I HAVE just Googled the words ‘Lord Prior of Brampton’ and frankly I was disappointed by the results. Where had the fat man gone too?
It is fair to say that the fat man existed only in my mind. It was a convenient construct. And possibly a product of knee-jerk thinking.
You see, Lord Prior of Brampton has been in the headlines for saying in the House of Lards – sorry, Lords – that foodbanks were a paradox at a time when we have an obesity crisis.
So that was why I wanted to find a fat man, a richly obese sort who made this proclamation from within the comfortable confines of a Michelin Man body.
Sadly, Lord Brampton does not fit that template at all. From my Google search he looks perfectly fit and healthy. And not fat in the least. How disparaging it is when your preconceptions don’t live up to mean expectation.
Anyway, Lord Brampton finds it ‘strange’ that people should need food banks when we are all so fat nowadays. Apart from Lord Brampton. And me: a layer of waistline wodge, nothing too serious, just a bit of a struggle doing up the buttons on newly washed Levis.
Lord Brampton is a Tory minister, the minister for NHS productivity indeed. He is not the minister for putting his foot in it, or not officially. His remarks in the Lords went down like a ton of donated baked beans, after he insisted that there was no link between benefit changes and the emergence of foodbanks in some hospitals.
He said: “It is a strange situation around the world that we have both a problem with obesity and an issue with nutrition as well.”
All sorts of lordly opprobrium was heaped on his bald head for that. One of those speaking out was Labour’s shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy, who was reported as saying: “More out of touch nonsense from this government. The only ‘strange situation’ is a Tory Minister who doesn’t understand why his government’s policies are forcing families up and down the country to rely on foodbanks.”
In the Lords, Lord Cashman, a former EastEnders actor and ex-MEP, said: “I would point out that foodbanks result because people are going hungry. People are starving in this country and should not have to rely on such charity.
“Would he not agree with me that obesity often occurs with people on very meagre budgets who have to have the worst kind of food in order to feel satisfied?”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in the Lords that the Church of England had found that up to 45 per cent of those seeking support from foodbanks say they are running out of food because of “changes to the benefits system and sanctions”.
Lord Brampton brushed this off, saying: “I think the issue is much more complex than the Right Reverend prelate is suggesting”.
Ah, what a country we live in where a political slanging match can contain the words “Right Reverend prelate”. And what a place the House of Lords is: filled with well-aged wisdom, and yet still able to stud the dough of democracy with currant-like bits of stupidity.
As to Lord Brampton, he has led a blameless life of public school (Chaterhouse), Cambridge, a few years of investment banking, then becoming a barrister, and after that a Tory MP, before his elevation to the Lords. How can one man have fitted so many noble deeds into one life?
Foodbanks have always been an embarrassment to the Tories, many of whom prefer to believe that poverty is basically the fault of the poor. If only they’d only gone and got themselves born into a life of privilege, then there wouldn’t be a problem at all.
If you believe that the poor are to blame for their disadvantage, that they are in that horrible Victorian phrase the “undeserving poor”, then it makes life simple.
The funny thing is, Lord Brampton is right to say that there is obesity is a modern paradox, but he wasn’t showing much lordly compassion is saying, basically: ‘If people are fat why do they need to go to foodbanks?”
Irritable footnote: Man On Ledge has to rewrite this after Windows did an automatic reboot…