The author is amiss when she says Labour better serve single parents, but the Tories are right to support married couples
I am so pleased, JK Rowling, that you have made it as a single mother. Well, there are thousands of others like you, too, although maybe not as successful or rich.
Gordon Brown has not been a Hogwart’s wizard for single mothers who want to enter the job market. However, he has waved a magic wand to ensure that single parents stay on benefits as he has created an environment where it just doesn’t pay to go to work.
JKR, you are very good at quoting statistics but the plain figure that you have chosen to ignore is that we have the highest rate of teen pregnancies in western Europe. You don’t explain that this has happened under Brown’s government, where we have children having children. I visit many schools and Sure Start centres. I meet women of my age (47) who are now great-grandmothers. These women have never had jobs; have multiple children by multiple men – none of whom have ever contributed to their children’s upkeep, welfare or moral guidance. They have lived on benefits because grandma did and mother did. These young girls see nothing wrong in this lifestyle and that it is their right to live like this. No one else is telling them that they shouldn’t.
I visited a Sure Start centre a couple of weeks ago where there were six 16-year-old girls with one-year-old babies. Three were pregnant again, none by the same boy, and they saw nothing wrong in this “lifestyle choice”. They did not see anything wrong in claiming benefits and were adamant that they did not want the boys who impregnated them having anything to do with their first-born as they were now with the latest partner. It is so sad to see this and their attitudes are astounding.
I then went to a Catholic primary school that, five years ago, said around 90% of its children were living with two parents; that had now changed to 60% who were living with single parents. This is Brown’s reality-check Britain.
We have to tell these girls that it is unacceptable to get pregnant outside of a stable relationship unless they can support themselves, that the taxpayer cannot afford to keep them and that they have to train to work when they leave school. They have to be given more sex education (it is not compulsory, despite the myth, and this should start at puberty, not five years old) and offered more contraception. It is only by talking openly about marriage, sex, relationships and responsibility that we can change this. It will take a generation, but we have no choice.
I am divorced and a single parent, and nothing would have induced me to stay with my husband, but then again I run a successful business and can support myself. I did not divorce lightly, but what we are saying is that children do better in two-parent families academically and socially, and commit less crime. What is wrong in recognising that in the tax system? Sprinkle a little more fairy dust JKR, but the voters don’t believe you.