Lee Anderson takes part in Ready Steady Cook event
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Lee Anderson has faced widespread criticism this week after suggesting some people use food banks because they cannot cook. But the defiant Ashfield MP is refusing to back down despite the backlash over his remarks.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Mr Anderson said: “I make no apologies for trying to help people fend for themselves by helping them learn the skills they need.
“I also will not take any lectures from those on the Left accusing me of being out of touch.
“I was brought up in a mining family. My dad worked down the pit seven days a week and took up extra work putting roofs on people’s homes in the evening.
“We had chickens at the back of my garden and vegetables growing to help supplement my parent’s wages.
“I also was a single parent to two boys for 17 years.
“I know what it is like to struggle to put food on the table and make ends meet.”
The former Labour councillor came under fire for his remarks in the Commons on Wednesday as he discussed a food bank in his Nottinghamshire constituency which also provides cooking and budgeting lessons.
But Mr Anderson accused left-wing critics of “inferring all sorts of untrue assumptions about my comments”.
The ex-coal miner also claimed Labour MPs have snubbed his invitation to visit his local food bank.
Mr Anderson said: “I never said that poor people cannot cook or there is no need for food banks. This certainly is not something I believe either.
“Unfortunately, we live in a time where many people have grown up generation after generation without the role models to pass on these important skills, so this food bank is running a brilliant scheme providing essential education.
“During Wednesday’s speech, I was asked if it is necessary to have food banks in 21st century Britain. This is exactly my point.
“The food bank in Ashfield is working to reduce dependency on food banks, so people can budget and provide for themselves, so hopefully people will not need to continue going to food banks.
“I know what it is to struggle, and I make no apologies for supporting a cause that is working to equip people with the skills they need to reduce dependency on food banks.”
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Mr Anderson made his controversial comments during the Queen’s Speech debate in response to a Labour MP who asked if food banks should still be needed in the UK in this day and age.
The Ashfield MP replied: “He makes a great point and this is exactly my point.
“Come to Ashfield and work with me for a day in my food bank to see the brilliant scheme we’ve got in place where when people come for a food parcel they have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course.
“We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals, on a budget where you can make a meal for about 30p a day, and this is cooking from scratch.
“So, I invite you personally to come to Ashfield, look at our food bank, how it works and I think you will see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country but generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they can’t cook a meal from scratch, they cannot budget.”
Mr Anderson’s comments sparked outrage, with Labour branding them “beyond belief”.
Ministers including Jacob Rees-Mogg distanced themselves from the remarks, while Boris Johnson refused to say if he agreed with the Ashfield MP.
However, Mr Anderson has been backed by Red Wall colleagues including Dudley North MP Marco Longhi and Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith.
It comes after the Express joined Mr Anderson at a Ready Steady Cook-style event with his local food bank in November 2021 where they made 170 meals for £50.
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