Monday, January 20, 2020

Shamed Tory MSP once called for a ‘restriction’ on the number of children poor families can have

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Shamed Tory welfare spokesperson Michelle Ballantyne previously called for a debate on “whether we feel there should be no restriction on the number of children you can have”.

The Tory MSP was widely condemned for her appalling defence of the two-child cap on benefits, where she argued that “it is fair that people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like”.

It is not the first time that Ms Ballantyne has argued that welfare recipients should have limits imposed on their right to a family life.

In an interview in May, she said: “That’s a debate we’re going to have to have in Scotland in terms of whether we feel there should be no restriction on the number of children you can have.”

She continued: “If you are looking for it in terms of what is nice, and what feels good then it’s easy to say we shouldn’t impose limits.”

In the same interview, Ms Ballantyne made the demonstrably untrue claim that, while foodbank demand was rising, “what we haven’t got is hard evidence about what the real causes are… I haven’t yet seen the concrete evidence of where that’s coming from.”

Foodbank providers have repeatedly provided evidence linking demand with Tory welfare policy, including sanctions and the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Commenting, SNP MSP Tom Arthur said: “The mask has well and truly slipped. Michelle Ballantyne’s horrific comments were not a slip of the tongue, but instead reflected her long-standing views.

“And now that these previous, utterly unacceptable comments about imposing a ‘restriction’ on the number of children people should have has come to light, she should withdraw the remark and apologise for it.

“The two child cap will put 150,000 Scottish children at greater risk of poverty by 2021 – but to Michelle Ballantyne, that’s a price worth paying so she can lecture those in low paid work or who’ve fallen on hard times.

“The Tories truly are the nasty party.”

Mr Arthur has since called on Michelle Ballantyne to resign. “Michelle Ballantyne’s comments were vile and ignorant – and should have no place in Scottish political life”, he said.

“Given her comments, and what we now know about her hypocrisy and her form on the issue, Michelle Ballantyne’s position as Tory welfare spokesperson is completely untenable.

“That Ruth Davidson thought someone with Ms Ballantyne’s views would be acceptable in this role is all we need to know about the Scottish Tories.

“If Ms Davidson and her Deputy won’t remove Ms Ballantyne she should resign as Tory welfare spokesperson – otherwise it will be clear that the Tories are prepared to drag the debate into the gutter as their welfare cuts drive more and more children into poverty.”

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