A senior Conservative was jeered by the audience of a live television debate on Monday as he suggested food bank users merely suffered “cashflow problems” and failed to answer questions about Tory cuts to policing.
Dominic Raab, lastly MP for Esher and Walton, and former minister for human rights, was asked by an audience member if he could explain why people still relied on food banks to feed themselves and their families.
Raab told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “Look, in terms of the food bank issue, I’ve studied the Trussell Trust data. What they tend to find is the typical user of a food bank is not someone who’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cashflow problem episodically.”
Yet the Trust’s most recent data found that most of those referred to its food banks (27%) were suffering the effects of delays to benefits. Some 25% were referred because of low income.
Raab went on to repeatedly sidestep Derbyshire’s questions over the extent to which cuts to policing affected local intelligence gathering - and therefore subsequent prevention of terror attacks like last week’s Manchester bombing.
Derbyshire asked: “Theresa May was leading the Home Office when she cut 20,000 police officers, cut 1,300 armed officers, cut 26,000 support staff and community support officers.
“Has that had an impact on officers’ ability to build trust within communities and therefore intelligence gather at a local level?”
Raab responded: “Well look in terms of ordinary crime, it’s down by...”
“No, no, no, no, I’m asking specifically about intelligence gathering,” Derbyshire interjected.
Raab said: “In terms of counter-terrorism police, the numbers have gone up...”
“I’m not asking about counter-terrorism police,” Derbyshire said. “I’m asking about the 20,000 fewer police officers, 1,300 fewer armed officers, and the 26,000 fewer support staff.
“And the question is, do you think that’s had an impact on building trust within communities and intelligence gathering at local levels?
“Yes or no?”
Raab responded: “I don’t think it’s a simple question of pouring in more resources.
“You’ve interrupted me every time... let me try and answer it. The bottom line is we have more counter-terrorism police.”