On Monday, the Conservative Party held its summer party fundraiser. The top lot was dinner with Boris Johnson and his rivals Theresa May and David Cameron. The Dinner of the Century – so-called to avoid inviting Johnson critic John Major – went for £120,000.

This was of course a fundraiser and at such events silly things go for silly prices. But the symbolism cannot be missed. Three prime ministers tucking into posh nosh with someone who has £120,000 in spare change while people are struggling to feed themselves and queuing for the food bank. News of the Dinner of the Century broke on Wednesday, the day before 36 Shropshire organisations, including councils, food banks and support groups, published an open letter on the cost of living crisis. They are pleading for more help for rural communities, for longer term help and for those in relative comfort to think of ways they can help others.

The Shropshire food banks, including Ludlow Food Bank, local councils, though not Ludlow Town Council, and support groups are calling for:

  • A government commitment to additional support for people beyond the end of this year.
  • Support for households that have oil of LPG heating.
  • Reduce the cost of fuel through a cut of 40 per cent in fuel duty for two years.
  • Recognise that rural poverty is often hidden but the cost of living is having a disproportionate impact on people living in a low wage economy.
  • Reverse to take away the Warm Homes Discount from nearly 300,000 disabled people.
  • Commit to tackling the bigger picture issues: “The latest support package will only serve as a sticking plaster if the larger issues are not addressed”

The letter continued:

“It is a tribute to the dedicated campaigning of many charities, and the voices of those living in poverty who have been brave enough to share their experiences, that we have seen more support announced. Call for more support have united people from across the political spectrum around a common purpose. It is still vitally important that this work continues, for the issue of poverty in our communities is far from solved…

For those that are able to weather this storm in relative comfort we ask that you consider ways that you can support others.”

The posh nosh for £120,000 dinner is a classic banana skin that will come back to bite Boris Johnson in the bum. But he won’t feel it. He ignores negative publicity, is impervious to criticism and imperious in his actions.

The people who will feel the insult are those that find themselves forced to use a food bank.

The full letter and signatories.

It is a measure of our current government is that it dines out with glee while so many of its citizens struggle to secure a basic diet.

A version of this article was first published on Lib Dem Voice.

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