes' daughter wrote in response: "My views are not at all intolerant about normal things, but not when it comes to basic human rights.

"Why on earth would I be understanding of such disgusting and abhorrent views."

She went on to say: "An MP is meant to work FOR their constituents and not against them.

"Do not pretend to understand what it's like for the working class who are trying to feed their children and make ends meet. You have absolutely no idea what that's like."

She raised concern over the "waste" on taxpayers money on subsidising MP's food and drink and the vast sums of money spent on the Test and Trace system "that doesn't even work". 

"You should all be deeply ashamed of yourselves and I look forward to the next election because the people will not forget your crimes.”

In a final email, Mr Davies said: “As I say, I am so sorry you have such an intolerant attitude to anyone that holds a different view to you.

“It is genuinely very sad that you cannot accept, recognise or respect different opinions.

“Being so blinkered in your views – accusing me of committing a crime for having a different opinion for goodness sake – is not healthy in my opinion.

“However, that is your absolute right to take that view.”

Mr Davies said he had no further comment to make. 

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