Letter: The family: still valued by young people and women

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The Independent Online
Sir: Helen Wilkinson ('Families. Who Needs Them?', 21 September) may be right that Tony Blair faces a sharp dilemma in reconciling social conservatism with the aspirations of women and young people. And indeed, we would all welcome clarification on just exactly what is Tony Blair's social philosophy and what will be his practical policy ideas. But she is simplistic in lumping Blair's so-called social conservatism with the 'family, parochial, community and puritan values' of Thatcher, Reagan, Charles Murray and every other arch- Conservative that Demos finds offensive.

Her analysis is similarly unrealistic in lumping young people and women into an 'overwhelming' rejection of more 'conservative' social values. The evidence of recent social attitudes surveys in this country and the US is that, while people embrace choice in their social lives and don't want a return to old structures or strictures, they are still very sympathetic to so-called traditional values such as keeping close family links, defending community structures and caring for children. Indeed, there is significant evidence from recent US social attitudes surveys that there is a youth backlash against the more permissive and liberal behaviour of their parents.

Certainly, Tony Blair must represent young people and women and the new social agenda they have. However, he is right not to throw out all traditional values when rejecting back-to-basics Tory morality. Many young and female voters still think they do need families and those families, in whatever shape they take, will need support from a new Labour government.

Yours,

CHARLES BECKETT

Oxford

21 September

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