Stockton South Conservative MP James Wharton has followed up his bizarre attack on the motives of the volunteers from Durham Unite Community who are behind a clothes bank set up in the County, miles away from his own constituency.
The County Durham Socialist Clothes bank was launched this week in Brandon, County Durham by Dawn Willson and Cath Ainsley after they realised, following an overhead discussion in a shop, that there were people in the area who could not even afford clothing from charity shops. They decided to try and do something about that, and set about gathering support and donations for the clothing bank.
Mr Wharton launched his original attack based on the fact that they had received some help setting up the clothes bank from the local branch of Unite Community – which they are both members of – as well as the Durham Miners Association and the GMB Union.
Local news channels covered the launch and Mr Wharton decided to intervene. Speaking outside parliament, he said:
“We have to recognise this is six months before an election. This is the Socialist Clothes Bank. It’s been set up, backed by a number of trade unions, and there is more than a hint of party politics about what’s going on. This is as much about making statements about politics as it is about doing good things. I welcome one; I’m not convinced about the other.”
When we issued a response in defence of our members, Mr Wharton repeated his claims that because some were unions supporting the volunteers, they were playing party politics, stating “Hijacking good causes to launch their attacks is particularly shameful.”
The latest attack on our members motives came after a statement we issued following his original attack was picked up by the local press in Stockton.
You can read his latest attack at the following link:
We previously published a post about the coverage of the clothing bank, including the statement we issued in response to Mr Wharton, which you can read here:
To repeat our message, the Socialist Clothing bank has been set up to meet a desperate need amongst the local communities we serve. Quite how it can be seen as a party political issue by an MP who lives in a constituency many miles away from where the clothes bank operates is a complete mystery to us.
The guiding principles of Unite Community are to support those in need, and to give a voice to those who otherwise would not have one. Mr Wharton should be clear that for as long as he continues to use the highly visible platform he is afforded to attack our members, we will continue to use whatever platforms are available to us to stand up for the dedicated individuals who have set up the clothing bank using the minimal resources available to them, as unlike MP’s they do not have donors willing to give them tens of thousands of pounds to help in their campaigns!