Sunday, 19 June 2022
Not yet 40 years 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 indeed happened. And it is still going on.
Since fathers matter, then they must face up to their responsibilities, with every assistance, including censure where necessary, from the wider society, including when it acts politically as the State. Let there be a legal presumption of equal parenting. Restore the tax allowance for fathers for so long as Child Benefit was being paid to mothers.
Restore the requirement that providers of fertility treatment take account of the child’s need of a father. Repeal 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 make paternity leave 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. 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 these last 15 years.
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. 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 which provided the high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs that secured the economic basis of paternal authority in the family and in the wider community.
Harness the power of the State, and deliver an all-of-the-above energy policy based around civil nuclear power and this country'’s vast reserves of coal. Around those twin poles of nuclear power and of the clean coal technology in which Britain was the world leader until the defeat of the Miners’ Strike, let there be oil, gas, lithium, wind, solar, tidal, and everything else, bathing this country in heat and light. This is why we have a State.
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.