East Lothian Courier – 27 July 2023


Having a coffee with a young friend last week he told me that he and his partner were expecting their first child. Delighted for him I said it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. It’s life changing and for the better, though it also comes at a cost not just in sleepless nights but especially childcare. But it’s a blessing and every child’s to be cherished.

It’s why I find the two-child benefit cap so repugnant. I’m from a family of two children and have been fortunate to have two myself. So, I wouldn’t have been affected but it’s the principle I object to. I’d have been delighted to have had more siblings and more children, but it wasn’t to be.

But many of my friends were from larger families, often just 3, though a few larger. It’s been the same with the families they’ve had. This limitation’s hitting many and it’s hitting them hard. Over 250,000 children are affected by it across the UK. Of course, there’s a few malingers exposed on “Poverty TV” and supposedly coining it in from the public. But the reality is hardship for many good and decent people and most shamefully hungry bairns guilty of nothing other than being born over which they had no choice.

It’s the sort of policies we’ve come expect from the Tories since Margaret Thatcher removed free school milk. But that it’s trumpeted as a virtue by Sir Keir Starmer is astonishing. Of course, public funds aren’t finite but it’s about priorities. There’s money for weapons and even modest wealth taxes would more than cover it.

In Parliament last week I asked about the cluster munitions being supplied by the USA to the Ukraine. Russia’s rightly condemned for its war crimes. But these weapons are also horrific affecting not just combatants today, but future generations when peace has long since arrived causing carnage for innocents.

The UK’s a signatory to the Convention denouncing them. I therefore sought assurances that US bases in the UK would not be used to supply them. Shamefully that wasn’t given.