Manchester United star Marcus Rashford’s campaign to feed poor students has sparked a partisan political battle that makes scoring goals for his club seem trivial by comparison.
The 22-year-old England international successfully lobbied British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government in June to extend free school meals through the summer. But one of Britain’s few feel-good stories of the coronavirus pandemic has turned sour.
Rashford’s bid to score again — through a Labour Party motion providing vouchers over school holidays until Easter — was thwarted after a House of Commons debate that ended with the measure rejected largely along party lines.
“We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers,” Rashford said. “Our views are being clouded by political affiliation. This is not politics, this is humanity.”
More than 1.4 million children benefit from free school meals, according to the Labour Party. The debate raged on social media too, as Rashford and Conservative members of parliament sparred about how best to feed hungry kids.
Rashford, who grew up in the Manchester area, was one of five children of a single mother and relied on free school meals and food banks as a kid. “Nobody is pointing fingers, I’m asking we work together to protect our most vulnerable children,” Rashford tweeted. “This is nothing to do with politics. This is not dependency, this is a cry for help. There are no jobs!! 250 per cent increase in food poverty and rising.”