Watch: Tory MS chuckles in ‘cringeworthy’ Senedd speech on foodbanks
A Tory MS was seen to chuckle while making a speech about foodbanks.
The contribution of the Senedd member for the Vale of Clwyd, Gareth Davies, has been described as “cringeworthy” by Bob Lloyd, chair of the Prestatyn and Meliden Labour Party.
During a debate called by Plaid Cymru on food poverty, the Conservative politician praised the Kings Storehouse foodbank in Rhyl.
He also criticised Plaid Cymru for its motion, which acknowledge the existence and implications of food poverty and called for action for it to be taken to be tackled.
During the debate his Conservative Party colleague, Janet Finch Saunders MS blamed the rise in the number of foodbanks on “population” growth.
The contribution of Gareth Davies to the debate can be watched here:
I might just turn this account into a running record of cringeworthy contributions from Gareth Davies. This is incredible. pic.twitter.com/mWrHE3M5bs
— 🌹 (@ClwydEnComu) January 19, 2022
Of the god awful contributions from Gareth Davies’ Senedd occupancy, this one has it all.
The best MS we have asks a question, to which Davies flounders and resorts to some red-faced, spit-everywhere "you all have it so good in the Valleys" nonsense, MSs with heads in hands, etc pic.twitter.com/r7NuEud4p9
— 🌹 (@ClwydEnComu) January 19, 2022
Labour MS Rhianon Passmore asked Gareth Davies: “Do you think it is only the job of churches and voluntary organisations to provide the safety net, as you say, for those in most need?”
Gareth Davies replied: “Well, if the Member listens to the duration of my contribution, you’ll see how it’ll naturally come around to answer your query. [Laughter.] So, one must be patient, as they say. [Laughter.]
“Today’s foodbanks come in many shapes and sizes. In an ideal world, we would have no poverty, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Sadly, families find themselves in hardship through no fault of their own, and, thankfully, foodbanks exist for these times. But the fact that these organisations exist has been weaponised for political gain.”
“There is a public perception that foodbanks shouldn’t be needed in today’s society and that their existence is a result of political failings. This perception and stigma diminish the hard work of foodbanks like the Kings Storehouse and prevent—[Interruption.] I’m coming, I’m coming around. And prevents those in need from using the services. And foodbanks shouldn’t be demonised.
“Even if a quarter of our population weren’t living in poverty, there would be still times that people needed a helping hand. This is what Pastor Mark Jones of the Wellspring church taught me on my visit to the facility in Rhyl, he said, ‘The foodbank’s motto is “A hand up, not a handout,” as we understand that anyone can go through a time of crisis that requires short-term intervention, and no-one should be ashamed of receiving the help they need.'”
Welsh Labour MS Huw Irranca-Davies asked: “Could you simply explain to me, who has seen the rise in foodbanks—? And I commend the volunteers and the people who donate, I really do. But could you just explain to me and my constituents why those crisis moments have exponentially exploded since 2010?”
Gareth Davies said: “Well—[Laughter.]”
Huw Irranca-Davies said: “Just tell us. Just tell us why.”
Gareth Davies said: “Well, I—.”
Tory MS Janet Finch-Saunders said: “Population growth.”
Huw Irranca-Davies said: “Population growth? [Members of the Senedd: ‘Oh.’] Unbelievable.”
Gareth Davies continued: “I can obviously see the Member’s passion and the cases in his constituency, and I have exactly the same in mine. Rhyl is one of the most deprived areas in the country, in Wales and most of the UK, so I’m not going to take any lectures from Members from south Wales on issues in my constituency.
“So, the Member’s very rich to be saying to me, ‘Oh, well’—preaching about issues in Rhyl from Members in the Valleys. So—[Members of the Senedd: ‘Oh.’]
“Foodbanks exist to help those in times of crisis, and I repeat they are not the enemy. Poverty is—poverty is the enemy—and, sadly, the Welsh Government, supported by Plaid on those benches, for the last two decades, have done nothing to tackle poverty in Wales.
“EU anti-poverty funds were squandered, cheap foreign labour was prioritised over creating high-paid jobs for those living in Wales, and if they spent less time on constitutional issues and pet projects and more and more transforming our economy, then maybe one in four of our citizens in Wales wouldn’t be below the poverty line that they’re in today.”
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