Group in protest against Tory MPs who voted down free school meals targets offices with empty plates

David Amess attending the Paddy Power Political Book Awards at the BFI IMAX, Southbank, London.

Tory MP Sir David Amess (pictured above) has had his office targeted by protesters - Credit: PA

Tory MPs have become the centre of a new protest shaming them for voting against a Labour motion to extend free school meals until Easter 2021.

Dozens of empty plates were left outside the office of Southend West MP Sir David Amess, who was one of 322 Tories to vote against the motion last week by a group of inclusive feminist allies in the community called the All Rise Collective.

Locals wrote messages on empty plates and left them outside the Southend West Conservative Association building on Sunday, with queues of people waiting to participate stretching down the street.

“Quite a few of us are mothers in the group, the moment you start thinking too much about them ever being hungry, it’s just heartbreaking,” organiser Sadie Hasler, 40, from Southend told the PA news agency.

“The situations people find themselves in are just unbearable. The stigma that comes with maybe being a single parent, and trying to do the best thing by your child, and society just kind of constantly wants to keep elbowing you in the ribs for it.”

The All Rise Collective shared their protest plan on social media on Saturday night, but were amazed to see the number of people already queueing the next morning.

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“There’s a massive underbelly of people that are absolutely horrified that we have two safe Tory seats,” said Hasler.

“We really just don’t want to be invisible. We want people to know that they are being challenged. We’re just trying to do a really simple peaceful protest that was visual that we could share.

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“Last night it was quite strange. It was the first time in the whole of lockdown while defacing some plates with heavily black-markered anger that I switched off, and it was really cathartic and peaceful.”

The protest inspired others to take part in their area, 69-year-old social media user Robert Edge taking a solitary plate to the Eltham Conservative offices in south-east London.

“As an older person I am somewhat limited in my ability to show my displeasure at the way I feel the country is heading,” he told PA.

“But the #emptyplate (protest) seemed a safe, peaceful and easy way to lobby the local Conservatives, some of whom I know are becoming disaffected with their PM. If I can help them become more disaffected I have done something.”

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