Tories call for family support
David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition, has outlined
plans to help families stay together and fathers take more
responsibility for their children. The Conservative leader was on
Thursday visiting a project in Manchester in which boys with absent
fathers are given male mentors. And he warned that family breakdown,
with growing numbers of children in "fatherless" families, was a root
cause of youth crime.
"A spate of shootings – of children, by children –
shone a spotlight on the terrible circumstances in which many young
people grow up in our country today" he said of the recent high profile
incidences of gun crime among young men. Yet we see no sign that
Labour recognises the scale of the challenge – or has the first idea how
to go about tackling it. From Gordon Brown, whose top-down, centralising
policies have done so much to undermine families and the foundations of
our society, there is silence. From Tony Blair, whose approach to
politics is now drowning in its own shallowness, there is the response
we have come to expect – crackdowns cobbled together for the Sunday
newspapers and a Downing Street summit."
Cameron expanded on his theme that there needed to be
a "culture change" in which families and communities took more
responsibility for bringing up young people, rather than leaving it to
the state and schools. And called for more powers to "compel" fathers to
look after their children.
Those who avoid responsibility for their children
should be made to feel as socially unacceptable as drink-drivers, he
However responding to a report from the Tories' social
justice policy group, chaired by former party leader Iain Duncan Smith,
Cameron also said couples need more help to stay together, including
support for marriage. He is considering proposals for premarital
counselling and relationship lessons based on US and Australian examples
recommended in Duncan Smith's report.
The move came as new figures showed the lowest number
of weddings in the UK since 1896, with less than five per cent of
cohabiting couples staying together for more than 10 years.
22 February 2007