As U-turns go, it was pretty spectacular. The former Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbit was once so vehemently critical of food banks that he claimed people only used them to save money for junk food. But now, after visiting one, in a dramatic volte face, the outspoken Tory peer has admitted to being forced to eat "a fair plate of humble pie".
"I was impressed with the quality and dedication of the people working there to help people in many sorts of difficulties." Lord Tebbit said. "There was a systematic approach to uncovering the deeper problems which had brought people to the point where they simply did not have enough money to buy adequate food."
In a blog for The Daily Telegraph, Lord Tebbit wrote of his discovery that there was no "slap-happy handing over of food boxes" and that "staff, volunteers and professionals worked side by side through their procedures to establish if the claimant was genuine."
Despite his enlightening visit to the Trussell Trust-run initiative in Haverhill, Suffolk, Lord Tebbit didn't go so far as to say food banks were the best solution to the consequences of welfare reform and unemployment. They were, he said, an "ointment to ease the symptoms of some aspects" of them.
In March, Lord Tebbit asked his fellow peers to "initiate some research into the sales of junk food in the areas where people are relying for their basic foods on food banks".
His implication – that food banks were only used by those trying to save money for junk food – was the latest in a series of controversial views he has expressed over the years.
In January, Lord Tebbit insisted that those suffering from obesity had only themselves to blame for eating "rubbish foods". Last year, Lord Tebbit said gay marriage would open up the possibility of a "lesbian queen".Reuse content