There I was, sitting outside a café on the Rive Gauche, yesterday, as you do, sipping a small beer, watching the world go by and considering where to go for lunch before catching the Eurostar back to London.So what was I doing in Paris on a pleasant Sunday in late June?
But that’s not the point.
As I sat in the dappled sunshine I played the people game, which involves the creation of a biography based on the brief information gleaned as people passed. No doubt you have played a similar game.
Normally the game is of little consequence but on this occasion my eye was drawn to a family group consisting of mid-30ish parents surrounded by 5 children ranging from 8-15.
The family were clearly not wealthy. In fact they obviously struggled a bit financially. But the children were confident, well behaved, healthy and mutually supportive.
However I was especially drawn to the parents. The mother had been a very slim, attractive lady in the provocative way that young French girls who don’t deliberately flaunt their sexuality can be. But age and the demands of a young family had tired her and her flesh, which should have plumped out prior to menopause, had become a little emaciated by toil.
Even so she was deeply loved.
Her husband held her tightly to him as though she were the most precious thing in his life. His arm supported her, clasped her as if to tell the world she was the centre of his being. And she surely was. So what’s the point?
Iain Duncan Smith is shortly to publish his recommendations based on the massive research his Policy Commission has undertaken into the dependent society entitled ‘Breakdown Britain.’ I don’t know what his recommendations will be but I would bet that family breakdown will lie at the centre of them. I would put even more money on his proposing the strengthening of the marriage contract by a more supportive tax regime and a more creative benefit structure and it goes without saying that the Conservative Party must accept those proposals.
We learnt only this weekend that marriage, as an institution, has fallen to its lowest level since records began. And that means more children born outside marriage which itself leads to more ‘guest’ father. So what’s wrong with that I hear you ask?
Children need fathers and real fathers are guys who are prepared to fill that role at least until a child reaches maturity. Not difficult really.
Yet all too often the natural father disappears early in a child’s life and a casual ‘guest’ father appears who will be great for six months but will, more often that not, become frustrated with his lot, start abusing both mother and child and the rot sets in.
The cycle thereafter repeats itself two or three times in a child’s formative years, the damage becomes irreparable and the child, especially if it is a boy, comes to the conclusion that men are incapable of real parental love and they themselves, in their turn, assume a similar role. The sins of the father really do impact adversely upon the third and fourth generations.
And what has the French family got to do with all this. Nothing at all other than they reminded me of the importance of stable family units within a caring society.
Iain’s work proves that the breakdown of family life, especially in our inner cities, is synonymous with abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, anti-social behaviour and crime. Of course most of us believe that to be true all along. Sadly New Labour didn’t. Gordon Brown, the architect of Labours economic policies for the last fifteen years, will now try to argue that it wasn’t his fault. He must not be allowed to get away it.
Brian Binley MP