Former deputy leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman thinks politicians should stop talking about the importance of marriage.
In a column for general interest magazine Prospect, the MP for Camberwell and Peckham wrote that it was time to “change the discussion … when it comes to families”. It is not surprising that politicians talk about the subject so much as “families are everything for a child and for an elderly person—and very important for all the years in between”.
However if it was up to her Harman would ban MPs talking about how vital marriage is to family life and how damaging divorce can be. She wrote that most British cabinets are made up of “ministers on their second or third wives so they are in no position to lecture”.
In her article titled If I ruled the world, the Labour MP claimed she would also prevent politicians publicly “sneering” at single mothers. The way public figures talk about them sends a “mean” message to children in these households that there is “something wrong with your family and therefore something wrong with you”.
Harman would also give grandparents “a right to time off work to care for their grandchildren” and make childcare part of the welfare state. She concluded:
“Instead of just lecturing them, it’s time we backed families.”
Her comments were quickly condemned by members of the Conservative Party. Philip Davies MP called Harman “intolerant” of differing views, adding that “all the evidence shows that children are [more] likely to do better if brought up by married parents”. Meanwhile former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the article was “unbelievable” and that it “shows she does not base anything she says on facts”.
Read Harman’s article here.
Photo of Harriet Harman MP courtesy of the University of Salford Press Office via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.