Conservative Party

Cameron's 'One Nation' vision for stronger families is back on track


It was a big ‘One Nation’ speech yesterday from the Prime Minister. He set out his vision for education and plans for welfare reform while visiting the Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn. The press inevitably made a big deal of his “ridiculous” welfare merry-go-round comment and what that might mean for the future of tax credits, but there were other mostly overlooked areas of the speech which were actually far more significant.

The speech focused on the Conservative ‘One Nation’ ideal – where we all get the opportunity to live a “good life” – and it had plenty to say on the subject of child poverty, marriage and the consequences of family breakdown. For David Cameron, the state has a manifest role to play in encouraging strong families to give children the best start in life.

This is a big deal because the Conservative Party has been rather mute on this matter as of late. Their 2015 General Election Manifesto squeezed in a paragraph on support for families that did little more than mention the marriage allowance and some funding for relationship support. Back in 2010 things were considerably different, when they dedicated three whole pages to families, including this:

Strong families are the bedrock of a strong society. They provide the stability and love we need to flourish as human beings, and the relationships they foster are the foundation on which society is built. The warmth of a child’s parenting is as important to their life chances as the wealth of their upbringing.

Labour’s complacent attitude to commitment has done untold harm, and their narrow approach ignores the importance of strengthening the relationships between all family members – children, parents, grandparents and the wider family. As a result, Britain is one of the least family-friendly countries in the world.

This will change with a Conservative government. We will help families with all the pressures they face: the lack of time, money worries, the impact of work, concerns about schools and crime, preventing unhealthy influences, poor housing. We will not be neutral on this. Britain’s families will get our full backing across all our policies.

Then, in August of last year, David Cameron introduced the ‘family test’ for all government policies. He explained:

“Whether it’s the benefits system incentivising couples to live apart or penalising those who go out to work or whether it’s excessive bureaucracy preventing loving couples from adopting children with no family at all.

“We can’t go on having government taking decisions like this which ignore the impact on the family.

“Put simply that means every single domestic policy that government comes up with will be examined for its impact on the family.”

This is the attitude which any sensible government ought to have toward family stability, so for David Cameron to be back ‘on message’ is something of a relief.

There are two main reasons why putting meaningful family policy at the top of the agenda is of profound importance to government. Firstly, there are the financial implications of family breakdown.

Last year the Relationships Foundation estimated that the annual cost of family breakdown in this country is £46 billion. This is an eye-watering amount, and not far off the government’s entire education budget. It is also a fairly conservative assessment: others have put the figure at as much as £100 billion. These costs include increased benefits payments; treatment for related physical and mental health problems; social services and care; civil and criminal justice costs, and educational costs including dealing with behavioural problems, free school meals, and funding for looked-after children. Any government investment that keeps families together will be money well spent. For example, it is estimated that each pound spent on relationship support leads to between £8.60 and £11.50 of societal benefit.

Important as the financial aspect is, it pales in comparison to the human cost of broken relationships. Emotional security, financial well-being and life chances are far more likely to deteriorate when children are brought up without secure and stable environments. Family breakdown is a matter of social justice. It is inevitable that strong, secure families build a stronger, more secure society.

By their fifth birthday, children are three times more likely to see their parents separate if they are cohabiting rather than married. By the time they reach 15, the disparity is more pronounced: approximately 70 per cent of married parents will still be together, compared to 20 per cent of cohabiting parents. If you want stronger, more secure families, all the data and research suggests that the most effective way to see this happen is to value and invest in marriage. Every pound spent on marriage preparation has been found to lead to around £11.50 worth of societal benefits. Lone parents have been the focus of much government support in recent years, but irrespective of how unpopular it might be in some sections of society, it makes sense for governments to make a significant effort to encourage couples to marry and stay together.

Having said that, and bearing in mind David Cameron’s ‘family test’, there is undoubtedly still a great deal to do to get anywhere close to this ‘One Nation’ ideal. Our tax credit system still has a significant and perverse couple penalty. In a family with two children, where the mother earns £10,000 and the father £25,000, they would be better off by £9,417 if they lived apart. This figure is £110 higher than it was before the 2014 Autumn Statement, which doesn’t really cohere with a functioning ‘family test’.

There is a whole raft of policies which could be put in place to do more to support families. Conservative Home has devoted this week to the matter, and a number of commentators and analysts, including David Burrowes MP and Christian Guy, Director of the Centre for Social Justice, have proposed a wide selection of tax and welfare reforms that would be both workable and effective.

It is impossible, though, for the tide to turn through government action alone. Governments can do much to inculcate a good work/life balance, and even more to ensure that regimes of taxation don’t discriminate against families where one parent stays at home to look after their children. But societal attitudes are harder to change, and relationship difficulties are not fixed by political policies.

This is where the Church has a role. Marriage and the family are key concerns for Christians, and the churches should hold governments to account where they see that families are not being served well. But they should also encourage a government when it gets it right. Churches are in a unique position to offer help to those around them, whether they be families, young mothers or lone parents. Marriage and money courses, toddler groups and foodbanks are already widespread. But relationships support and counselling, along with investment in children and family workers, are areas ripe for growth. Tackling the barriers to marriage, such as the high costs of a wedding, are just as vital. The continuing fracturing of the family unit is only inevitable if we fail to make the effort to counsel, support and heal. If we allow the same mistakes, habits and lifestyles to carry over from one generation to the next, the cycle of breakdown becomes inexorable.

So, well done, Prime Minister, for speaking up for what is good and virtuous. Please listen to those who support you in this and are offering well-grounded ideas and advice. Be brave and do what is right. Make the changes needed to put families and their security first. You may not see much reward during your term of office, but even if others reap what you sow it will be a powerful legacy which will continue to bear fruit for decades to come.






  • Anton

    May his deeds match his words.

    ‘Quickie’ divorces are now set to take two days rather than several months…

    • sarky

      Sorry but I don’t see that as a bad thing. If two people have both decided they can’t be together, what is the point in prolonging the anguish?? If I have read this right it doesn’t apply if only one person decides to end the relationship. If that is the case then I fully agree with it being a lengthy process as a kind of deterrent.
      As for cost being a barrier to marriage – rubbish. You don’t have to have the big wedding. Me and the Mrs jumped in a minibus with a few mates and ran off to Gretna. We did it for us, not for everyone else.

      • Anton

        I agree that this plugs into deep issues. But I like the reply that an elderly person made about such things, “I come from the generation where if something was broken you put effort into repairing it rather than throwing it away and getting another.”

        It raises the question of why people want to marry – as they do – and what their word means. And let’s not forget the children; I know someone who said that they could bear their parents’ arguments when they were young but lived in dread of them separating.

        That said, divorce – like marriage – was once a matter for the couple, who then informed the authorities. The State has a right to know who is married because of laws concerning inheritance, adultery etc, but today the State grants you to be married and divorced and I call that nationalisation.

        • sarky

          I dont think anyone who divorces (contrary to popular belief) does it on a whim. Having seen most of my friends go through it, it seems to be a slowly realised understanding that things can’t be fixed. I don’t know anyone who didn’t try to mend their relationship, it just broke down. After going through the horrendous process of a divorce, without exception, my friends are all individually happier. This has also fed down to the kids (and I know because I talk to them) who were miserable living in a warzone.

          • Anton

            Where is the lesser of two evils? Here is a comment from a woman who ran a daycare facility and saw the effects all too often: “Divorce is nothing more or less than war in microcosm. But the war is the country, religion, economic base, and social universe of the child. The war causes the destruction of everything the child knows in his or her culture. It is the child’s world war, for the world of the child, and everything in it, dies. And the victim of the war is the divorced child… Divorce devastates most children… It damages their spirits… [they] bear the trademark sadness in their eyes” (Nancy Levant, The Cultural Devastation of American Women, p. 81, 82 & 138).

          • sarky

            Lets be honest they are both horrendous for the children. However, having two individualy happy parents is better than having two miserable married ones. I can only talk from experience and like I said after a period of adjustment the children were happier (think alot of this is also down to the parents and whether or not they use the kids as weapons).

          • Anton

            I agree that these are difficult and often unhappy matters. But when the family breaks down too badly, history indicates that society does too.

          • CliveM


            There has been a lot of research into this issue:


            Is just one example. Most studies seem to say (at least) that divorce is bad for children. The question though of whether it is less bad that living in a ‘war zone’ with parents for ever at each other’s throat is harder to judge and there are studies both ways. I suspect it is dependent on how intense the married couples hostility is and the age of the children, and cause and effect are hard to distinguish (ie are the child’s problems caused by the divorce or by the fighting in the run up to the divorce) but at the least, it is not clear that divorce has a positive impact, except in the minority of cases.

          • sarky

            Like I said, I’m only going off personal experience.

          • CliveM

            Understood, I was engaging in a conversation not trying to ridicule your position!! It is difficult.

          • sarky

            Hi Clive, I never took it that way!!
            Like you said, it’s difficult.

          • Phil R

            The statistics say otherwise for kids of divorce.

            5 times less likely to fail at school,

            5 times more likely to take drugs and become mentally ill.

            5 times more likely to be abused or abusers

            and up to 20 times more likely to end up with a prison sentence

            Yeah a lot happier!

          • sarky

            27% of born-again Christians have had at least one divorce
            24% of all non-born-again Christians have been divorced

            21% of atheists have been divorced
            21% of Catholics and Lutherans have been divorced
            24% of Mormons have been divorced
            25% of mainstream Protestants have been divorced
            29% of Baptists have been divorced
            24% of nondenominational, independent Protestants have been divorced

          • Busy Mum

            Maybe fewer atheists get married in the first place?

          • sarky

            ????? I think it’s probably more than christians, so the stats for us are even more impressive.

          • Busy Mum

            You think – but do you know? I’m just interested to know how many atheists get married, and if they do, why?

          • sarky

            What do you mean why??? Because it’s a public declaration of love and commitment. You seem to have a very strange view of atheism.

          • Phil R

            Meaningless stats

            they do not say at what point in their lived the Christians became divorced

            Also whether or not Christians divorce more or less does not detract from point about the destructiveness of divorce on children

          • sarky

            No this is true. But I can’t see how you can claim the moral high ground on this one.

          • Phil R

            I don’t claim moral high ground on divorce. I think your stats could be misleading as they do not take into account whether they are regular Church attenders or not.

            I agree that it is my experience that sadly Christians are not immune to divorce and affairs. I was simply stating the clear negative effects on children.

            BTW the Bible does give two grounds for divorce as a Christian. These are abandonment and unrepentant adultery.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Too many married too quickly, that’s the real issue. No preparation for what it really means given by the state, and schools too busy teaching about sex, not about how to have a lasting relationship. Which requires much work, especially when things are not so good.

          • sarky

            Cant win. Dammed if you do, dammed if you dont.

          • Anton

            Most people married a lot younger historically than today. And it is not the State’s proper role to teach marriage preparation, just as it is not the State’s proper role to teach sex. (Teach sex? Anybody would think sex was difficult, when the obvious problem is that it is too easy.) This is a deep cultural problem.

          • Dominic Stockford

            The historical argument about age is not relevant, what is, is the dictum – ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure’ – except it is not at leisure and everyone gets mighty hurt because of the haste. And who cares about the state in this? They have no idea what marriage really is – the church and the family should be teaching these things – except that much of the church and the role of the family are being/have been subverted by the state to its own ends.

      • dannybhoy

        Been married twice. Neither wedding cost more than £300.

        “Sorry but I don’t see that as a bad thing. If two people have both decided they can’t be together, what is the point in prolonging the anguish??”

        I think people divorce too quickly! If no third party is involved a time of separation is a good way to figure out where you both are and what is really at the bottom of the unhappiness(es).
        Especially where there are children involved. Children didn’t ask to be brought into the world, and the very least their parents can do for them is to take the time, explore every avenue before going down the road to divorce. The damage done to young children through divorce often results in a lack of self worth, a looking for love and a fear of commitment.

        • sarky

          Not really disagreeing with you!

      • Phil R

        It is just like shopping really. If you don’t like Tesco then dump Tesco and shop at Sainsburys instead.

        It is about whatever makes you happy right


        • sarky

          If you had bothered to read my other posts, you will see that’s not what I’m saying at all.

      • Ivan M

        The idea is that marriage is a very serous thing. It exists mainly as far as state and society are concerned for the upbringing of children, and to keep the free-floating libido in check. The opt-out cost is to be kept high, so that those who commit to marriage understand the gravity of their responsibilities..

        • sarky

          They should understand that without an opt-out cost!

  • James60498 .

    Of course it’s taken a while to get “on track”.

    First of all he had to change the definition of a family so that any group of individuals can decide to be one.

    Then by removing Child Benefit from some people he started to force them to go out to work leaving their children in the “Care” of OFSTED approved liberal project camps. And now, to further punish those who don’t he is taking taxes and benefits from them so that those who want to leave them with carers can have 30 hours a week free child care.

    Oh and yes. Presumably when the Churches give this “Relationship Support”, they will be sued under Cameron legislation if they do not treat “Gay marriages” as equals.

    And then of course, as Anton and the Daily Mail point out above, moving from “one family” to another will become so much easier.

    Oh yes. Cameron really is a man in support of the family.

  • Maalaistollo

    I once read – I forget where – that the current definition of ‘family’ is ‘any two or more individuals who share the same fridge.’

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Gillan, the title of this piece sounds like a bit of sarcasm to me. Whereas the Government sees marriage and the family as a political fad that goes in and out of fashion depending on what the focus groups say, to us it is a central and constant part of life. If Cameron really wants to show some pro-family credentials, he would do something to remove the stigma of mothers who want to stay at home and raise their children properly while helping hard-pressed fathers who are out earning the bacon. That will do more for families and society than flying the rainbow flag over Whitehall and pandering to anti-family feminists.

    • Anton

      Yes. The point is that daycare cannot begin to replicate the mother’s second-by-second care for and response to an infant, which is based on her love, based in turn on the fact that it is HER child. I believe that that second-by-second interaction is crucial for the proper development of the child.

      • magnolia

        And also based on her understanding of the family genes and culture, hopefully on both sides of the family, that have helped create that person. Like tends to breed like, and is best placed to understand like, especially when the children are small.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Rainbow flag in evidence in Waterloo Station today, as also on the side of London buses. Why do they have to shove this down everyone’s throats so? They’d never permit ‘celebrate husband and wife day’, nor adverts on buses celebrating Christian marriage.

      • Anton

        They never reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, though…

  • carl jacobs

    The culture now consists of atomized adults who claim the freedom to screw whom they want when they want without any obligation whatsoever. They can couple and decouple at will. They deny any responsibility to accept children. They can conceive children and abort them on a whim. They have no necessary responsibility to form any particular relationship in which to bring children, and they feel no obligation to sustain that relationship if they find some advantage in not doing so.

    And NOW he wants to talk about strong families? What family? You have destroyed it. This whole exercise is postulated on the idea that people will voluntarily do what needs to be done even though they are perfectly free to indulge their own desires and do otherwise. Here’s a hint. They won’t. And they aren’t. They are chasing after selfish interests at the expense of their children. You aren’t going to fix it with money. Irresponsibility and selfishness go to the core.

    • magnolia

      “You aren’t going to fix it with money.”

      Good point but it seems that the Government has virtually no perception of problems where tax payer money doesn’t fix it, if given to the right people in the right way in the right direction with the right strings attached in the right quantity.

      You cannot serve God and Mammon and they act most of the time as if Mammon is all there is.

  • The (centrally determined) cost of Church of England weddings puts off couples who contact our inner city church interested in marriage. They then choose to marry in the registry office for 1/3 of the price. And miss out on marriage preparation and the relationship support available here. The CofE needs to address the serious over pricing of marriage services and its contribution to the ridiculous escalation in costs of weddings.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Surely the high cost of weddings is in the receptions and unnecessary trappings, not in the cost of the service.

      • dannybhoy

        The hope nowadays is to have paid off the cost of the wedding before the divorce..

        • CliveM


      • As I said above, not if you’re poor. So the Church of England disincentives marriage in the poorest areas instead of promoting it.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      I’m not sure what the fee is now, but I remember paying around £200 to £300 to the vicar when I got married 12 years ago. It’s not a trivial fee, but I would expect it to be far less than the cost of the reception, etc which typically runs to thousands. If couples are put off by this small-ish fee, one wonders how serious they are about the spiritual aspect of their marriage

      • sarky

        The simple answer is they are not.

      • The Explorer

        The basic cost of a C of E wedding in 2015 is £441. (That includes the reading of banns, and organist.)
        Registry Office (average) is £115 Mon -Thu, £145 Fri, £250 weekends, £355 on public holidays.

        Average wedding costs £18,000. Civil or religious, the actual ceremony is a minor part of the overall cost.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I wonder what the average cost of a ‘free church wedding’ is. Our church would average at about £50 or so, free for members. Doesn’t bring them in – because that isn’t what they care about and want the money for.

        • If you’re poor, the cost of the ceremony can be a substantial part of the cost. Average costs don’t count when £200 is a week’s wages (as was the case for a recent marriage enquirer here).

          • The Explorer

            Yes, that’s a good point. Should the cost of a church wedding be dropped to match registry office levels? Or a sliding scale depending on income of those about to be married?

          • Exactly. If churches want to encourage marriage, especially amongst those less likely to marry at all, an option to discount for those in need should be available. Alas, our church doesn’t have the funds to be able to subsidise those who need it, or I think we’d do that.

  • Uncle Brian

    This will change with a Conservative government. We will help families with all the pressures they face: the lack of time, money worries, the impact of work, concerns about schools and crime, preventing unhealthy influences, poor housing. We will not be neutral on this. Britain’s families will get our full backing across all our policies.

    That was what Cameron promised in 2010. He has had five years to deliver on that promise. From what I’ve been reading here on the Archbishop Cranmer blog, I get the impression that the British family is no better off, as a family, now than it was under Blair and Brown. Have I missed something?

    • CliveM

      Ah yes, but that as in the bad old days or the coalition! Nick Clegg stopped him.

      Of course it does mean he now has no where to hide!

  • James60498 .

    “Preventing unhealthy influences.”

    Is he including the OFSTED inspectors responsible for the closure of the Christian School because it refused to promote the “gay agenda”?

    Or does he just mean those influences that he thinks are unhealthy. Like Christian schools who refuse to teach the “gay agenda”.

  • This is reported rather breathlessly.

    Mr. Cameron is a man with a long track record, of adopting the left’s social agenda, in detail, line-by-line.

    Homosexual “marriage”, abortion on demand, pushing mothers into the work-place, more state intervention, feminism, normalising work on the Lord’s Day, state schools pushing the gay agenda at public expense, etc. etc.

    So, has he had a conversion? Does he believe his previous *actions* were wrong? Has he said so? No, no, no.

    Or is this just more talk to keep the faithful believing that he’s secretly sympathetic to social conservatism, and not actually someone glad to advance the cross-party liberal consensus, time after time? More talk, because he knows that a lot of the electorate is more conservative than he is, and will keep voting for him in return for the expending of a bit more hot air? Mr. Cameron’s led the Tories for 10 years now. Are there really people who still don’t know the answer to these questions?

    Why is Gillan Scott so naive? Does he actually believe the things he’s writing, or get some comfort from persuading himself that David Cameron really, really, deep down, has a Christian view on any social issues, and has just been suppressed by wicked forces preventing him from acting as he really believed up until now? Seriously?

  • Shadrach Fire

    I’m sorry but I just don’t trust David Cameron. Not after what he did to marriage in the last Parliament. He speaks about the benefits of family but fails to deliver, except to destroy it.
    I believe in the real marriage and the need to train couples how to continue to live together. A very good book and Website is The Five Languages of Love.
    It teaches how we fail to recognise the things that our partners will respond to most, thus creating a selfless relationship that will last.

    • Anton

      Didn’t he say that he was such a fan of marriage that he wanted to extend it to persons of the same sex?

      • James60498 .

        More than that, one of his main stated aims is to export it to other countries.

        • Anton

          Ditto Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who reportedly refused (intelligence) help to Nigeria in its battle against Boko Haram because of Nigeria’s stance against family issues such as SSM and abortion.

          • The Explorer

            Another factor might have been not making themselves unpopular with Muslims.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        He did say that, though I’m not sure who gave him authority to redefine nature

    • sarky

      To last you need to be an expert In compromise and to remember two little words. ……….’yes dear’

      • CliveM

        If by compromise you mean let her get her way, I agree.

  • CliveM

    It has to be said the Prime Minister has a well established track history of making fine sounding speeches and then failing to act on them.

    • Pubcrawler

      As you would expect from the ‘Heir to Blair’.

  • Inspector General

    We have seen in this country, the gradual erosion of the Christian religion by the state on an incremental basis over at least 4 decades. Now, someone in government is smart enough to see the price tag that comes with this secularisation. Be it family breakdown, crime or a myriad of other unfortunates so resulting, including a boom time for divorce, paedophilia and homosexuality. The latter being the ultimate in hedonism as can be revealed by the cost of spreading disease (See BBC on line news today for shocking new infection figures). Understandably, the state would rather have its armed forces back than continuing to shell out a year by year growing figure that tries to buy mitigation for the wounds.

    Anyway, that is the Inspector’s opinion. If it be Cameron’s too, then perhaps he might consider a ‘marriage grant’. Up to a couple of thousand say for the couple payable on receiving invoices from approved wedding service providers like churches, bridal outfitters and catering companies.

    Let’s bring back marriage and nurture the institution this time, instead of bastardising it as happened last year, what!

    • Anton

      Repayable if they divorce.

      • Inspector General

        Let’s give the marvellous institution of marriage some credit, Anton. One does believe it will make a difference to relationships, as well as legitimising the young and delightful happy young bastards the Inspector comes across in his travels…

        • Anton

          I’m entirely serious. In the Ancient Near and Middle East and still today in parts of it there are dowries and bride prices to be paid, and their social function is to make splitting up harder ie financial disincentive. I’m not suggesting any novel principle. Moreover, without the sanction I propose, people will marry and then get one of these wonderful new 48-hour divorces simply in order to cash in.

          • Inspector General

            Hmmm In that case divorce will need to take one to two years. And lets bring back causation too…

          • Linus

            There’s already a financial disincentive to divorce. Parents who move out of the family home have to house themselves and contribute towards the upkeep of any children. The penniless divorced father living in a tiny apartment isn’t a myth. There are hundreds of thousands of them and they’re a significantly disadvantaged group.

            If you’re proposing redefining marriage to make it more like the biblical model, which is all about social and religious obligation, and where love plays little or no part, good luck getting support from anyone except a few fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Jews.

            Propose away. But don’t be too surprised when your proposals are laughed at, rejected outright, or just plain ignored.

          • Phil R

            Hence the if you don’t like Tescos shop at Sainsburys comment I made earlier. If you don’t like a shop you dump it and shop elsewhere. If the sex is better elsewhere then as you say we live in a consumerist society so you might make a compliant about the sex in order like you would do in a shop, to get them to do whatever they need to do to please you, or you might just walk, without Tescos even knowing what the problem was or indeed that there was a problem.

            As you say, whats the problem with that model. We don’t have laws to insist that we stay loyal to an under-performing shop so we should not have laws keeping us loyal to an under-performing spouse?

            We should be laughed at for suggesting otherwise

          • sarky

            Always comes back to sex with you doesn’t it? (Freud would have a field day).
            Sex isn’t the cause it’s a symptom. I don’t know anyone who got divorced because of ‘an under performing shop’.

          • Phil R

            Yes I forgot Sarky

            Marriage is about companionship, mutual respect etc

            Of course, all those spouses having an affair today are looking for better companionship, someone to talk to about their dreams etc.

            Sex is a pretty irrelevant component of the affair……

          • sarky

            In most cases, men are looking for their emotional needs to be met. Sex is just a natural progression.

          • Phil R

            Yeah right. ..

            Emotional needs.

            Prostitution provides that service also?

            Why men. Women have affairs. I might agree with you if you said women want emotional needs met in an affair.

            In the 50 shades generstion ( Or perhaps revelation about female desire) I am not so sure.

          • dannybhoy

            Dunno about that. Most men are more aware of the ‘fairer’ bit of the ‘fairer’ sex. Mark Gungor’s pretty good on this subject..

          • dannybhoy

            Some people have strong sex drives, but for the most part sex is what ensures we make babies and so keep the species going.
            In a good marriage couples make the transition from nest building and child rearing to companionship and a deeper expression of love and mutual support and appreciation. Their attention often turns to contributing to the wider community and helping their kids.

          • Linus

            “… make a compliant (sic) about the sex …”

            The Freudian slips made by Christians tell us so much about what really goes on under the butter-wouldn’t-melt veneer they present to the world.

            So “Fifty Shades of Grey” is your current guilty pleasure, is it?

            Takes all sorts, I suppose…

          • Phil R

            I’m not sure I have a ” butter-wouldn’t-melt veneer” and I do not own any leather trousers for that matter.

            BTW, why would an Athieist see “Fifty Shades of Grey” as a guilty pleasure for Christians?

          • Linus

            I judge it not by my standards, which are very much not offended by “50 Shades of Grey”. Amused perhaps, and slightly perplexed. But not offended.

            If fat and frustrated straight women want to fantasize about being whipped by bankers, let ’em, I say. It’s all a bit “ew!”, especially when you consider that leather and rubber are the last things these women should be wearing. The rigid and tight-fitting nature of garments made of these materials makes the subcutaneous fat of those who struggle into them bulge up around the seams, and the overall impression you’re left with is of a couple of kilos of marshmallow stuffed into a condom. How anyone can find that attractive is beyond me. But I guess it takes all sorts…

            No, the guilt I was talking about comes from the Christians. They read pornographic novels like “50 Shades of Grey” and are (only your imaginary God knows why) titillated by them, and then they go to church on Sunday and are overcome by guilt and shame. To relieve themselves, they spit venom at the gays, and the divorced, and those who cohabit … at anyone except themselves and their own sins against their god. One assumes they whip themselves in private in order to expiate their guilt, but in public they content themselves with criticizing others.

            That’s what Christianity is all about, isn’t it? Learning to pose as holy the better to castigate your neighbour for his shortcomings.

          • Phil R

            I don’t consider myself better than you morally.

            But I do consider your lifestyle choice immoral.

          • Linus

            What’s a “lifestyle choice”?

            And who are you to judge me immoral?

            Oh of course, I forgot … you’re God, aren’t you? Or rather he’s the sock-puppet you slip over your own ego, which you then bow down and worship.

            Now that’s what I call truly immoral behaviour. Crazy too. It’s clear there’s nothing omnipotent or omniscient about you, but you’re so convinced that what you believe is the absolute truth, you’re even willing to abuse your fellow man and call him immoral – in direct contravention to your own religion’s absolute commandment not to judge! You thereby set yourself up as greater than what you say is revealed truth. You know better than the bible. So you must be God.

            Only in your poor benighted head, I’m afraid…

          • Phil R

            I am not judging you in the slightest. I am just stating that I consider your lifestyle choice to be immoral. Based on the teaching of the Bible. That is not judging you. I cannot judge because as you correctly point out I am not God

          • Anton

            There is a financial disincentive for MEN to divorce, Linus. In today’s bountiful and feminised society women do rather well out of it: get to keep the kids, get maintenance money, and can “go out” with anybody they like. (No, I have not been in a divorce.)

            I’m as happy to keep religion out of this discussion as you are. But it is a fact of history that when divorce/remarriage has rocketed, society has soon crumbled. Read “Sex and Culture by JD Unwin (1934; NB Unwin was secular). It follows that a society that wants to survive should use all incentives to promote stable marriage, including financial ones. As to whether there is love inside those marriages, that is a matter for the couple.

          • Linus

            Our society isn’t crumbling. It’s merely changing. The rules and expectations of previous generations are giving way to something less rigid and stifling, which to the rigid and stifled Christian is nothing short of an apocalypse, because his entire world depends on rigidity and a sense of being stifled.

            “A place for everything and everything in its place” is a mantra ill-suited to our time, unfortunately. It’s hardly surprising to see how the Christian panics and prophesies doom and destruction when the rules he so depends upon are ignored by others. Only we’re still here, there has been no doom and no destruction, and they won’t come just because you want them to in order to punish everyone else for not obeying your rules.

          • Anton

            Time will tell which of us is right about our society, but read Unwin for unambiguous documentary evidence that a society that goes promiscuous doesn’t last. He has his own (nonreligious) theory of why this is, but is smart enough to keep it separate from the results of the historical study.

          • Linus

            I take the work of Unwin and his contemporaries like Malinowski with a very large grain of salt. The Fascist period of history gave rise to many bizarre and so-called “rationalistic” theories of anthropology, few of which have stood the test of time.

            I’m not surprised that you would set so much store by ideas born in the regimented and militaristic culture of the 1930s however. The correlation between traditional Christianity and extreme right-wing socio-political beliefs has long been established. You show me an out Christian, I’ll show you a closet fascist. Or a hippy-trippy, happy-clappy, peace-and-love whack-job…

            Either way, it’s all about extremes, isn’t it? Were you born with a concept of all-or-nothing engraved on your brain, do you think? Or did you learn it as a child?

          • Anton

            If you dismiss the references I give (without stating that you have read them and arguing what might be wrong with them) then of course you can prove whatever you like, but you will convince nobody but yourself. I don’t agree with Unwin’s explanation myself but, as I said, he was smart enough to keep it separate from the empirical findings of his historical study.

          • Busy Mum

            I agree with you about divorced fathers being a significantly disadvantaged group, living in their tiny apartments whilst the mothers keep the house and the children and expect the fathers to finance the entire future too.

          • Linus

            If marriage is just a child rearing contract then it’s entirely reasonable of a woman to insist that her husband honour the terms of such a deal by paying her to rear the children, even if it means impoverishing himself.

            Marriage classes in churches should perhaps be based around a catchy slogan that explains the indissolubility of a Christian union and conveys the millstone or albatross-like nature of a wife. “Gifts are for Christmas, but a wife is for life” gets the point across. I mean, men need to realize that if they’re expecting their wives to gestate and care for their offspring, they’re going to have to pay for it. For life.

            They have a choice of course. They can stay with the mother of their children and thus reduce expenses as much as possible, thereby hoping at least to afford the odd night of binge-drinking, when they can get together with other hard-pressed fathers and husbands and drown their sorrows in alcohol while bitching about how repeated childbearing has transformed “‘er indoors” from a shapely Jennifer Lawrence into a shapeless Jabba the Hut. Or they can make a break for it and content themselves with abstemious solitude and a rabbit hutch of a bedsit. That’s all they’ll be able to afford after the authorities have docked their salary by about 99% for child support and generous alimony payments to feed the ever-expanding waistline – and sense of grievance – of their abandoned wife.

            What price freedom, eh? It’s a question that most middle-aged husbands and fathers probably ask themselves at some point. Do they continue to put up with the constant moaning of a woman whose life is so turned in upon itself that the tiniest of complaints fills her entire horizon (well, the bit of the horizon not already obscured by the pendulous mummy tummy, of course…)? Or do they cut and run?

            In my view, it’s not surprising to see more and more men opting for the latter choice. If marriage is nothing but a child rearing contract, then it’s just as subject to cost/profit analysis as any other contractually binding arrangement. Each man will attach relatively different values to both the cost and the profit sides of the equation. But if he feels he’s being taken for a ride, he’ll do something about it.

            That’s the inevitable result of reducing marriage to an obligation. Contracts are made to be broken, penalty clauses notwithstanding. And when it becomes more attractive to break the contract rather than honour it, you need to ask what’s wrong with the contract in the first place.

  • Martin


    Unfortunately what David Cameron means by family isn’t what Christians mean. And governments over the years have undermined families by encouraging women to go out to work, removing the support originally provided through the tax system for single earner households and introducing so called ‘equal’ marriage which is really designed to destroy marriage. In other words, you are a useful fool.

    • Dominic Stockford

      If Gillan thinks Cameron’s speech is great then it goes to show how far left the Tories now are.

  • David

    Another day and another empty speech. Then like his hero Blair he flits ever onwards towards the next vacuous soundbite – a very “modern” politician is Mr Cameron.

    So here we have more empty words from the PM who redefined marriage, thus confounding its obvious purposes, for the care and protection of those children resulting from the sexual union of the married couple.

    Cameron has attacked marriage, not defended it.

    He is motivated, not to strengthen the care and nurture of the very young, by their mothers, as nature obviously intended, but to boost national tax yields by encouraging premature, post-birth returns to the workforce.

    Cameron is shameless.

    • Dominic Stockford

      And his tax system makes life even worse. I thank God that I am a church minister with a church house, because that enables my wife to stay at home and give her time to our girls (as well as all the work she does for the older people in the congregation, and visiting her old and getting older mum, and so on). But, for others, I feel sorrow. Mothers forced to go to work as well as fathers in order to be able to afford to live, and children left uncared for from 7am until 6pm.

      • David

        Growing up in the 50s and 60s my Dad, although only a foreman, earned enough to support his wife and two sons with a very good standard of living, in their own house, with annual family holiday and even a modest family car.

        Nowadays the same type of couple would both be out all hours to provide the same material well-being. So small children are simply not getting the careful attention that my brother and I received, and marriages are under more strain.

        Despite the liberal narrative of ever better, onwards towards their imagined godless utopia, I maintain that as a society we have regressed, even in the limited sphere of economics. I feel for the young.

      • CliveM


        I remember some one who ran breakfast clubs and after school clubs, being asked by a couple if it would be possible to drop off their 3.5 yr old daughter at 7 in the morning, picking up at 7 at night (kid going to pre school in between). Thing is they were both Consultants. So their would have been plenty of money.

        I think in a significant percentage of cases, this isn’t about economic necessity. It s about 3 holidays a year, expensive new cars and ‘personal fulfilment’. And damn the needs of the poor child.

        In many ways this isn’t being led by Govts but is being demanded by society. I think we are kidding ourself if we believe most working mothers work for economic necessity. I suspect that most do it for other, selfish, material reasons.

    • michaelkx

      Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

      (Ecc 12:8)

      or Look after number one.

  • Inspector General

    For those communicants who believe that Cameron is a damned scoundrel going by his past form, then yes, one agrees. But if he shows some usefulness in his latter years as PM, we should not give up on him…

    • Owl

      Leopard and spots come to mind!

      • Inspector General

        The fellow is such an intellectually light thick, no one knows what he’ll do next…

        • Shadrach Fire

          Did you just write that bearing in mind what you wrote above?

          • Inspector General


  • Phil R

    The gold standard for parenting is biological heterosexual parents that stay together to raise their children. This is still the norm BTW.

    What is not the norm is that families can afford one parent to stay at home to raise the children. Instead one parent drops the kids off at a government subsided expensive day orphanage, often to do meaningless work on min wage. If the tax and benefits system was at all sensible, then this stupid merry go round of money and waste would not be needed and it would pay to be married, not pay not to be.

    The current tax and benefit system is too stupid for words.

    Also Imagine what our country could do with £40 to £100 billion + saved every year!

  • Rasher Bacon

    Has anyone seen a decent study of the financial impact (mainly on house prices) of the doubling of incomes for families when it became common for mothers to go out to work? I get the impression that it was mainly in the 80’s that the big price boom was partly fuelled by this increased income, but that we now have the situation where it’s necessary to feed the beast we have created – to pay the mortgage.

    We gained an increased workforce and temporarily increased disposable income, but prices went up and available time went down. I’m not saying that women shouldn’t work, but I get the impression that the effect was unintended, and affects a couple of generations of children. We now think that helping the family equals lower childcare costs, as if our children applaud the savings and the absence of father and mother from their days doesn’t matter to them. The valuation is made, but it’s wrong.

    There’s a whole raft of other external economic influences on the problem, but I haven’t seen this factor properly explored yet.

    • The economy needed women. The banks benefited from higher debt, so why not include both earners? The global financial markets was the winner, as was consumerist capitalism more generally.

  • Natural Law and Catholic teaching on faith and morals anybody …….. anybody?

  • Phil R

    I see Cameron blowing wherever the wind blows him. He is a deciple of Blair and Clinton and true to form is starting his reelection campaign as soon as he is elected. Whatever it takes to be reelected he will do, as the three of them understand perfectly the democratic system and what needs to be done in order for the country to reelect. It is a very successful formula, but don’t expect any principled positions.

    Even if he wanted to make the country more family friendly would he have the authority to do it anymore?

    “Damn Judges, stopping the good things I want to do. I will have to deal with them if I am reelected etc”

    And so the soap opera continues for another series.

    The sad thing is we still think it is real.

  • Manfarang

    The family test doesn’t apply to human rights it seems.