Peter York On Ads: Stay on, why don't you, and witness our divorce?

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The Independent Online

The British family is in trouble, no question. We practically lead the known world in divorce rates, but more modest Brits are particularly good at underage pregnancy. Remember when Vicky Pollard told the nation she'd swapped one of her babies for a Westlife CD? Upbraided, she admitted, "Yes, Westlife were rubbish anyway."

It's all given some people a marvellous stick to beat the underclass with. But even before that, great policy wonks such as Melanie "Londonistan" Phillips want to beat up other people even more. Liberals. Babyboomer liberals. Middle-class Babyboomer liberals. Hypocritical self-indulgent intellectually dishonest Babyboomer liberals. In north London, most probably. Some of them pleasant enough people. But hopelessly deluded victims of false consciousness and what Lenin called an "infantile disorder". People who took off their clothes in rock festivals in the late 1960s and early 1970s and did Free Love, but should know better by now.

Those people are responsible for everything that's gone wrong since 1969: the decline of civilised standards, children not eating properly at table (millions of English families have no dining table at all), sloppy grammar and multi-culturalism. Left-leaning liberal types are everywhere, now. Look at David Cameron, who's obviously on the turn - but there's no question a lot of it can be traced back to Polly Toynbee. Before Polly Toynbee became the temporary Pasonaria of Modern Conservatism, she was the Spectator set's most hated woman. You couldn't go near Doughty Street without hearing what she'd done now. She'd been on about low pay and the minimum wage, obviously because she's a raging Communist and wants to drive up costs in British Industry. And while we're on the subject, did you know - I have it on the authority of a friend who's close to the more sensible Countryside Alliance elements of the Tory Party - that she's fantastically rich and owns half of Gloucestershire. That's not widely known is it?

But the terrible thing about the treason of the clerics, as George Walden has pointed out, is that they want to have it both ways. Letting their kids put their elbows on the table, playing with their Nintendo Wii one day, but sitting up straight and early-to-bed the next. But Vicky Pollard, who hangs on Polly Toynbee's every word, obviously can't keep up with the subtleties of all that. Which is why she's got 10 children and no husband.

Melanie Phillips was on Radio 4's The Moral Maze the other night, defending the family from Alternative Lifestyles, saying how completely spineless the church was about this.

Compassionate Conservatives have been thinking about the British family and how to put it back together again. They've come out with some outstandingly constructive suggestions. First we've absolutely got to grasp the nettle of raging female careerism, an unacknowledged marriage wrecker. In Italy, with much lower female employment rates, more families stay together, there are fewer fat children and they eat ciabatta instead of Kingsmill. There's even a trend within the Compassionate Conservatism movement (formerly Mothers for the Bomb) to re-examine sharia law. No one could condone some of its more extreme penalties, but it does keep families together.

Most of this policy wonk stuff is above my head. I would just ban Christmas. It provokes more divorces and family homicide than anything going. Particularly by bringing together family members who might be better left in Adelaide or Alberta. "Do we have to have him to stay?" leads seamlessly to marital breakdown.

There's a lovely little commercial on now, tugging the heartstrings about Christmas family get-togethers. It's from Mastercard, though you think it's BA at first because it's set in an airport arrivals hall and, as people dash forward to welcome their loved ones, they cite the airfare - Toronto £299 and so forth. They're terrifically convincing-looking bourgeois types. Gran and grandchildren, mother and daughter, father and son, coming from all the nice bits of the Known World, Canada, Australia, America and Cape Town. "Spending Christmas together - priceless - "but for everything else it's Mastercard", they're saying.

But the brutal truth is that all those families will be divorcing practically the moment they've got their relatives back to Guildford, faster than you can say Polly Toynbee.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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