How the nationalisation of parenting stoked the riots

‘We have nationalised child-raising’, claimed Shaun Bailey, head of the charity My Generation, during an autopsy of the riots and looting that swept England in summer 2011. Bailey continued: ‘People think that the government is responsible for their children – that weakens the family structure. One of the worst things as a parent is having […]

Divorcing marriage from morality

‘It is like a hydra: you cut off one head and get rid of a boring partner but inherit 26 new problems, your new partner’s children, family and so on.’ In such graphically grim terms did Sir Paul Coleridge, a senior High Court judge, launch a new campaign to promote marriage. Sir Paul told The Times (London) that he […]

A fresh-faced look at growing old

‘But hoping for worse health and shorter lives hardly seems consistent with the American dream.’ With such pithy insights, Susan Jacoby – the fiercely rational intellectual whose previous books include The Age of American Unreason – exposes the banality of modern prejudices that have become attached to old age and the process of ageing. One such prejudice […]

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 […]

These riots were not a product of permissiveness

It is hard to formulate a genuinely liberal response to the recent spate of riots and looting in Britain. You get caught between two dystopian, and equally depressing, visions of society: one where the consequences of the cultural, moral and legislative changes associated with the permissive Sixties are leading us to hell in a handcart […]

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 […]

Guide to Subversive Parenting

‘Guide to Subversive Parenting’ was a column I wrote for spiked between 2007 and 2011, around the publication of Standing Up to Supernanny. The new parenting catfight: Tiger Moms vs Fun Slobs. 26 May 2011 The nature/nurture debate is as unhelpful as ever in solving the problem of raising children. Bringing up baby is not an exact science. 28 […]

How the vetting frenzy alienates adults from kids

The Liberal-Conservative government’s announcement that the controversial Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) will be ‘very significantly’ curtailed is very welcome. Under its new incarnation, rather than seeking to subject anybody who works or volunteers with children to a police check, the vetting scheme will reportedly focus on ‘those in sensitive posts or who have intensive […]

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 […]

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