Yesterday Guido tweeted that he “Would bet that the majority of the homes of those looting youths are fatherless”. Andrew Neil chimed in pointing out that “Surveys suggest that in areas like Tottenham as many as 80% families have absent/no fathers. Similar to worst ghettoes in US… Pointing out most underclass families are fatherless [is] different from blaming single mothers”. The progressive twittersphere went spare, as if this observation was somehow controversial.
It is self-evident that the welfare state has fundamentally undermined the family, enabling and actually encouraging fatherless families to become commonplace. This is a social disaster. Welfare incentives are powerful nudges in a negative direction. Downing Street wonks should understand that “nudge theory” works two ways, not always in a positive direction.
The scale of the problem is immense, in a generation since the sixties the percentage of births outside marriage has risen from 5% to 40%. Some of those are in co-habiting couples – which unfortunately are more fragile than traditional marriages – however the majority are brought up in fatherless households. A Civitas study found that children living without their biological fathers are more likely to get into trouble at school, to have adjustment problems and eventually go to jail. Iain Duncan Smith can’t solve deep social problems with welfare reform alone. Society needs to reverse decades of failed “progressive” thinking about the family and social norms. A culture which makes no value judgements about how we raise our children is creating tomorrow’s looters and rioters.