Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What caused Melanie Phillips to turn away from the left and embrace conservatism?

Dina tweeted this article from the UK Daily Mail, by famous moderate conservative Melanie Phillips.

She sets up her article this way:

[Leftists] reserve a special loathing for me. This is not just because I refuse to be cowed. 

It’s because I was once one of them, one of the elect, a believer. 

I come from the kind of family in which it was simply unthinkable to vote Conservative. For my parents, the Tory Party represented the boss class, while Labour supported the little man — people like us.

My father was haunted all his life by the poverty he endured growing up in the old East End of London in the Twenties and Thirties. 

His family of six lived in two rooms; he never had enough to eat. He left school at the age of 13. 

As a university-educated young woman with hippie-style hair and an attitude, I, too, generally toed the standard Leftist line in the late Seventies and early Eighties. 

Poverty was bad, cuts in public spending were bad, prison was bad, the Tory government was bad. 

The state was good, poor people were good, minorities were good, sexual freedom was good.

And pretty soon I had the perfect platform for those views when I went to work as a journalist on The Guardian, the self-styled paper of choice for intellectuals and the supposed voice of progressive conscience.

The UK Guardian is the most liberal newspaper in Britain. 

Here’s what turned her around:

The defining issue for me — the one that launched me on a personal trajectory of confrontation with the Left and with my colleagues and friends — was the persistent undermining of the family as an institution.

By the late Eighties, it was glaringly obvious that families were suffering a chronic crisis of identity and self-confidence. 

There were more and more divorces and single parents — along with mounting evidence that family disintegration and the subsequent creation of step-families or households with no father figure at all did incalculable damage to children.

‘Too many children lack a consistent mother or father figure,’ researchers told me. 

Poverty, the Left’s habitual excuse, could not be the culprit since middle-class children were also not receiving the parental attention they required.

For me, the traditional family is sacred because it embodies the idea that there is something beyond the selfish individual. 

But it was being turned into a mere contract that either side could break more or less at will. 

I listened to the evidence of those with no particular ideological fixation or agenda, but who simply spoke of what they saw was happening.

[...]From Zelda West-Meads of the marriage guidance counsellors Relate, I learned that, though many single mothers did a heroic job, it was the absence of the father that did such terrible damage to their children. So I described how fathers were vital to the emotional health of children. 

Fatherless families were also at least partly responsible for a national breakdown in authority and rising levels of crime.

My view was backed in 1992 when three influential social scientists with impeccable Left-wing pedigrees produced a damning report.

From their research, they concluded that children in fractured families tend to suffer more ill-health, do less well at school, are more likely to be unemployed, more prone to criminal behaviour and to repeat as adults the same cycle of unstable parenting. 

But instead of welcoming this analysis as identifying a real problem, the Left turned on the authors, branding them as evil Right-wingers for being ‘against single mothers’. 

Their sanity was called into  question. ‘What do these people want?’ one distinguished academic said to me.

‘Do they want unhappy parents to stay together?’ 

Eventually, he admitted that the authors’ research was correct. But he said it was impossible to turn back the clock and wondered why there was so much concern about the rights of the child rather than of the parents. 

He turned out to be divorced — revealing a devastating pattern I was to encounter over and over again. Truth was being sacrificed to personal expediency. Evidence would be denied if the consequences were inconvenient. 

Self-centred individualism and  self-justification ruled, regardless of the damage done to others.

This article is a long read, but a good one. If you like to read things that are maybe a little longer than most articles I post, then I really recommend this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Fiscal and foreign policy conservatives will be surprised by how important social issues are when pulling someone away from the left. All conservative ideas are testable with reason – not just fiscal and foreign policy, as some might have you believe. I often hear Christians and conservatives trying to win people over with just one issue, instead of knowing a little bit about everything. Well, let me be clear. If I can get Obama out of office by winning someone over on record low labor force participation, then that means no more taxpayer-funded abortion drugs. If I can get Obama out of office by winning someone over on security and stability in the Middle East, then that means no more spiraling national debt. And if I can get Obama out of office on the defense of traditional marriage, then that means we might get a fence build on our southern border so that Hezbollah cannot just walk right in and try to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in New York.

It’s all related, and we need to be persuasive on every issue, not just one issue.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

Melanie Phillips: the Left’s war on the family has left us with millions of lonely people

Dina has been really wonderful lately, calming me down after Tuesday’s election loss. I’m trying not to write about politics for a little while. For me the biggest impact of the election will be on the children. The children who will be aborted by their mothers, the children who will be raised without their fathers, the children who will be raised with no mother or no father in same-sex “marriages” and the children who will be saddled with over $200,000 of public debt the day they are born. Truly, leftism is a philosophy that makes war on children.

Dina sent me this related article from Melanie Phillips, a well-known Jewish conservative based in the UK. It’s a really good article.

Excerpt:

Britain appears to be turning into a disunited kingdom of solitary and lonely people.

Recent figures have shown that ever-increasing numbers of middle-aged men and women are living alone.

According to the Office of National Statistics, almost 2.5 million people aged between 45 and 64 have their own home but no spouse, partner or children to live with them. Since the mid-Nineties, their number has grown by more than 50 per cent.

[...]A devastating study published last week revealed that, by the time they are 15, little more than half of British children are still living with both their natural parents. That means nearly half of 15-year-olds are not.

First the broken links between parents and children:

[I]f a parent disappears from his or her children’s lives, those children are far less likely to want to look after that parent when he or she becomes old and frail.

Nor will children want to look after a step-parent who, even if not actively resented, will not command the same bonds of love and duty as someone’s natural father or mother.

And the broken links in romantic relationships:

[O]ur post-religious, post-modern, post-moral society prizes above all else independence, which is seen as essential to fulfilling one’s potential without any constraints or interference by anyone else.

This fact more than anything else helps explain the rise and rise of cohabitation, and the reason why so many now prefer it to marriage.

The key point about marriage is that it is not a partnership or a relationship but a union in which two people bind themselves to each other for ever in solemn obligation.

By contrast, those who choose to cohabit regard their relationship as a partnership of independent individuals — in which they reserve for themselves the right to opt out, with no binding obligation on either side.

[...]Nor is it surprising that a principal reason why cohabitations collapse is the arrival of a baby. For a child demands unconditional obligation to another human being. And that’s what cohabitants don’t want.

And children who grow up without both of their biological parents:

Of course, there are lone parents who do a heroic job in bringing up their children against all the odds, but in general children in fragmented families suffer in every aspect of their lives.

They do worse at school and are less likely to get a job, are more prone to drugs, teenage pregnancy and crime, suffer more from depression and other mental disorders and are more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse.

Worse still, they go on disproportionately to replicate in their adult lives the very same disordered or broken family patterns that did them so much damage.

For in fractured families, where one spouse has betrayed or abandoned another and where partners may come and go, the children grow up without any understanding of what it takes to overcome difficulties in a relationship, or what things such as trust, loyalty — and yes, real love — actually mean.

[...]From easier divorce to the abolition of laws covering illegitimacy; from the promotion of unmarried motherhood to the feminist demonisation of men; from the doctrine of non-judgmentalism, which gave a free pass to the abandonment of children, to the loading of the tax and welfare dice against marriage and in favour of lone parenthood — the wrecking ball of the Left has succeeded in smashing the traditional family to bits.

I love Melanie Phillips! And, like Dina and I, she also likes Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith – the best MP in the UK.

Now everybody click here and go read the whole thing.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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