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I am ambivalent about this.

On the one hand, it sounds nanny-stateish - especially coming from a man who hopes to be Prime Minister. How can anyone with that type of ambition truly be said to put his family first? How much of their father did Blair's kids see of him during his premiership?

On the other hand, I suppose that some effort is better than no effort.

I believe there's a Civitas report showing that marriage is popular but financial penalties deter a lot of people.

Alexander: Many of us don't like the idea of intervention but what is the alternative when so many young people are growing up without good role models? If we don't offer some form of relationship education then the costs and nature of intervention are only going to grow in future years as families break apart.

The important thing about the relationship education (and all important mentoring) is that it is provided by diverse community-based providers - not by some state body.

Sensible talking from Cameron but I hope the relationship education is delivered effectively. It could be a useful weapon in the fight against family breakdown.

To be honest, I feel deeply uneasy about the idea of this 'relationship education' if it in any way suggests that some sorts of relationships are 'more valuable' or preferable to others. We got into a hell of a mess over 'section 28' back in the 1980s and must not make a similar mistake this time round. If relationship education means promoting a one-size-fits-all +married-mum-and-dad with 2.4 kids and a Ford Fiesta, and thereby being seen to devalue other relationship constructs, it will only serve to mark us out as 'the nasty party' again in the eyes of a big slice of the electorate.

What's your solution to family breakdown Tanuki? I ask genuinely because there are no ideologically easy policy options.

Do me a favour, Tanuki. Clearly some sorts of relationship are more valuable than others.

This is good stuff! Cameron is not moralizing or preaching. He is recognising that relationships break down and no one is perfect - but he is saying that the family is the best unit we have for bringing up the next generation and deserves more investment. This highlights the difference between ourselves and Labour who would like Nanny State to take on the role of parents.

Mending Britain's broken society will mean some hard policy decisions. This seems a necessary one. I'd make use of all those silver haired retirees. I'd deploy an amy of grannies to help new parents learn the ropes.

I share all Tanuki’s concerns. There is no one size and no one answer. These courses will be very difficult to get right and very difficult to deliver without prejudice. This diverse provider, for example, reckons he knows how to make a marriage work. Women know your limits!

There is no one size and no one answer and most of the skills you need for a marriage are developed over a lifetime. What skills and ideas could you develop in a few hours in a classroom?

1. An accurate picture of the stresses of marriage and children. It’s positively reckless to portray family life as a fairy tale, starting with a fairy tale wedding.

2. Understanding that you have choices and having the confidence to use them.

3. Where and why to seek help when you need it.

4. Loving communication.

5. Common causes of relationship breakdown and the importance of sexual experimentation before marriage.

I would add anger management skills to Mark's list and delete sexual experimentation before marriage.

Let's face it, marriage breakdown is largely a consequence of 1960s feminism.

Unless we can somehow turn the clock back to the days when most, rather than merely some, women were happy to act first and foremost as mothers and wives rather than as ladettes, then Cameron is merely urinating into the wind.

Feminism has had such deleterious and counter-productive consequences that most young guys nowadays would run a mile rather than get married. Men in their thirties are carrying on like teenagers while appalled women brood on the sidelines.

No government will solve this problem. It goes too deep.

What absolute nonsense to blame relationship breakdowns on feminism. Most marriage breakdowns are caused by mens violence or men leaving the relationship for pastures new. Very few are ended by women.
Also I think its a mistake if David Cameron makes it seem that the party only values one sort of relationship and one idea of family. All relationships built on love and all family`s should be valued.

"Very few are ended by women".

Where's your proof for this?

And how do you explain rising rates of divorce since the 1960s?

Jack Stone, more than 90% of divorces are initiated by women. Affairs account for about 30%, emotional or physical abuse for about 15%. The cultural shift caused by feminism is undoubtedly a huge factor in divorce rates, but rightly so. Women should only mothers and wives in the same way that men are fathers and husbands.

This is so statist
What business has a Conservative government telling people how to run their relationships. What's Cosmo for?

Tanuki is rightly concerned that we are going to seem preachy. Have we learned nothing from the wilderness years? The Christian right needs sitting on firmly.

A conservative government should not be telling people how to live their lives but it should undo 30 yrs of social tax and benefits policy encouraging people to live immorally. No more council houses for teenage pregnancy. No more benefit penalties for cohabiting. No more easy divorce with the settlements stacked in favour of the women. No more child benefit or free schooling after the third child.

People are rational economic beings. They are not going to behave well if there is more profit in behaving badly. Peoples relationships don't end because they lack counselling. The idea's insane.

"The Christian right needs sitting on firmly".

Are we talking about the British Christian right here? Or the American Christian right?

Cos last time I checked, the Christian right in Britain had about as much influence as a vicar in a brothel.

Cameron undermines his own pro-family agenda by endorsing same-sex civil partnerships and equating their value with the commitment made by married couples. In reality, same-sex civil partnerships form neither committed unions nor families, but are transitory agreements between two confused persons to abuse their bodies through unnatural and unhealthy acts. If Cameron is truly pro-family, he must reject homosexuality, promote large families, and oppose abortion and contraception.

The British Christian Right has no public support; that doesn't mean it has no influence.
Evangelical church attendance is growing yearly. Just because it isn't covered by the BBC doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
It is well represented on this site.

The growing evangelical church attendance is driven by African immigrants who have no political influence whatever.

In reality, same-sex civil partnerships form neither committed unions nor families, but are transitory agreements between two confused persons to abuse their bodies through unnatural and unhealthy acts.

Posted by: Anthony Ozimic | June 09, 2008 at 11:53

How nicely put! Thank Goodness there are people like yourself around, who know everything about everyone.

"Transitory agreements between two confused persons to abuse their bodies through unnatural and unhealthy acts".

Sounds good to me!

Graeme, perfectly put.

I think Anthony Ozimic's comment should be overwritten, please editor. It is quite unacceptable.

Steady on, Sally.

Anthony is perfectly entitled to his point of view.

We need something to balance the extensive sex education which starts so so early and details graphically what to do but gives no help on the emotional, health and relationship consequences. Good move

Anthony Ozimic's views are disagreeable Sally but let's maintain free speech on this blog as much as possible.

Fair enough! So long as nobody is offended.

Sally: If I banned all comments when folk were offended some threads would be very small!


I know - don't worry! ;-)

Wonderful debate going on here, but there is a good deal of conjecture, and not much reference to the facts and the programmes that have been researched. Whilst not agreeing with every conclusion he comes to, Harry Benson at www.bcft.co.uk has spent more time looking at at more research - and contributed his own - than most people. Well worth a look for those seriously interested in what relationship education actually works. More to the point, Harry actually delivers what he believes in.

Certainly an admirable aim fixing broken Britain. however, problems of anti-social behaviour etc are ultimately rooted in longer term sociological features such as the disintegration of the extended family (ie having the grandparents in the house)and are difficult (impossible?) for central gov to fully resolve.

Certainly, it seems unlikely a Cameroonian admin can solve these problems and he should be averse to the danger of raising expectations too highly.

Philosophically, this seems strange talk coming from a Conservative. Whilst there is an argument that the State ought to interfere more with the family and the lives of the individual generally, it is (IMO) a nanny-statish concept: I thought Cameron was a 'liberal' conservative sense? Cameron can maybe afford to spout populist plattitudes whilst in opposition, in order to help fill in the media gaps between government cock ups, but sooner or later he will need to offer more meat and fully considered.

Loved your post mate :)

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