A former Conservative Party councillor has said he will not apologise after replying to a union email about school meals with the phrase “if you can’t feed, don’t breed”.
Roger Taylor, now an independent councillor on Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire, sent the reply to a newsletter from the public services union Unison, which contained a request to help save the school meals service.
Mr Taylor – expelled from the Tory party last year following an Islamophobia investigation – said he believed it was up to parents to feed their children during the holidays.
“Many of these so-called impoverished children have smart phones,” the councillor claimed.
The union’s 10 December email contained a letter to councillors asking for their help to stop the school meals service from becoming a “casualty of the pandemic,” which they said had led to cuts to the service, staff numbers, pay and hours of work.
The letter added: “It is good news that the government finally agreed to fund free school meals holiday provision over the Christmas holiday period, and we pay tribute to Marcus Rashford for his determination. But this is not the only area where school meals are under pressure – provision of hot meals for pupils during term-time in schools is suffering too.”
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In his response on 18 December, Mr Taylor said: “If you can’t feed, don’t breed. Simples.”
Speaking to the Press Association, the councillor said: “I’m not going to apologise for it. What I said is what I said. That’s my opinion, I’m entitled to say it.”
Mr Taylor, who represents the Northowram and Shelf wards in Halifax, continued: “Many of these so-called impoverished children have smart phones and we expect the taxpayers to dip into their pockets to feed them. Where does it end? I don’t mind free school meals when they’re at school, that’s fine. I just think enough’s enough.”
Jon Richards, Unison head of local government, said: “Children all over the country are going hungry because of the pandemic. Low-income families need support, not abuse from those who should know better.
“It’s hard to fathom how a politician would think this is an appropriate way to react when asked to help children living in abject poverty.”
Mr Taylor was suspended by the Conservatives in November 2019 following an investigation into Islamophobia. The Halifax Conservatives said he was expelled from the party last December.
He had been named in a dossier sent to the party and obtained by The Guardian which contained details of unacceptable material shared or posted on social media by 25 current and former Tory councillors.