The handy guide to the pre-election posturing punch up!

Westminster has closed down for the summer recess.  In the vacuum left behind, the pre-election posturing punch up is beginning to take shape. This is the routine lead up to the General Election, where those organisations who stand to gain or lose something  (money), start their jostling for position to ensure that they will not lose favour whoever wins.

Watching from the sidelines and having been involved in this spectacle for more years than I care to remember, I cannot help but smile as the ‘great’ and the ‘good’ wheel out their wheezes for the next round of handouts to pay their CEO’s the cash they need to rest on their laurels for another term.  Because, ladies and gentlemen, in case you thought that electioneering was about actually changing something, think again.  Electioneering is about posturing and punching high above one’s weight to make the civil servants believe that one has something which is going to please the next round of Ministers.  It is less about meeting the needs of families and more about making sure the reflection that is given back to government about the work that is done and the need that is out there, is what the next government wants to see.

Before we get to the handy guide then, let’s take a quick spin around the last four years of ‘monumental’ change in the field of family separation, which was heralded by the formation of the coalition government.

This government was going to change the world.  It was going to change the Children Act 1989 and it was going to reconfigure the Child Maintenance System so that collaboration is the order of the day.

What did we get?

Clause 11 of the Children and Families Act, a watered down version of the already watered down waste of words that was the original intention to underline the importance of both parents in a child’s life after separation. Which in the end never got enacted and simply dropped off the edge of the Cliff, much like it’s champion Tim Loughton who was likely pushed over by  an unknown gang of thugs masquerading as concerned women’s rights activists.  And if he wasn’t, he may as well have been.

Help and Support for Separated Families.  The somewhat hapless, definitely hopeless, damp squib of a blow up raft of services lead by a widget and a ‘quality mark’ which is meaningless and in some places detrimental to parents who use it.  And all to the tune of twenty million quid.

For a couple of years at least, all of the services funded by government had to act ‘as if’ they supported collaboration between parents, this of course is now fading fast as each and every organisation starts to limber up and guess which way the electorate will go when they next sign away their right to complain at the ballot box.  Eyeing up the labour party, laughing at the liberals and working out what to do in the event that UKIP gets more than a foot in the door of the next government, the charities and individuals who make their money from the world of family separation politics are tying up their shoe laces, putting on their running vests and getting ready to persuade Westminster that they and only they can carry out the next phase of reformation.  On the way to such glory there will be, this autumn, a spectacular round of pre-election posturing. Roll up folks here is your handy guide to the punch up about to begin.

On the left we have Gingerbread. Those gals who fervently want you to believe that all families come in shapes and sizes, or is it families come in all shapes and sizes? Either way what they want you to know is that one parent or two, the only thing that matters is the money. Forget children’s psychological adjustment, ditch the concerns about mothers who alienate, away with the idea that children benefit from the relationships between their parents and off with the heads of anyone who thinks that fathers are necessary – unless of course they are deserving single parent fathers, which basically means that they have to be widowers or the mother of their children must be bad, bad and dangerous to know (think drug/drink/mental health problems).  Any father who is non resident is automatically suspicious, especially if he wants to have a relationship with his child.  Such men are only good for the colour of their money, which should be hoovered from their pockets and their bank accounts, preferably by the state, with a threat of severe punishment (if not death) should he fail to tip up.  Gingerbread have recently released their pre-election manifesto (sorry research), confirming that the only thing that matters after separation is money (to pay for their enormous staff team and cover their senior management salaries/ whoops, sorry, so that children can be fed and have shoes).

On the right we have the Mindful Policy Group, championed by last century’s parenting Guru Penelope Leach.  These people will tell you that evil fathers who want to have overnights with their children before the age of three are deliberately damaging the brains of their offspring. When confronted with the contradictions in this argument they will swiftly back track and change tack and when they have finished dodging and weaving they will wind up back where they started by inviting the architecht of the research they use to make these assertions, to a seminar for the Judiciary (where presumably they will be telling Judges and CAFCASS why overnights before the age of three are a bad idea). What they are likely to fail to tell you is that the research that they rely on is interpreted through a lens which is skewed towards mothers as primary carers. But what the heck, it’s all just posturing anyway, it’s not like anyone is likely to listen (apart from the Judges who decide the fate of these kids).

In between we have the individuals eyeing up the finishing line of their race to secure new funding for their ever so clever ideas.  The self proclaimed ‘social entrepreneurs’ whose role it seems, is a bit like that of a rackateer in wartime. Making money off the backs of other people’s work, these spivs sell their wares across the internet, gathering around them other people’s expertise to make them appear both knowledgeable and part of the field we work in.  Furtively opening their coats to show us the goodies they have for sale, they even proclaim their wheezes were written on the back of a fag packet in a train station..some will fall for this and others will not. Whilst meaningless in terms of shaping the way that family policy will evolve, these spivs are eyeing up the cash just like everybody else is.

Around and about are the Nuffield Foundation, funding research to examine the lived experience of separated families, gathering a coterie to tell them what they want to hear and confirm what the Nuffield already know about family separation, which is that the mantra mother = good and father = bad is a universal ‘truth’ which none of us should ignore.

Woven into the fabric of this landscape are the relationship charities, the ones who really only want us all to have healthy relationships, (whilst secretly signing documents designed to ensure that Clause 11 is driven into a cul-de-sac) and the children’s charities, who want the Cinderalla Law and all of its attendant funding potential to come into being (whilst making sure that issues like parental alienation, a true abuse of a child, is never recognised in such a law).

On the far outside, shouting into the wind, is the Centre for Social Justice, the only think tank with the guts to speak about the necessity of fathers and the potential for changing the post separation landscape for children.

Nowhere to be seen (as yet) are the family charities, those supporting fatherhood and the people who know that generational trauma patterns are being passed from parents to children, aided and abetted by the focus on women’s rights in the field of family separation policy and practice. That’s because posturing punch ups cost time and money, which most of these people are spending on working with families, not talking about them.

That then, is your handy guide to the pre-election posturing punch up.  It’s going to be a right royal roller coaster of a ride, that will change absolutely nothing at all.  It will be a whole load of shouting, a whole lot of posturing, some weasling and some whining.  After which it will be business as usual.

If it were not so sickening, sad and sorry a scene, I would say sit back and enjoy the ride. Instead I will say, know your enemies and you will know where to put your energies. Change will  come far too slowly for too many families through parliamentary means.

Packing now to head off to the Jersey Centre for Separated Families, where we are training a new cohort of volunteers for Magical Milli’s to work holistically with families through and beyond family separation.

Because if we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got and if we keep on doing what we always do, another generation of children will suffer the same fate as those of the past fifty years or so.  In Jersey, as in other places through the Family Separation Hub, we are doing things differently.  Time is better spent doing than talking and preventing than posturing.

But I cannot help commenting on the spectacle!

Happy holidays everybody.




  1. I lost a lot of respect for a certain well known children’s charity when many years ago I heard them on the radio talking about emotional abuse of children. The example given, of what emotional abuse is, was a parent telling a toddler, who did not want to get strapped in the car seat that if they were not strapped in they might get badly hurt if they had an accident. I lost what little respect I had left for them when told that it is not a concern if a mother harms her children’s emotional and social development as long as the mother means well. I loathe the idea of a Cinderella law for those very reasons.

    This same charity is now advocating compulsory reporting of suspicions of child abuse – just imagine the money they will make for extra staff having to deal with all of this hear say that now will have to be reported. As always the real losers are the real victims whose needs will be over looked in the mayhem.


  2. Yes. We need to treat each other with a great deal more reverence and understanding. Such a difficult thing to do when all the indications leading up to two adults falling apart are that the fighting and posturing should continue after the parents have moved into separate residences; and what a blessed relief to no longer be living in the same house!

    But our children tell us a different story. All the fighting, fretting and sulking that they have witnessed is not good for them and only serves to teach them how to fight, how to dominate, how to behave badly. Their little hearts ache and their angry heads rage in defiance. They did not want this. They did not ask for parents who demonstrate such disagreeable traits. They find themselves being forced into choices they do not want to make; choices about which parent is right and which is wrong, as if the world were now a choice between black or white, round or square, up or down.

    Who made this choice to create a contrary world (perhaps unwittingly); the parents did. That’s you and me.

    As Karen points out, this storm which started in the family home, still rages through politics and charities and institutions, and perhaps will continue forever more…………….
    That could leave us in a void, perhaps a passive acceptance that the split which tore two parents apart has far reaching consequences for generations to come. Does the family tree now look like a lopsided Virginia creeper all yin and no yang? Are the Grandparents on one side all withered and forgotten, erased forever?

    I don’t think this should be the case. I believe in a family separation scenario that still encompasses all that each parent would want to share with their children. It is a mixture of behavioural and practical adjustments that the parents make which will serve the children well and keep alive their real family tree.

    So when I say “yes”, I mean more power to the emotional and practical solutions, the holistic approach if you like. I don’t want to see the family unit destroyed. We know how to help families in distress, to sooth the brow of war, let’s do it.

    Kind regards


  3. I don’t speak French, but I know the French have an expression which describes very well what Karen has written. “The more things appear to change, the more they stay the same.” Family Courts have become noticeably worse in the past two months for dads. There was a slight improvement in mid spring, now many of us who deal with the debris from the courts on a weekly basis wish we could return to last year. For example look at the revised C100 application, hugely increased and hopelessly contradictory, it has more in common with Catch 22 than an application to a Family Court.

    As for the fathers groups which Karen touches on, let’s not delve into discussing the irrelevancies of those who either seek affection by being ineffective and keep hoping for tea and cupcakes with the great and good, or the hopelessly fragmented and split more militant campaigning who endlessly remind me of the Judean Peoples Front in the brilliant scene from The Life Of Brian.

    Still, there is hope. Harriet or Yvette are on the horizon, perhaps their aggressive removal of dads from children’s lives will garner political support for shared parenting if they get into government. Otherwise it is and will be the same depressing merry go round.


    1. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

      Have just read this interesting article on how “psychological research shows that honest people, particularly when traumatised, will remember events inconsistently”:

      It’s about asylum-seekers and their legal cases, but much of it could be applied just as well to the situation of alienated parents in the family courts (as I have reason to know; my ex-wife failed in her asylum claim, and
      later succeeded in eliminating me from our daughter’s life despite my application for contact that dragged on for two years). The two kinds of cases have much in common: they are very stressful for the applicant, with all that that implies for reliability of memory and state of mental health generally, the applicant has scant hope of success, one’s life is ‘on hold’ in important ways until it is resolved, and they tend to revolve around the credibility of one’s personal testimony, often with little supporting evidence available.

      Karen, I hope you get a summer break too, we all need time to rest and recharge. I have just returned refreshed from a week on retreat in France.


  4. This posturing fits right into government – our democratic system allows political parties in power to place huge financial burdens on our children and grandchildren in order to give them the best chance to get back into power.

    And as a general rule, women are beneficiaries of taxes and men are benefactors. So we have the same equation – women first – paid for by our children.


  5. “Know your enemies and you will know where to put your energies.” Steady on Karen you are starting to sound like me!

    This coming November marks the 10th anniversary of when my two beautiful children were taken to a women’s refuge filled with smoke and sexual expletives, and as my 9 year old son later reported, a “terrible kitchen.” The only good thing he had to say was that the refuge’s computer had “Grand Theft Auto” installed, presumably to acclimatise the children to the uncivilised society to come.

    Apparently you get brownie points for murdering policemen and prostitutes, but since I have never played the game I cannot confirm. I suspect the refuge is where my ex gained her knowledge of navigating the family courts to her benefit, and possibly explains the criminal lawyer she hired to bamboozle this doting dad with legal jargon as incomprehensible as Chinese.

    To be honest, patients in the psychiatric ward that accommodated me for several weeks afterwards, due to multiple crises that overloaded my internal processor, appeared far more logical and coherent than anyone associated with the legal profession or the family courts.

    For ten years I have listened to a variety of responses from many expunged fathers and the organisations they belong to. The trauma of losing a partner, a nice home, beautiful children, money for a rainy day, friendly neighbours and sometimes friends, drives fathers to search for solutions and understandably shoot at shadows. Which brings me back to your point about knowing your enemy.

    Amongst the well known and respected fathers rights activists, Stephen Baskerville is one of the few who has pointed the finger right at the establishment. Despite government posturing and rhetoric about the importance of the traditional family, actual policy does not support this model.

    Why Not?

    As he explains in his book, Taken Into Custody, a nation of intact families acts as a regulator to government power. Even more so, intact families with a reliable income stream represent an obstacle to would be authoritarian government. Isn’t that what we have? Doesn’t the rotten fruit that has fallen from the government tree prove beyond reasonable doubt that they have no interest in supporting the traditional family model of a mother, father and children?

    Conversely, the anything goes lifestyle is fully supported, and I believe that the number of single parent families now exceeds the two parent family, or at least is very close. This isn’t rocket science. A nation of single parent families dependent on government benefits, will keep voting for whoever promises to keep the benefits rolling in. That means you are dependent or in plain English you are a slave.

    So who will the political parties appeal to in the run up to next years election? My guess is that they will appear to be all things to all people, but soon after they will get on with the job of trashing the traditional family. That’s the plan from above, implemented through the Potemkin village we call parliament, and evidenced by the fact it is happening worldwide.

    Intellectual left wing socialists have made it clear in their writings that they think the family is a disease to be eradicated. The technocracy movement, now back in full swing thanks to David Rockefeller, is pushing in the same direction and acting through the United Nations, a front for one world government.

    If you believe in a nation of intact families and informed parents who have the skills and knowledge to raise children properly, then the establishment is your enemy. If on the other hand you believe in the anything goes lifestyle and a nation of fatherless families, this will lead inevitably to the end of nation states and one world technocratic governance. In that case the establishment is your friend.

    If you are not sure you need to find out what is really happening. The future of our families depends on knowing who your enemy is and where your energies should be directed.


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