Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, likes courting controversy. His recent comment to 'send back the boat migrants' following the tragic death of over 800 migrants has been widely reported in the media. Previously he has spoken about 'putting our people first' before treating people coming to this country for medical care and the need to spend the 0.7% of our income we give to international development on 'our own people here at home'.
Whether or not you agree with his recent comments, that the survivors who risked all to escape Libya should be sent back, it's important that we all try to understand what drove people to take such risks. The simple answer is extreme poverty.
Globally today about 1 in 6 or over 1.2 billion people live on less £1 a day. Next week myself and thousands of other British people from all walks of life are taking part in the 'Live Below The Line' challenge. The idea is to feed yourself for just £1 a day for 5 days. So I'd like to challenge Nigel Farage to take part in the challenge and write about what it is like.
To date over 17,000 British people have taken up the Live Below The Line challenge, in the process raising over £7 million for charity. Nigel would be in good company. This year the campaign is being supported by the Bishop of Bath, the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, the comedian Matt Richardson and the actor Freddie Fox.
I'm going to be taking the challenge on behalf of our charity, Emerge Poverty Free. I know it's going to be tough so next week I'm hanging a sign on my office door saying 'Beware irritable hungry person inside taking the Live Below The Line challenge'. My 13 year old son also wants to do the challenge with me. If he does, I know that one of the tough decisions I will have to make is whether or not I give him some of my food when he says that he is hungry. That is the sort of decision that everyday people living in extreme poverty have to take. Feed yourself or feed your children.
If this is too challenging, Nigel could instead simply cook a meal for his UKIP campaign team but only spend 33p on each of them in the process, as one of their 3 meals per day. Come on Nigel, I'm sure it would be a meal they'd all remember.
What would Nigel Farage achieve by taking up my challenge? No other senior politician is doing it so he could take the moral high ground with the likes of David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nicola Sturgeon. He would undoubtedly get a lot of publicity but this time for the right reasons. It might even make him feel a little more compassion towards those who take extreme risks to come to this country and help him empathise with 1.2 billion people on our planet.
So how about it Nigel?