Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Thanks a lot

Full marks in the diplomacy/tongue-biting stakes to West Yorkshire’s finest as they face accusations that they didn’t find Shannon Matthews quickly enough. This, despite mounting the biggest manhunt in the county since the Yorkshire Ripper, and finding the lost girl when many were fearing the worst, against a background of “oh nobody cares about her as much as Madeline McCann is it ‘cos we is working class”.

The statement from the police was loosely coded, talking of “literally hundreds of people in a huge family network” in defending the length of time it took to check out even the “usual suspects” in such a case.

That some of the locals in Dewsbury (it was one of Shannon’s “huge family network” that made the first criticism that received coverage) thought it strange that such a task should take so long says something of the normality that too many children find themselves in. A procession of “uncles” – real and generic – as well as enough “steps” to start a ladder hire shop.

It was, in a roundabout and unintentionally timed way, the sort of thing that David Cameron was talking about yesterday in his keynote speech in Gateshead. Despite the derision that greeted Iain Duncan Smith’s report last year on social and family breakdown, nothing can alter the fact that a stable family background is the best defence we have against a whole raft of social problems. That is not to condemn divorcees, for instance – these things happen, sadly – but to strive to an ideal. To put the onus back on the community – even in its widest sense, including big business and those who drive our culture – is a significant shift away from the expectation that government can save us all – a flawed belief that has created many of the problems.


2 responses to “Thanks a lot

  1. Nick Gulliford March 17, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    My recollection is that IDS won a 5 minute standing ovation at the Conservative Annual Conference. All that is required is for the Tory faithful to get off their seats now and actually do some work to back his proposals in the “Breakthrough Britain” report. There was no sign they will do this at the 2008 Spring Conference or that the leadership wants them to.

    English Conservative local authorities have actually reduced teenage pregnancy faster than Labour.

    The teenage pregnancy figures for 2006 were published on 28th February 2008

    The overall average reduction in teenage pregnancies [per 1,000 of 15-17 year old females] between 1997 and 2006 in England was 8.6% in the 42 currently Labour controlled authorities and 10.4% in the 185 councils under Conservative control.

    In the 25 Liberal Democrat councils the reduction was 9.6%. In the 91 councils with no overall control the reduction was 10.9%. Independent councils [5] achieved a 27.1% reduction and in Conservative minority administrations [4] it was14.9%.

    In the most affluent/least deprived areas [1st quintile] there were no Labour controlled councils. The teenage pregnancy reduction to 24.1 per 1,000 in 61 Conservative councils 1997/9 to 2004/6 was 9.9%.

    In the least affluent/most deprived areas [5th quintile] there are 9 currently Conservative controlled councils where the teenage pregnancy reduction 1997/9 to 2004/6 was 14.1% to 51.9 per 1,000. In the 30 now Labour controlled councils the reduction was 7.3%, down to 57.5 per 1,000. In 1997 the rate in councils in the 5th quintile [which were under Conservative control in 2008] was 60.3 per 1,000 and 62.6 in Labour areas. So in the most deprived areas, where nearly one third of the 15-17 year old females live, the reduction in teenage pregnancies was nearly twice as fast where the Conservatives are now in control.

    In the middle quintile, 4 now Labour council areas show a reduction of 13.3% to 42.2 per 1,000, compared with 10.4% in 42 now Conservative areas to 36.5 per 1,000.

    – the documents and reports from the TPU [Teenage Pregnancy Unit] and the DOH and DCSF are too “narrowly focused on sex and biology”
    – the sources cited by the Government, together with evidence from other well-regarded studies, far from being contradictory, are perfectly consistent with the key finding of Professor David Paton (2002) that increased access to family planning does not reduce underage pregnancy rates.
    – research undertaken shows overwhelmingly that young people [over 80% of 16 year olds] aspire to a stable marriage, even if they come from a disrupted background themselves
    – research also shows that young people regret engaging in sexual activity when they are too young
    – taken together these findings show and there is sound justification for the promotion of marriage and sexual abstinence before it

    For the full report, please contact me
    Nick Gulliford
    01823 432420
    07947 046104

  2. Alan Wilson March 17, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    The key to family breakdown is parental influence. Parents need a different approach to work with their children. Please support our petition at

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