Stockton’s Tory MP James Wharton has become embroiled in a row with organisers of a clothes bank – outside his constituency.
Mr Wharton, MP for Stockton South, said there was “more than a hint of party politics” about the launch of the County Durham Socialist Clothes Bank “six months before an election”.
> There’s “more than a hint of party politics” behind the need for such ventures too. It stems from political decisions made by the Tory party.
I don’t think people who need to use it will be doing so as a political gesture… they do so because they have no other choice.
“This is as much about making statements about politics as it is about doing good things,” he told a local TV news station.
“I welcome one, I’m not convinced about the other.”
But his comments have landed him in trouble with the Durham Unite Community, whose members coordinate the clothes bank.
Unite Community is a non-industrial section of the Unite union “created to empower people outside the labour market to use the trade union values of solidarity and collective action to improve their own and others’ situations”.
Members said Mr Wharton had “shamed himself” with his comments.
Said a spokesperson:
“To seek to undermine the huge amount of voluntary effort spent by our members getting the clothes bank up and running in order to score cheap political points is unacceptable.
“Helping out fellow human beings in times of need, as our members are doing through the clothes bank, is something that politicians of all parties should be applauding rather than cynically trying to denigrate their efforts in the way James Wharton MP has done.”
Mr Wharton said he did “support all well intended community efforts”, but said he wondered why “they also need to issue highly political press releases to go with them”.
> Because it is a political issue ?
He hit back: “There are six months to go until the election and sadly it appears the unions are going to be fighting a particularly nasty and personal campaign.
> And the Tories wont, of course. They’ll just be happy to be judged on their humanitarian record…
“Hijacking good causes to launch their attacks is particularly shameful.
> More shameful than being the architects of the situation that necessitates things like food and clothes banks ?
“All I can ask is that if any of the left wing unions issue statements about me which concern or worry anyone in Stockton South then people who read them consider contacting me for the truth before drawing conclusions.”
> firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to ask him anything…
I think the story was summed up neatly by a comment by Guy S :