It was only the other day the twitter scene was spouting backward criticisms at Ed Miliband’s relationship status, conferring his unmarried status equated him to an uncommitted travesty. This logic, that somehow without a traditional family, life is doomed, ignores the profound changes to society that have occurred over the last few centuries; as well as damaging the movements towards a society where diversity is cherished as a symbol of progressive equality.
This logic is what permeates the latest proposal where parents will be asked to pay for access to the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC), which oversees the CSA; reinforcing attempts by the government to dissuade parents from breaking up with the ‘belief’ (often failing facts) inability to do so will somehow turn children into ‘pathological’ terrors. One of the notable objections to these changes comes from women groups campaigning against violence to women.
The proposal ignores the sometimes positive effects parents breaking up can have upon a child; seeing the child develop strength and character. Remaining within a weakening relationship can conversly have a detrimental impact upon the child. Assuming that parents are in some kind of ‘false consciousness’ and want to purposely harm their child(ren) is paternalistic and illustrative of the strong anti-civil liberty/moralistic tradition within the Conservatives. There is a strong civil liberty tradition within the Tories, however, which has strong benefits such as their commitment to rebel if control order replacements do not ensure sufficient civil liberty protection.
There is nothing ethical however, in assuming bribes will magically rescue a relationship. Many families can get along after experiencing a break up – it’s called life and the experiences and trials it throws at us. The government too often assumes that family breakdown is the cause of problems such as poverty. It too often neglects the interplay of structural factors and the effects they have on people’s relationships, for example. If the government actually wanted to help families they wouldn’t be enacting £81bn cuts and punishing working and middle classes’ for the mistakes of the top.
Psychological constraints pursued by the state are enforced through material constraints. The fact money is seen as the way to control and force people to stay together illustrates the problems with a culture where we assume that we can consume ourselves out of problems. For women who haven’t got independent access to income, this can be another way to reinforce very damaging heterosexual/heteronormative practices within the institution of marriage and parenting in general.
As the Conservative moralist and liberal fractions come head to head, concessions are required from a Coalition facing its own relationship problems. The public are paying the price for their troubles, as they cut without a care. This proposal is just another example of the illogical and backward ideology ‘governing’.