Category Archives: Politics and policy

Parents should rise up against this neurotrash

A century ago, phrenologists would measure people’s heads in a quest to explain differences in their social position, and healthy, well-behaved families would be sent to ‘eugenics camps’ to breed more of their kind. Today, policymakers seek to explain everything from income equality to anti-social behaviour through the formation of toddlers’ brains, and parents are […]

Lib-Con family policy: Maggie meets Mary Poppins

Having spent years criticising New Labour’s family policy, I was prepared to give the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government a chance. When Lib-Con ministers have talked about the problem of New Labour’s ‘nanny state’ and the need for individuals, families and communities to have more freedom in, and take more responsibility for, their own lives, this […]

Sure Start: a fancy new way to police the family

With Britain’s new coalition government ushering in public-sector cuts that will mean ‘years of pain ahead’, Sure Start, the former New Labour government’s flagship policy for children aged 0-5, has come under the microscope. Hitting back against claims by Labourite mischief-makers that the Conservatives intend to close down Children’s Centres across the country, Tory MPs […]

Turning parents into ‘partners of the state’

‘It is quite wrong to conclude that families are in decline. This is not my experience and authoritative, independent evidence, some of which is presented in this Paper, shows what I believe most people know for themselves: that all families have their ups and downs, but most people do the best they can to sustain […]

At last, a serious debate on ‘social evils’

In a therapeutic culture that categorises problems as ‘issues’ and frames policy in terms of individuals’ behaviour and psychological health, it is startling to see high-profile thinkers come together to discuss what are baldly termed ‘Contemporary Social Evils’. It is also refreshing to see a charitable foundation celebrate 100 years of its existence, not by […]

A Sure Start for the therapeutic state

  The UK government really cares about children. So much so that it has spent more than £3billion over four years to make parents in deprived areas give their children ‘warmer parenting’, relying less on smacking and criticism and more on talking and affection (1). Whatever else you say about the politics of behaviour, it […]

The work thing

If 1997 was the election of ‘education, education, education’, 2001 pushed the mantra ‘work, work, work’. Throughout the election campaign, Blair and co eulogised the wonders of the work ethic – the way work gives you dignity; the need to promote the business culture through education; the wonders of the New Deal youth unemployment scheme; […]

Wake up! The truth about youth apathy

‘It is known that young people have depressingly low levels of political interest and knowledge’, states the preface to the UK Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report, ‘Young people’s politics: political interest and engagement amongst 14- to 24-year olds’, published in 2000 (1). Although there are no absolutely accurate statistics on how many young people vote, all […]

Blair’s other babies

‘Buzzing…Best day I’ve had in ages.’ ‘I really enjoyed myself.’ ‘It was brilliant.’ Were these young people raving about a trip to Ibiza or Glastonbury? No – they were talking about a day spent at the Sound Republic nightclub in Leicester Square, London, consulting with home secretary Jack Straw, minister for women Tessa Jowell, and […]