Category Archives: Politics and policy

After the election: beware the politics of generationalism

At the beginning of May, then Labour leader Ed ‘Moses’ Miliband unveiled six General Election pledges inscribed on a giant stone tablet. ‘These six pledges are now carved in stone, and they are carved in stone because they won’t be abandoned after the General Election’, Miliband intoned, six days before his party was swept away by […]

‘Pro-family’ politicians: a threat to the family

One of the great myths of British politics is that those who champion a liberal approach to abortion and divorce are ‘anti-family’, while those who wish to deny people the ability to have abortions and leave failed relationships are ‘pro-family’. To begin with, it is a myth in historical terms. Arguments that women should be […]

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 […]

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 […]