Tony Blair’s Daddy State
Facing the consequences of 30 years hard work by the left to break down societal taboos and redefine “family”;
LONDON – British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday the state should intervene early – possibly even before birth – to stop the children of problem families growing up into troublemakers.
One think-tank said the idea, the latest step in Blair’s drive against crime and anti-social behaviour in Britain, verged on “genetic determinism”.
In his first interview since returning from a Caribbean holiday, Blair told the BBC that teenage mothers could be required to accept state assistance with bringing up their children and could face sanctions if they refused.
Intervention might even be needed “pre-birth”, he said.
“If we are not prepared to predict and intervene far more early then there are children that are going to grow up in families that we know perfectly well are completely dysfunctional, and the kids a few years down the line are going to be a menace to society and actually a threat to themselves,” Blair said.
Blair is seeking to put the focus on his policies to try to halt a slump in his Government’s popularity and shift media attention away from the question of when he will step down.
He said the Government could say to an unmarried teenage mother who was not in a stable relationship: “Here is the support we are prepared to offer you, but we do need to keep a careful watch on you and how your situation is developing because all the indicators are that your type of situation can lead to problems in the future.”
Anastasia de Waal, of social policy think-tank Civitas, said: “It is teetering on genetic determinism this kind of saying that before children are even born they are labelled as problematic.”
Oliver Letwin, policy director for the opposition Conservative Party, slammed Blair’s idea, saying more state intervention and bureaucracy were not the answer.
“The only realistic way forward lies with social enterprise, charities and voluntary groups. It is no good the Government simply trying to run peoples’ lives,” he said.
On the other hand, it’s not as though Blair’s Labour Party has been altogether reluctant to ferret out problems caused by irresponsible parenting – and then some. Flashback:
Mr Ternouth’s thriller flooded back to me this week when I read of the Government’s plan to spend £224million of your money and mine on setting up a database, recording details of the lives of all 12 million children in England and Wales.
Among other things, the Children’s Index will record whether a child’s parents are providing a ‘positive role model’, how the child is performing at school — and even whether youngsters are eating the daily five portions of fruit and vegetables recommended by the Government. Presumably, children will be questioned at school each morning on what their parents fed them the night before.
The database, we are told, will be made available to social workers, teachers and doctors, who will have the power to flag up ‘concerns’ when they think that children are not meeting the criteria laid down by the state.