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Ken Loach accuses Tories of 'conscious cruelty' and putting corporations before people in Question Time tirade

Ken Loach has launched a tirade against the Government over what he claimed was its willingness to support big businesses rather than the poor.

In a stinging attack during the BBC's Question Time, the veteran filmmaker accused the Conservatives of "conscious cruelty" because it left thousands with no other choice but to use food banks, saying "hunger is used as a weapon" against the least wealthy.

He was greeted with multiple rounds of applause from the audience as he asserted the Government had probably given Nissan a subsidy to persuade it to remain in the UK. He went on to list areas of public spending that had seen their budgets shrink under Conservative leadership.

Ministers have been evasive about what post-Brexit financial help was offered to Nissan to persuade it to build its new cars in Sunderland.

When asked by an audience member about the deal, Loach said: "I think we’re none the wiser. We’ve heard political jargon and no substance.

“I think it’s very interesting, there’s clearly been a subsidy promised, assurances are nothing without money on the table. If there’s an assurance there will be money attached.

“How strange then that we have no money to rescue social care for people who need help.

“We have no money for the cash-strapped NHS so that doctors have to work even harder for the same amount of money. Plainly that won’t happen, plainly the NHS is being driven towards privatisation.

“How about if we look at the economy from the other end up? How about the economy for people who are on zero-hours contracts?"

In March, over 800,000 people were employed on such contracts, which have been criticised for allowing big businesses to exploit workers.

In response to an audience member's question about whether the country had become less compassionate, Mr Loach referred to the increasing number of people who are driven to rely on food banks.

Some 1,109,300 emergency food packages were distributed by the Trussell Trust in 2015-16, demonstrating that food bank usage is at a record high.

An Oxford University study published earlier in October found that the Government's benefits sanctions policy was directly linked to the growing number of people who are reliant on food donations.

The filmmaker said: "There's a conscious cruelty in the way the system is being imposed. Because the state knows what it is doing. The Tory government knows exactly what it's doing."

He added: "How can we live in a society in which hunger is used as a weapon?"

Independent News Service

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