I wrote the piece below as a contribution to UKIP’s search for a new identity and purpose following the Brexit referendum. My timing was bad as it was published this week on UKIP Daily website the day after Theresa May announced the snap general election and party attention immediately focused on the campaign. But I reckon the argument is sound and the issue is vital…
“Don’t go Daddy, I promise I’ll be good,” sobbed the little boy as his father walked out of home and through the garden gate for the last time, to move in with another woman. With his face pressed frantically against the window and tears streaming down his face, the lad wasn’t the last child to see his universe fall apart and, tragically and wrongly, feel personal guilt for his parents’ break-up.
His father didn’t return so the desperate boy, aged 4 and known to me, took to stabbing other children at school with his pencil and insisted on changing his first name.
Children are the vulnerable victims of family break-up, but others are affected too. Wider family, neighbours and friends, the local community and society at large are all involved in some way and pay significant emotional and/or financial cost.
And although social libertarians, self-centred inadequates and anarchists may insist on mailing ‘Celebrate Your Divorce’ cards and throwing parties when families fall apart, for most it is a difficult and draining decision that they do not wish to repeat. It is also deeply personal. But no one is an island and it is not only personal.
The Relationships Foundation (RF) in Cambridge calculates that family break-up (‘family failure’ they call it) is at crisis level and currently costs the UK exchequer £48 billion a year – that’s £10 billion more than the UK’s total defence budget. It’s the equivalent of nearly £2,000 a year for each UK taxpayer, and rising.
You can find RF’s calculations here.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) – formed in 2004 by Iain Duncan-Smith MP – has produced ground-breaking studies around the theme of ‘Breakdown Britain’. It has warned of a “tsunami” of family failure, with the number of lone-parent families – currently over 2 million – growing at 20,000 a year. CSJ also has identified areas of the country that have become “man-deserts” with few visible male role models for children, especially boys. Parts of Liverpool, for instance, have no father-figure in 65% of households and primary schools have not a single male teacher.
Sir Paul Coleridge was a High Court Family Division judge for years, seeing before him daily the human calamity of family breakdown and especially its heartrending impact on children. In 2012 he set up the Marriage Foundation “to champion long-lasting stable relationships within marriage” as the best domestic arrangement for the nurture and flourishing of children. The next year he was formally disciplined for speaking out about his support for traditional marriage, so he resigned from the Bench.
How have we got here? How come a High Court judge cannot promote the marriage-based family, despite its protection by Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How come the political class will not talk about the growing crisis of family breakdown, let alone tackle it?
The silence is mainly a result of Gramsci and Alinsky or, if you prefer, a consequence of Cultural and Transformational Marxism.
Antonio Gramsci, who died in 1937, was the original Cultural Marxist theoretician. It is his political children and grandchildren who have dominated the post-war Left and undertaken his proposed ‘long march through the institutions’ of society in order to undermine, capture and destroy them – including of course the fundamental institution of marriage and family.
Fellow-travellers and useful idiots in the political class danced to the Cultural Marxists’ tune – often unwittingly – and this has led to today’s liberal authoritarianism that, like Communism, uses the power of the state to police language and supress freedom of speech, especially politically-incorrect speech.
It also led incidentally to the Establishment’s supine surrender to the EU superstate (now gloriously reversed by the people’s Brexit vote) and to the prosecution of pro-family Catholics who opposed to gay adoption. Melanie Phillips explains the phenomenon clearly.
The language of morality, virtue-signalling and political correctness is one of the weapons the Left uses to shut down opponents and capture our culture. Hillary Clinton’s college mentor, Transformational Marxist philosopher Saul Alinsky who died in 1972, was the arch exponent. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” was his rule which, being translated, means “Demonise your opponents so the media won’t give them column inches or airspace”.
So if you opposed David Cameron’s 2013 same-sex marriage legislation, gay activist leaders Ben Summerskill or Peter Tatchell could smear you as a homophobic bigot and you’d find yourself ejected from the media mainstream and excluded from polite metropolitan society.
At the same time the elite – Conservative’s Cameron, Labour’s Ed Miliband and LibDem’s Nick Clegg, Gramsci’s ‘progressive’ grandchildren and lemming leaders of the political class – could link arms politically and celebrate together the destruction of faithful marriage as understood in these islands for over a thousand years.
Spiked Online editor and former Marxist Brendon O’Neill was a vocal critic of same-sex marriage. He slammed gay marriage campaigners’ Alinskyite demonization of opponents and exposed the state’s Gramsciite policing of language, for instance here.
What’s to be done? There is here a great opportunity for UKIP to do again what it does best: ignore the demands of political correctness, stop worrying about tomorrow’s headlines, confront the political establishment head-on and insist on pushing a vital but avoided social issue onto the national political agenda whether the old parties like it or not.
We did it courageously with Brexit and uncontrolled immigration. We stood boldly alone over grammar schools and gay marriage. For the sake of our children let alone the cost to the tax-payer, we should repeat this by tackling the crisis of family breakdown and promoting the traditional stable family.
In fact we should become the Party of the Family.
So what is the way forward?
First, Paul Nuttall should immediately appoint a ‘Spokesperson for the Family’ whose brief is to develop UKIP policies that protect and promote the traditional nuclear family. Also in our general election manifesto we should commit UKIP to appointing a Minister for Families.
Second, at its next meeting UKIP’s National Executive Committee should approve the application for SIG (Special Interest Group) status within the party lodged by the Support4TheFamily (S4TF) group of UKIP members. I helped establish S4TF two years ago with a view to giving legitimate voice to family values within the party alongside other voices.
Third, we should develop a UKIP Family Impact Assessment (like the Environmental Impact Assessment for major building projects) and apply it to all government legislation and regulation.
Fourth, UKIP should campaign immediately against our biased tax and benefits regime that makes it more advantageous for couples to live apart than together – the so-called ‘couple penalty’. The Marriage Foundation calculates it can be worth up to £7,100 a year for a couple with a child to stay separate rather than move in together.
Paul Nuttall has committed UKIP to stealing the patriotic working-class vote from Labour. In urban areas and council estates up and down the country, normal life is primarily about ‘my family and kids’.
If UKIP stands alongside the socially conservative working-class and middle-class, and distinct from the anti-family liberal establishment, we will soak up their votes and gain UKIP’s first proper seats in Parliament.