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A Special Mother’s Message To Cameron

April 30, 2010

This is a guest post by Sarah Milne. It was originally posted yesterday at Left Foot Forward. Thanks to Sarah and the editors of Left Foot Forward.

On Tuesday, a film was released to highlight the potential consequences widowed and single parent families would face as a result of the Conservative Party’s marriage tax break. It was released by the Don’t Judge My Family campaign and supported by a letter from 70 widows and widowers, published in The Telegraph. As reported by Left Foot Forward, the letter expressed anger at the idea of families facing financial penalties when they are at their most vulnerable.

David Cameron has said the financial incentive of the tax break is less important than his desire to give the message that marriage is central in his aim to create a ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ society. It is this ‘message’ that worries me the most.I am a single mum to three happy and balanced children who are described as ‘inspirational’ by nearly everyone who meets them. If you are wondering if it’s possible for children bought up by a single mum to be referred to in that way then take a look at the film.

That’s my family, the one having fun together and collapsing into spontaneous laughter at the end.

My youngest son, William, has complex medical needs, mild cerebral palsy and Asperger’s Syndrome. He had an organ transplant at the end of 2008 and, shortly afterwards, my partner told me that the stress we’d been through had taken its toll and damaged our relationship beyond repair. Neither of us did anything wrong, we had just been tested too far.

A follower told me on twitter that she doesn’t think the Conservative ideas necessarily prejudice against families like mine. I disagree. Once a government sends out strong messages concerning whom it values and whom it doesn’t it will be picked up in the media and become absorbed into the public consiousness. David Cameron says this policy is about creating a ‘we’ society.

As Harriet Harman has suggested, that ‘we’ will be “smug married couples…wagging their fingers” at people like me. Oh, and believe me, it happens. My girls have been told that they are poor because they are in a single parent family. A vicar once told me that I really should be married .

After asking me where his Dad was, I was once told by a stranger that my son’s behaviour in a supermarket (a result of his Asperger’s Syndrome and a situation I had completely under control) hardly surprising if I’m trying to bring him up on my own. How much worse will this be for families like mine under a government preaching marriage as the route to acceptance?

A comment has been left on You Tube saying the families shown in the campaign film demonstrate that “Embracing change is positive and empowering for us as individuals and as a society generally”. I really don’t understand why the Conservative Party don’t agree. They seem to want to take us back to the days when only one kind of family was acceptable and it worries me.


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