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The Government’s competence and mandate

29 May 2015


From the Revd Brian Cranwell

Sir, - Few things are more irritating than the assumption often made, as in Dr Andrew Connell's letter (22 May), that because foodbanks have become widely spread during the past decade, they are a response to a need that has not previously existed, and are therefore a sign of incompetence by this Government.

My father was unemployed in the 1930s, but was eventually, in or around 1936, taken on by his local authority. The appointment was made around the beginning of November, to begin on the first of January in the New Year. His dole money was stopped immediately he received the appointment letter. As the local authority paid monthly, he received nothing until his first pay cheque after more than ten weeks.

Consequently, to keep his family fed and housed, he had to borrow from friends and acquaintances. He did not get clear of debt until the late 1940s. There were no foodbanks, though I wish there had been. Our main shopping was done on late Saturday evenings, going around just as shops with perishable foods were closing, and would accept an offer to take perishables off their hands. One Christmas Eve, I bought a Christmas tree myself at 8 p.m. with money from a paper round. It was labelled 17s. 6d. The greengrocer accepted my 2s.

There is no such thing as an organisation or government totally competent or incompetent in every aspect of its operations. What was common ground for my father's borrowing and the foodbanks was that others in the community recognised his need and helped him out, albeit with loans that he repaid. The foodbanks are a similar recognition of need by the community, without the repayment burden.

I doubt whether foodbanks will ever be redundant, since there will always be some who don't fit into the system and need help, or whom the system penalises ineptly.

9 West View Close,
Sheffield S17 3LT


From the Revd Paul Greenland

Sir, - Your leader comment (15 May) says: "Mr Cameron will need to work hard to gain the people's trust." The fact is that, contrary to some bishops' wishes, Mr Cameron has been given the people's trust at the General Election to form a government, and in the same way, the people have chosen not to give their trust to Ed Miliband.

Did the people currently calling for "the new Government to be held to account" and "for a change in the electoral system" shout as loudly for these things at the Labour government after its victory in 1997?

I am not a supporter of any one political party, but I believe in democracy. The people have spoken, a new Government has been formed, and they deserve our support and prayers. "Some people voted Tory. Get over it!"

The Vicarage 88 Chignal Road,
Essex CM1 2JB

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