Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Will the real Fathers for Justice please stand up?

Following my post the other day about the apparent attempt to "arrest" Ken Clarke by a member of the campaign group "New Fathers 4 Justice", I had a quick look at the group's website to find out a little more about them.

The first thing that strikes you about the site is the 'spiderman' background, more of which later.

Moving swiftly on, it seems that the group has two aims, set out at the top of their homepage:
"1 - Equal Contact

An automatic presumption of equal contact with the children when the parents split as a starting point.

This will give both parents equal parity of rights to see the children.

In short, we want dads to have an equal status....same as Mum!!

2 - Open Courts

To be brought into line with the crown and magistrates courts.

This will prevent corruption, biasness and implement a culture of accountability with the judiciary."

I don't want to comment on either of these aims here (I have already done so elsewhere on many occasions), save to say that even if both came to fruition I'm not sure that outcomes for parents and children would be very different from those at present, with the welfare of the child still of course being the ultimate determining factor. In any event, it seems unlikely that either aim will come to fruition, at least in the foreseeable future.

Elsewhere on the site there is a helpful 'Tips 4 Protest' page, giving advice on the right to protest, including that: "It goes without saying that you should not block entrances/exits, verbally abuse anyone, swear, trespass on to private property or intimidate people." Hmm, wasn't Ken's drive private property?

Leaving that aside, the rest of the site comprises much of what you would expect on a fathers' rights site: news, advice to 'menace your MP', a forum, videos, merchandise etc.

One thing that must be avoided, of course, is mistaking this group for any other fathers' rights group of a similar name, in particular Real Fathers for Justice or Fathers 4 Justice. The image at the top of the website for the former indicates that the RFFJ share a predilection for dressing up as spiderman, although the group do not seem to specify their aims any more precisely than "raising public awareness and applying pressure on the Government for long overdue reforms in UK Family Law".

As for Fathers 4 Justice, they have had a chequered history, having disbanded and (I think) re-formed recently. I can't say much else about them, as there is not much information on their (literally) Flash website - just make sure you mute your volume if you visit it, as the site plays some hideous music, with no apparent way of turning it off.

* * * * *

UPDATE: The Fathers 4 Justice website has since been updated. See this post.

17 comments:

  1. I've always felt if those guys just cut a single, it would do their cause no end of good. Banners at the side of motorways or hanging from a bridge just isn't good enough any longer.

    And now the title of your post should surely give them a hint as to which song to choose! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. so are we saying they are more peoples front of judea or continuity ira?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nick Langford7 July 2011 06:37

    @ John, most of our internet activity is now conducted on Facebook, here: http://www.facebook.com/Fathers4Justice

    It is of course very frustrating when copy-cat organisations spring up and lack the imagination to think up a new name (there's also a Local Fathers 4 Justice and a Milton Keynes Fathers 4 Justice, not to mention Mothers 4 Justice and Babies 4 Justice). It does a very serious campaign no good at all when its would-be supporters use harassment and intimidation and words like 'biasness'.

    @ Michael, Fathers 4 Justice did produce a single, for last Father's Day, which you can view here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5OZeuFoy6Q.

    ReplyDelete
  4. SW: Your guess is as good as mine.

    Nick: Thanks for that. Personally, I think I'll be giving that single a miss...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Marilyn Stowe7 July 2011 07:50

    Hi John
    Just read this and don't understand what SW means by 'people's front of Judea' which I have never heard of before but I presume is an oblique and offensive reference to Jews.
    What amazes me is that people make these casual remarks as though its perfectly ok,and haven't got a clue how offensive they are. It's now so acceptable to denigrate an entire people of whom I happen to be one.
    I hope you don't mind me contacting you. It's up to you whether you remove the reference, but I am really offended by it.
    Best wishes
    Marilyn

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Marilyn,

    The reference is to the Monty Python film Life of Brian. No offence was intended (at least by SW).

    John.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Melvin: On reflection, I've decided to remove your comment, but if you would like to re-do it without the leader reference, I'd be happy to re-publish.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nick Langford7 July 2011 13:33

    I think SW is actually very close to the mark!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, Nick - still (in my view) one of the funniest films ever.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think applying the Python sketch, what did the Roman's Ever do for us? To the family Courts is an inappropriate metaphor. The Roman's did actually do some good stuff, like the Aquaduct for instance.

    ReplyDelete
  12. There are some facebook and blog page owners that remove and block posters from making comments they don't agree with, I'm glad you at least give me the opportunity to repost John.

    There is no monopoly in the campaign to reform family law, Nick's comments reek of the kind of snobbery that has alienated many of the members he claims to represent.

    Nick and his F4j buddies should get off their high horse and support any group that campaigns for much needed changes, whatever they want to call themselves.

    Nick writes well and works hard for the movement, why he feels the need to deride groups on a public website is baffling, with a little support and encouragement he could help them with the grammatical errors that he finds so damaging.

    The sooner F4j support 'other' campaigner's efforts and try to be more inclusive to ideas and action, the sooner they will get cooperation on their own efforts in the campaign, and cohesion within the movement.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nick Langford7 July 2011 19:48

    You may well be correct, Melvin, I am probably a snob. And, for the record, my views are my own, no one else's. However I care passionately about this campaign and I care about the way it is presented. The sort of people we need to get through to won't take very seriously anyone who uses words like 'biasness'. That's just the way it is. Someone in the organisation should have picked that up and corrected it, along with all the other errors made on that website; it simply plays into the hands of those whose stereotypical image of the non-resident father is of some irresponsible, wife-battering thug.
    The same can be said about a campaign style which can be seen as intimidating, misogynist and homophobic. These are precisely the criticisms which were made of F4J in the early days, and campaigners now should have learnt that lesson and be taking themselves and the campaign more seriously.
    It isn't what I think that counts but how the campaign is perceived by the public and by the journalists, lawyers and politicians we need to get on side.
    Of course, you are welcome to disagree, and this debate is vital to our campaign; I used to think that we could achieve our aims if we won the intellectual argument, but I was wrong. I was one of those who thought talking to CAFCASS was the right thing to do, and I had regular meetings with them, but it was of no benefit at all.
    I don't for a minute dismiss or deride any individuals involved in campaigning, we've all suffered at the hands of the family courts and that should bind us together, but I do genuinely believe that the wrong style of campaigning is more likely to alienate the intended targets than persuade them.
    I think that the super-hero theme has been done to death and we need to move to a more serious and mature phase. These costumes are looking very tired now the original point of them has been forgotten. This is why I am supporting Matt's action on Sunday which ditches all the colour, humour and irony and confronts Cameron with harrowing simplicity.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Nick Langford7 July 2011 20:10

    Postscript (sorry John).
    On checking the aforementioned website, I see that I have indeed been supporting Melvin's campaign (albeit unawares) since much of the material appears to be stuff I wrote (about 6 years ago, to judge by the references). No acknowledgement necessary, guys, help yourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My point is that in order to develop ideas and encourage growth, there is a degree of hand holding and education that needs to take place to nurture and develop potential and existing supporters, something that is obviously lacking when new guys are attracted to the splinter groups.

    If F4j was inclusive and supportive, if the overall strategy was to empower and direct campaigners to pick up the reigns and run with the idea within an agreed framework, then perhaps it would keep it's activists and regional coordinators?

    What I see and have experienced is an insular closed shop, who actively discourage creativity and hinder organic development, the lack of delegation is a major issue.

    I appreciate the damage that has been done to many individuals that arrive to the campaign as a last resort, the lacks of direction given to the raw recruit, as there is little or no encouragement of involvement other than to donate or download a pdf.

    I tend to agree about the superhero issue, and the mistakes that some make in direct action, but to harness that enthusiasm and direct them into legitimate action takes encouragement and leadership.

    There will always be those who think they can do it better, but why not campaign inclusively with an open door policy? One man or one does not own the campaign and it has taken many others contributions to make the whole issue a success.

    There were 3 activist that avoided police protection to gain entry to David Cameron's roof today, that should be encouraged and supported by all groups following the ill thought comments on fathers day, not ignored.

    By the way you're jumping to the wrong conclusion in your post script Nick, I did not hang my shirt on any group in my post, John mentioned 3 sites, New f4j, Rffj and the flash based music loop playing on f4j.

    Are you claiming to write 'much of the material' for all 3?

    ReplyDelete
  16. marilyn - just for the record, my reference (which as john kindly explained was to monty python's life of brian) was certainly not intended to be offensive to jewish people.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. Constructive comments are always welcome, even if they do not coincide with my views! Please note, however, that comments will be removed or not published if I consider that:
* They are not relevant to the subject of this post; or
* They are (or are possibly) defamatory; or
* They breach court reporting rules; or
* They contain derogatory, abusive or threatening language; or
* They contain 'spam' advertisements (including links to any commercial websites).
Please also note that I am unable to give advice.