A Listening Event with Jon Cruddas MP, Labour Party Policy Coordinator
A debate was organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in Wythenshawe on Monday to look at parenting policies. Jon Cruddas was the keynote speaker (author of the Labour Party’s Election Manifesto for 2015). In theory, this was planned to be a ‘listening’ event to define the central challenges for social policy over the coming decade. The focus for the debate was families and childhood - a better start in life.
It was fair to say that the meeting was a missed opportunity because it was poorly advertised and difficult to participate in. It was mainly attended by elected members from Manchester City Council. Paul Goggins MP introduced the meeting and it was chaired by the M E N. A panel took questions from the audience following the keynote speech. The panel included Jonathan Rallings from Barnardo’s and Cllr Afzal Khan. Though we had no problems hearing Jonathan or Cllr Khan it was very difficult to hear the Chair or Jon Cruddas. This was raised but made little difference.
The main message from the keynote speech was that ‘families are the most precious institution we have and the numbers of children leading ‘dreadful’ lives was on the increase.’ The speech then focussed on solutions -mainly the engagement of fathers in family life, including involving them in anti-natal appointments and care, sharing responsibility when children are sick, and being involved in the running of Child Care such as Children’s Centres. Jon went on to point out that Fathers in Britain work the longest hours in Europe, that a third of children when they reach the age of 16yrs are growing up in a household without their father present. During this time of tough financial pressures and rising unemployment, how does the labour Party intend to progress these ideas?
There was general support for more engagement from fathers in family life from most of the audience but no answers for Jon Cruddas. Some of the issues and challenges the panel were asked to consider included:
• The importance of Grandparents within the family and that they were often the glue that held the family together.
• Tackling the commercialisation of childhood
• Labour tackling the issue of Offsted Reports – taking into consideration school intakes based in socially deprived areas
• Worklessness and investment in childcare.
• Gender stereotyping
The general response from people present was that we need to ‘rewire social capital’ as they say in the trade and that the policy lever is communities. It is a challenge to promote social responsibility without a fair and a sustainable economy. Poverty makes people powerless.
Interesting link: More Support Needed for Teen Dads -