Posted by: secretperson | November 17, 2008

The Return of Family Values

It has been unfashionable in political circles to talk of ‘family values’ in recent years, raising memories of attacks on single mothers and John Major’s ill-fated back-to-basics campaign.

But the Conservatives, who have previously pledged to include recognition of marriage in the tax system, could be bringing these issues back to the frontline. A report by Iain Duncan Smith will list family breakdown as a major cause of the ‘broken society’ and suggest a number of measures to strengthen families including making pre-nuptual agreements legally binding and increasing access rights post-divorce to fathers and grandparents.

As somewhat of a traditionalist who was lucky enough to grow up in a stable married family with loving parents I do not feel it would be wrong to say that traditional families produce the best outcomes for children, on average, and Mr Duncan Smith’s statistics seem to back this up. However whether you can encourage more people to get married and stay together with a few laws remains to be seen. Also there is a balance to be struck between not encouraging people in difficult circumstances to bring children into the world that they can’t provide for, and protecting those children who are in these circumstances already.

It will be interesting to see how strongly the Tories push the broken society and families agenda during the financial crisis, and interesting to see how Labour respond.



  1. I know how I’d respond. Mass unemployment didn’t exactly help keep families together…

  2. Bear in mind we might well be in a state of mass unemployment come next election…

  3. Mass unemployment never ended. It’s still a government policy.

    Unemployment provides employers with a reserve army of labour – which holds down wage demands and keeps up profits.

    The point I am making is that you cannot be pro-family and advocate the chaos of capitalist rule.

  4. “The point I am making is that you cannot be pro-family and advocate the chaos of capitalist rule.”

    If by capitalist rule you mean government abusing its power in the interests of big business I guess you might be right.

    But I believe that in a free society with limited government interference the natural state of things is capitalism. It can be chaotic, but is far more succesful than any planned economy.

  5. “It can be chaotic, but is far more succesful than any planned economy.”

    Ah, but successful for whom? Capitalism will always benefit the capitalists most.

    I fear that what you are advocating is actually against your own interests. Certainly, unrestrained capitalist rule and an absense of public healthcare and education – what is usually meant by limited government – would be a disaster for families.

  6. Well I don’t mean total anarchy, I realise my ideal of freedom is probably a bit far. There should be some public health care, though I wouldn’t rule out an insurance based scheme and I definitely favour school vouchers.

    But I’d rather be poor in a capitalist country like the UK than, umm, well I’m struggling to think of a contempory socialist country, say Cuba. All the other attempts have failed.

    I’d rather have been poor in Thatcher’s Britain than Gorbachev’s Russia.

    I have to admit I am not very well read on your arguments, class based talk of “the capitalists”. Is free trade, rather than capitalism a better description of my position?

  7. If my family had lived in the Soviet Union in the 80s all of my male relatives would have been in employment. The stability afforded by regular work might have meant less marital strife. Perhaps fewer people in my family would be divorced. Who knows.

    As to your politics, I’m reading a book on populism at the moment. The author defines populism as a belief in direct democracy and the wide distribution of capital amongst the population.

  8. Indeed Charlie, who knows? We each have our own priorities, be they freedom, stability, absolute wealth, relative wealth.

    Populism doesn’t sound too far off, although it has a bad name (as opposed to democracy when you agree with the populist principal!). Small l libertarian, small c conservative, populist, monarchist… I don’t think one word can sum me up!

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