Letter: Family values, political peccadilloes

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The Independent Online
Sir: Mark Lawson ('You don't say 'family', we won't say 'bimbos',' 30 December) questions what he describes as the 'prissy syllogism', that 'if a man would cheat on his wife he would cheat on his country' because, he states, Gerry Ford and Jimmy Carter were strong husbands but weak presidents. But syllogisms do not work in reverse: someone who drinks and drives cannot be trusted on the roads but not everyone who cannot be trusted on the roads is a drunken driver.

Mr Lawson argues for a deal between voters and leaders - that leaders should not foist moralities on the public through 'legislation pertaining to the family' in return for journalism which does not probe their private lives. The problem here for the Government is that its 'family values' programme is not simply a moral addendum that can be lopped off, it is an integral part of its economic strategy. It wants families to meet the cost of: taking back erstwhile hospital patients with mental disorders; accommodating grown-up children who have no jobs and cannot now claim benefits; providing free creche facilities so that young mothers can go out to work. The cherished family is supposed to carry much of the burden hitherto borne by the welfare state.

Yours faithfully,

GARY SLAPPER

The Law School

Staffordshire University

Stoke-on-Trent

30 December

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