The Tory Social Policy Review Group’s 300 page report Breakdown Britain has been doing the rounds this week. Sadly, this will not give much needed advice about what to do if your car breaks down on the motorway. I can offer this from my own experience - you should move as quickly as possible over to the hard shoulder and scream very loudly. No one will hear you but you will feel considerably better.
No. I’m afraid Breakdown Britain is the last in a long production line of reports that attempt to provide a ‘road map’ for us to steer our way through the murky waters of social injustice and arrive finally in the promised land of equality. On present navigational form, we are more likely to fetch up in
‘If I was you, I wouldn’t start from here.’
Donut has since been warming the nation’s spot-lit swivel chairs in a valiant attempt to promote this compendium of startling statistics which reaches the ultimate conclusion that family breakdown is responsible for poverty. Er.. no.. Donut. Lack of money is responsible for poverty. Every royal child of the current generation, except one, is the product of a broken home. None of them are poor. It’s true that they are all unemployed though so it does follow that there is a link between family breakdown and unemployment. If Zara Phillips’ acceptance speech for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award ceremony is anything to go by, they also mostly have an active vocabulary of around forty words, half of which are ‘amazing’. Trust fund chavs they may be but, apart from those on the civil list obviously, none are a drain on our economy.
The crux of Donut’s argument is that married parents are far less likely to split than those co-habiting, therefore the Government should be doing more to encourage people to get married. That comes from the same school of logic that says because unemployed people are more likely to suffer from depression, they should get themselves a job. Fortunately there are a few pundits that aren’t buying. Yesterday Dave Hill reported on a BBC Today Programme discussion where Ian Kearns of the IPPR spotted the obvious converse,
He agreed that the evidence shows that children from intact, two-parent families do better, but pointed out that it does not follow from this that the state supporting marriage is the answer to reducing family breakdown.
‘The key point here is the cause and effect relationship, and all of the evidence points to the quality of adult relationships of parents with each other and with the child as being the key to the outcome, rather than the institution of marriage itself. It may be, for example, that more of those with with stronger relationships and commitment to each other choose to get married and not that being married increases commitment to the relationship.’
Cartoon from www.carton-competition.org