Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Review: I told you so...

A quick mention of two stories that popped up yesterday:

Firstly, the BBC reported that, according to research by Pat Thane, professor in contemporary history at King's College, London, the idea of the traditional British family, where children grew up in two-married-parent households, is a myth. She argues that until World War Two, significant numbers of people never married. Thus, for example, in 1939 some 30% of children were conceived out of wedlock. She says:
"There is a well-known narrative in Britain about the history of the family - that 'traditionally' people lived in stable two-parent families with married parents who stayed together life-long, boys had fathers at home for role-models who kept them disciplined, and everyone looked after the older generation.

"Then came the 1960s and permissiveness, and people started divorcing, living together and having babies outside marriage; unprecedented numbers of complex families of step-relatives formed; and British society was 'broken' as some would put it.

"I want suggest that the real story is a bit more complicated."
The professor acknowledged that there was at least one point between 1945 and 1979 that marriage became "almost universal", but she said: "This is a period which, in present-day discourse, is often presented as an historical norm of long-lasting stable marriages. It was actually historically very unusual in the numbers of long-lasting marriages." One source of that discourse is, of course Sir Paul Coleridge's Marriage Foundation. The Foundation deny that they are trying to turn back the clock, but when they say such things as "We have lost confidence in marriage as an institution at the heart of families", it is clear that they do believe the past was a better place, when obviously it was not.

That nice Mr Grayling
The other story I want to mention appeared in The Observer, which reported that cuts in legal aid are creating chaos in the family courts, according to legal experts. The story tells us of delays caused by the number of LiPs, domestic violence victims facing abusers in court without representation, children stuck in limbo whilst their parents dispute 'custody' and people who simply cannot afford to go to court. All of which was, of course, completely foreseeable before legal aid was abolished for private law family matters last April. The MoJ is, however, unrepentant. They said that the reforms were necessary to stop the legal aid budget ballooning, but insisted that the vulnerable would not lose out. As to the first point, the story tells us that experts question whether the measures would save money, saying that they believed the ministry had failed to appreciate the consequences of the cuts. As to the second point well, that is patently untrue.

Oh, and before I go - congratulations to all those gay couples who have tied/are about to tie the knot!

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