Message to Cameron: Don’t judge our families

The Conservative Party seems to want to take us back to the days when only one kind of family was acceptable.

Our guest writer is Sarah Milne, an author and freelancer

On Tuesday, a film was released to highlight the potential consequences widowed and single parent families would face as a result of the Conservative Party’s marriage tax break. It was released by the Don’t Judge My Family campaign and supported by a letter from 70 widows and widowers, published in The Telegraph. As reported by Left Foot Forward, the letter expressed anger at the idea of families facing financial penalties when they are at their most vulnerable.
 

David Cameron has said the financial incentive of the tax break is less important than his desire to give the message that marriage is central in his aim to create a ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ society. It is this ‘message’ that worries me the most.

I am a single mum to three happy and balanced children who are described as ‘inspirational’ by nearly everyone who meets them. If you are wondering if it’s possible for children bought up by a single mum to be referred to in that way then take a look at the film.

 

That’s my family, the one having fun together and collapsing into spontaneous laughter at the end.

My youngest son, William, has complex medical needs, mild cerebral palsy and Asperger’s Syndrome. He had an organ transplant at the end of 2008 and, shortly afterwards, my partner told me that the stress we’d been through had taken its toll and damaged our relationship beyond repair. Neither of us did anything wrong, we had just been tested too far.

A follower told me on twitter that she doesn’t think the Conservative ideas necessarily prejudice against families like mine. I disagree. Once a government sends out strong messages concerning whom it values and whom it doesn’t it will be picked up in the media and become absorbed into the public consiousness. David Cameron says this policy is about creating a ‘we’ society.

As Harriet Harman has suggested, that ‘we’ will be “smug married couples…wagging their fingers” at people like me. Oh, and believe me, it happens. My girls have been told that they are poor because they are in a single parent family. A vicar once told me that I really should be married .

After asking me where his Dad was, I was once told by a stranger that my son’s behaviour in a supermarket (a result of his Asperger’s Syndrome and a situation I had completely under control) hardly surprising if I’m trying to bring him up on my own. How much worse will this be for families like mine under a government preaching marriage as the route to acceptance?

A comment has been left on You Tube saying the families shown in the campaign film demonstrate that “Embracing change is positive and empowering for us as individuals and as a society generally”. I really don’t understand why the Conservative Party don’t agree. They seem to want to take us back to the days when only one kind of family was acceptable and it worries me.

29 Responses to “Message to Cameron: Don’t judge our families”

  1. Think Debate

    RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  2. Sarah Milne

    RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  3. Matt Lopez-Dias

    RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  4. Rachael Mc

    RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families: http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  5. Jo Cox

    RT @Sarah_E_Milne: RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  6. Abby Thackray

    RT @Sarah_E_Milne: RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  7. max lawson

    RT @Sarah_E_Milne: RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  8. Frank Spring

    RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families: http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  9. Ben Rathe

    RT @Sarah_E_Milne: RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  10. Jonathan Taylor

    Widowed&single parent families make a video to highlight the consequences of the Conservative Partys marriage tax break http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  11. Linda Jones

    RT @Sarah_E_Milne: RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  12. laurie sage

    RT @Jon2aylor: Widowed&single parent families make a video to highlight the consequences of the Conservative Partys marriage tax break http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  13. Paul Plowman

    RT @Jon2aylor: Widowed&single parent families make a video to highlight the consequences of the Conservative Partys marriage tax break http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  14. JASON CHARLTON

    RT @Jon2aylor: Widowed&single parent families make a video to highlight the consequences of the Conservative Partys marriage tax break http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  15. Miss Adventure

    RT @Jon2aylor: Widowed&single parent families make a video to highlight the consequences of the Conservative Partys marriage tax break http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  16. Alex

    I don’t understand the cognitive leap you’re making from promoting marriage to penalising single parents. Is it not possible to do one without the other?

    In terms of tax breaks, I would have thought married couples are currently much less likely to get any relief in terms of working family tax credits than single parents, so isn’t this policy more akin to reducing the fact that families are penalised in terms of the support they get currently for having two parents?

    I’m coming at this from the position of a parent and an accountant, I’ve not read the tory policy in an detail but let me assure you I find Harriet Harman’s comments hurtful and as equally prejudiced as those “smug middle class couples” she seems to be railing against.

  17. StopTheRight

    RT @leftfootfwd Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families: http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  18. Jeevan Rai

    RT @StopTheRight: RT @leftfootfwd Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families: http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  19. earwicga

    RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  20. Kate Norgrove

    RT @Sarah_E_Milne: RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  21. barb milne

    RT @Sarah_E_Milne: RT @leftfootfwd: Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families http://bit.ly/bVBzfG

  22. Tracey Hannah

    Message to Cameron: Don't judge our families | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/c0C0KI

  23. Helen Rambaut

    You asked Sarah & here is the answer:
    A system that pays couples to be apart is sending a signal. It says that commitment does not matter.

    Couples face financial penalties. A study by Frank Field MP for the think-tank Reform found that two-parent households need a much larger income than a lone parent to move past the poverty line, largely because of the tax credits system. He found that two parents with two children had to earn £240 a week to lift them above the poverty line. By contrast, a lone parent with the same number of children needed to earn just £76 a week to lift themselves £5 above the poverty line (Reform, Welfare Isn’t Working – Child Poverty, 14 June 2007).
    The tax credits system pays couples to split up. Under Labour, a couple can earn more if they split up than if they stay together. A recent survey found that three quarters of families on low and modest incomes would have been better off living apart than together, by an average of £58 per week (CARE, Couple Penalty 2008/09). Researchers cited the example of a two-earner, two-child family living in private rented accommodation, with weekly incomes of £520 and £150 and child care costs of £120, whose family income would increase by 60 per cent if they decided to live apart (ibid.).

  24. Alex

    Thanks Helen, it’s nice to see some numbers backing up the vague assertions I made in the only other actual response to the post 🙂

  25. A Special Mother’s Message To Cameron « Same Difference

    […] } This is a guest post by Sarah Milne. It was originally posted yesterday at Left Foot Forward. Thanks to Sarah and the editors of Left Foot […]

  26. Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward | Left Foot Forward

    […] widowers – to The Daily Telegraph, and produced a heartwarming video. One of the campaigners, Sarah Milne, wrote an article for Left Foot Forward expressing her opposition to the Tories’ marriage tax […]

  27. Mr Nasty: The regressive, judgemental horror of IDS’ marriage tax plans | Left Foot Forward

    […] financial justification and outcome benefits of the policies exposed. The real horror lies in the judgemental nature of the policy, the patronising, sheer nastiness of a Tory government looking down their […]

Leave a Reply