The Conservative Party claim to be promoting strong family values. They would like you to believe that they are “family friendly”. Let’s see if we can figure out what their definition of that is, and if they practice what they preach.
There are many definitions of ‘family’. I am in favour of this one:
“1. a. a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family.
b. a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: a single-parent family.”
To me, a family does not define itself by where they live, how many members they have or, indeed, if the parents are living in the same building. Some of the strongest families I know live apart, sometimes in seperate countries. They have strong bonds and do not conform to the Victorian ideals of the past. A family should not be judged upon their living arrangements, their sexual orientation, or their marital status. In my opinion the most successful families are those that promote love, respect and understanding, not those that rely on fulfilling the notion of what society expects of them. Children of such families, whether their parents are married or not, are usually well balanced, secure and confident.
I was raised by two wonderful parents who are still married to each other. As a result of my upbringing in a loving, understanding environment I do not confine my success on a score of my marital status. Far from it, I am divorced and my two youngest children are from a subsequent relationship. However, we are a very strong family. My ex partner, who is the father of my youngest two children, has a major role in all my children’s lives. We are raising our children together, even if we live in seperate houses. This government would have you believe that our family is inferior. Why? Because 1) We are not, and never have been married to each other, 2)we are no longer in a relationship and 3) my ex partner is not the bioloical parent of my 12year old daughter. I disagree with their view, strongly.
The idea of family values from a Tory point of view are illustrated below through a selection of quotes from some Conservative Party members:
David Cameron, January 2010:
“We’ve seen too many of the ugly things that happen when people duck responsibility: the father who leaves a mother and child to fend for themselves, …..All this irresponsibility must end. Families are the most important institution in our society. We have to do everything in our power to strengthen them.” His short memory allows him to forget the attacks made by previous Tory administrations on benefits, the virtual abolition of council housing and state aid for nurseries, all prime contributing factors to social breakdown.
Michael Howard, the former Home Secretary said “We must emphasise our belief that the traditional two parent family is best, best for parents, best for society and above all best for the child”.
John Redwood, the former Welsh Secretary said ” the natural state should be the two-adult family”.
Peter Lilley said “I’ve got a little list…[of] young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing list”
In 1997 Michael Howard even suggested
that the children of single mothers would be better off being adopted!
Iain Duncan Smith caused uproar with his comments: “I don’t think the gay stuff is anything to do with this because it’s irrelevant. “We’re looking at figures about the bringing up of children. When it comes to gay couples they don’t even register on the Richter scale of how to bring up kids. We are looking at the issue of who brings up kids and the answer is it’s men and women that are the issue here.
Well that’s a slap in the face to anyone, whether they are gay or straight, bringing up children outside of marriage!
The above quotes, which range from the 80’s to the present day, reflect the traditional Tory view of ‘family values’. They believe that children should be raised by a man and a woman who are married to each other. Co-habitation, divorce, same sex parents and single parents are to be frowned upon as the reason for the breakdown of family values, and in turn, society. Really? A stable marriage is the best place for children you say?
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary walked out on his wife in 1997, leaving her with their 3 young children. He only divorced her in 2001 when he met his new wife, Sally Low, who he now has more children with. Does that make him promiscuous?
Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor, left his wife, Rosemary, 18 months after they married! He the married Tracy Newall who he had another child with. Point of interest: he was described as ‘happily married’ when chosen for his seat, despite being already seperated from Rosemary.
Boris Johnson, the Major of London, was sacked as arts minister for having an affair with columnist Petronella Wyat in 2004. Boris’ wife stood by him.
James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, was having an affair with Countryside Alliance campaign chief Philippa Mayo while his wife battled cancer. His affair lasted 19 months, and he married Philippa Mayo, mother of 3.
Mark Field, MP for London and Westminster, had an 18 month long affair with married Elizabeth Truss. Ms Truss stayed with her husband, Field left his wife and has since remarried.
Greg Barker left his wife for a man in 2006.
Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes North, walked out on the mother of his 4 month old baby. She was reported to be heartbroken. Does he qualify as one of the irresponsible men IDS is so fond of talking about that get women pregnant and then run off leaving her holding the baby?
Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, had an affair with heiress Alice Rothschild, 22. She is the younger sister of his brother’s wife. The 34yr old father of three was apparently ordered to sort out his messy love life before standing for high office after cheating on his wife Sheherazade, 35.
Andrew Pelling, former MP for Croydon Central, was arrested for assaulting his pregnant wife, Lucy, 26. He wasn’t prosecuted, but the conservative party dropped him anyway.
So, what do we have? Cheats, liars, men who walk out on their children, who divorce their wives, and one who is alledged to have assaulted his wife (that’s domestic violence!). I would hardly say that they are shining examples of their own policies, would you? They, after lecturing the UK population about stable family life, the importance of marriage, and the traditional 2 parent family, have shown themselves, repeatedly, to have no regard for such things themselves. It would be unfair to say that all conservative party members are the same, but I find it very hypocritical for them to preach to us how we should live our lives, and raise our children, when they are living proof that marriage does not always work.
Children do not always do better within a marriage if that marriage is an unhappy one. Irresponsible men are not limited to run down housing estates, chavs or the unemployed. Indeed, wealthy men (and women) often abandon their families. I am certain that the women these MP’s abandoned or cheated on are not viewed in the same way as the rest of us. I cannot imagine them being told that, due to circumstances beyond their control, they are no longer deemed fit for society, that their children would be better off adopted, or living in a convent. I am also certain that their children are not looked upon with contempt and repeatedly refered to as the future criminals of this country.
My point is, these abandoned families are, I’m sure, not considered to be lacking in family values, why is it that those of us who are not from the same background are viewed as unfit, lazy, immoral and irresponsible? Is it a case of one rule for them and a totally different one for everyone else?