Mathew Hulbert | Columnist | 22 May 2023
ON SATURDAY I had the privilege of being on Peter Cardwell’s always brilliant programme once again.
It’s always an honour to be invited on to share my thoughts and opinions on a news item which is the political and social issue of the day.
On this occasion, I was debating a bloke from the Evangelical Alliance about what ‘the family’ means – or should mean in 2023.
It followed comments to the controversial ‘National Conservatives’ conference last week by the Tory MP Danny Kruger, who appeared to imply that families should be made up of Mum, Dad and two children.
And, further, that the Mum and Dad should stay together for the sake of the children even if, to all intense and purposes, their marriage is over.
My take, as you might imagine, is somewhat different. As I said on Peter’s programme, I believe our country and our community is made stronger by the diversity that we have in our families and, indeed, as individuals.
So, for example, I’m a currently single gay man and childless. Does that make my life less valuable to the state than that of a parent or, indeed, of someone in a heterosexual relationship? No. It just makes my situation different.
As you may know from previous columns, both of my parents have sadly passed away. But, I remain a brother, a nephew, an uncle, a godchild, and a friend.
That is my family. And I believe it is just as precious, just as valuable, and just as viable, as one which consists of Mum, Dad and children.
Here in Hinckley and Bosworth, we have families of all sorts of different kinds.
Grandparents who are guardians of their grandchildren, gay couples, single people, et cetera, et cetera – and it is that diversity which gives us one strength.
There are, it seems to me, elements in the present party of government and more widely that would like to take us back to some kind of rose-tinted version of the 1950s, which wasn’t even the case at the time.
I would say that political parties seeking the votes of people in 2023, need to be happy with life in 2023, in all of its amazing diversity.
Sadly, but inevitably, some relationships and some marriages don’t last, and children become very aware of when one or both parents is no longer happy.
Who, in all honesty, could demand they stay together in those circumstances? My parents split in 1991, when I was eleven, and later divorced.
Was it painful at the time? Of course it was.
Were there some tough years? Yes.
But was our household more peaceful and happy as a result? Absolutely.
Families are made up of human beings and all human beings fallible.
But the role of the state is, in general, to stay out of people’s lives but also to be there for people when they need them.
I sometimes worry that, in modern Britain, our government at least and some in more wider society have lost two of the most important values we can have – empathy and compassion.
We must see those return. And the sooner the better.
But, for now, let’s just rejoice in our amazing diversity and celebrate all that our of myriad of types of families bring to our community and to our country.
See you next time.