Empty Plates protest takes place in Broadstairs

Empty Plates protest

Around 80 people put empty plates outside the office of South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay today (October 27) in protest against his decision to vote against giving children free school meals in the holidays.

The protest took place outside Mr Mackinlay’s Broadstairs office. The plates had slogans including: “Feed the Kids” “Save A Quid and Starve the Kids”,  “24.7 % of Thanet’s Children Live In Poverty”, “There’s No Magic Dinner Tree” and “Eat Your Words Craig”.

One of the organisers of the protest, Independent Thanet councillor Candy Gregory, said: “It was an excellent turn-out, sending a message to Mackinlay that we care that the children in his constituency should receive a nutritious meal at least once a day.

“The community has been fantastic but it’s the government’s responsibility to look after its people and they have failed miserably to do so. He had an opportunity to vote to continue with giving a school dinner in the holidays but chose to let them go hungry.”

Thanet councillor, Aram Rawf supported the protest, too.

He said: “As a child in wartime Iraq I knew what it was like to go without food. I never believed a wealthy civilised country like the UK could let children go hungry. Yet this is what I see in poor areas like Thanet where food banks are increasing and our MP has closed his eyes to the needs of the children in this area. Craig Mackinlay’s decision to vote against free school meals is shameful.”

Ramsgate mayor Raushan Ara was also in attendance. She said: “This year many families will find they are in need of assistance, due to a fall in their incomes.

“Holiday hunger has been extended for many, and more children are being affected by this terrible blight on our society. Only by caring for all children in need can we ensure no child is left hungry.”

The protest follows an Opposition Day motion last week to extend free school meals into the holidays until Easter 2021.

Mr Mackinlay was among 321 Conservatives who voted against the extension. North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale did not vote.

The failure of the motion, which was prompted by footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, has caused fury in Thanet and across the country.

But Mr Mackinlay says an amended motion, which he supported, outlined the help government is already giving to families in need. He added that an extension of funding to groups like Sharon Goodyer’s ‘Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet’ providing good food to communities they know, would be a better option.

Kent County Council announced yesterday that it would be providing vouchers for free school meals during the break.

Opinion with South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay: Those best placed to recognise and target help to struggling families


  1. What a good protest. With the empty plates etc.
    Things are getting worse in this country but the “I’m alright, Jack” brigade still pretend that it’s all fine. They think nobody is suffering unless it’s them! And that nobody worked as hard as they did! And that wages are really good so why complain, let alone have to claim Benefits to raise income up to the poverty level.

  2. Well done to all leaving plates ,MPs of Thanet do not give a dame about children going hungry or the poor in Thanet,but there dogs well that’s another story ,shame on you both,spend your pay rise on food and donate it ,no chance , greedy Tory’s

  3. As I have said, on an earlier post, Supermarket’s to donate all leftover food, to School Kitchens, keep the Kitchen’s open, throughout the School Holiday’s, So the Children that need feeding, give them Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

  4. Well done Cllr Candy Gregory and all who joined the protest. Shame on you Mr Mackinlay, in your cosy world of annual pay rises – £74,000 in 2015,rising to £81,932 in April 2020. Not to mention the generous allowances and heavily subsidised Commons restaurant.

  5. the subsidy for the restaurants and bars of the houses of commons and lords would go a long way to covering the cost of feeding our children. free lunch expense claims for politicians and senior civil servants would do the rest and more. Who do we want to feed?

  6. Why now should the tax payer pay for children’s food during holidays. Just another leftwaffe attack on the working class! Can’t you understand kids cost money no money don’t have the kids!

    • Never fallen on hard times Richard? Lucky you. I’m a hardworking professional with two children. If my husband and I didn’t have disabilities (which unfortunately only became apparent after we had our children) then we’d both be able to work full time. In this scenario our combined wages under our current employers would be £68k per year. Not bad! But, due to our health problems we take home £24k between us. We feel extremely lucky to be employed on a living wage rather than on sickness benefits but would be within our rights to do the latter and would probably bring home a similar amount in universal credit when also factoring in DLA for one of our children who is disabled. No one actually chooses to be on the breadline but sometimes life just gets difficult. I don’t know what the future holds for us as a family but if we do end up on a lower income due to bad luck then we won’t be ashamed to use services like food banks. It’s a shame when honest folk feel they have to explain themselves to small-minded people who like to accuse others of having children beyond their means. Most people of our parents and grandparents generation wouldn’t have had children at all if they’d waited until they were wealthy. Baby boomers were generally born into much humbler homes than they ended up with. When you think about the “type” of person who doesn’t earn enough to feed their children maybe you could try to consider that you don’t know their story and they sure as hell don’t want to be living that way. The world is not as straightforward as some people like to believe.

  7. Did the protesters clear away the 80 plates they left outside Mackinlay’s office after they had made their point or have they been left to blow around the streets of Broadstairs until TDC gets around to picking them up ?

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