The Conservatives have decided lone parents are the cause of all Britain’s social ills.
I think they decided this some time ago, but now power lies around the corner, they need an easy scapegoat if any of their proposed plans go awry. Taxes need to rise astronomically? Lone parents. NHS waiting lists longer? Lone parents. War with Mars? Lone parents. See? Easy.
Philippa Stroud, as yet only a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Tories and executive director of the Conservative think-tank Centre for Social Justice, which appears to be where they find evidence to back up their claims about lone parent families, among other things.
You see, they have discovered children of lone parent families are bad. Just bad. More of this later. My favourite bit, however, of the research done in to this, as discussed on this morning’s Woman’s Hour, was the poll of children asking them whether or not they wanted Mummy and Daddy to stay together.
Um, duh. Of course Little Janey and Titchy Tommy want Mummy and Daddy to stay together. Of course that poll was going to stay that. I challenge you to find a five-year-old who says otherwise. That’s because, lets be honest, Little Janey has no idea that Daddy is bonking his secretary. Neither does Titchy Tommy know his mother is having an affair with the postman. Because, I’m pretty sure if they knew and were old enough to understand, Little Janey would want Mummy to take Daddy for all he was worth in the divorce courts, and Titchy Tommy would set the dog on the postman while changing the locks to keep Mummy-Dearest out. But they’re not, and they don’t, because they are five and don’t need to know this kind of crap happens in the world, so ask them if they want Mummy and Daddy to stay together, the answer is of course.
But this poll is backed by facts which assert the children of divorced parents are 75 per cent more likely to fail educationally, 70 per cent more likely to be drug addicts, 60 per cent more likely to be alcoholics and 35 per cent more likely to be jobless.
At this juncture, I would like to point out I come from a lone-parent household. This means, according to Ms Stroud, I am most likely jobless, not surprising when you consider there is also a high chance I have addled my brain with drink and drugs, not to mention my lack of qualifications.
The fact of the matter is, none of the above applies to me, or my two younger sisters. Neither does it relate to any of my friends who hail from that most-terrible of things: the lone parent family.
But, using these statistics, the Tories want to reward those who are lucky enough to be happily married, and punish those who have been unfortunate enough to be divorced, and – more importantly – the children of these marriages.
I may not be one of the 75 per cent who have failed, educationally (whatever that may mean), nor may I be one of the huge numbers of drug addicts, or alcoholics, or unemployed, but I am someone who knows the importance of the financial support the government gives single mums and dads. And I do not see how withdrawing it is going to help lower the figure.
But mainly, for me, it is the holier-than-thou this-is-how-you-should-live-your-life tone of voice Ms Stroud uses when discussing the perils of lone parent and unmarried couple households which annoyed me. I don’t, as a rule, like being told what to do.
By the end of debate, I was sure of two things: firstly, I would not ever be voting for the Conservatives, and, secondly, if that woman was voted in, I would not get married just to spite her.
Ms Stroud: you can take your proposed 20 quid a week for married couples and stuff it.