Family Favourites

What is so disappointing about ideologues of all types is that they are so often partly right, only to spoil things by being partly wrong as well! For my money, Tim Montgomerie is on the ball in noticing that Labour and Liberal Democrats fail to recognise the part family breakdown plays with inequality. Yet the characteristic disease of ideologists – oversimplification – appears with him also. Tackling inequality, the housing shortage, and dysfunctional families is not just a matter of being family friendly in simple terms.
Montgomerie assumes that parental care for development and best education of children is a matter of self-sacrifice, and indeed it frequently is (including in cases where people send children to private or faith schools for reasons of discipline). But we should all be familiar with the sort of people who boast about their children’s real or alleged achievements and push them beyond the natural level of effort. These are not self-sacrificing. Any policy or system which encourages that kind of vainglory is not only harmful to children, but also likely to damage the economy through encouraging over-consumption and indebtedness. What is needed for sake of the family itself is a medium course between uncaring fecklessness and straining vainglory. It is not clear that any politician (or preacher) would be capable of finding that.
One point where Montgomerie, the Left, and myself can all agree is that the supply of houses needs to be increased. Of course, where the arguments begin is over where to put the additional houses.

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