Tory incumbent 'can't personally do anything about' child poverty in his seat

PUBLISHED: 14:21 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:21 25 November 2019

Conservative Gordon Henderson, who is contesting a seat he has held for nine years, said he

Conservative Gordon Henderson, who is contesting a seat he has held for nine years, said he "can't personally do anything about" the fact that half the children in his constituency live in poverty. Picture: BBC

BBC

A Conservative incumbent told voters he is not "personally" able to do anything about child poverty in his seat, in which he has been MP for nine years.

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At a campaign event in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, where in some areas nearly half of the children live below the poverty line, incumbent Gordon Henderson placed much of the blame on a dock closure 70 years ago.

"I can't personally do anything about it," he told BBC's Victoria Derbyshire.

"Then why should we vote for you?" he was asked by a voter.

The remark has prompted unflattering comparisons to home secretary Priti Patel, who earlier said that the government cannot be held responsible for child poverty.

MORE: The government is not to blame for poverty, says Priti Patel

Asked what he had achieved within the last nine years, he said he had undertaken an "exercise" which had identified those living in poverty.

Henderson said during the car-crash interview: "This hasn't just happened over the last nine years. There are deep rooted reasons why we have deprivation in certain areas of this constituency ... And it goes back 50 years. It's been under Labour administrations and Conservative administrations.

He blamed "a lot of it" on the closure of Sheppey docks.

"That was in the 50s," said Derbyshire.

"And it has never improved," he said. "And what we're trying to do now - I can't personally do anything about it.

"You're a Conservative MP for nine years. Your party has been in government for nine years," said Derbyshire.

Henderson repeated: "I can't personally do anything about it."

"Then why should we vote for you?" said a voter.

Henderson continued by saying he had worked with Swale Borough Council and "undertook an exercise earlier this year to try and identify the people in my area ... so I can help".

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