What next? Will we need a licence to parent?

In a taster to a talk he's giving next week, Frank Furedi slates New Labour’s petty and incessant ‘early intervention’ into our lives.

Frank Furedi

Frank Furedi

Topics Politics

How long before British adults will need a licence to parent their children? UK prime minister Tony Blair and his colleagues believe that the solution to society’s problems is to get their hand on the nation’s toddlers before their parents get a chance to ruin them.

Their focus is on ‘early intervention’, and for Blair, intervention can never come early enough. In a talk this week, he said he believes it is possible to spot tomorrow’s problem people even before they are born. Weeding out unfit parents through imposing quality control over their activities represents the central plank of the early intervention agenda.

Early intervention projects, including Sure Start, masquerade as social policies. Their focus is on spotting potential troublemakers and managing their behaviour. Such institutionalisation of people-blaming reduces problems to individual emotional deficits.

Coming next week:

Next Friday, read a major essay by Frank Furedi on spiked. The essay will argue that any idea of ‘the social’ is being taken out of policy, and will critique the ‘politics of behaviour’. It will be based on a lecture given by Furedi at London’s South Bank University on Friday 8 September.

In the essay Furedi notes that, ‘In a recent speech the Prime Minister noted that the reorientation of policymaking from social to the individual does not mean a diminishing of state intervention but merely a change in form.

‘Blair pointed out that while the state will withdraw from directly providing some services it will adopt a more activist role in other spheres. The new emphasis is towards influencing, regulating and policing people’s lifestyles. “A more responsive NHS can’t work unless patients also respond”, said the PM, before adding that “more successful schools depend also on more successful parenting”. The focus is on patients adopting the right lifestyle, and on parents socialising their children according to best practice….’

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


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