Keays denounces 'basics' campaign as a sick joke

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Indy Politics
SARA KEAYS, former lover of Lord Parkinson, yesterday denounced the 'back to basics' campaign as a 'sick joke' devised by a hypocritical government.

Miss Keays, who had a daughter Flora, now 10, by Lord Parkinson, told a London conference on the future of the family: 'The hypocrisy and double standards applied to us is sickening. I speak from 10 years' experience.

'It is deplorable to be lectured by political leaders who persuade us to vote for them and then expect us to put up with them when we find out they are living a lie.'

She was applauded by other single mothers at the She magazine conference when she claimed the Government was making single mothers scapegoats for the country's ills.

A decade ago Lord Parkinson's former secretary would have been considered an unlikely future champion of single mothers. But yesterday she showed his party no mercy. She accused it of trying to split single mothers into deserving and undeserving classes. 'An unmarried mother is beyond the pale, especially when the father is a government minister.'

She widened her attack on the Tories to cover 'secret' party donations and the sale of council houses on the cheap to MPs.

She said Tory MPs had forgotten that it was a privilege not a right to be in Parliament. 'Don't they realise what a joke it is becoming when they refer to each other as honourable and right honourable?'

Alistair Burt, the social security minister, arrived just a minute before his address on lone mothers and left, to boos and hisses from delegates, immediately afterwards.

Waiting journalists and cameramen were disappointed. In the aftermath of the scandals involving Tory ministers and MPs, he refused even to whisper the slogan 'back to basics'.

Mr Burt defended the Government's right to comment on lone parenthood. The Government believed life was more difficult for single parents and its primary concern was for children.

Sue Slipman, director of the National Council for One Parent Families, said back to basics was a facile and fatuous campaign that had bounced back on the Government. Behind the attack on single mothers was a 'deep-seated misogyny'.

Jails should do more to help inmates stay in touch with their families to avoid emotional, social, material and psychological damage to their children, the Howard League for Penal Reform said.

(Photograph omitted)