'Children can’t help being disadvantaged' - Readers on this week's talking points

William Whittington
·11-min read
Pressure is ramping up on Boris Johnson to do a U-turn on free school meals, with a senior Tory saying the Government has "misunderstood" the mood of the country. - Nigel French/PA
Pressure is ramping up on Boris Johnson to do a U-turn on free school meals, with a senior Tory saying the Government has "misunderstood" the mood of the country. - Nigel French/PA

Former ministers this week have led a growing Tory revolt over the Government’s handling of England footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals in the holidays.

Politicians have also been met with growing pressure to relax Covid restrictions so families can meet over Christmas. Elsewhere this week, Lewis Hamilton achieved a historic win in the Portuguese Grand Prix and a proposed update of The Highway Code has sparked significant backlash.

Read on to see what Telegraph readers had to say on the week's top stories and share your view in the comments section below.

Get involved in future round-ups by  joining the Telegraph Community Facebook group here.

Boris Johnson faces Tory revolt over free school meals

Former ministers told Boris Johnson that they would vote against the Government if they can’t come up with "something better" than refusing to back down on free school meals. Telegraph readers were quick to discuss the Government’s actions.

‘Morally, the Government made the wrong call’

@Tony Gilbert:

“Morally, the Government made the wrong call on this and politically it is little short of a catastrophic self-inflicted wound. The cost is immaterial when compared to the amount of money the Government has spent on things such as Test and Trace which is at £12bn and rising.

"I suspect the public understands that the pandemic and the Government’s continued lockdown policies (particularly tough in the North at the moment) hit the poorest hardest – the very children who need school meals help the most over half-term.

“There now seems to be a complete bunker mentality in No 10 with no instinct regarding the public mood. Johnson lost my vote a few weeks ago, but this kind of ineptitude makes me embarrassed to be a Conservative party member, which I currently still am.”

‘Children can’t help being disadvantaged’

@Patricia Crompton:

“Children don’t ask to be born. Children can’t help being disadvantaged. It’s not their fault. We all know there are parents who drink and take drugs and ultimately the children suffer. However we have unprecedented times and the Government hasn't a shred of humanity.

"The cost is minimal for what the Government wastes and spends on foreign aid. Charity starts at home and kids who are hungry need feeding, end of! The Government has put another nail in their coffin.”

‘There is help in benefits’

@Hazel Lindsay:

“I agree with the Government's stance on this. As a taxpayer I am not willing to pay for school children’s meals outside school.

"Of course there is help in benefits to those families who need extra help.”

  • Read more comments on the free school meals debate from Telegraph readers here.  

Boris and Co won’t get away with threatening our Christmas

Judith Woods voiced her fury at the potential of Government interference ruining the Christmas holidays. Her despair at the prospect of a lonely Christmas resonated with our readers, who echoed calls to return to pre-Covid life. 

‘I withdrew any intention of voting Tory again at Easter’

@Andrew Park:

“I withdrew any intention of ever voting Tory again at Easter. Any political party of Government that snatches away the most basic civil liberties in order to achieve nothing other than massive destruction needs to be utterly destroyed itself as a warning from history to future politicians.”

‘Why are we focusing on two days of Christmas?’

@penelope simpson:

“Absolutely right, treating us like children. But why are we focusing on two days of Christmas?  I want my life back now, I want my country to start accepting that there are risks in this world and we have to start living.”

‘We are a law-abiding nation’ 

@david anderson: 

“As a rule, we are a very law-abiding nation. Trust in the police and the courts is something we almost take for granted as being in our own self-interest. This attitude has suited us for a long time and we have no doubt benefited from it greatly.

“Therefore, I'm quite surprised that it's been a Conservative Government that has abused our trust in the way that it has and quite cynically used our faith in the law to so undermine us. I'm now understanding why the French have a habit of taking to the streets in quite a robust fashion to air their grievances.”

  • See what else Telegraph readers had to say on Covid Christmas celebrations here.

Lewis Hamilton's story is one of such supremacy that we would do well to salute it while it lasts 

Lewis Hamilton’s recording breaking 92nd Formula One win at the Portuguese Grand Prix generated lots of discussion among our readers. The majority agreed that while Hamilton is the best driver of his generation, he doesn’t meet the standards of other legendary drivers.

‘A fast reliable driver in the fastest reliable car makes every race a formality’  

@Anthony New:

“There's a lot to like about Hamilton and very little to dislike and by pure statistics he is the most successful of all time. But that doesn't make him the greatest by a long way. He is a talented, fast, and reliable driver who has always been slightly quicker than his teammates and has almost always had the fastest and most reliable car, in an era with around double the number of races per year and where rules make it easy to stay ahead. For example the blue flags, penalties for infringements, and so on. 

“Most of the great drivers of the past had nowhere near the opportunities he has had, and didn't have the great machinery either. So some of us, while happily admitting his talent and results, doubt that he is in the same class as Senna and Schumacher or Verstappen, all of whom proved they could get podiums in cars that were a long way short of the fastest.

"When you're talking about greatness, that matters. The problem, which is not his fault, is that a fast reliable driver in the fastest reliable car makes every race a formality and the series a complete bore.”

‘Hamilton is yesterday's meat for the giants of the motor industry’

@Derek McBride:

“Lewis Hamilton is, undoubtedly, the best driver of his generation. The fact that he is driving the best car is a feature of Formula One and its systems. It hides the fact that Hamilton could drive a corporation dustcart faster than anyone else. It's no accident that he is a master of all the skills necessary to achieve domination in the sport and that he learned them at the bottom of the bottom and honed them at the top.

“However, Mercedes Benz no longer needs them for marketing purposes. Corporate branding now requires that companies adopt a 'value' that creates an image of about people and the environment. Hamilton is yesterday's meat for the giants of the motor industry. Why do you think that he hasn't been offered a contract he can't say no to why should he be eager to represent gas guzzlers instead of something more 'woke'. Honda knows this and has left Red Bull in the cactus. Lewis needs to get out ASAP and he knows it.”  

Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his record breaking 92nd race win on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao, Portugal. - Bryn Lennon/Formula 1
Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his record breaking 92nd race win on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao, Portugal. - Bryn Lennon/Formula 1

‘Hamilton is the greatest driver of our age’

@Bebe Bowles:

“While not wanting to take anything away from Hamilton, I do wonder if it's a little invidious to compare drivers across over a century of motor racing and more than 70 years of Formula 1. Certainly, across the period, all drivers have had to have split-second judgement and reactions, but the means by which those are translated into race performance have varied massively.

"Not only are the skills needed for a modern F1 car quite different from those needed to drive a car of the "Golden Age", the cars themselves, the tracks, the rules, and above all, safety, have changed out of all recognition.

"Who knows what Stirling Moss might have achieved had he not stopped racing after his terrible accident? Or Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Ayrton Senna, had they lived?" 

The moral superiority of cyclists has to stop 

A proposed update to Rule 66 of The Highway Code was a big talking point for our readers this week. If the change were to be implemented, the rule would now suggest that cyclists riding two abreast on narrow roads is the safest way to proceed. Readers argued that this rule would create problems by giving cyclists control of the roads. 

‘Promoting riding two abreast is ridiculous’

@Daniel Glynn Dennis:

“I ride most mornings before work just outside Greater London on a mixture of roads. Promoting riding two abreast is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. No doubt created by someone who doesn't cycle very often and panders to a woke agenda.

“The roads have to be shared by cyclists and cars and we need to be able to let them pass safely. Car drivers need to be aware of cyclists and vice versa. If you're going down the country lane and there is not much traffic on Sunday morning by all means cycle two abreast for a chat but if you hear a car approaching fall into single file. It's just plain common sense. Similarly for car drivers if you see a cyclist approaching a parked car don't try and squeeze past.”

‘Here in London, they seem to believe they are above any rules’

@Alan Norris:

“As a pedestrian I support demands that cyclists are regulated. At least here in London they seem to believe they are above any rules or regulations. They don't stop at red lights, they ride on pavements and they ride on the no cycling walkways through the parks all the time, aggressively expecting others to get out of their illegal way.

“It's great the people use bicycles, it's great there are cycle lanes but it would be even better if cyclists obeyed the rules.”

‘It’s a question of courtesy, consideration and common sense’

@Howard Gleave:

“I am a cyclist and motorist. If I'm cycling with others and I hear a vehicle coming up behind me, I get into single file. It enables the vehicle, which is faster, to overtake me safely, while giving me as much leeway as I would give a cyclist when I am driving. It's a simple question of mutual courtesy, consideration and common sense.

“I have experienced idiotic cyclists who, for example, have cycled in figure-of-eight's in front of vehicles stopped at red lights. That kind of idiotic, arrogant behaviour does cyclists no favours.”

Unable to get out of first gear? Welcome to midlife inertia… 

According to a recent study our mid-50s is when we struggle to motivate ourselves to try new things. Our readers joined Kate Mulvey in discussing finding comfort in midlife inertia.

‘Look back on your youthful achievements with pride’


“What a great article. Banish guilt, look back on your youthful achievements with pride, embrace relaxation and leave the stage for the next generation. I am 60.”

'You must live life and enjoy it’

@Claudia Norman:

“I think it is ridiculous to decide life according to age. Life is life and if you are alive you must live it and enjoy it. Age does not determine whether or not a person becomes a 'couch-potato'. A person who exercises, has something useful to do and appreciates life, will have a good time regardless of age.”

‘It was considered normal for people to slow down’

@John Clark:

“Many years ago it was considered normal for people to slow down as middle age crept on. The idea of an octogenarian running a marathon would have been considered very odd – why would you bother, even if you could?

“Now we applaud middle aged and older people who achieve things once considered the province of the young. They are defying the ageing process, staying strong and ambitious. But they're the exception. Most people still accept and even welcome some slowing of life's rhythm – if they're allowed to in this busy world.”

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Now it's over to you: what stories from the week caught your attention? Join the discussion in the comments section below