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Monday 13th May 2013 | 18:29
Jon Cruddas MP, Labour’s Policy Review Coordinator, gave a speech today for IPPR North as part of their Condition of Britain programme.
In extracts from the speech, Jon Cruddas said:
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The pressures families are under
Families are under growing pressure today.
The failures of our economy has left us with a living standards crisis, but it has also put pressure on mothers and fathers.
Too often that has meant women dropping out of the labour market, and men unable to spend time with their children.
Too many jobs are insecure and low paid.
In homes up and down the country everyone knows our economy doesn’t work for working families.The Tories are failing families and children
The Coalition government is failing children.
Poverty, inequality and exclusion are growing.
The Big Society has failed and the Conservatives have abandoned compassion and retreated into their default politics.
To many they are returning as the nasty party.
Where the economy is a global race and families must fight alone to survive in the market.
Children are on their own and they must sink or swim in the harsh competition for school places and exam results.
The Conservatives have dominated debate about the family with their stereotype of a feckless underclass of absent fathers.
They've concentrated on demonising a small minority and ignored the majority.
Many fathers have two basic priorities; their family, and work to improve the lives of their children.
And many feel that the Conservatives have failed them on both counts.
No support for fathers, and no jobs.Labour will support families with childcare
Parents know we are in the midst of a childcare crisis.
But the Government’s has sent out a clear message: ‘we’ve got nothing to offer you’.
Its voucher scheme doesn’t start until after the next election.
A plan to increase the ratios of children to carers may or may not be government policy.
The plan is wrong.
We won’t build a better society by creating warehouses of regimented, unhappy children.
We need children's centres across the country as part of our common life.
It’s not just about the centres we can afford but about the relationships they help build.
Children’s centres often do not see engaging with dads as part of their role.
It is, and it must be.
We will explore whether inspection frameworks should be explicit about father engagement. Labour will support families during birth
Men report that maternity services leave them feeling less informed than their partners and less competent to care for their baby.
We need to encourage change in maternity services to engage the whole family and include fathers.
We should learn from hospitals like the Royal United in Bath, which is working towards allowing dads who want to, to stay overnight during and after the birth.Labour will support families by treating
Post natal depression cruelly affects 20 per cent of all mothers.
It is a factor in childhood and later life depression and can have a devastating impact on the whole family.
Yet most women do not receive any treatment.
Richard Layard has proposed a Charter for Parents and Children. It rightly focuses on the need to widen women’s access to professional psychological therapy.
The era of thinking that we have done our job caring for mothers once they are through the physical experience of childbirth is long gone.
We need to look at Richard’s ideas, and those of others, to see how we reform our healthcare systems for the 21st Century.Labour will value the role of fathers
More and more men want to be involved fathers.
Fathers should be able to share involvement in their child’s school life and healthcare.
They should have rights enshrined in employment law; for example, we will look at paid leave to attend antenatal sessions and hospital appointments during pregnancy.
But public services operate on the outdated assumption that engaging with fathers is not important.
And some men’s violence against women creates an anxiety that all fathers are a risk to be managed.
We must not let policy be dictated by a small minority of men.
As David Lammy argues we should have high expectations of all fathers and a zero tolerance approach to the small number of irresponsible fathers.
Their behaviour is stopping progress for the majority.
We need a ‘whole family’ approach which assumes, where it is safe, that a child needs a relationship with both parents.
Being a good father is about more than earning a living for the family.
Men want fulfilling home lives and women want fulfilling working lives but policy still pushes mothers into the home and fathers into work.
The majority of men feel fathers are undervalued.
They work the longest hours in Europe and yet 82 per cent say they want to spend more time with their children.
Fathers are good for children and shared parenting is good for mothersLabour will work with parents to tackle the commercialisation of childhood
But parents do not want advertisers targeting children, or pop videos depicting degrading images of women.
And they don’t want their children accessing pornography on the internet.
The commercialisation of childhood creates a status seeking consumer culture in which children judge one another by what they own.
For children without money it is a humiliating experience of inferiority.
They are a warning of what will happen if we fail to re-establish a culture of respect and mutual give and take.
We will look at how we can help to empower parents to decide what content their children see online and we will learn lessons from other countries, such as Sweden, which has banned advertising to
children under 12.