News

By Hilary White

LONDON, December 2, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Labour government appointee to its think tank “charity” on the family, a hard-line feminist, has said that the two-parent “typical family” is outmoded and government efforts to rescue it are futile.

In her inaugural speech as the head of the Family and Parenting Institute, Dr. Katherine Rake said the idea of the traditional family is no longer the “norm” and it is “a trap” for government to alter its policies to try to boost it.

Rake said that because of the rise in divorce, fewer marriages and the growth of civil partnerships, the traditional family in Britain is on its way out. More children will be raised by other relatives such as grandparents and uncles and aunts, she said, and the role of fathers will change dramatically.

Rake's comments have been taken as a direct attack on the opposition Conservatives' tax policy that will favor married couples and those in “registered partnerships.”

Current Children's Minister Ed Balls revealed last week that future Labour government policies will work on the theory that children are not best protected through marriage, but through “stable and lasting relationships between parents.”

However, the leader of the opposition Conservatives, David Cameron, responded by slamming what he called Labour's “pathological” aversion to marriage. But Cameron's party later affirmed that their proposed tax benefits for married couples will also extend to same-sex “registered partners.”

Rake was immediately lambasted in the press by those who said it is precisely feminist-inspired Labour policies that have endangered the traditional family. Rosa Monckton, a fundraiser for various charities relating to children and Down's syndrome, criticized Rake, whom she called “wrongheaded and defeatist,” and the Labour government for having done nothing to support married couples with children.

“On the contrary,” Monckton wrote, “it has positively encouraged single motherhood through welfare benefits and an assured place for single mothers at the front of the council house queue.”

In her Daily Mail op-ed, Monckton cited “survey after survey” that show that children raised by both parents “do better at school, are less likely to get involved in crime, and are more likely to go on to have a stable family life themselves.”

“All these are irrefutable facts. Yet the likes of Dr. Rake nevertheless appear determined that the needs of children take second place to some ideologically inspired agenda to destroy the family, an institution that has been society's bedrock for hundreds of years.”

Monckton also hammered the societal shift away from emphasis on marriage, saying the “ubiquitous” use in Britain of the word “partner” is an insidious indicator. The term can mean anything, she wrote, from a one-night-stand to a lifelong commitment. It “condones relationships in which there is no framework other than pure impulse and self-gratification,” which creates a “chaotic and selfish” environment in which to raise children.

“What message does that send to the children? The words that they want to hear, need to hear, are 'husband' and 'wife'.”

George Pitcher, a liberal Anglican minister who is Religion Editor of Telegraph Media, wrote that, “The big increases in family breakdown are among the marginalised, dispossessed and downright poor, the very people that a Labour Government should have been committed to serving for the past dozen years.”

The Labour government, he said, has created the problem by a benefits system “that disincentivised the unskilled to work at all” and “played soft on drugs” and crime in government housing estates. Its welfare system has encouraged single motherhood and allowed “fathers to abandon their responsibilities through lax custody laws,” Pitcher said.

The website Conservative Home has opened a new page called “Left Watch” in which it is revealed that in 2008/9, of the Family and Parenting Institute's annual £11.8 million budget, £9.5 million comes from the Department of Children, Schools and Families via the Parenting Fund. Ed West, a columnist at the Daily Telegraph, said that the Conservatives would do well to dismantle such government funded pressure groups when they form the government.

“Every study on earth suggests that government tax policies that incentivise lone parenthood are making poor people poorer, so that the chief beneficiaries of this system are the grammar and private school-educated, middle-class people who run these third sector organisations,” West wrote.

“When the media has people like Ms. Rake on to bash Tory policy on the family or ex-Labour man Ben Summerskill, now of the government-funded Stonewall lobby group, to bash the Tories on gay equality we should know a lot more about their background.”

Educated at grammar schools, Rake has been called a “champagne socialist,” having served as a lecturer at the London School of Economics in social policy and headed the far-left Fawcett Society, a feminist think tank on “gender” and social policy. As such, Rake has had a leading role in shaping Labour's family policy. Dr. Rake said that her ambition for the Society was to “to transform the most intimate and private relations between women and men.”