Former Tory politician refuses to apologise for 'if you can’t feed, don’t breed’ email

Roger Taylor, an independent councillor on Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire

Roger Taylor, an independent councillor on Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire - Credit: Calderdale Council

A former Conservative politician 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, 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 and referenced the recent campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford to tackle child food poverty.

Taylor, who was expelled from the Conservative party last year, said he is a supporter of school meals but he believes it is parents’ responsibility to feed their children during the holidays and not that of the taxpayer.

Unison said it was “beyond belief that someone could show so little compassion”.

The email from Unison, sent on December 10, 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.


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The letter said: “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 December 18, Taylor said: “If you can’t feed, don’t breed. Simples.”

“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," he told the PA News Agency.

He added: “Whilst I am a supporter of school meals and the service, the only threat will be the financial situation, with the lockdown making the economy, and level of income, much weaker.

“However, during the holidays it is the parents’ responsibility and I make no bones about that.”

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: “It’s beyond belief that someone could show so little compassion. 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.”

Taylor faced calls to resign in March this year after a colleague said he replied to an email about a constituent whose son had Covid-19 with the word “yawn”.

Halifax Conservatives said he was expelled from the Conservative Party in December last year following an investigation.

England and Manchester United forward Rashford successfully lobbied the Government into a U-turn over its free school meals policy in England during the first coronavirus lockdown, ensuring children in need would receive meals over the summer.

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