Tory MP casts doubt on poverty claims by local primary schools

From The Guardian: A row is brewing between a Conservative MP and some of his Lancashire constituents after he suggested that claims by teachers about extreme poverty at local schools were untrue.

A report by ITV earlier this week went viral after it showed schools where teachers said they had to wash their pupils’ uniforms because their families couldn’t afford to pay the electricity bills.

But David Morris, the MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale, responded to the reports: “These claims are not those being experienced by myself or the jobcentre in the area.”

He later told ITV: “I’ve not got issues with the report that you’ve run, I’m just questioning the validity of it … [the schools featured] have very strong links to Momentum, and to be quite frank, all the indicators from Ofsted say that the child poverty at that school is absolutely no different to any other in the country.”

Amid claims that Morris has blocked people online who have questioned his statement, Morecambe residents are using the hashtag #blockedbydavidmorris and have started a Facebook group to air their grievances.

The Morecambe & Lunesdale Labour party said in a statement that Morris “does not see what is happening on his own watch because on the rare occasions he is here, he refuses to engage with the community and attacks teachers and doctors for being ‘politicised’.”

A spokeswoman for the party said: “In the age of the internet, MPs should use social media to establish meaningful dialogues with their constituents.

“For a long time now, Morris has blocked and banned from his Facebook page those who voice their concerns regarding things that happen in our constituency and speak out about the government’s policies, which he supports. However, Mr Morris has gone beyond blocking and banning his aggrieved constituents and now frequently accuses those who criticise him of being trolls or part of coordinated campaigns against him, often using parliamentary privilege to do so.”

The spokeswoman added that Morris was “yet to provide a shred of evidence to back up his accusations and continues to refuse to acknowledge the genuine concerns of his constituents”.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]