Family first…

Close to the heart of almost every Conservative is the notion of family and family values. Thus it is no surprise that Camerons argument is that the root of society’s problems can be found in the breakdown of the family unit. Cameron famously said upon becoming Tory leader that for him ‘family must always come first’. This suggests that ‘family friendly’ policies would rightly be a key feature of the next Conservative governments policy platform.

As far as I am concerned one of the biggest pile of liberal dribble to emmerge over the past decade is the notion that children don’t need two parents. Two parents provide much needed balance for a child aswell as giving each other valuable support in ensuring that children stay on the right track. Indeed it is no secret that the number of offenders from ‘broken homes’ or single parent families, is statistically higher than those who come from two parent families, although obviously there are exceptions to the rule.

Cameron has already offered incentives in order to encourage couples to stay together including tax breaks for married couples, government sponsored help for troubled relationships and greater access to affordable childcare. However whilst in principle I agree with these measures I believe we also need to tackle the root of the problem in society which is the ‘easy come easy go’ disrespectful mentality of some parents and youngsters.

I feel that giving married parents tax breaks without placing more emphasis on responsibility and accountibility is a quick fix policy. There are couples who bluntly shouldn’t be together and I feel that encouraging them to stay together through tax breaks would present us with further problems as a society. Similarly there are some youngsters who have no respect for society and figures of authority so we need to make them rediscover that respect which will not come about by giving them or their family cash.

To get tough on family breakdown you need to get tough on society. Forget hug a hoodie, hooligans must be dealt with and if their families are percieved to be the problem we need to reprimand them as much as their children. On the other hand when it is clear that the parents are doing all they can to support their child and it is the child at fault I would impose strict penalties including some form of juvenile detention proportionate to the offence. This would send a message to society that if you step out of line you will be brough back in to it by what ever means neccessary.

The problem with society and the breakdown of the family has come about because we have ‘gone soft’. The solution? Get tough.

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9 thoughts on “Family first…

  1. Best of luck with this blog! You say

    ‘I feel that giving married parents tax breaks without placing more emphasis on responsibility and accountibility is a quick fix policy. There are couples who bluntly shouldn’t be together and I feel that encouraging them to stay together through tax breaks would present us with further problems as a society.’

    What specifically do you mean by placing more emphasis on responsibility and accountibility?

  2. We have to do more than just give tax breaks. What I am getting at is the fact that we have to do more to change the mentality of some parents which is either too lax or too uninterested in their children and their development. Similarly with accountibility we have to make it clear that it is the parents and not the state responsible for their children and their childrens actions and if they are not raisng their children in a stable environment or taking their responsibilities as parents seriously then they should be held accountable. We’ve heard rumblings from cameron about responsibility but i would like to hear a bit more lol

  3. Of course, no one measure is a golden bullet so your point about a range of measures being required is well taken.

    Me? I think this goes back to conservative fundamentals – i.e. make work pay.

    Isn’t it largely rational for parents not to care about their offspring’s educational prospects if (from their perspective) there appears to be little chance of a job at the end of it?

    If you think about it, supporting families encompasses many non-Treasury policy areas such as health, the criminal justice system and education.

  4. What about princes William and Harry. They came from a broken home… (are they exceptions from the rule?)

    I am afraid I disagree with pretty much everything you say in this blog. Where I disagree with you is not in that children need love and support but in prescribing what shape a family should be. You claim you are a libertarian, so are you calling for government to legislate on the makeup of families?

    Many single parents do an incredible job balancing work and the needs of their children. What you are now attempting to do is outcast them and deride the love and support which they give their children. Instead you glorify the ‘typical’ family, where dad goes out to work and mum cooks tea. In doing so you overlook the fact that many children from such backgrounds do not get they support they need, dad works too hard or mum is preoccupied.

    Next comes the lamentable claim that family breakdown causes social breakdown. I am afriad this is intellectually bankrupt. Do you not for one minute consider that the very reasons the relationships broke down are the same as to why the kids may become neets and hoodies? Poverty of life chances, lack of aspirations, inequality; these are the reasons why we have this ‘breakdown Britian’, not the personal causes of the moral crusaders.

  5. Tom for a start I am from ‘a broken home’ as you put it. I would also class myself as an ‘exception to the rule’. There are over 60 million people in this country, we cannot rely on one or two case studies, we can only rely on the professionals and academics who have the means and scope to interview, observe and study a broader range of the populus. They also have greater access to police files and statistics which clearly show a trend between single parent families and youth offences. They have come to the conclusion that singe parent families are more often than not troublesome, sometimes through no fault of the parent.

    I do not believe the government should legislate on this issue and i have never said that they should. However we can encourage family values and we can stamp out unruly behaviour through initiatives and other such approaches without legislating on what form a family should take. This government have penalised mariage through the tax credits system and have encouraged the ‘jeremy kyle’ culture of ‘the government will look after me’.

    Incidently I agree with your statement about parents being over worked and not devoting enough time to their children. My mother remarried and both my mother and step father work extremely hard and instead of ‘contact time’ they ‘bought’ me and my sister off with flash gifts and other gestures. We did miss out on alot of ‘personal contact’. However it hasn’t done us any real harm.

    In the end we do have a commitment to work that they instilled in us, we do have a drive to succeed and we are responsible and respectful of the law and figures of authority. However our development is by and large down to the attitude of our parents and quite frankly there are alot of parents out there whoo do not instill a sense of responsibility in their children, they do not encourage them to advance themselves and they do little to restrict their behaviour. At least that is the opinion I have formed living in the North.

    I take your point about a range of other issues that contribute to social breakdown however I would say that there are many parents who put themselves through hell and back to ensure that their children have respect and prospects. We all have access to education regardless of wealth or social standing. We all have an innate human ability to be respectful and to be responsible to blame poverty is a cop out. Being poor is not an excuse for hooliganism or unruly behaviour.

    I always have and always will believe that family is best and no amount of ridicule or criticism will change that opinion.

  6. Now comes the shocker, I don’t disagree with you when you say ‘that family is best.’ My parents and extended family taught me the value of working hard and gave me aspirations. For that reason I do consider myself lucky and I try not to forget it.

    I’m sorry I used the word legislate. It’s clear Dave Cameron has no plans to pass laws on this issue. However as a libertarian surely you respect the rights of individuals to live a life of their choosing? Many people choose to live their lives together and have children without the formality of marriage for example. Why should they be treated differently from others. I think it is wrong for the state to judge on people’s personal choices and for this reason I do not like the Tory tax plans.

    On the question of social breakdown caused by marriage breakups.. Firstly I’m glad that you recognise the plethora of other social causes. Many young people lack the social capital to work hard at school and many more are not instilled with aspirations at a young age. We should not forget that every case is unique and in some cases and family breakdown may be a contributing factor to why that was the case.

    I would still argue that the poverty of life chances and inequality is still the more significant issue. My analysis is that you are taking two seperate processes and assuming there is causationary relationship between them I take you back to my original argument; both the outlook of those young people AND the breakdown of their parents marriage may be caused by the same factors, those very underlying social causes.

    Either way we are attempting to generalise about issues that can be very specific.

  7. ‘surely you respect the right of the individual to chose to live a life of their chosing’ I do. Wholeheartedly. However where they are falling short and society is suffering because of it they need to be held to account.

    ‘Many people chose to live their lives together and have children without the formality of marriage’ I completely agree again. I am not neccessarily suggesting all people have to be married. I am saying a family unit, whether formally married or not, is prefferable to ‘single’, as in lone parent, situations. 2 parent families are by far prefferable to single parent families as they provide each other with support and balance.

    Poverty and life chances, you correctly identify, increase the likelihood of social breakdown however as i identified previously this is a cop out. Money can’t buy class. Being poor does not justify anti social behaviour. I believe that familys provide immeasurable stability, just as well as single parent families can, however the crooks of the issue for me lies in attitude.

    Some families have a poor attitude. Which mean children grow up ‘badly’ similarly some single parents have a commendable attitude which mean the child grows up well. So in many ways the government has a duty to correct ‘attitude’ rather than regulate on specific ‘family structure’. However the statistics suggest that the likelihood of anti social behaviour in single parent families is significantly higher which is why I am generalising and focusing specifically on single parent families.

  8. This is all very inane Dan.

    “where they are falling short and society is suffering because of it they need to be held to account.” – This is conjecture. You have not taken into account the arguments about economic, educational and cultural factors which tend to affect single-parent families, and you have put forward no evidence to support your statement that society suffers.

    “2 parent families are by far prefferable to single parent families as they provide each other with support and balance.” – Again, no evidence.

    “Some families have a poor attitude”. You say that poverty is a cop out, but does it not occur to you that families with poor attitudes tend to be located in poor areas?

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