Tory MP faces backlash after using his researcher for food bank tweetJanuary 19, 2023
Tory MP ’30p Lee’ Anderson faces backlash over tweet about his single staff member ‘on less than £30k’ who ‘rents a £775-a-month room in London and doesn’t need to use a food bank’
- Lee Anderson in Twitter storm after sharing personal details of one of his staff
- ’30p Lee’ faced backlash after suggesting meals could be cooked for 30p
- Simon Clarke yesterday suggested nurses using foodbank should ‘budget better’
A Conservative backbencher sparked a social media storm today after wading into a row on food banks and budgeting by tweeting out a member of staff’s personal information and salary details.
Lee Anderson MP shared a picture of Katy Colthup, one of his parliamentary researchers, online and detailed how she didn’t need to use a food bank despite earning less than £30,000 a year.
The blunt-talking Ashfield MP, who has been dubbed ’30p Lee’ for comments made last summer suggesting families could cook fresh meals for less than £1, regularly takes to his 46,000 Twitter followers to double down on his claims.
It comes just a day after Tory ex-minister Simon Clarke was rebuked by opposition MPs and members of his own party after he said nurses forced to use food banks should ‘budget better’.
Blunt-talking Tory backbencher Lee Anderson MP sparked a social media storm today after wading into a row on food banks and budgeting by tweeting out a member of staff’s personal information and salary details
Lee Anderson MP shared a picture of Katy Colthup, a parliamentary researcher, and detailed her personal circumstances, saying she did not need to use a food bank, to his 46,000 Twitter followers
The Ashfield MP, pictured above with PM Rishi Sunak, was widely condemned last summer for ‘cruel’ and ‘crass’ comments he made in the House of Commons after suggesting struggling Brits are only using food banks because they ‘can’t budget’ or cook a meal from scratch
In a tweet shared today, Mr Anderson, who earns £84,000 as an MP, shared how much his parliamentary researcher, Katy Colthup, budgets each month.
He tweeted: ‘Katy works for me. She is single and earns less than 30k, rents a room for £775pcm in central London, has student debt, £120 a month on travelling to work, saves money every month, goes on foreign holidays and does not need to use a foodbank.
‘Katy makes my point really well’.
But his tweet was met with backlash as swathes of social media users hit out at the tone of his message, as the hashtag ‘Poor Katy’ started trending on Twitter.
Jamie Stone, Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said Mr Anderson’s tweet had been in ‘really bad taste’.
One Twitter user quipped: ‘Really hope someone offers Katy a better job on the back of his tweet’.
Another wrote: ‘She doesn’t make your point really well at all, because she’s single and childless, and can therefore rent a room rather than a family property, presumably shares utility bills with housemates, and hasn’t got to feed and clothe a family or pay for childcare.’
According to the ONS, in 2021 the average annual salary was £38,131 for a full-time role. Information from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s website states parliamentary researchers can earn a maximum of £37,466 a year.
Mr Anderson’s tweet was met with backlash as swathes of social media users hit out at the tone of his message
The Ashfield MP was widely condemned last summer for ‘cruel’ and ‘crass’ comments he made in the House of Commons after he suggested struggling Britons are only using food banks because they ‘can’t budget’ and ‘can’t cook a meal from scratch’.
The MP has repeatedly refused to backtrack and recently doubled down on his claims, including shared a picture of Weetabix in milk as proof you could make a ’30p breakfast’.
Mr Anderson also invited fellow MPs to visit a ‘real food bank’ in his Nottinghamshire constituency that allowed people to ‘make a meal for about 30p’.
It comes as Tory MP Simon Clarke voiced defiance today despite being rebuked by Michael Gove for saying nurses forced to use food banks should ‘budget better’.
The Levelling Up Secretary said Mr Clarke – who held the same post in Liz Truss’s government – had sent out the ‘wrong message’.
But Mr Clarke insisted that he ‘stands behind 100 per cent’ the remarks he made on a radio show yesterday as thousands of nurses went out on strike in a bitter row over pay.
The Oxford-educated MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland said nurses earning £35,000 should not be using foodbanks and should instead ‘take responsibility’ for their own finances. He has been backed by some colleagues.
However, Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), accused him of displaying ‘disdain’ for struggling workers.
‘To criticise anybody using a foodbank is disgusting, heartless and dangerously out of touch,’ she said.
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Gove distanced himself from the comments. Asked on BBC Breakfast if he agreed with Mr Clarke, Mr Gove said: ‘I don’t actually, no.
‘I know what the individual concerned was trying to say, I know that he’s a very good-hearted and generous-minded person. But I think in the phraseology the wrong message came across.’
However, Mr Clarke said he stood by his words. ‘You can have huge respect for people working in our public services and also be clear that if you are earning £35,000, unless there are very particular circumstances, you shouldn’t need to use a foodbank,’ he tweeted.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said Simon Clarke – who held the same post in Liz Truss’s government – had sent out the ‘wrong message’
Thousand of nurses are on strike in a bitter row over pay and working conditions – with some claiming they cannot afford to put food on the table
Mr Clarke said nurses earning £35,000 who are using foodbanks should ‘budget better’
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Gove said: ‘‘I would never criticise nurses for something like that. I think the most important thing to do is to recognise that people who are working in the NHS are people who have dedicated their lives to a caring profession.
‘I know myself having seen the NHS close up and personal the dedicated care that nurses and others who work in the NHS give.
‘Of course we want to do everything possible in order to make sure that people are paid well and in accordance with their skills…
‘But we also have to balance that against the need to make sure public funds are spent wisely.’
Speaking on BBC Radio Tees yesterday, Mr Clarke – who earns £84,000 as an MP – said: ‘If you are using foodbanks and your average salary is £35,000 a year then something is wrong with your budgeting because £35,000 is not a salary on which you want to be relying on foodbanks.
Members of the RCN at the Florence Nightingale statue near the Florence Nightingale Community Hospital in Derby
‘I think we just need to be clear on this.
‘This debate has got out of hand, the average nurse’s salary is £35,000 and senior nurses earn up to about £47,000.’
His comment echoed similar remarks made by Tory colleague Brendan Clarke-Smith about firefighters last month.
The Bassetlaw MP triggered an angry backlash after posting on Twitter: ‘I respect the profession, but £32,244 and using a food bank? Never heard such a ridiculous thing in my life.’
Another Tory MP, Lee Anderson, lined up behind Mr Clarke today, tweeting: ‘The point here is that ANYONE (not just nurses) earning MORE than 30k and are using foodbanks must have a budgeting problem.
‘I have constituents i.e armed forces, bin men, bar staff, care workers, bus drivers, pensioners etc. who can all live on less. Am I missing something?’
Ms Cullen said the fear of nursing staff not being able to meet their bills was ‘palpable’, with ‘sky-high inflation’ leaving many ‘living on a financial knife-edge’.
‘When nurses are having to pay hundreds of pounds a month just to get to work, can’t afford to put food on the table, and are forced to cut back on shifts because they can’t afford ever-increasing childcare costs, something is seriously wrong,’ Ms Cullen told the Mirror.
Attempting to clarify his remarks to the BBC, the Tory MP later tweeted: ‘I was very clear that we all appreciate the fantastic work of our nurses. But if you are earning £35,000/year, without very particular circumstances, you ought not to need to be using a food bank.’
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