Today marked the last PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) of 2017. PMQs has always been a chance to hold the Prime Minister accountable on the record for what they have or haven’t done. I’m not going to lie, it’s been embarrassing watching the current Prime Minister Theresa May pathetically dodge pretty much every question she’s handed.
Today, Theresa May performed some masterful (read: horrifying) question dodging as Labour MP Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan took to the stage to make her mark (read: become my new hero). “In 2009, the Prime Minister said it was a tragedy that the number of children falling into the poverty cycle was continuing to rise,” she starts. “Every child deserves to have a roof over their head and food on the table. Yet on her watch in Wandsworth alone, the number of families forced to survive on food banks is continuing to rise, and two and a half thousand children – yes children, will wake up homeless on Christmas day,” she continues, passioned. “So my question is simple: when will this austerity-driven government say enough is enough and put an end to this tragedy?”
Theresa May began by saying, “Well, the honorable lady should note that in fact, the government has lifted hundreds and thousands of children out of absolute poverty.” That’s great, Theresa. But what about the thousands more? And what about the thousands of children that have been plunged into poverty? Anyway, she continues: “But I think it’s important for all those who have heard her question to be aware of this. She talks of two and a half thousand children in Wandsworth waking up homeless on Christmas day. Anybody hearing that will assume that what that means is that two and a half thousand children will be sleeping on our streets. It does not mean that!” As May says this, Dr. Rosena Allin Kahn is protesting opposite. “It’s important that we are all clear about this for all those who hear those questions. Because as we all know, families with children who are accepted as homeless will be provided with accommodation,” May finishes, almost looking proud of herself.
So May decided to attack the (wholly accurate) use of the word homeless rather than to address the problem of homelessness. It’s callous, to say the least. Over the past few years, I have felt more and more disgusted when it comes to politics than I thought was possible. It’s hard to comprehend what kind of delusional thinking it takes for a bunch of human beings to sit in a room and forget their humanity when they debate the lives of children. I don’t know if I’m just going crazy or letting my emotions get to my head, but I really feel like politicians should be doing everything in their power to stop homelessness. As Dr. Allin-Khan said, every child deserves to have a roof over their head and food on the table. Of course, our politicians need to be objective, but really? To this degree? One where the Prime Minister would rather debate the semantics of the word “homeless” than discuss ending austerity? And let’s be clear: austerity is completely pointless. We don’t need to do it, it hasn’t helped bring down the deficit, all it’s done is make rich people richer and poor people poorer. And Theresa May thinks it’s acceptable for her, when asked to answer for the horrors her government have inflicted on children, to deflect, change the subject, act like she doesn’t give a damn. Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t.