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Poverty? What poverty, asks former minister Currie

Retirement from politics has done little to broaden the anthropological horizons of Edwina Currie (pictured in her finery). Perhaps her mind has been on other things, dancingperhaps, so she must be strapped for time to muck up on issues such as poverty. 

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Yet muck up she did, in a different sense, when she told 5Live that she doubted anyone in Britain was going hungry in 2011.

Mind you, if listeners heeded the advice of Margaret Thatcher’sformer health minister and were left to choose between eating a boiled egg andstarvation, malnutrition would surely follow.

But, in the real world, her poorly timed cry of disbelief came daysafter publication of a shocking report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies into child and working-age poverty.

The findings, summarised on the JRF website, indicated that the target for eradicating child poverty by2020 looks unlikely to be met and, if anything, the figure is set to rise to3.3 million compared with 2.6 million in 2010-11.

Despite enough anectodal evidence of parents, especiallymothers, foregoing meals in order that their children may be fed, and of olderpeople having to choose whether to eat or keep their homes warm, Currie insistedthat these tales represented political point-scoring.

What she makes of the rise in food banks is anyone’s guess,but charities have been launching them for a reason, one that seems to haveeluded Currie.

It might be better that Currie has left politics because her commentsabout poverty (and why she was asked for them I cannot fathom) have left Egg-wina asa national yolk – and a rotten one at that.

Picture: Rex Features

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