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.