Tories,Chartwells, the 1834 Poor Law & Lockdown School lunches

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2021 by kmflett

The Tories, Chartwells, the Less Eligibility Principle & Lockdown School lunches

The political row over the contents (or lack of them) of school lunches provided to parents in lockdown in lieu of free school meals (In England, in Wales the lunches are not provided by privateers but by local authorities) has unsurprisingly for this Government suggested an echo of the Victorian Workhouse:

The Workhouse, established by a Whig (Liberal) Government in 1834 worked on the Less Eligibility principle. Essentially it was a place of last resort that you’d leave as soon as you could.

That was partly about diet. The link below from the 1836 Poor Law Commissioners report details meal provision in six Workhouses. The qualification underneath sounds very, well, Chartwell.

workhouse food often was adulterated because under-paid workhouse Masters colluded with the suppliers and contractors to make the ingredients ‘go further’. Food adulteration generally was not suppressed effectively until after the 1872 Public Health Act.

Workhouse meals while dull and certainly not balanced were not particularly insubstantial. As E P Thompson notes in the Making of the English Working Class they were only part of a much wider Malthusianism-Benthamism (liberal) plan to instil discipline and purpose into the poorest in society.

In 2020 the Tories clearly see diet as a much more central part of the effort to discipline and punish the poor.

One Response to “Tories,Chartwells, the 1834 Poor Law & Lockdown School lunches”

  1. […] account such a paltry ration? My friend and colleague Keith Flett is entirely right to point to the workhouse origins of poor law relief – and the notion of the ‘undeserving poor’ lingers in modern day parlance, too: […]

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