16 April 2010

Rowling speaks out for single mothers (hurray) and Labour

Billionaire author J.K. Rowling writes for the Times explaining why she still votes Labour. She remembers becoming a hated figure of sections of society when her marriage broke down and she became a single mother. She quotes Tory politicians saying “young ladies get pregnant just to jump the housing list” and that single mothers are “one of the biggest social problems of our day”. Rowling continues:

"An easy life. Between 1993 and 1997 I did the job of two parents, qualified and then worked as a secondary school teacher, wrote one and a half novels and did the planning for a further five. For a while, I was clinically depressed. To be told, over and over again, that I was feckless, lazy — even immoral — did not help.

The new Labour landslide marked a cessation in government hostilities towards families like mine."

Rowling points to substantial policies the Labour government has put in place since 1997 and mentions the need for improvement. Labour is a mainstream party which prays at the church of the nuclear family like all centre and right-wing parties must, but the party never sinks to utter ridiculousness like the Tories who are proposing a tax cut for married couples. It really shouldn't be the job of a political party to fund certain behaviours it deems morally desirable. It amounts to a passive form of repression against non-married people.

For a myriad of reasons, single mothers won't go away and it's time we stop blaming them for everything. Comprehensive studies show that children who under-perform at school or misbehave, sometimes turning to criminal behaviour, are not disproportionately from single-parent families, they are disproportionally poor. Children in single-families with money do just as well as other children. I've never heard a politician, not even a Labour politician, mention this. Labour at least doesn't demonise single-mothers and Rowling's article serves as a useful reminder.

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