Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain?

Alex Hern reports on Edwina Curries shocking comments on poverty in Britain

Disgraced former Conservative minister Edwina Currie continues to insist that no one in the UK  is ever starving, even after spending three hours last night in a food bank in Birmingham being told just that.

The event was held in response to comments made by Currie on Radio 5 last month.

At the time, Currie said:

“Are you telling me people in this country are going hungry? Seriously? Seriously? Do you know, I really have great difficulty believing that.”

I don’t think people in this country go hungry. But are these people at the same time maybe buying the odd lottery ticket? Do they just occasionally have the odd cigarette? Somewhere along the line does food come as the first priority?”

The public-and-panel event arranged this night was largely three hours of Currie, famous for destroying the British egg market, sleeping with John Major, and saying that “good Christians” wouldn’t get aids, arguing with people in poverty about whether they were in poverty. You can listen to the whole debate here.

One highlight, however, was blogger and author Owen Jones, who took Currie to task throughout the night; Jones’s opening comments are embedded below, and are well worth listening to:

Owen Jones (mp3)

The case of Mark and Helen Mullins is indeed a tragedy; they recorded a video earlier this year, explaining the troubles they were having, and it makes for difficult viewing:

Edwina Currie claims she knows about the Mullins. If she does, and insists in perpetuating her lies, she is more than just humorously out of touch; she is actively contributing to a repetition of their tragedy.

See also:

We need a new approach to tackling fuel povertyMatthew Lockwood, November 9th 2011

The coalition is actively increasing child povertyFelicity Dennistoun, October 11th 2011

ESA cuts will exacerbate poverty and remove help for disabledNeil Coyle, March 8th 2011

All in the family? Putting intergenerational poverty into perspectiveDeclan Gaffney, April 8th 2011

Warnings of generation lost to povertyEd Jacobs, February 23rd 2011

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83 Responses to “Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain?”

  1. Questioning socialist

    Edwina Currie. Why. Just… why.

  2. Ian Kerr

    Edwina Currie v @OwenJones84: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/hVLDs943

  3. Ian Kerr

    RT @leftfootfwd via @TheDeadDuck #EdwinaCurrie vile arrogant Tory proving yet again this government is unfit. http://t.co/ToRWT9Jz

  4. Victoria Gemmill

    RT @leftfootfwd: Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/miqRGwnK

  5. Jane Phillips

    Highlights of Edwina's hate speech, along with a solid rebuttal from @OwenJones84, here: http://t.co/9ZLXZvwD

  6. waxnip

    Highlights of Edwina's hate speech, along with a solid rebuttal from @OwenJones84, here: http://t.co/9ZLXZvwD

  7. William Bain

    RT @leftfootfwd: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/c5ZfyUZl > Edwina doesn't care 4 million people are in food poverty in UK today

  8. Aidan Turner

    RT @leftfootfwd: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/c5ZfyUZl > Edwina doesn't care 4 million people are in food poverty in UK today

  9. Caroline Hexter

    I have nothing but loathing for that nasty piece of Tory work. Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/Q6ZTQZZm #ANGRY

  10. Benjamin Butterworth

    Former Tory minister Edwina Currie is truly amongst the most vile human beings in this country. Saturated in hatred – http://t.co/vmPrsdNB

  11. Stuart Rodger

    RT @leftfootfwd: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/c5ZfyUZl > Edwina doesn't care 4 million people are in food poverty in UK today

  12. Mark Raven

    And our top story yesterday, Edwina Currie being taken down by @OwenJones84 live on air over her remarks on poverty: http://t.co/A7I50dxg

  13. Michael J. Robins

    And our top story yesterday, Edwina Currie being taken down by @OwenJones84 live on air over her remarks on poverty: http://t.co/A7I50dxg

  14. bryan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/Rec15T7A

  15. Emmeline Lawless

    And our top story yesterday, Edwina Currie being taken down by @OwenJones84 live on air over her remarks on poverty: http://t.co/A7I50dxg

  16. Liz A

    Compelling listenining: Edwina Curry on poverty (or not?) in the UK http://t.co/SjzS6MOE

  17. Redriderr

    And our top story yesterday, Edwina Currie being taken down by @OwenJones84 live on air over her remarks on poverty: http://t.co/A7I50dxg

  18. silverserver

    Ugh, how has Edwina Curry become even more odious? Well done @OwenJones84 for shooting down her ridiculous arguments http://t.co/ap1CONB5

  19. David Gillon

    And our top story yesterday, Edwina Currie being taken down by @OwenJones84 live on air over her remarks on poverty: http://t.co/A7I50dxg

  20. ChaucerClaire

    Brilliant job by @owenjones84 on Edwina Currie. Desperately sad film of Mullins couple. http://t.co/VmUhZhuV

  21. Seph Brown

    RT @ChaucerClaire: Brilliant job by @owenjones84 on Edwina Currie. Desperately sad film of Mullins couple. http://t.co/y43jUm1E <- This

  22. Alan199

    RT @leftfootfwd: Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain?
    #EdwinaCurrie being taken down by @OwenJones84
    http://t.co/Hu7KsbUG

  23. Marigold Atkey

    Quick clip of me having a pop at Edwina Currie over her ludicrous/offensive comments on poverty on 5 Live last night: http://t.co/O1Cx3m7b

  24. Dr Bex Lewis

    Edwina Currie v @OwenJones84: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/hVLDs943

  25. Sue Gibbs

    RT @leftfootfwd: Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/nBjjVPJ5

  26. Sue

    So, Edwina is saying it like it is! Are we not behaving like alcoholics who refuse to believe they have a problem? Are we living in a bubble or does our ego refuse to accept the fact that poverty does not include expensive iPhones, Blackberry’s, iPads, pets and 50 inch tv sets? So, we have this generation who believe they are entitled to support by a workforce that is shrinking and, here’s the shocker, have less and can afford less than those on benefits . Are you serious??? I earn my living and see asylum seekers/people on benefits fill their trolley with Patene, whilst I have to opt for Asda’s own cheap brand. Say what???? Who is the mug here? £186 to live on after rent and bills? Anyone can live on this for food and then some. Are you serious? I am an immigrant who has never claimed any benefits, but I am ashamed ….. where is your pride? Maybe we should scrap the benefits system for certain persons completely, resulting in forcing people to make a plan to make a living – instead of complaining and scrounging, they will make jewellery, clothing and other items that people need and want. Heaven forbid that people whould be made to work for a living! Your priorities are completely skewed!

  27. KSH2009

    I support Edwina. I would like all those expensive things you can afford when you claim benefits, but I choose to work and to contribute to the system. I am the middle man, not rich and not poor, but I pay for everyone else who chooses (being the operative word) not to work. I resent paying my taxes to feed the lazy people who think the world owes them a favour, and not just food but also expensive dogs, 50″ TV’s, fancy phones, lovely clothes, nice house. Judging by the size of some of them, they clearly are not starving, in fact they are revelling in too much food and opulance. it’s about time the government got really tough.

  28. Mr Roshan

    As tragic as this case is, this is one case and they did not die of starvation (a medical term), nor were they in a state of starvation. Nor is there any evidence that they would have obtained benefits under any previous system nor do we know the full facts of their case. So please, Owen Jones et al, rise above mere anecdotes and show me the communities/groups of people dying of/suffering from starvation in the UK.

  29. Mr Roshan

    And BTW, ‘hungry’ does not really mean anything if you want a factual, meaningful and statistically accurate discussion. Sustained true hunger leads to starvation – a medical condition.

  30. Iansawyer

    I suppose it depends on what you call starving. We don’t have the scale of starvation that folk in drought and famine struck areas of the world do. She’s quite right in stating that people in the UK have an odd set of priorities – “food vs luxuries like cigarettes or lottery tickets” I earn money to feed myself and my family. If we were really starving, the TV would be first to be sold.

  31. Jayneclarke

    Thank goodness someone from the political world has at last got the courage to say what a large proportion of the population think.
    Being born in the 50s I never considered myself living in poverty but I didn’t have holidays clothes etc. My school uniform basically was my wardrobe. You had one pair of shoes and when I had to have a sports t-shirt at the age of 11 my parents, like many others in my class, paid for it over several weeks – it cost the equivalent today of 75p. You were not obese because there was no food in the cupboards for you to snack on.
    My mother had a far tougher life being motherless at the age of 2 and with 6 siblings. She was brought up by her grandmother then her aunt. Today they would have money thrown at them in those days you got on with it. Today she is 86 living modesty on her basic state pension for which she worked until she was 62. She will not accept carers allowance etc because she feels she is not entitled to it.

  32. Chris

    I am 100% agree with Edwina. I am one of the silent millions, working very hard long hours in a job that numbs my brain, simply to feed my family and keep a roof over our heads. I am sick of people choosing not to work and playing the system because they can find a job that they find exciting! I am paying for their food, I am paying for they accommodation, I am paying for their sky TV, I am paying for their DFS sofa, I am paying for everything in their lives! WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Britain is a wonderful country, and I am proud and lucky to be born here, but the country is overrun with feckless, lazy people who expect everything and give nothing. The welfare system is a safety net that I wouldn’t remove for anything, it what make our country so special, but it’s being used as a life style. THIS HAS TO STOP! There are children growing up today that have never known their parents and grandparent to work, what ambition or work ethic will they have.

    There was once only 3 classes in society, Upper, Middle and Working Class. There are now four, Upper, Middle, Working, and Under Class. Also once, people tried to better themselves, but the people languishing in the Underclass seem happy to be there and why not, they don’t have to do anything to remain there! And maybe they’ll win the lottery (with a ticket that I have bought!) or get spotted on X-Factor!

    When will we stop protesting about bankers, or fixating about immigrants, and asylum seekers, and focus on the real issue, the elephant in the room, the lazy blood sucking Underclass.

    Let’s reform the welfare system, give less to the lazy, more to the people how need it like carers, people with disabilities, the sick and the old. Let’s put the welfare system back to it was designed for, WELFARE for the needy!

  33. jb

    RT @leftfootfwd: Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain? http://t.co/z1qmkqbK

  34. David Freeman

    I agree with Edwina Currie, I worked all my life with a short break of two months when I had to claim income support, and yes I was financially better off on benefit (this was mid 90’s) but my pride, work ethic and ambition ensured this was not the case. I now run my own successful business.
    I am sick of paying for people to not work, having the widescreen TV’s, Sky, mobile etc. The woman on the 6 o’clock show yesterday whom Edwina Currie challenged epitomised the type “I do not want to do a job I don’t like” “I do not want to be unhappy”
    I was unhappy when I was on benefit all those years ago, and I have done jobs I detest where the boss treats you like a second class citizen but I did it, for my family, my pride and myself. And yes I am now successful earning 100k + per year with all that brings, so when is this welfare debacle veer going to end. Caveat yes i know there are genuine cases, but these genuine cases generally do not seek to publicise their plight through pride.

  35. Mr Roshan

    The bankers doubled the national debt. The money they have been given, they are not lending out due to the ‘off the sheet’ debts such as credit derivatives, which occur essentially because the banks can take £1(off other people’s money) and leverage it many times over.

    Furthermore, with banks consisting of rich people, giving them welfare is even more reprehensible than giving the ‘poor’.

    Take a lesson from Iceland, that did not bail out it’s bankers, jailed them and are now out of recession.

    Watch the film (search on google) ‘Money as debt’, watch the Keiser Report (on youtube).

    Yes, I don’t believe in welfare and think the welfare state creates dependents (this is statistically beyond doubt). Yes, I think Owen Jones cherry picks little anecdotes and mistakes these for facts and statistics, but don’t ever not blame the banks for stealing your money to gamble, then teaming up with their buddies in government (crony capitalism) so that BOTH of them take even more of your money.

    Please consider the above.

  36. M-bowen2

    I work for a charity that supports older people, some of those on benefits need to see how our clients live, before moaning that they are poor! They dont seem to grasp the meaning of the word. They are only poor in attitude. I am often humbled by our clients resilience and bravery to make the best of things.

  37. Mr Roshan

    @leftfootfwd @owenjones84 Outnumbered in own home! http://t.co/rS9gAggD Anecdotes do not equal facts. No proof people die of #starvartion

  38. Lady

    I fully agree with Edwina Currie , nobody is going hungry in this country. those who call themselves poor have wide screen plasma Tv, sky, computer ganes, mobiles and nice desginer clothes and what not. they can afford to have a dog, cat and other pets. how can they afford to have that. they think they children should get everything they ask for. they have foreign holiday. these ladies can afford to have beauty treatments. They do not want to work, for generations they are on benefits.
    I worked for 40 years never claimed any benefits.. i do not have holidays. i do not have posh things in my house. Now I am oap and in poor health. I need help but I am not getting any help from any where.In do not even know how to ask for help.

  39. dchappie

    The family shown on The One Show were an indication of the sort of warped priorities some people have in the UK. They can find £15 per week to feed the family dog, but not the money to feed the kids? They live in a lovely house with all mod cons, but can’t find a way to cut back and live within their means? And they have the idea that one has to be happy in a job to feed the family, while accepting handouts, through taxes, from those who do exactly that?

    I agree with Edwina on this one. Now, I’m not saying there are some who really are struggling to put food on the table, or who have to choose between food or fuel, but as the item showed, there are food charities able to help. But quite why the family featured in the item is receiving food from those charities is beyond me – get real, and either get a job to pay your way and feed your kids, and/or lose the family pets that you clearly cannot afford to keep and spend the money on food for the family.

    Welfare and charity are supposed to be for those in need, not for those who choose to live a certain way that means benefits get spent on non-essentials. And I’m sorry to say, as much as I love animals, that includes pets.

  40. Ann

    This is so true,good for Edwina for stirring things up a bit. When are the government going to realise that the working people of this country are sick of keeping these parasites. The welfare system is there as a safety net not a way of life

  41. Trudi

    I agree with Edwina. I would not say that no one is starving, there are some people out there who probably are in real difficulty. But, most people do not understand the concept of if you can’t afford it you can’t buy it. The report on the one show is a prime example of everyone spending too much money as they don’t want to be different to everyone else.

    When I was growing up (and I am only 37 so this was the 80’s), my mum stayed at home to look after me and my brother, my dad worked. The majority of our clothes, toys and books came from Jumble sales, we went through a period of not having a TV and we never had a car. We were never hungry, because sacrifices were made to put food on the table. If we wanted something we saved our pocket money for it.

    I was bought up to consider my self lucky, to be thankful for what we had and to be careful with money. I work hard, but I have no debts and I was proud this year that my husband saved enough money to buy a second hand car without having to get a loan.

    I don’t believe the family in the one show should’ve being going to the food bank, someone should work with people to show them how to budget properly and how to manage their money. They might be embarrassed to not keep up with everyone else but if you can’t afford it that’s the just the way it is.

    I think that children need to be brought up with a work ethic. If you don’t like your job, work in it until you find a better one you do like. Have some ambition to better yourself and better yourself. There are people in the world who are really starving, work like hell for little money and want to better themselves, as opposed to the people who are waiting out for the perfect job, that suits them.

  42. Piper90

    Well done Edwina. I don’t normally agree with much that you say but on this one I am 100%. The One Show had the lady you visited who fed a dog and budgies and had the tumble dryer on and she sat there with her hair a different shade of blonde. These people need to know the difference between NEED and WANT. I also think that Social Services ought to try understanding that one too! Foster children have everything (and more) yet children who are with biological parents usually have to do without. Hard times call for hard decisions. The NHS was also set up by Bevan for peoples needs for basic treatment who couldn’t afford it, now what do we get…fertility treatment, plastic surgery (usually picking up private care blunders) and a heaving A&E on a friday because of binge drinking. Make them all pay is what I say instead of expecting the ordinary hard working citizen to pick up the tab.

  43. Mr Roshan

    I also notice the revolutionary hystericals at the BBC and this website have not provided the true context of her comments, which have been alluded to here, namely that there was a report on a ‘starving’ family with a nice house and a well fed dog.

    What is fairness and equality? How about a low flat tax (equal for everyone and everyone keeps 95% of their income), control the free migration we have so British citizens are not caught in a race to the bottom, eradicate the welfare state (and this includes the banks), have government pass laws protecting the consumer from fraud and over-the-top unfairness (rather than limiting the freedom of individuals) and let everyone be free to live their lives how they wish? Let private companies (funded by individuals voluntarily) and charities run our institutions. This is fair as the people make the choices and there would by no more choice by ego, which is essentially what left wing politics is all about (i.e. the commissars decide what they think is important and accord it funding from other people’s money).

    Our crisis has been precipitated by record government spending and a record poor welfare state, even when times where good (as well as now a welfare state for the rich) – the left need to have this rammed down their throats until they are silenced, because they are advocating more of the same.

  44. Anne

    I agree with Edwina. I work extremely hard to pay my mortgage and household bills and can’t afford luxury items. Some of my family and friends are on benefits but can still afford to smoke, drink, buy new furniture, satellite TV and upgrade to the latest mobile phones. With the exception of the elderly, most of the people who say they can’t afford to eat are in their 30s or younger. But they will still be paying their mobile phone credit & broadband for computer. Many have pets that need feeding and drive cars. Genuine poverty in this country is rare – beans on toast costs pennies & there are many times when me & my kids have had this as my food money has run short. No excuses – get a job & stop scrounging on the taxpayers or stop whining and tighten your belt the same as the rest of us have to.

  45. Owen Jones

    A passionate defense of the right to protest by @MissEllieMae after the scandalous conviction of 10 @UKUncut protesters http://t.co/FfoBxukJ

  46. Newsbot9

    The social “safety net” in this country is threadbare, with some of the toughest punishments in the world.

    You want to, literally, starve anyone who doesn’t fit your criteria of fitness. You’re rendering millions of people sub-Human…typical social darwinism. Blood, blood, blood, it’s all the far right like you are about.

  47. Newsbot9

    Great, so, lethal injection after 3 months then? Let’s hear you plans…how many people will YOU kill?

  48. Newsbot9

    Iceland’s in deep financial trouble, despite a substantial trade surplus. And strangely enough, what works for a mid-sized City’s population doesn’t work for larger countries.

  49. Newsbot9

    They can’t. You’re a troll, who is slurping up propaganda, left, right and centre.

    The UK system is already VERY tough. It’s counter-productive, it punishes rather than helps.

  50. Newsbot9

    “when is this welfare debacle veer”

    What, you mean when are the state going to conform to international norms…raising benefits, giving a LOT more help and slashing conditionality?

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