Friday, 12 May 2017
By Your Leave
More time off for fathers, say the Lib Dems. But they hardly take their existing entitlement. Fathers, that is. Not Lib Dems.
Crusty old bachelor that I am, I am treated as a fount of sartorial wisdom by rising youths in the Movement.
It is amazing how well you can dress, eat, drink, and so on, if you are 39 and have never had children.
So I venture reluctantly into the area of their upbringing.
But why do so very few men take the shared parental leave to which they are legally entitled? Well, what would a new father be doing, especially while his child was still being breastfed?
He will come into his own at a later stage in his child's life.
Or, at any rate, he should, and he requires and deserves every support and encouragement to do so.
Of course a new baby needs her mother. But a 15-year-old might very well need her father, and that bit of paternity leave that he had been owed for the preceding 15 years.
Barely a generation ago, a single manual wage provided the wage-earner, his wife and their several children with a quality of life unimaginable even on two professional salaries today.
This impoverishment has been so rapid and so extreme that most people, including almost all politicians and commentators, simply refuse to acknowledge that it has happened.
But it has happened. And it is still going on.
If fathers matter, then they must face up to their responsibilities. With every assistance, including censure where necessary, from the wider society, including when society acts politically as the State.
A legal presumption of equal parenting. Restoration of the tax allowance for fathers for so long as Child Benefit was being paid to mothers.
Restoration of the requirement that providers of fertility treatment take account of the child's need for a father.
Repeal of the ludicrous provision for two women to be listed as a child's parents on a birth certificate, although even that is excelled by the provision for two men to be so listed.
And paternity leave to be made available at any time until the child was 18 or left school, thereby reasserting paternal authority, and thus requiring paternal responsibility, at key points in childhood and adolescence.
That authority and responsibility require an economic basis such as only the State can ever guarantee, and such as only the State can very often deliver.
And that basis is high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment.
All aspects of public policy must take account of this urgent social and cultural need.
Not least, that includes energy policy: the energy sources to be preferred by the State are those providing the high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs that secure the economic basis of paternal authority in the family and in the wider community.
So, nuclear power. And coal, not dole.
Moreover, paternal authority cannot be affirmed while fathers are torn away from their children and harvested in wars.
Especially, though not exclusively, since those sent to war tend to come from working-class backgrounds, where starting to have children often still happens earlier than has lately become the norm.
Think of those very young men whom we see going off or coming home, hugging and kissing their tiny children.
You can believe in fatherhood, or you can support wars under certainly most and possibly all circumstances, the latter especially in practice today even if not necessarily in the past or in principle.
You cannot do both.
What say the Lib Dems to all of this?