Kathy Gyngell explains in this UK Daily Mail article. (H/T Dina)
Across its various forms and rules [marriage] is a human universal and with good reason. Marriage everywhere is the bridge between affinal and kin relationships a bond integral to the functioning and survival of human society. It defines social relationships, social and economic responsibilities.
It establishes genealogical connections and confers ‘belonging’ and social identity. It prevents incest now more prevalent in our underclass than we know (something of deep concern to the more thoughtful of our politicians and social workers). No other set of relationships or connections whether through friendship, work, sport or volunteering – replicate the function of marriage. The state certainly cannot the failure of communism demonstrated that.
[…]I believe governments (successive ones) are culpable for setting marriage adrift as the sexual/ cultural revolution swept in. This was not the case elsewhere.
Britain silently, casually and progressively abolished the family … first through liberalising the divorce laws; later came the official signal that marriage no longer mattered.
Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson’s reform of personal taxation set in train the abolition of the married couple’s allowance. (He failed, as he had planned in his Green Paper, to balance independent taxation by transferring the unused personal allowance to a non-earning, most likely child-rearing-spouse.)
But it was Gordon Brown’s first budget that did the real damage. It marked, as Harriet Harman emphasized triumphantly at the time, “the end of the assumption that families consist of a male breadwinner and a female helpmate in the home”. Labour’s new measures did not just recognise that women were in paid work and needed help with childcare, they pushed this agenda aggressively with tax incentives and a massive expansion of childcare facilities.
Married mothers at home were indeed marked as second class citizens. What¹s more their families were to subsidise, through their disproportionately burdensome taxes, those families with no breadwinner at all. Frank Field¹s intention to cut back on lone-parent benefits in order to discourage dependency was abandoned in the face of party fury and threatened rebellion.
State support for lone parenthood has entrenched illegitimacy the word no one dares speak. This is our root social problem. It is why we are now Europe¹s pre-eminent ‘transient shack up’ society. We cannot rest the entire blame on the pill per se (available across Europe) or on women’s lib. Betty Friedman and Germaine Greer (both made their way onto most European bookshop shelves) or cultural osmosis, though feminism and socialism have proved a pernicious mix.
The fact is other countries in Europe have done more to support and sustain marriage and married families. They have capitulated less to aggressive feminist ideologues people who viewed marriage as the tool of an oppressive patriarchal regime, if not as prostitution (Jenni Murray in the past) but never as an institution the majority of young women continued to aspire to.
That marriage socialised men, and that women had power in marriage, did not occur to this particular monstrous regiment of women. Nor did men marshal the arguments against this craziness, for fear of falling foul of irrational and strident Gingerbread demands for lone parent economic independence – courtesy of the state of course.
Whatever cost to the state and taxpayer – subsidising lone mothers back to work, putting their fatherless children into state paid for childcare and continuing to mop after what were never viable families in the first place, whether in the form of Louise Casey or Sure Start, remains the mantra of left and most of the centre of politics.
Marriage didn’t just die in the UK by accident. It was a victim of a partnership of big government and militant feminism. Financial incentives were put in place by the secular left with the goal of discouraging people from marrying and have a mother stay at home and raise the children. The mistake that many women made is that they believed that they could keep marriage as is, with men seeking to commit for life, and add to it a government-provided safety net that would catch them if the men they freely chose fail to perform. Instead of getting serious about consulting with their parents, and choosing the right man for the responsibilities of marriage, women followed their hearts, and hoped to transform the wrong men using mystical powers. Somehow, they believed, premarital sex coupled with peer approval and an expensive wedding ceremony could transform a man who was not qualified for marriage at all into the perfect husband and father. When all of this failed, women refused to point the finger at themselves, and instead voted for more and more government social programs to equalize all households, regardless of their decisions about men. After all, men are so unpredictable! And courting intelligently and chastely is “too strict”.
This is why the typical mother in the UK spends 19 minutes per day with her children, and the average father spends even less. If everyone has to work to pay taxes for the welfare state, then there is no money left in the family for a stay-at-home parent. This is exactly what the feminists wanted – the end of marriage, and it’s unequal sex roles for wives and husbands. And the only way to go back to the way it used to be is for women to stop outsourcing the roles of the husband and father to government, and start marrying the right men for those jobs.