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Cameron: Runaway dads deserve to be shamed like drunk drivers

By Tim Montgomerie
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Telegraphclipping

Clipping of Daily Telegraph from 2007

It was in February 2007 that David Cameron first suggested that "we need to make it as socially unacceptable for fathers to avoid their responsibilities as drink-driving now is".

He returns to the same theme today, Father's Day, in an Op-Ed for The Sunday Telegraph:

"It’s high time runaway dads were stigmatised, and the full force of shame was heaped upon them. They should be looked at like drink drivers, people who are beyond the pale. They need the message rammed home to them, from every part of our culture, that what they’re doing is wrong – that leaving single mothers, who do a heroic job against all odds, to fend for themselves simply isn’t acceptable."

In a piece which begins with moving tributes to his mother and late father (who died less than a year ago) Mr Cameron sets out what the Coalition is doing to support the family:

"We’ve started tackling the couple penalty in the benefit system for those on the lowest incomes, so parents don’t lose money if they stay together. We’re increasing the number of health visitors by 4,200, and re-orientating them from an exclusive maternal-child focus to one where they support the whole family – including fathers. We’re investing in relationship support to help prevent family breakdown; and when it is inevitable, to make sure that it is well-handled. And yes, I want us to recognise marriage in the tax system so as a country we show we value commitment."

Family policy has been one of the biggest casualties of the decision to form a coalition government. Alongside the question of the European Union there is no greater difference between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats than in this policy area. During last year's general election campaign Nick Clegg slammed the Tory leader's marriage tax plan, describing it as "patronising drivel that belongs in the Edwardian age." "David Cameron clearly has no idea about modern life," continued the Liberal Democrat leader.

Even if the Coalition cannot deliver a tax allowance for married couples there is still plenty that can be done. Eliminating the couple penalty in the benefits system and investing in relationship education should be the top two priorities. Action on personal debt should be a third area of action.

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