Good Lord!

Mrs. Dromey is actually talking sense!

Miss Harman, who is also Leader of the House of Commons, was interviewed for Second Thoughts on the Family, which is published Monday by Civitas, the think-tank.

The book, which paraphrases her interview at her request, states: "Harman believes higher rates of separation are down to a positive: greater choice.

"Furthermore, she is keen to stress that in her view, no public policy can or should say that every couple whose relationship has broken down must stay together.

"For Harman, there is no \’ideal\’ parenting scenario. Longitudinal social research shows that having two parents produces the best outcomes, she says, but in her view the important thing for Government is to respect choices.

"For Harman, marriage has little relevance in public policy. Moreover, she thinks that marriage has probably got no more public policy bite in it than the Government saying that they would like everybody to be happy.

Most people, Harman believes, aspire to marriage, and want to stay together. She objects strongly, however, to the idea of any politician telling parents that they should stay together for the sake of the children."

It may well be true (it probably is true) that two parents are the best environment for children to grow up in, except when it isn\’t. But what that has to do with either government or the price of tea in China is harder to work out.

Government should indeed be respecting the choices that people make: we do after all, both hire them and pay for them. We should indeed be doing whatever it is that we damn well please as long as we are not interfering with or affecting the rights of others to do the same.

Sure, when we get to the details of policy this might be different, but at its core this is a simple statement of basic liberal (of the classical kind) values. You\’re free, an individual, and the Government\’s job is to protect you from others who would negate your rights and to stop you from doing the same in return.

We do of course have one teenise problem here: apparently this liberality only applies to familial structures. When, of course, it should apply right across the board. Drugs, education, ID cards, car seats, seatbelts….there are so many areas of life where such a similarly liberal attitude should, but does not, prevail.

"the important thing for Government is to respect choices."…..Quite. Now bugger off and do the things that only Government can do and therefore must and leave the rest of us alone would you?

12 thoughts on “Good Lord!”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I am sorry but I can’t agree.

    First of all, it is right that our servants, the little uppity swine, have no business telling us what to do with our lives, but that does not mean that Ms Harmon should abdicate all common sense and moral responsibility of her post by refusing to state categorically that some choices are better than others. Refusing to discriminate is not the same as refusing to make a distinction. Some times Jeeves is quite right to ask Sir if he has picked the right knife. Ms Harmon ought to say that it is our choice but real long term happiness and the social good requires two heterosexual married parents. If we want to ignore that advice, that is up to us.

    Second, there is a third player in this situation – the child. Those children are our children and not Ms Harmon’s children but even so the State does have a role in protecting the pre-adult. Which does include, I think, encouraging the best possible environment for those children. Which is two heterosexual married parents. Who would deny that two abusive heroin addicted mentally ill criminal unmarried teenage parents are not a proper cause for concern?

    Third, the social welfare system means that we all pay for children from dysfunctional families one way or the other. As such I think we have the right to minimise our losses. I am not big on active minimisation. Sterilization for instance. But I am a strong believer in passive minimisation. I don’t see why child tax rebates should not be skewed towards the middle class. Even if I wasn’t brave enough to argue that, there is no justification for paying unmarried teenage parents to sprog out a few more chav prison-bait NEETs. Indeed I don’t see why the State can’t not only refuse to pay them any benefits, but can’t cut whatever they are getting already and evict them from their council homes – and their parents too come to think of it – while they are at it. If they make my life miserable I think I am entitled to make theirs at least equally as miserable.

    So Ms Harmon is as usual confusing a lack of backbone and moral courage with being broad minded.

  2. “Who would deny that two abusive heroin addicted mentally ill criminal unmarried teenage parents are not a proper cause for concern?”

    Well, social services, for a start.

    Just check the newspapers for children from such ‘relationships’ who have been left with them, and subsequently killed by them.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Well yes. But we know that the Government kills everything it touches.

    I imagine that Social Security’s definition of child abuse is being Middle Class and giving your boy Biggles to read.

    But the rest of us don’t have to be bound by their incompetence and insanity do we?

  4. Hmm. JuliaM, I might be wrong, but ISTR you being one of the major objectors to the government’s policy of taking children from exactly the potentially abusive background you’re slating above (like the Daily Mail poster case where the parent was a single 17-year-old with mental health problems and no support from her parents) into care without evidence of actual abuse.

    As for SMFS, “the best possible environment for those children. Which is two heterosexual married parents. Who would deny that two abusive heroin addicted mentally ill criminal unmarried teenage parents are not a proper cause for concern?“. If I ever find myself compiling a textbook on logical fallacies, please can I use this in the entry on “excluded middle”?

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    john b – I would take an extreme position of potential abusers – the State should not act until abuse can be proven to occur. Even if that leads to death. Of course some real examples of such an attitude from the Social may convince me that I should think otherwise.

    If you ever find yourself compiling a textbook on logical fallacies, you may use this in the entry on “excluded middle”. But of course it is not relevant to that article because you have failed to understand my article. I am arguing for the principle that there is a third party. The child in the example given does not refer to the range of ideal environments for children, but to the fact that in such a case the State would have a strong case to act.

    As it happens, two heterosexual married parents are not enough because if those two drug addicts got married they would fit my template. But as a rule, it is simple – the more than families resemble Leave It To Beaver the better off they are.

  6. Yes, but you’re taking something uncontroversial (“it is better for children if their parents are not addicted to heroin”) and contrasting it with a highly partisan right-wing view of how the family should be (“it is better for children if their parents are heterosexual and married”).

    There is evidence that children with heroin-addicted parents do worse than children without heroin-addicted parents. There is evidence that children who have two ‘parent’ figures from a young age do better than children who do not (although this is largely income-based: the kids of single mothers with decent incomes don’t do noticeably worse than the kids of couples with similar household incomes, but most single parent households are poorer for obvious reasons).

    There is not evidence that children raised by parents in gay relationships do worse than children raised in heterosexual relationships, or that children raised by unmarried couples do worse than children raised by married couples – and that’s the middle bit that you’re excluding…

  7. “JuliaM, I might be wrong, but ISTR you being one of the major objectors to the government’s policy of taking children from exactly the potentially abusive background you’re slating above (like the Daily Mail poster case where the parent was a single 17-year-old with mental health problems and no support from her parents) into care without evidence of actual abuse.”

    Yes, you are wrong. I’ve never, to my knowledge, suggested that two hard-drug addicts shouldn’t have their children taken away.

    People heavily addicted to heroin can’t look after themselves – it’s the height of irresponsibility to not step in for the sake of the child’s welfare when they begin to breed…

    “the Daily Mail poster case where the parent was a single 17-year-old with mental health problems and no support from her parents”

    Can’t recall this one off-hand, but there are mental problems and then there are mental problems. It depends on the severity and risk factor to the child.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    I am not taking something uncontroversial and contrasting it with a highly partisan right-wing view of how the family should be.

    I am saying that there is a Third Party involved and the State has a right to intervene. It has a right to intervene in the extreme case where the child needs to be taken away. But it also has a reasonable right to argue, but not compel, what we know – that children do best with two married heterosexual parents.

    I am unconvinced that this is largely income-based. The kids of single Mothers with decent incomes are being compared with the kids of couples with similar household incomes. That is to say, people who earn half what the single Mother does. That must be a worry for your case given children normally turn out like their parents. So that an Upper Middle Class single Mother turns out children as well off as two Lower Middle Class parents.

    I am also dubious that there is no evidence that children raised by parents in gay relationships do worse than children raised in heterosexual relationships, or that children raised by unmarried couples do worse than children raised by married couples. I think it is a spectrum. I think that is undeniable when we are dealing with blended families – step parents. But if you accept that, then it is hard not to assume that also extends to other non-biological parents as well.

    The evidence on this is highly partisan. I think it is too early to be sure and too few children are involved. But in the interests of playing nice I’ll say that the important thing is that the family is stable, that it is loving, that both or either parent earns enough and that both parents are related biologically to the child.

  9. Appreciated, although I still think you’re overplaying the importance of biological relationship. Although there are obvious evolutionary reasons why we’d expect that to be so, it appears from adoption studies that as long as the child is adopted very young, there isn’t much difference (this is also true for the incest taboo – you don’t fancy people you grew up with, rather than not fancying people you’re related to…)

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    I may be overplaying the importance of biological relationship. I agree about incest too. However the studies I have heard of suggest that the rate of violence towards step-children is much higher than towards biological ones. Especially from Fathers. The Step-Mother is a well known but hardly liked figure in European literature as well. It is what we would suspect and hence suspicious for that reason. I have heard there are studies which show that Step Fathers aren’t such a problem but I haven’t seen any. I admit that they might well be true. It is certainly true in most of the West that unmarried parents are less likely to stay together than married ones.

    I think that traditional values tend to have survived for a while to become traditional ones. Not of all them perhaps but enough. That alone is reason to respect them. And as we see in modern British, you fuck up the family and you fuck up a hell of a lot of children as well. I am, if you like, a Born Again Social Conservative. I didn’t start out that way.

  11. If values are traditional then the government doesn’t have to enforce them, all it need do is not undermine them. Provide a level playing field and they should win through.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *