The Independent London Newspaper



Why wait to end stigma?

• PERHAPS someone should remind Labour politician John Prescott that his party have been in power for 12 years (‘Mean!’ Prescott in school meals attack, December 4).
If he thinks it’s so important to “reduce stigma” around government handouts by paying for free school meals even for well-off families, the Labour government could have introduced it to every school in the country a decade ago.
Instead, we have Mr Prescott airlifted into Islington to tell us to raise and spend council tax money on this school meals project.
The article did reveal one light at the end of the tunnel: when Labour councillors introduced universal free school meals in Hull the voters immediately saw through it as a costly PR stunt without any real benefits and kicked them out. 
I suspect Islington’s voters may do the same with their Labour politicians.
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• AT last, some common sense about free school meals. Not from John Prescott, obviously, but from Liberal Democrat councillor John Gilbert (No such thing as free school meal, December 4).
As a parent, I think Cllr Gilbert is absolutely right that this isn’t the time to put up everybody’s council tax – or make cuts to other council services – to pay for free lunches.
We know Labour wants us to pay for lunches for the children of rich parents.
But it was galling to learn that our council tax is also paying for children from Hackney and Haringey, and their councils aren’t contributing at all.
Now more than ever it is time for government to treat our money carefully.
The common sense shown by the Lib Dems is very welcome.


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